Texans: Big and bright stars in Texas
The Texans added a few defensive pieces this offseason, but for the most part, they return much of the same team that went 8-8 last year. So, why are so many analysts expecting a big breakthrough (possible a playoff berth) from Houston this year?
It's largely because of Matt Schaub, the talented-but-injury-prone QB. Schaub showed noticeable improvement last season, upping his yards/game output to 276.6 and his TDs/game to 1.36. Unfortunately for Schaub, he missed five games for the second straight season -- this time primarily due to a torn MCL in his left knee. A left shoulder injury plagued him in '07.
Can Schaub stay healthy? If he can't, the Texans will have to turn to either Dan Orlovsky or Rex Grossman (who's already out 4-to-5 weeks due to a hamstring injury). If that's the case, it could be bad news not only for Houston's playoff chances, but also the fantasy prospects of players like Andre Johnson, Steve Slaton and Owen Daniels.
All those players have flourished without Schaub in the past, so there's really no reason to lower them on your draft board, but it's safe to say the Texans' offense is a lot more powerful with Schaub at the helm.
In Schaub's defense, all the hits that have injured him in the past resulted in heavy fines by the league. This indicates that Schaub might not be quite as injury-prone as he's made out to be. Still, he's a risk if you're counting on him as your QB1.
Houston is more risky on the other side of the ball, but this young, emerging defensive unit could make a name for itself in '09. If rookies Brian Cushing and Connor Barwin are the real deal, it will be more than the Mario Williams/DeMeco Ryans' show this year.
All in all, the Texans have the talent, but it's unclear if they have the toughness. If they do, it could be a big year for the Texans' many stars.