The Texans' offense was a mystery coming into the season. Could Matt Schaub be reliable? Could Ahman Green stay healthy? Could Andre Johnson stay among the top wideouts this year with an unreliable offense? Could the offensive line block?
Well, the Texans have responded and have been on the NFL's most pleasant surprise offenses of the year. Schaub was on fire until he got injured for the second time. In the three-game stretch before his injury vs Minnesota, he threw for a combined 926 yds, six tds, and two ints. Schaub is now set on returning for Week 14's matchup vs. the injury-plagued Packers defense.
Schaub will still have plenty of weapons at his disposal. He'll have Pro-Bowl WR Andre Johnson, who can make the case as the best fantasy wideout of the season and Owen Daniels, who's become one of the most reliable tight-ends in the league this year.
Furthermore, he'll have surprise waiver-wire gold Kevin Walter, who has 705 receiving yds and 7 tds and the explosive Steve Slaton, who has stolen the starting role from the brittle Ahman Green, with 904 rushing yds 8 tds and 250 receiving yds and one td.
The offensive line is much improved this season and I like their chances at putting up points for the fantasy playoffs.
The Texans playoff schedule is not frightening one bit. They get the nicked-up Packers defense in Week 14, who have given up a combined 86 points in the past two games. Week 15, they get the Titans at home and besides their bye week vs. Detroit on Thanksgiving, have given up 99 points vs. the Colts, Packers, Bears, Jaguars and Jets.
Then they get to face the fantasy gold Oakland Raiders and wrap things up vs. the defenseless Bears in Week 17. Grab any Texans available in the waiver-wire, such as Schaub, Kevin Walter, or even the Texans defense vs. the Raiders in Week 16. Watch out for the Texans!
Week 14 predictions
Thursday game: OAK@SD Prediction: OAK 14 SD 21
This game features on of the worst teams in the league in Oakland and the most under-achieving team of all-time in the Chargers. LaDainian Tomlinson was the consensus No. 1 pick of the draft in most fantasy drafts this year and has been largely disappointing.
Hopefully you traded him while his value was still high, because now you're stuck with a player who's far from a must-start now and can even be benched some weeks.
This week you'd be wise to play him vs. the Raiders awful rush defense, but he's not reliable anymore so who knows what he will do. I wouldn't be very confident in any players from either team aside from Antonio Gates.
Boom: L.T.-even though I just bashed him for being disappointing, you still have to use him in this matchup, unless you have a more reliable back. The Raiders are pathetic vs. the run and saw Larry Johnson run for over 90 yds last week. Prediction: 100 rushing yds 1 td 5 catches-50 yds
Chargers defense-Ok, so they've stunk for most of the year, but this week, they get the turnover-prone Oakland offense, and if you own them, this is the week to start them. Prediction: 5 sacks 2 ints 1 fr
Bust: Philip Rivers-Rivers has mostly had a solid season and may be on his way to the Pro Bowl, but the Raiders possess one of the best shut- down corners in the league in Nnamdi Asomugha and the Chargers would be wise to run the ball.
But this is Norv Turner so who knows what gameplan he will induce. In the past three games, Rivers has thrown for only 601 yds, two tds, and two ints. Those are not pretty numbers and I'd sit him here. Prediction: 220 passing yds 1 td 1 int 1 fumble loss
Chris Chambers-Asomugha will likely be assigned to cover Chambers and will get shut down if he does. Sit him. Prediction: 3 catches 30 yds
CLE@TEN Prediction: CLE 6 TEN 31
Much like last week's massacre of the Lions, the Browns are in for deep trouble. They just lost Derek Anderson for the season and now are without Kellen Winslow. Ken Dorsey is not starting and I would sit all Browns here, including Jamal Lewis and Braylon Edwards.
Start all your Titans, because their Thanksgiving left-overs should be tasty.
Boom: All your Titans-Chris Johnson, LenDale White, Kerry Collins should all be started, as well as Bo Scaife and the Titans defense. They will be licking their chops.
Bust: All Browns-Don't start a single Brown and I wouldn't start one for the rest of the fantasy playoffs.
