Houston Texans running back Steve Slaton burst onto the fantasy scene in a big way last year during his rookie campaign.
It was pretty unexpected among most of the fantasy football public.
The more heralded rookies of last year’s class — Darren McFadden, Jonathan Stewart and Rashard Mendenhall — garnered most of the attention before the start of the 2008 season. Upstarts Chris Johnson and Matt Forte stole the show during the preseason. Slaton was merely an afterthought in fantasy drafts, rarely getting taken in standard 12-team leagues.
Then he got a chance to play and never looked back.
Fast forward to the summer of 2009. Slaton’s skills as a shifty ball carrier and productive pass catcher in a pass-happy offense made him delicious to fantasy owners. It was not uncommon to see Slaton’s name fly off the board by the end of the first round in standard leagues. In points-per-reception leagues Slaton approached territory previously reserved for LaDainian Tomlinson and Brian Westbrook.
Some fantasy owners were ready to bail on Slaton after the first two weeks. Now after five weeks? Even more Slaton owners are prepping for the fire sale.
One major obstacle limiting Slaton’s value to date has been the Texans persistence to use backup running back Chris Brown at the goal line this season. While he did punch in a score for Houston last weekend against Arizona, he also failed to do so with the game on the line late in the fourth quarter.
The more times Brown comes up short, the closer Slaton gets to earning goal line carries again. And the schedule continues to look rather tasty the rest of the way.
Houston’s bye week comes in week 10, just a few weeks before the start of the fantasy football playoffs. Here are the Texans’ opponents heading into the bye: @ Bengals, v. 49ers, @ Bills, @ Colts. There certainly are some challenges in there but the Texans’ high-powered offense should be able to move the ball on those units.
After the bye, dessert is served: v. Titans, v. Colts, @ Jaguars, v. Seahawks, @ Rams, @ Dolphins, v. Patriots. For those keeping score at home, that is the Jaguars (13), Seahawks (14), Rams (15) and Dolphins (16) during the most crucial part of the fantasy football season.
Let the feast begin.