Can Matt Schaub top his 2009 numbers?
The Houston Texans are coming off of a 2009 season that saw them struggle with the ground game on offense, but absolutely dominate the league in the passing game, ranking first in the league.
While we're not about to predict they'll be back at the top spot in passing for the second season in a row, offensive line coaching changes and adjustments to their running game should make them more balanced, and likely a more effective offense, overall.
1. Matt Schaub Will Be Even Better Than Last Year
We can't guarantee Mr. Glass makes it through 16 games unscathed after doing so in 2009 for the first time ever, but we can't honestly say we can see him performing poorly in 2010.
A better ground attack should help keep defenses guessing, and if Jacoby Jones can take the next step, Schaub will have the most complete arsenal of receiving options he's ever had.
Don't expect 4,700+ yards again, but 4,000+ and a trip past 30 passing touchdowns should be in order.
2. Steve Slaton, Who?
Don't get us wrong, we still like Slaton's speed and ability as a receiver, but he won't be the fantasy darling he was in 2008, and might not even end 2010 with the numbers he had in 2009.
Arian Foster has the role and fundamentals to break out in a big way for the Texans this season, and we project Houston's new lead back to carry the majority of the load, and to pick up right where he left off near the end of last season.
If Houston is going to finally reach their first post-season (and we think they will), then Foster will have to help make the Texans a complete offense.
3. Kevin Walter Will Hold Off Jacoby Jones
Andre Johnson is golden, but contrary to popular belief, there are other receivers on Houston's offense. Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones are currently in a heated battle for the team's number two receiver job.
Jones is fast and explosive, but Walter is the more reliable option, isn't afraid to do the dirty stuff, and can also make the big play. We like Jones enough, but still think he's another year away from being a big fantasy contributor.
That doesn't mean he can't do some damage as the third receiving option, but if you're picking a receiver to fill-in as a WR3 during a bye week, Walter might be the more dependable option.
4. Brian Cushing Will Put Up 16-Week Numbers
The NFL upheld Cushing's four-game suspension, so if you want to take Cushing as one of your IDP fantasy options, you'll have to be okay with not having his services for the first four weeks of the season.
The suspension makes him a risk, sure, but we wouldn't bet against this kid, just like we wouldn't bet against Wes Welker. His talent and mentality just doesn't support that kind of logic.
Cushing put up 134 tackles, five sacks, and four picks in 16 games as a rookie. He'll only have 12 games to work with in 2010, but with more experience and a growing defense around him, we still like him to crack 100 total tackles and be very active all season.
5. Owen Daniels Will Be Fine
Owen Daniels is still working his way back from a mid-season knee injury, and there are even recent rumors that he may have had a set-back.
We're not buying that, and even if it's true, we still like him to push through and be ready for Week One. Daniels is one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the league, has an explosive offense around him, and doesn't have scary competition at his position.
He was on pace for 80+ receptions, 1,000+ yards and 10 scores in 2009 before he went down. We're not saying he'll put up those kind of numbers, but a return to his 2008 form is very possible.