JAX@CHI Prediction: JAX 17 CHI 31
After watching the Texans and Vikings clobber the Jags in back-to-back weeks, the Jaguars are falling faster than Plaxico Burress. The Bears struggled vs. the Vikings Sunday night, but they get to take their anger out on another underachieving team.
Rookie superstar Matt Forte will add to his impressive rookie campaign and Kyle Orton and the Bears defense should enjoy this one.
Boom: All your Bears-The Jaguars aren't playing with any heart and have basically given up this year. Even the struggling Bears defense will rebound this week. Start them with confidence.
David Garrard- he still put up a solid fantasy night against the Texans and the bears secondary isn't any better. They will be forced to throw, because of their terrible defense and he should put up some numbers. Prediction: 280 passing yds 1 td 1 int 25 rushing yds
Maurice Jones-Drew-He has been widely inconsistent all year, but the Bears defense has struggled lately and have given up big games to Ryan Grant and Adrian Peterson. Use MJD here, as he should be heavily-involved in the running game as well as the passing game. Prediction: 80 rushing yds 1 td 6 catches 50 yds
Bust: Fred Taylor-Taylor has been so disappointing after a solid season last year and much of it has to do with the injured offensive line. Taylor can't be counted on at all and shouldn't even be on your mind for starting right now. Prediction: 55 rushing yds 1 catch 5 yds
MIN@DET Prediction: MIN 27 DET 10
The Vikings have been on a roll recently and things should continue to get going against this hapless Lions team. Even the suspensions of the Williams tandem won't stop them this week.
It will affect them a ton after this week, but this week is basically a bye for the Vikes. Start all your Vikings no matter who it is, and only start Calvin Johnson and Kevin Smith for the Lions since the Vikes will be without the Williams' brick wall.
Boom: All Vikings-Even start Chester Taylor, because he will play in garbage time when the Vikes have a big lead. Berrian should be good for another long-bomb td and Peterson will put his usual stud numbers.
Calvin Johnson-He should still be good for solid numbers, because the Lions will be forced to throw after being down for the whole game. The Vikings pass defense isn't scary either. Prediction:7 catches 75 yds 1 td
Kevin Smith-Without Kevin and Pat Williams, the Vikings run defense isn't the same. Smith has been solid this year, despite being on the worst team of all-time. Start him this week. Prediction: 80 rushing yds 4 catches 40 yds
Bust: Any Lion not named Calvin Johnson or Kevin Smith- Not that you would own any other Lion, but if you do for some reason, don't start them at all.
HOU@GB Prediction: HOU 27 GB 31
See above for all of the love for the Texans offense and the Packers defense isn't the same, because of so many injuries. I thought they were going to rebound last week and they stunk it up big time in crunch time.
They lack a decent pass rush and can't stop the run if their lives depended on it. Their defense is so damaged that Charles Woodson is forced to playing safety and that kills their corner-backs. Forget about the fluke vs. the Bears three weeks ago, because it was a mirage.
Start all Texans and all of your Packers in this high-scoring contest. Grant is the only question mark because of his injured hand. If he can't play with a splint, he will sit so check his status before playing him.
Boom: All Texans and all Packers-This should be a slug-fest, and they'll each light up the scoreboard. Neither team is scary on defense right now, so play any of them.
Bust: Both defenses-Forget about the Texans' solid defensive effort vs. the awful Jaguars last Monday night, they go up against an offensive-machine in Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, and the duo of Ryan Grant and Brandon Jackson.
Ryan Grant-Even if he starts, I can see him splitting carries with the up-and-coming Brandon Jackson. Jackson was solid in relief last week with 80 rushing yds. Why would they risk losing Grant for the season or fumbling when they have a nice backup in Jackson?
Pick him up if he's available because he's a sneaky play this week and he's a must-add for any Grant owner.
CIN@IND Prediction: CIN 7 IND 34
Don't wake a sleeping giant. The Colts offense is ready to wake up after a terrible effort last week vs. the Browns. The Bengals defense is just what the doctor ordered and they should annihilate them.
Start every Colt and sit all Bengals.
