Australian For "First Pick:" Previewing the Texans' Fantasy Contributions

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So, remember last week when we set up a bunch of leagues?  Well, good news if you missed out on those: I've created another one, with details at the bottom of this post.  Before we get to that, though, following across the jump so we might take a look at the fantasy value of various members of your Houston Juggernaut. 

yahoo.com/fantasyfootball

Assuming a 10-12 team PPR league, with fairly standard scoring for yardage, one DEF and one IDP per team, here's how I see it breaking down.

First Round

Arian Foster, RB.
2010 Stats: 327 carries, 1,616 rushing yards, 66 catches, 604 receiving yards, 18 TDs
Likely draft range: first 3 picks
Analysis: It's no secret that Foster was an absolute beast last year, both in real life and for fantasy purposes.  He was the only back in 2010 to average over 100 yards/game, his 66 catches led all running backs (and were more than Anquan Boldin hauled in, to name but one WR), and his 18 total TDs led the league as well.  No, he doesn't have the track record of Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson, but, then, that hardly proves that he cannot or will not have similar numbers in 2011.  If there's a such thing as a safe first-overall pick in fantasy football, my money is on Foster.

Andre Johnson, WR
2010 Stats: 86 catches, 1,216 yards, 8 TDs
Likely draft range: mid- to late first round
Analysis: 2010 was a down year for Johnson, but that was due solely to an injury that cost him three games.  Prior to getting dinged, Dre was on pace for a career high in TDs, 105 catches, and just barely under 1500 yards (which would have led the league for a third straight year, something only Jerry Rice has done).  Using the score in the current BRB leagues as the template, Andre finished as the seventh-highest-scoring WR last year, and, while I hate playing "ignore the bad parts" in an sports argument, had he not gotten injured, he would've easily been number 1.  I wouldn't draft him before Foster (obviously), Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, or Jamaal Charles, but I'd have no  qualms about taking him above Ray Rice or LeSean McCoy or Mike Vick.

Rounds Two through Ten

Matt Schaub, QB
2010 Stats: 365-574 (63.6%), 4,370 passing yards, 24 TDs, 12 INTs
Likely draft range: early fifth round to late sixth round
Analysis:  For the second year in a row, Schaub (a) avoided taking any cheap shots from wastes of DNA like Jared Allen or Drayton Florence and, as a result, (b) played all 16 games.  Sure, he threw for 400 fewer yards and five fewer TDs in 2010 than in 2009, but he also had three fewer INTs.  Depending on who you ask in the fantasy football universe, Schaub is somewhere between the sixth- and twelfth-best QB available.  Personally --- while admitting that I am massively biased --- I'd take him over any QB in 2010 other than Peyton Manning, Mike Vick, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, or Tom Brady.  Yes, the emergence of Arian Foster dropped Schaub's production a bit, as did the injury to Andre Johnson, but he's still a legitimate QB option that you can get a few rounds later than the other guys.

Owen Daniels, TE
2010 Stats: 38 catches, 471 yards, 2 TDs (11 games)
Likely draft range: mid-sixth to early-ninth round
Analysis:  Daniels 2010 numbers will likely cause him to fall further than he should, at least when the league is not composed entirely of Texans fans.  Over the last four games (read: when he was healthy), he averaged nearly 10 points per game, which is right on pace with what he did during his Pro Bowl 2008 season (and is actually down from what he was doing prior to the injury in 2009, when he averaged an Antonio Gates-like 15 points/game).  Projected over a full season, the numbers from Daniels' last four games would have ranked him above Santonio Holmes, Hines Ward, and Michael Crabtree, to name a few.

Rounds Eleven through The End

Brian Cushing, LB
2010 Stats: 53 solo tackles, 23 assisted tackles, 1.5 sacks, 4 passes defended, 1 FF (12 games)
Likely draft range: Eleventh through thirteenth, depending on how quickly the run on IDPs starts
Analysis: The only two-time defensive rookie of the year in NFL history definitely had a sophomore slump in 2010.  Whether this was due to Overtrained Athlete Syndrome, being in a linebacking corps with Zac Diles and without DeMeco Ryans, or something else is anyone's guess.  Thing is, if there is one person on the defense whose fantasy value is going to get a massive boost from the shift to Wade's 3-4, it will be Cushing.  Just look at the numbers for Bradie James from 2007 through 2010, Donnie Edwards from 2004 to 2006, or Keith Brooking in 2002 and 2003.  The LILB in Wade's scheme is a fantasy-point producer, plain and simple.

DeMeco Ryans, LB
2010 Stats: 32 solo tackles, 22 assisted tackles, 2 passes defended, 1 sack (6 games)
Likely draft range: Twelfth through fifteenth
Analysis:  OK, assuming that he's healthy --- which is a huge assumption, I know, but bear with me --- DeMeco stands to benefit fantasy-wise almost as much as Cushing does.  The RILB in Wade's scheme, while blitzing less than the LILB, frequently racks up a ton of tackles and makes more plays in the passing game.  There are exceptions, of course, and the track record isn't as perfect as it is for the LILB, but Ryans should contribute as an IDP for the team willing to hold off just a little while once the IDP run starts.

Neil Rackers, K
2010 Stats: 27-30 FG, 43-43 XP
Likely draft range: Never take a kicker before the last round.  Ever.
Analysis: The third-highest-scoring kicker last season, I see no reason that Rackers won't be top 5 at his position again this year.  So, if you are in the top half of the last round, feel free to roll the dice.

Undrafted, But Keep An Eye On

Jacoby Jones, WR; Kevin Walter, WR:  Last year, these two were nearly identical statistically.  That's probably going to be the case this year unless (a) one gets injured or (b) Jones begins to put it all together and become a legit WR2.  In either situation, it might not hurt to take a chance or use one of them as a bye-week plugin.

Ben Tate, RB:  If the unthinkable were to happen, and Arian Foster went down due to injury, Tate seems more likely to benefit from this than does Derrick Ward.  It wouldn't be a bad idea to handcuff Tate to Foster, should you draft Arian and have an extra roster slot.

Bonus thought:  During the playoffs for the BRB leagues, the Texans play the Bengals, the Panthers, and the Colts. Last year, Arian Foster rushed for 333 yards and 4 TDs against the Colts, while the Bengals and Panthers both ranked in the bottom half of the league in rushing defense.  As if you needed more reason to take him first overall.

Similarly, in his career, Andre Johnson has averaged 86.5, 92, and 63.4 yards/game against those three teams (6.3, 5.5, and 5.4 receptions/game).  Over the last three seasons, Andre's averages against the Colts are 6.3 catches and 82.5 yards.

****

Now, as for that fourth league...

League Name: The Pele of Anal

League ID: 325660

Password: lacrosse

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