For a sixth straight season, Razzball will be interviewing NFL-team blogs for some actual in-depth football knowledge to shed some additional light on our fantasy football knowledge. Keep your eye out for an interview for every NFL team for our Team Preview Series through the summer. This installment comes courteous of Steph Stradley from the leading Houston Texans’ blog: Ultimate Texans.
Ryan Fitzpatrick was recently named the starter for the Texans. Do you see him having any value for fantasy football? Could he be a QB2 or would you use him as a free agent bye week replacement?
The problem with the entire Texans offense for fantasy purposes is rightful uncertainty for projections. Rookie NFL head coach Bill O’Brien is also the offensive coordinator, and there is not much guidance on how well he can install a NFL offense, particularly with a journeyman quarterback. Installing a new offense can be tough. Doing it with a journeyman quarterback can be tougher. You can think of scenarios where this offense could be very good or very bad or very in the middle, and make semi-credible cases for each.
What we have projectable information on is that the Texans schedule is projected to be one of the easier ones based on last years numbers. Looking at past W-Ls to project next year’s strength of schedule is not very reliable, but the Texans schedule isn’t likely going to be all the playoff bound teams that they faced last year.
Fitzpatrick’s career in terms of touchdowns has been a bit feast or famine, and he has had a turnover problem before. He is likely going to be available as a free agent bye week replacement unless he shows early in the season that he can get the ball to the Texans skill weapons. If Ryan Fitzpatrick looks really good for the Texans, it is likely that Bill O’Brien gets coach of the year.
Do you see Andre Johnson putting up the same numbers as last year? Is he a WR1 or WR2? Is there anyone else to consider from this receiving core?
Andre Johnson’s special gift is having a remarkable career despite not having optimal quarterback options. (That is the kind way of saying that). Most players need a good fit with a team, and can’t rise above the poor circumstances of the situation. Great players can still standout on terrible teams. Not just for a few years, but over time. Given his size, athletic gifts, work ethic, body positioning and route running, I could see Johnson have a number of more years being an extremely productive wide receiver. His route running is something he has worked on, and is impressive at, as he can find ways to get significant separation not just based on top speed. The wild card, of course, is injury luck. He may be smarter about taking care of his body as an older player, but Father Time is always undefeated. The suggestion is that Andre Johnson may be receiving more red zone targets under new head coach Bill O’Brien than in previous years. And will continue to be moved around the formation, but likely with more diverse route options.
If DeAndre Hopkins makes a significant jump from year 1 to 2, he could become a good fantasy option. As for the rest of the wide receivers, it is hard to think that they would become something significantly better than they were with the previous coaching staff/situations. Some might think that the Kubiak Texans forced the ball to Johnson a lot, but part of that was rewarding his reliability and special talents. The targets for the other receivers tended to drop off after they struggled with catches relative to Johnson and those at the tight end position.
Until those wide receivers excel in the NFL, it is hard to predict that they will. The idea that a high pick, wide receiver of size like Hopkins could make a big jump from his rookie year isn’t particularly out of line as a prediction however.
Will Arian Foster be back to his normal self? Do you view him as a RB1 or RB2? Do you see Andre Brown having a role in the offense?
First of all, I am not sure that “normal” is best word to describe anything about Arian Foster. He would likely agree with that. But I understand what you mean. Hard to predict future health issues. Sometimes injuries trigger new injuries, and the running back position isn’t kind to the body. All running backs face that issue, but Foster’s 2013 camp was interrupted by injury, and his season ended with a back injury and surgery on it.
I like Arian Foster as a RB1 in a league where there are few dominant running backs. There are not great candidates for running back by committee. Might involve some psychic terror because you won’t get any straight injury information from Bill O’Brien other than what is minimally required by the NFL. The pluses for Foster is that this may be a team that is very running back dependent given issues at quarterback, pass protection, and that they may want play conservatively and rely on their defense. Foster is likely going to be also more a target of the passing game.
As for his “normal self,” it may be that the passing game ends up vulturing some of the touchdowns that Foster used to get with Rick Dennison as his offensive coordinator. Dennison preferred rushing for touchdowns versus passing for them as a ball security, offense imposing their will in short yardage. Also part of that, I was told, was due to coaches’ frustrations with redzone interceptions. They wanted to be able to get short yards every time, and Arian Foster at his best is great picking his way in short yardage.
So assuming health, I think he is going to get a lot of touches of the ball. O’Brien has called him a key part of the offense. I just don’t think there will be as many rushing attempts in the red zone as was done with the previous staff. I think that if the Texans are relying much on Andre Brown as a role in the offense, they are in trouble.