2015 Outlook: Owning Foster in fantasy should come with a bottle of antacid. Skills-wise, he's still one of the best RBs in the NFL: He possesses rare power, but he also has that quick-twitch, one-cut acceleration that makes him great in a zone-blocking scheme. The problem? He's so injury-prone. Foster has missed 11 games since 2013 and has been knocked out of a few others. For all the lip service the Texans give about limiting his touches, Foster had 20-plus carries nine times in 2014, second most in the league behind DeMarco Murray. He deserves to be an RB1 this year. Just make sure you handcuff Alfred Blue.
2015 Outlook: Despite being stuck with one of the league's worst QB situations, Hopkins finished as fantasy's No. 15 WR last year in his second NFL season. Hopkins has made the most of his 211 career targets, registering just four drops and posting the eighth-best yards-per-target mark (10.1) at the position in 2014. With Andre Johnson out of the mix, Hopkins, 23, enters this season as Houston's clear-cut No. 1 WR. The team's still-unsettled QB depth chart will keep him from becoming a fantasy elite, but Hopkins will see enough target volume to warrant consideration in the third round.
2015 Outlook: The Texans' defense can be summed up with one name: J.J. Watt. The all-world DE has been the single most dominant defensive player in the league over the past three seasons, posting 51' sacks and 53 tackles for loss. Despite disappointing seasons from LB Brian Cushing and DB D.J. Swearinger, the Texans allowed opposing offenses to score on a league-low 26.6 percent of drives. Overall, Houston finished fourth in fantasy scoring in 2014. While the Texans' surrounding cast doesn't rival that of the Seahawks, Watt's presence alone gives this squad top-five upside.
2015 Outlook: Blue produced acceptable numbers in Arian Foster's three-game absence last season, including 156 yards rushing in Week 11 against the Browns, but we're still not crazy about him. He runs heavy-footed, upright and void of much power despite his 6-foot-2, 223-pound frame. All that said, the Texans ran the ball 51.9 percent of the time last year (the highest rate in the league), and Foster is a terrible bet to stay healthy for an entire season. By dint of his role, Blue is a must-handcuff, and he could be worth a look on his own in deeper leagues.
2015 Outlook: Once heralded as a potential first-round pick in the 2015 draft, Strong dropped to the third, where Houston snagged him as a replacement for Andre Johnson. The 6-foot-2, 217-pound Strong projects to be like Marques Colston in that he'll work primarily as a possession receiver on short-to-midrange routes. Strong has good hands, is already a competent blocker and will help out in the return game. Houston's run-heavy scheme and underwhelming quarterback situation are sure to hurt Strong's fantasy ceiling, but he'll see enough volume to warrant a late-round flier.
2015 Outlook: There's a long list of players who have been labeled as injury-prone only to shake the characterization within a year or two. Shorts isn't one of those players. In his four years with Jacksonville, he missed 14 games due to injury. He was a big part of the offense when healthy, averaging 6.8 targets per game, but the team's underwhelming offensive production held him to just 12 touchdowns. Now 27, Shorts heads to Houston, where his upside will be limited by a run-heavy scheme, QB concerns and his placement behind DeAndre Hopkins and rookie Jaelen Strong on the depth chart.
2015 Outlook: Hoyer has a chance to win the Texans' starting gig over Ryan Mallett -- but it would probably be better for Houston if he didn't. Much was made of the Browns' 6-3 start under Hoyer last year, as the talking heads crowed about what a "winner" he is. Alas, the tape doesn't lie. Hoyer has a fine arm and decent mobility, but he just doesn't see the field well. Cleveland bottomed out when Hoyer tossed 1 TD and 8 INTs from Weeks 11 to 14, and here we are. Mallett has better raw tools; Hoyer is more of a known quantity. Despite the presence of burgeoning star WR DeAndre Hopkins and rookie Jaelen Strong, the winner here won't be a fantasy star.
2015 Outlook: It's hard to know what the Texans have in Mallett. He's thrown only 79 regular-season passes in four NFL seasons. He took over the starting job in Houston in Week 11 last year and looked pretty terrific against the Browns (81.9 Total QBR). Unfortunately, he followed up that effort with inaccuracy and poor decisions against the Bengals (20.3 Total QBR), then missed the remainder of 2014 with a pectoral injury. Whether or not the strong-armed Mallett can beat out Brian Hoyer for the Texans' starting gig will come down to his throwing accuracy. But there's upside here, especially with DeAndre Hopkins as a top target and rookie WR Jaelen Strong aboard.