Thursday, July 3, 2014, 10:26am
Texans beat writer Tania Ganguli...
Who will back up Arian Foster? The Texans currently have Dennis Johnson and Jonathan Grimes returning from last year's squad, plus free-agency pickup Andre Brown and draft pick Alfred Blue. I think this will come down to Brown and Blue. Brown has an edge on starting experience. Blue has an edge on youth and lack of mileage. Evaluating the status of the running game requires seeing the backs and the linemen blocking for them in pads.
Our bet is that it will be Brown, who showed he was very capable while with the Giants. Anyone who drafts Foster should try to get his backup, whoever it is. We'll know more as the summer wears on.
Texans RB Arian Foster now is apparently feeling great. His media boycott has lasted throughout organized team activities and both of the Texans' minicamps, so we haven't heard directly from him, but his teammates say that's what he's saying.
Texans coach Bill O'Brien plans to use him in diverse ways, and during a (likely paid) appearance at a bowling alley, Foster told reporters he was excited about that.
You have to wonder, though, is this going to last?
Talk is RBs tend to start heading downhill at age 27, which is what Foster is until he turns 28 in August. This decline can manifest itself in a lot of ways - sometimes it's pure wear and tear, sometimes it's the result of the body's declining ability to recover from injuries, the story points out. Either way, Foster is a high-risk, high-reward selection this year for fantasy owners. Andre Brown, the former Giant, will back him up and is probably a good add if you end up with Foster. We rank Foster 11th among our RBs heading into drafts.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014, 3:37pm
Texans WR Andre Johnson's offseason absence gives DeAndre Hopkins an advantage. The Sideline View's Lance Zierlein confirmed to Around The League that Fitzpatrick and rookie Tom Savage are already developing a strong rapport with the second-year wideout.
HC Bill O'Brien's offense should also provide a boost. Hopkins drew just two more targets than tight end Garrett Graham with Gary Kubiak calling the plays. Dialing up more slants, bubble screens and crossing routes will help. His leaping ability was also underutilized, as Kubiak has long been one of the NFL's most conservative coaches in the red zone.
Hopkins doesn't have the extraordinary physical gifts of Johnson, but the talent is there to post several seasons as a top 15 NFL wideout. Taking over the Titans game suggests No. 1 receiver potential should Johnson force his way out of Houston.
Even if Johnson returns by September, Hopkins should have little trouble flirting with 1,000 yards and a half-dozen touchdowns. After all, he was on pace for 80 catches and 1,080 yards after the first four games of his career.
Hopkins finished as the #50 WR in 2013, posting 52 catches for 802 yards and two touchdowns, a solid season for a rookie wideout playing along an established veteran like Andre Johnson. Provided he develops a strong rapport with Fitzpatrick, he should progress in O'Brien's offense.
Raiders beat writer Paul Gutierrez was asked about the team's depth chart at WR: "Right now right now, or later, later (George Lopez voice)? Well, right now, on June 23, I'd say that James Jones and Rod Streater are the starters, with Denarius Moore nipping at their heels and Andre Holmes waiting in the weeds. Juron Criner also showed some life in organized team activities and minicamp. Truly, though, the title of starting receiver may prove to be just that -- a title, as with no true No. 1 consistent receiver on the roster, someone like, I don't know, Andre Johnson, the Raiders figure to use a lot of mixing and matching."
Moore seems to be fading within the organization. This is a notoriously positive time of year and there have been a few negative reports about Moore's progress. Another beat writer went so far to say that Andre Holmes seems to be passing Moore on the depth chart. Streater is the player we like at his current ADP. He has progressed well and is entering his third season.
Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 3:16pm
In five fast hours Tuesday, the rebuilding Texans cemented their long-debated quarterback situation and erased the man who led the franchise to its first playoff victory.
Veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick became coach Bill O’Brien’s first NFL starting QB. T.J. Yates was released. Former University of Houston star Case Keenum was effectively promoted, already placing the reconfigured 2014 Texans in a similar situation to their 2013 fall.
Fitzpatrick will have a tough time being much of a fantasy option if Andre Johnson doesn't report to camp. If AJ does join the team, Fitzy will be in the mix for streaming/QBBC duties in favorable matchups.
Said Titans TE Delanie Walker: "We’re going to be very physical, we’re going to play until the whistle blows, we’re going to be very tough in the run game and when the passing game comes to us, we’re going to make plays. ...I see the tight end position being of big impact in this offense."
But in terms of creative use, the Titans' top tight end doesn’t necessarily expect to line up all over the place.
“We’re going to move around, but I think you’re going to see more of Dexter McCluster in that spot,” Walker said. “He’s the Swiss Army knife now for this team. He can play multiple positions, and I think you’re going to see Dexter moving around making great plays for us.
“I see myself as that guy as well, but you’re going to see me on the end of the line more too as well.”
Walker is an interesting tight end to monitor this offseason. He finished as the #12 TE on the year, posting 60 catches for 571 yards and six TDs. He was targeted much more heavily in games where Ryan Fitzpatrick was under center (6.8 vs. 4.2 T/G), but Jake Locker did throw three TDs to Walker while he was still the starter. From Week 10 to Week 15, Walker had the 6th-highest PPG (8.7), so he’s capable of playing at a TE1 level. Moreover, new HC Ken Whisenhunt had this to say about Walker: "Working with Antonio Gates got me excited about the position, and I think there's a lot of elements to what Delanie does that are similar in that capacity.” This bodes well for Walker’s usage in Whisenhunt’s offense.