Boom: All Colts-The Colts offense is too good to be struggling right now and if they don't wake up this week, they may not this season. Peyton Manning should have a field day and should bode well for Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison, Dallas Clark and Joseph Addai.
Even Dominick Rhodes should get in on the action to keep Addai fresh and play in garbage time when they have a huge lead.
Bust: All Bengals-They simply can't be trusted right now. Chad Johnson shouldn't even be on a fantasy roster right now with his antics and terrible season. The Bengals have become the "Bungals" once again and I'm sorry if anybody is a Bengals fan right now.
ATL@NO Prediction: ATL 27 NO 24
The Falcons continue to surprise and shock people with their dream season. Matt Ryan is one of the best quarterbacks in the game as a rookie, Roddy White and Michael Turner pack one of the games best wr/rb combo and their defense has improved.
I can see Brees throwing some crucial picks in crunch time like he did last week. The Falcons pull off another upset. Starting DEs Charles Grant and Will Smith are suspended for the season so Ryan should have all the time in the world to throw.
Boom: All Falcons and Saints-They should both be able to score points and provide some solid fantasy numbers. The way Brees is playing right now, he is match-up proof even though he throws a ton of picks like his last game against them.
Pierre Thomas has emerged as a solid running back for the Saints and keeps Reggie Bush fresh. All wide receivers for both teams should be started as well and don't play either defense.
Bust: Nobody-It will be a high-scoring affair, so don't get cute and play either defense.
PHI@NYG Prediction: PHI 14 NYG 17
I see this game being closer than most people think. The Giants have pretty much wrapped things up in the East and may not be as focused. Add the Plaxico Burress distractions, the Eagles showing signs of life last week and the fact this is a rivalry and you have yourself a close game.
I don't know if I would start McNabb against this defense, but I'd be confident in Brian Westbrook after his four td effort last week and DeSean Jackson, who gave the Giants problems in their last game.
Start both defenses, because the Eagles pass rush might give Eli Manning some problems even though their offensive line has been great all year. These two teams usually play in close games when they face each other and the Eagles defense has been mostly solid all season.
Boom: Brandon Jacobs-He has basically become match-up proof and has 950 rushing yds and 12 tds on the season. He may get nicked up and miss some plays, but you gotta start him regardless. Prediction: 75 rushing yds 1 td
Giants wide receivers Domenik Hixon and Amani Toomer-The Eagles secondary is banged up and may be without Asante Samuel one again. This bodes well for Eli Manning and the Giants receivers. Predictions: Hixon 5 catches 60 yds Toomer: 4 catches 50 yds 1 td
DeSean Jackson-He had four catches for 61 yds in the last game against them and there's no reason to expect anything less. He's the type of speedy receiver that could give the Giants physical defense problems.
McNabb has a great connection with Jackson and McNabb was on his game last time against the Giants. Prediction: 5 catches 65 yds 1 td
Bust: Donovan McNabb-Even though he threw three tds last time out, I wouldn't be confident in starting him right now, despite his explosion last week. The Giants defense is light-years ahead of the Cardinals and the Meadowlands hasn't been kind to McNabb (does anybody remember him running for his life last year?).Prediction: 250 passing yds 1 td 2 ints 1 fumble
MIA@BUF Prediction: MIA 21 BUF 17
How Buffalo is favored in this game is beyond me. The game is in Toronto, not in Buffalo, and Trent Edwards' status is uncertain. If J.P. Losman is back under center, things may get even worse for the sinking Buffalo Bills.
Start all your Dolphins and only start Lee Evans and Marshawn Lynch for the Bills.
Boom: All Dolphins-The Bills defense has struggled and Chad Pennington and company have been surprising and solid. Pennington should put up a nice game and the tandem of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams should control the game.
The Dolphins' defense should feast on whomever is under center for the Bills.
Lee Evans-Evans has been mostly consistent all year and the Dolphins secondary isn't top-notch. Prediction: 5 catches 100 yds 1 td
Marshawn Lynch-The Dolphins run defense is pretty solid, but they are only middle-of-the pack against the run as the 11th ranked defense. He'll put up numbers in the running game and with receptions. Prediction: 75 rushing yds 1 td 6 catches 60 yds
Bust: Bills defense-After their hot start, they've been an after thought. They've given up some big games and don't produce enough turnovers. Sit them here and feel free to drop them.
