The Texans could have been the AFC’s Super Bowl representative if Matt Schaub hadn’t gone down in 2011.

But in the off-season, the Texans didn’t really make their case for getting there in 2012. They lost two of their starting offensive lineman, and veterans Mario Williams and DeMeco Ryans left on the defensive side.

And now, with the lineman and the star defensive players gone, should we look at the Texans a little differently from a fantasy perspective? Can Arian Foster continue his pace?  Should we take a chance with an aging Andre Johnson? Is Matt Schaub really a late round steal?

Keep tabs on…

Andre Johnson. If I told you that there was a 31-year-old wide receiver who is coming off of arthroscopic knee surgery and missed 9 games last season due to a lingering hamstring, would you want to draft him?

Probably not. But if I told you that this wide receiver was built like a linebacker, you may think twice.

Andre Johnson has had his fair share of injuries throughout his career, sure, but the guy has also done some unbelievable things catching the football. He’s never scored double digit touchdowns in a given season, but has topped 1,500 yards twice. In 2012, he’s also going to get looks in a Texans offense that has little depth at wide receiver.

People worried about his injury need to remember that he finished the season favorably during his playoff games against Cincinnati and Baltimore. That should give owners some hope that he’ll be ready to go in 2012.

If other owners in your league are afraid to get Andre, don’t hesitate to select him yourself in the late second round of your draft. If you’ve read my blog, you know I value running backs – especially this season – more than wide receivers. So if there are still viable running backs during your second round pick, I’d still get one of them.

I value Andre Johnson below Larry Fitzgerald, but slightly above a player like Greg Jennings. His upside is huge considering what he’s done in his career. His age and health are scary, but if you’re a risk taker in the early rounds and Johnson falls, go ahead and snag him.

I’m not sure you should draft…

Matt Schaub. Before last season, Schaub had two straight seasons playing all 16 games. And moreover, in both of those seasons, he threw for 4,700 and 4,300 yards with 29 and 24 touchdowns. Not bad.

But last year, if you were to pro rate his numbers across the entire season, Schaub would’ve finished as the 10th quarterback. In his two full seasons in Houston, he’s finished 9th and 4th.  It’s not as though he’s been unbelievable.

When you’re using the late-round quarterback strategy, you have to get a player who has a very high ceiling. You need someone that has an opportunity to compete with the elite guys at the position. You need a player with immense upside. And when I look at the players listed low at quarterback, I feel like there are players that have higher ceilings.

You’re also taking on a risk with Schaub because of his injury woes. He’s only played two full seasons since getting to Houston in 2007. His floor is low because of this.

I think there are better options in the middle to late rounds of your draft. Matt Schaub seems accurately ranked, and given that, he’s not the best pick to make.

You should continue to feel alright about…

Arian Foster. But watch out for Ben Tate.

The offensive line losses are somewhat troublesome, but I sincerely think that the bigger hit to Foster’s value is Ben Tate.

Ken Daube wrote a fantastic article on the impact Ben Tate could potentially have on Foster this year. Here are some highlights from the piece:

Since 2002, only one running back (Jamaal Charles, 2010) broke a higher percentage of his rushing attempts for 10 yards or more than Tate did last season.

For the first time, Tate will have a full offseason to prepare for the upcoming campaign (his first was cut short by injury, his second by the lockout)

While it’s nothing more than an educated guess, I would project at least 40 percent of the 2012 rushing attempts to go to Tate this season, and as many as 50 percent.

He’s clearly high on Tate. But regardless of how you feel, the article highlights some interesting aspects of the Texans’ running game.

I’m still feeling good with Arian Foster as a top-5 running back, but having Tate there is slightly scary.

The one word to describe the 2012 Texans is…

Great. The Texans offense has had studs over the last few seasons, and there’s a definite possibility that this will continue with Andre Johnson and Arian Foster.

My biggest concern is if you’re a Foster owner. It’s not necessarily a must to handcuff him with Ben Tate considering what it would cost you. But if you do get Foster, be aware that Ben Tate could eat into some of Foster’s carries.