October 21, 2005
Of Insults and Injuries
by Keith Weiland
The Texans remained the last winless team in the league through six weeks, putting up a 42-10 stinker on the road against the Seahawks. Hopefully you got a chance to catch them on the Sunday night broadcast since their performance put several of the their most prominent problems on display.
This week will not get any easier as the undefeated Colts visit Houston. This is a total mismatch on paper, but if recent history is to be followed, the Texans have actually played …okay… against the Colts at home. Mix in the fact that the team will be wearing their alternate “Battle Red” jerseys – an outfit in which they have yet to lose a game while wearing – and there is a little justification to hold out a smidgen of hope for success.
Oh, who am I kidding? This team is ripe for another blowout.
DAVID CARR did not play too poorly in Seattle. It helped his argument that the problems with the Texans offense are in fact with the line, which became a bit more obvious in Week 6. His stats though were nothing impressive (179 passing yards, a touchdown, and no interceptions), especially when you consider that the team was getting smashed by 32 points. The losing quarterback ought to be throwing like nuts down the stretch when down by such a margin. With such pitiful protection in obvious passing situations though, Carr won’t be putting up those kind of numbers any time soon.
The offensive line underwent a major shakeup last week, and with right guard Zach Wiegert out this Sunday against the Colts, the Texans are expected to go with the same mix that finished the game in Seattle. Left tackle Chester Pitts did okay last week, but he has a tougher assignment this Sunday against Dwight Freeney. Rookie center Drew Hodgdon actually did okay in his first real action last week, but he will have his hands full with an active Colts defensive line. As such, Carr should remain on your bench this week unless your team is desperate.
Losing Wiegert is a big loss for DOMANICK DAVIS and the running game. Wiegert was arguably the best lineman on the Texans roster. Fortunately, his replacement, Milford Brown, is an adequate run blocker (pass blocking being a whole separate issue for Brown and his mates), so Davis should not be downgraded this week because of the injury to Wiegert.
Davis has also played well against the Colts at home the last two years. In 2003, he ran for 99 yards and two touchdowns, adding in another six catches for 35 yards receiving. Last year, Davis rumbled for 128 yards and a score, and again had another six receptions for 73 yards. The Texans offense will no doubt feature Davis in Week 7, so do NOT bench him just because he is playing the undefeated Colts.
ANDRE JOHNSON will miss his second game in Week 7 due to his calf injury. The team said on Friday that his leg is making some progress, but since this is similar to a hamstring injury, there is good reason for extra caution. Rushing him back could cause him to re-injure the calf, and for a wide receiver like Johnson, his legs are what make him go.
JABAR GAFFNEY filled in for Johnson against the Seahawks as the number one receiver, and he responded with ten catches for 87 yards. That ought to put a dent in the argument that Gaffney is not a competent number two guy. He obviously lacks the explosiveness of Johnson, but his hands are steady, and he finds ways to make first downs. His problems in amassing fantasy-worthy stats consistently can be linked to the ineffectiveness of his offensive line not giving the quarterback enough time make his reads (or in his quarterback being too willing to check down to an outlet receiver before looking his direction).
You might consider COREY BRADFORD in your lineup this week if you are really hurting for a starter. With the injury to Johnson, the Texans lack a deep threat, and Bradford will likely be that guy for Carr on Sunday. Be warned though: Carr has had significant trouble throwing deep against a cover-2 defense, and I have seen nothing yet to think that will change.
JEROME MATHIS will play on Sunday, though he is still a little slowed by a nagging injury. He is due for a big kickoff return, and it is entirely possible he might be the benefactor of a deep pass from Carr before Bradford. Only start him though if you can take advantage of his return yardage.
Tight Ends, Kicker, and Defense
The tight end situation still stinks. MARCELLUS RIVERS is getting the looks from Carr most often, but he is hardly worthy to keep on a fantasy roster much less to consider as a starter.
KRIS BROWN missed a 56-yard field goal attempt wide right against the Seahawks, but he had plenty of leg. He would be starter-worthy if he played for a team with a halfway decent offense, but as we all know, the Texans are not even halfway to being a halfway decent offense.
Playing against the potent Colts offense should be enough of a reason to ignore the TEXANS DEFENSE in Week 7. Considering that they will also be missing the heart of the defense, inside linebacker KAILEE WONG, the Texans are not likely to slow down anything the Colts attempt this Sunday. That said, the Texans have actually played good defense against the Colts at home the last couple years, giving up just 20 and 23 points in those contests. Let me be brutally honest with you though: Friends do not let friends start the Texans defense in 2005.
Keith Weiland covers the Texans as a correspondent for ESPN.com’s Fantasy Football.
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