KC@DEN Prediction: KC 21 DEN 27
Don't be fooled by the Broncos' effort last week against the Jets. The Jets were caught off-guard and put up an awful effort. The Chiefs offense isn't a mirror image of the '90's Cowboys, but they have some playmakers.
Tyler Thigpen has been surprising and take out last week's stinker vs. Oakland, because he's been superb. Larry Johnson has made his return to relevance after last week's great game against the Raiders.
Start all your Chiefs and all your Broncos.
Boom: All Chiefs and Broncos-Both teams will put up points and that bodes well for fantasy owners. In fact, this is a fantasy owner's dream game with two terrible defenses.
Thigpen, Johnson, Dwayne Bowe and Tony Gonzalez will produce and Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal and the surprising Peyton Hillis are locks for great games.
Bust: Nobody-You shouldn't own either defense anyway, and if you do don't start them.
NYJ@SF Prediction: NYJ 27 SF 14
The Jets should rebound after pulling a disappearing act last week. Getting away from New York may be a good thing for Jets, because of the weather and the boo-birds of Jets fans. The 49ers have been competing and should compete here, but their efforts won't be enough in the end.
Kris Jenkins should shut down Frank Gore and force Shaun Hill into mistakes. Play all your Jets and I'd bench Frank Gore and Issac Bruce, with his match-up vs. shut-down corner, Darrelle Revis.
Boom: All Jets-Favre should rebound after last week's stinker and the Jets will control the game with Thomas Jones and Leon Washington. Jerricho Cotchery and Laveranues Coles will benefit with some play-action passes and long catches.
The Jets would be wise to get Washington more involved in the passing game with his explosiveness. The Jets defense will force turnovers and should shut down Gore. Dustin Keller has been on-fire and is coming to must-start status.
Shaun Hill-The Jets pass defense has struggled and Hill be probably be forced to throw most of the game. He should put up some nice stats. Prediction: 240 passing yds 2 tds 2 ints
Bust: Frank Gore-The Jets are fourth against the run with Kris Jenkins anchoring the D-line. Gore has been a bust lately, and I doubt he'll turn things around this week. Prediction: 55 rushing yds 4 catches 30 yds
NE@SEA Prediction: NE 24 SEA 17
The Seahawks' season has gone down the drain and no Seahawk can be trusted right now besides tight-end John Carlson. The Patriots defense is nothing to write home about, but the Seahawks don't have the fire-power to expose it.
Play all your Pats and check on Wes Welker's status, because he left the game last week after suffering a concussion. He's set on playing right now, but check his status to make sure. If Welker misses the game, Jabar Gaffney would replace him and benefit.
Boom: All Patriots-Cassel will rebound after having seeing his solid stretch end last week. Randy Moss will also rebound after having alligator-arms last week with some crucial drops. The Pats defense will get to Matt Hasselbeck, because their O-line can't protect him or block for their running game.
John Carlson-Carlson is the only bright spot right now in this hapless offense. He'd be the only Seahawk I would play and should provide Hasselbeck with a security blanket. Prediction: 5 catches 75 yds 1 td
Bust: All other Seahawks-Don't play any other Seahawk, because they are so unreliable right now.
STL@AZ STL 17 AZ 28
What happened to the Cardinals defense last week? They were pitiful and if the Rams have a healthy Steven Jackson, they might be able to expose it. The Rams struggle outdoors and have stunk it up lately, but the Cardinals defense could give up some big plays.
On the other side, Kurt Warner will hook up with Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, and Steve Breaston all day and run it with Tim Hightower. After some terrible games by Hightower, he should rebound against one of the worst defenses in the league.
Boom: All Cardinals-Warner will have all the time to pass and it will set-up Hightower for some short tds and a nice game. Play the Cardinals' defense, despite last week's pathetic game.
