QB Matt Schaub (Houston)
It’s hard to see Schaub playing much differently than he did last season, when he had 4008 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. He remains a solid QB2, albeit one who has missed 16 games in 6 seasons as a starter.
Projection: 4000 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 20 rushing yards, 0 touchdowns (226 pts standard, 270 pts 6 pt leagues)
RB Arian Foster (Houston)
Arian Foster averaged a career low 4.1 yards per carry in 2012, thanks to the loss of two starting offensive linemen. His YPC has been trended down since he lost fullback Vonta Leach and he’s also had a lot of work over the past few years. he’s had 1115 regular season touches, plus another 128 post-season touches.
Last season, he led the NFL with 351 carries which is bad news for his 2013. Since 1988, only 4 of 24 running backs who led the league in carries surpassed their rushing yards total the following season. In that time period, backs who lead the league in carries have averaged 367.7 carries per season, rushed for 1620.4 yards, and scored 14.3 touchdowns. The following season, they averaged 266.0 carries per season, rushed for 1063.5 yards, and scored 8.9 touchdowns. Foster is already nursing a calf injury in Training Camp. He’s also seen his catches drop from 66 to 53 to 40 over the past 3 seasons. Let him be someone else’s problem.
Projection: 260 carries for 1040 rushing yards 11 total touchdowns 38 catches for 300 yards (200 pts standard, 238 pts PPR)
RB Ben Tate (Houston)
In the likely event that Foster struggles or gets hurt, it will open the door for Ben Tate. Tate struggled through injuries of his own in 2012, rushing for 279 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 65 carries, but in 2011, he rushed for 942 yards and 4 touchdowns on 175 carries. In the 8 games he had double digit carries, he managed 721 yards and 4 touchdowns on 133 carries. He’s a more than capable #2 back and fill in starter when necessary, assuming he doesn’t get hurt himself. He’s played just 26 of a possible 48 games in his first 3 seasons in the NFL thanks to various injuries. Still, he’s a very, very valuable handcuff.
Projection: 160 carries for 720 rushing yards 5 total touchdowns 16 catches for 110 receiving yards (113 pts standard, 129 pts PPR)
WR Andre Johnson (Houston)
The Texans got a vintage year from Andre Johnson in 2012, as he caught 112 passes for 1598 yards and 4 touchdowns, leading the NFL in yards per route run with 3.01 and ranking 2nd in the NFL in yards overall behind Calvin Johnson (who played over 200 more pass snaps). Those yards were actually a career high and those catches were 2nd in his career, pretty impressive considering he has 818 catches for 11,254 yards over 10 seasons. It was also unexpected considering he was 31 years old and coming off a season in which he played in just 7 games with injury. However, Johnson has still missed 12 games in the last 3 seasons and is going into his age 32 season. The concerns about him before last season had merit. They just didn’t prove to be an issue, but they could be this season. He’s also never had double digit touchdowns and scored just 4 times last season.
Projection: 91 catches for 1300 receiving yards 7 total touchdowns (172 pts standard, 263 pts PPR)
WR DeAndre Hopkins (Houston)
Hopkins has a bright future, but he’s just a rookie. Since 2005, 28 receivers have gone in the 1st round. They’ve averaged 40 catches for 557 yards and 3 touchdowns per season as rookies. He’s not a serious threat to eat much into Johnson’s targets or production. He’ll surpass the 41 catches for 518 yards and 2 touchdowns that Kevin Walter had last year though.
Projection: 50 catches for 650 receiving yards 5 total touchdowns (95 pts standard, 145 pts PPR)
TE Owen Daniels (Houston)
Owen Daniels is a very good pass catching tight end when he’s on the field and he’s only missed 2 games of the past 2 seasons, after missing 13 in the previous 2. In a weaker year for tight ends, he’s offers good value. He should be around the 62 catches for 716 yards and 5 touchdowns he had last season.
Projection: 65 catches for 740 receiving yards 5 total touchdowns (104 pts standard, 169 pts PPR)