Texans WR Andre Johnson hasn't been to voluntary workouts all offseason in Houston. This week, he'll skip mandatory work for the first time and risk being fined by the team.
"Right now, that's all that he can do,'" Melton said of Johnson skipping work this week. "We've done what we can do, so we're just sitting there waiting."
Melton insisted that Johnson has a great relationship with new coach Bill O'Brien. The seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver seems more dissatisfied with the Texans' lack of a quarterback. Johnson could still skip training camp in July and August, when the fines can really rack up.
"We'll evaluate it in a month or so and see what's going on," Melton said.
It's not clear what Johnson's endgame is -- does he want to be traded? Johnson is missing valuable reps with a new QB in a new offense, and it's not doing much for his fantasy prospects heading into the 2014 season. Buyer beware.
Sunday, June 15, 2014, 11:19am
In addition to Texans DE Jadeveon Clowney’s sports hernia, DE J.J. Watt has a hyperextended knee.
The injury happened during Thursday’s OTA session. Watt didn’t practice Friday.
“He’s fine,” coach Bill O’Brien said, via Brian Smith of the Houston Chronicle. “It’s not serious at all. We just gave him the day off.”
Jadeveon Clowney, the No. 1 overall pick in the draft by the Houston Texans, is recovering from sports hernia surgery.
Coach Bill O'Brien disclosed the procedure Friday and said Clowney had been struggling with a groin issue. O'Brien said the standout from South Carolina was sent to a specialist in Philadelphia.
“We decided the best thing for (Clowney) and the best thing for our team and the best thing for the organization was to have sports hernia surgery,” O'Brien said.
The surgery was performed Thursday. O'Brien expects Clowney to be ready for training camp, which begins in late July.
The Texans defense could be much improved if Clowney lives up to his draft spot. The hernia surgery is worrisome, but it sounds as if he'll be ready for training camp.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014, 10:28am
"It's a fun system to play in and I'm excited to learn and grow," Pitta said, per the team's official website. "The system is set up for receivers to have big years and for tight ends to catch a lot of footballs. Owen (Daniels) has proven that over the years. Hopefully I can find a similar role."
No offense targeted tight ends as much as Kubiak's Texans did the past three seasons. Daniels joined Kubiak in Baltimore and has helped Pitta learn the new terminology and patterns.
Pitta missed most of 2013 due to a hip injury and he was sorely missed in the Ravens’ passing game. Upon his return, he saw 33 targets in four games, putting him on pace to finish with the 3rd-most targets in the league. It’s not a solid sample size, but it’s still an indicator of what may come. (He finished with the 12th-most targets in 2012.) The big plus for Pitta heading into 2014 is the arrival of new OC Gary Kubiak who has been very TE-friendly throughout his career, specifically with the development of both Shannon Sharpe in Denver and Owen Daniels in Houston.
With a decade's experience in the NFL, Ryan Fitzpatrick is the odds-on favorite to be under center September 7 in the regular season opener versus Washington. HC Bill O'Brien explained that Fitpatrick's football brain and experience in the League is why the Texans went after, and ultimately signed him.
Fitzpatrick won't have a ton of value as the Texans' starter, but if Andre Johnson returns to the team, he could work his way into a QBBC/streaming role.
New coach Bill O’Brien’s offense could have a potent weapon out of the backfield when it’s time to move the ball through the air.
“He’s got really good hand-eye coordination,” O’Brien told reporters on Tuesday regarding tailback Arian Foster. “He’s got good hands. He’s an instinctive player. He has a good idea about how to get open. He enjoys being involved in the passing game, both in protection bases and obviously on routes. He’s had a good OTA period for us.”
That meshes with the optimism Foster already has expressed regarding an offense that involves the running backs in the passing game. O’Brien made it clear that, when looking for guys on the roster who fit his system, the first-year coach needed to look no farther than Foster.
Foster's health is obviously a concern. He has missed 11 games in the last three years, but did play a full season in 2012 and no longer has Ben Tate to worry about. After finishing in the top 2 in fantasy points per game from 2010 to 2012, he was #19 in that category in 2013. There is a new regime in Houston, so Foster's usage is a bit up in the air. Still, he has been one of the most productive RBs in the league when healthy and is a candidate for a bounceback season, especially if he's heavily involved in the passing game. As for his backup, Andre Brown, it appears that he won't be very involved on third down.
Texans HC Bill O'Brien has said that the QB competition is "wide open" and at this point he is giving the QBs equal reps until he has to make decision closer to the season of who is going to get starter reps. And making the right decision on that is important, because increased reps with the first team is key for proper prep for the season.
We believe that Ryan Fitzpatrick has the edge due to his experience, but it sounds as if rookie Tom Savage has a fair shot to win the job in camp. Case Keenum is the wild card, but it's tough to see the team giving the job tohim after drafting Savage. This is probably a situation to avoid at this point.