The Atlanta Falcons made a big mistake when they traded away Matt Schaub to the Houston Texans in 2007. Yes, they were able to draft Matt Ryan in 2008 but things would have been very different in 2007 had they kept Schaub around. They probably wouldn't have had the complete meltdown that they had and he would have been a bright spot in a very dark season for the franchise. That's all in the past now and hindsight is always 20/20. Things have worked out in the long run for the Falcons and definately for Schaub and the Texans. Up until last year though, many fantasy owners were wondering when Matt Schaub would fully reach his potential. Let's examine the concerns that some might still have and then what we can expect.
There were two main concerns: that he couldn't consistently put the ball in the end zone for touchdowns and he was fragile and missed time. Considering that first concern, in his first two seasons with the Texans, Schaub threw 24 touchdowns in 22 starts. Obviously that works out to just over a touchdown per game. Not horrible at all but a statistic that will not win you a fantasy championship. It wasn't for a lack of weapons or the offense he was in. Houston had great receivers in Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter and Owen Daniels. Then in 2008, Steve Slaton tore things up as a rookie and added another dimension to the team. It seemed like the pieces were there but Schaub could not complete the puzzle. His coach was not the problem, Gary Kubiak is an offensive genius. After Kubiak's first year with the team, they have consistently scored over 360 points a season. Their yards per game have also gone up, rising above 330/game. He certainly knows how to put an offense together and achieve big things. The second concern was Schaub's health. He missed 5 games in each of his first two seasons with the team. In 2007, it was one game with a concussion and the last four games with a season-ending injury to his shoulder. In 2008, he missed one game with a virus and four games with a knee injury. If you were relying on him, you needed to have a quality backup.
Schaub overcame both problems last year, as a result of spending more time in the film room and the weight room in the offseason and looking to avoid meaningless hits during the season. It paid off nicely as he played in all 16 games. Even though he suffered a dislocated shoulder in Week 13, he came back to finish the game and didn't miss a beat throwing seven touchdowns in the last four games and over 300 yards in three of those games. A stark contrast from those other seasons. We should expect him to stay healthy again this season. He doesn't run much and put himself in danger that way. Plus he gets rid of the ball better than before. The offensive line is great at pass blocking and only gave up 25 sacks last year, that was fifth best in the NFL. Schaub also set a career high with 29 touchdown passes in his 16 starts. A major reason for that turnaround was his effectiveness in the red zone. He completed 18 of 30 passes and 14 touchdowns. Schaub finished the season leading the league in attempts, completions and passing yards.
I see no reason why Schaub should not be the target for your quarterback position. The offense remains basically the same as 2009. The Texans will probably try to balance the offense with more of a rushing game after finishing 30th in that category with 92 ypg. They will however remain a pass heavy team with the firepower they posess in Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter, Owen Daniels and Steve Slaton. Schaub has tall receivers with good hands to look for when they get into the red zone. I'm don't think he will lead the league in passing yards again but he will still finish with 29+ touchdowns and his interceptions will probably fall a little. He is just below the Big 3 (Brees, Rodgers, Manning) but in many weeks he will put up comparable points for your team. One last point, at the end of the season the Texans will surely be playing for their playoff lives, while you're battling in your fantasy playoffs. That should be part of your consideration while contemplating who you choose. So, if you're looking for a quarterback for your team, you can do a lot worse than Matt Schaub. (Michael Vick.....anyone)
Projection: 405-590 ATT, 4330 yards, 270.6/game, 29 TD, 12 INT, 1 rush TD