The Houston Texans are a team that has been on the verge of a break-out season, but one or two little things have always prevented them from taking the next step. Last season, the Texans lost two big games with the biggest being the loss to the Raiders in week 16, and not too long ago the Texans went 10-6 with David Carr at the helm but the AFC was too good that year for the Texans to make the playoffs.
This past season did not feature a playoff appearance, but it held great possibilities for the future in a surprisingly big year for the third round pick out of West Virginia, running back Steve Slaton. Slaton led all rookie rushers last season with over 1,200 yards rushing. The Texans might have finished 8-8 last season, but this year they should contend with teams like the Titans and Colts.
Even though Schaub missed five games last season, he still threw for over 3,000 yards and with 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. With a full season this year, he will be able to prove he’s worth the money, worth the second round pick Houston gave to Atlanta for Schaub, and he will make the Texan’s offense even more potent than it already is.
Running back Steve Slaton was a monster last year and, behind fullback Vonta Leach, could get into the 1400-1600 yard range this season.
The offensive line might not be the most known group of guys, but they put up the same starting five the entire season and that is great for continuity and the protection of Matt Schaub. They also assisted in Slaton’s remarkable year and his 1200+ rushing yards. This is still a relatively young group with only guard Chester Pitts having more than 5 years in the NFL. If they can keep up their health, they can become a top five offensive line.
The Texan defense might be the most underrated defense in the NFL. The line was OK last year, but this year it should be more than good with defensive tackle Amobi Okoye having another year of experience (remember, the guy just reached the legal age to drink about a year ago) and Mario Williams is still around. This guy has become an elite pass-rusher and proves to everyone that the Texans were genius in not drafting Reggie Bush. Add a motivated tackle in Shaun Cody and defensive end Antonio Smith and the Texans have a very solid line. The linebacker core should be the force of the defense. DeMeco Ryans is the General and he just received some great recruits in Cato June and first round pick Brian Cushing. This force will be what allows the defense to control Peyton Manning and handle other top offenses in the league. As for the secondary, it will be better simply because there is so much competition, especially for the strong safety position that will put only the very best on the field.
Now, the best of the best, cream of the crop, receiver core. The clear strength of the Texans that is led by, who some consider, the best receiver in the league, Andre Johnson. The guy is an absolute monster with crazy agility. He led the league in yards and catches and will only improve his numbers with a healthy Schaub. He is also accompanied by receiver Kevin Walter, who had almost 900 yards last year even though Johnson led the league in receiving yards. And no one can forget the now Pro Bowl tight end Owen Daniels who has established himself as a top 5 tight end. His hands are like glue. He will try and repeat his big year and prove he belongs with the elite tight ends in the league.
Matt Schaub needs to stay healthy, so his offense will be able to hang with Peyton’s and Brady’s.
As good as the Texans could be, it will be crucial that the Texans show their abilities so they do not get overshadowed by the Titans and Colts. This team could’ve been to the playoffs a couple times already, but their division which holds Peyton, the Titans, and even the Jaguars who are tough against the division has just been too tough. The division has become so competitive that it has become a crap-shoot as to who will win the division, but a 2-4 record in the division like last year will not get it done for the Texans.
Matt Schaub is a low-end No. 1 quarterback because if he’s healthy, he can be a top 5 quarterback, but he has to stay healthy. He is available in the mid-to-late rounds so do not waste a early pick on him.
Steve Slaton is now on everyone’s radar as a top fantasy back. He is not a first round pick yet, but if he is available in the second round then draft him. He goes up against teams like San Francisco and the Rams, so the monster point games will be there.
Andre Johnson is a late first round pick to early second. The guy put up almost 1600 yards without Schaub there all the time.
Kevin Walter had a big year last year, and now that Daniels is on the radar and Johnson will see more double teams he is a solid No.3 receiver.
Owen Daniels is a No. 1 tight end, but if Gonzalez, Gates, or Witten are still there go with them.
The sleeper pick is the Texan defense. With the additions to the linebacker core and Mario Williams only improving with time, they could definitely open a few eyes.