Steven Jackson-He's be the only Ram I would trust right now and Jackson should produce. He had over 90 rushing yds last week and the Cardinals defense is generous to opposing running backs, after seeing Brian Westbrook destroy them. Prediction: 100 rushing yds 1 td 4 catches 50 yds
Bust: All other Rams-You simply can't trust any other Ram right now. Donnie Avery has cooled off after a great few games earlier this season and Torry Holt is a shell of his former self.
Add that to Marc Bulger having no time to throw and it spells disaster. Even the return of Orlando Pace didn't help Bulger last week.
DAL@PIT Prediction: DAL 14 PIT 17
This should be the game of the week, as the Cowboys try to keep their playoff hopes alive. Dallas needs this game more and the Steelers want to keep their hopes alive for a first-round bye.
It will be a low-scoring and physical game. I wouldn't play many Cowboys against the "Steel Curtain" of 2008. You have to start Tony Romo is you have him, but don't count on great numbers. Jason Witten also has to be started, as well as Terrell Owens. Barber is a different story, because the Steelers shut-down the run and he has a dislocated toe.
Sit Barber if you can afford to. You also should be careful with Ben Roethlisberger, because the Dallas secondary is healthy and playing at a high level right now. Expect decent, but not great numbers.
Boom: Both defenses-It'll be low-scoring and extremely physical. DeMarcus Ware should be ready to go after leaving the game last week with an injury. Turnovers should be expected as well as some sacks.
Hines Ward-With the Cowboys fierce pass-rush with Ware and company, Big Ben should look for Ward as his security blanket and Ward will be a matchup problem with his size for the Cowboys secondary. Prediction: 5 catches 80 yds 1 td
Bust: Marion Barber-The Steelers have the best rushing defense in the NFL and Barber won't be 100 percent. Sit him here if you have other options. Prediction: 55 rushing yds 5 catches 40 yds
WAS@BAL Prediction: WAS 10 BAL 17
The Redskins are in a nose-dive right now and things won't get any better this week against the tough and physical Ravens defense. This defense is back to being one of the best in the NFL and I'd sit almost all my Redskins.
The Ravens offense has found its niche and Mark Clayton is doing everything from catching to passing. Play your Ravens, because the Redskins defense is nothing special.
Boom: Mark Clayton-Clayton's been on a roll recently and should continue against a middle-of-the road defense. Prediction: 5 catches 75 yds 1 td
Todd Heap-Heap came back to fantasy relevance last week and should be Joe Flacco's security blanket for much of the game. He can't be counted on every week, but roll the dice this week. Prediction:5 catches 75 yds
Ravens defense-They've become a must-start and will force Jason Campbell into some turnovers. Prediction: 5 sacks 2 ints 1 fumble
Bust: All Redskins-You obviously have to play guys like Chris Cooley and Clinton Portis, but I'd temper my expectations. Santana Moss hasn't been consistent lately and I'd sit him here if I had other options. Jason Campbell can't be started against this defense period.
TB@CAR Prediction: TB 17 CAR 21
The Bucs have struggled on the road and historically struggle outdoors. It will be cold in Carolina and that should be good for running back DeAngelo Williams. Williams has become a must-start, even against a tough run defense in Tampa Bay.
Carolina's defense has struggled lately so start some of your Bucs like Warrick Dunn, Antonio Bryant and the Bucs defense. Jake Delhomme has not performed lately and needs to sit this week against the Bucs scary defense.
Boom: Antonio Bryant-Bryant is quietly having a solid season and the Panthers just gave up some huge games in the passing game. Last week, Greg Jennings and Donald Driver carved up their secondary so Bryant should produce. Prediction: 6 catches 75 yds 1 td
Steve Smith-Even though his stats are mis-leading after having half his yards on two huge catches last week and lack of tds, you still have to start him. He should present a match-up problem for the Bucs defense with his speed and shiftiness. Prediction: 5 catches 95 yds 1 td
Bust: Jake Delhomme-He's been on my list the past two weeks and will continue to be on here unless he proves me wrong. The Panthers are back to what they're good at and that's running the ball.
Delhomme is prone to throwing some bad passes and last week he should've been picked off on the last bomb pass to Smith. Prediction: 180 passing yds 1 td 2 ints
Enjoy this week's game and see you next week.