Texans somehow overcome the greatness that is Zach Miller, hold on to beat Raiders

HOUSTON - SEPTEMBER 12: Quarterback Matt Schaub  of the Houston Texans drops back to pass against the Indianapolis Colts during the NFL season opener at Reliant Stadium on September 12, 2010 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Zach Miller caught 11 passes for 122 yards and a touchdown on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough as the Texans beat the Raiders, 31-24.

Like the All-Pro tandem of Mark Sanchez and Dustin Keller, Bruce Gradkowski and Miller are starting to click. In the two games that Gradkowski has started, Miller has 15 catches for 186 yards and two touchdowns. Zach Miller.

What was even more impressive than Miller’s day was the fact that the Texans still racked up 31 points despite not having Andre Johnson (high ankle sprain) and Arian Foster missing the first quarter because he was being punished. (Apparently he missed a meeting last week and was late for another, so Gary Kubiak sat him.)

Apparently Foster got the message because when he finally came into the game, he rushed for 131 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. On top of rushing for 8.2 yards a clip, he also broke free on a 74-yard touchdown run to give Houston a 21-14 lead early in the third quarter.

Schaub was also solid, completing 16-of-29 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns. The key difference between him and Gradkowski was that the Oakland QB threw two interceptions along with his two touchdowns and 278 yards. Still, Gradkowski continues to provide a spark for the Raiders’ offense, which means we won’t see Jason Campbell anytime soon.

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2010 Fantasy Football Preview: TEs

SAN DIEGO - JANUARY 17: Tight end Antonio Gates #85 of the San Diego Chargers makes a catch against the New York Jets during AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Qualcomm Stadium on January 17, 2010 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

All 2010 Fantasy Football Articles | 2010 Position Rankings

The tight end position is often overlooked in fantasy football, but in leagues that award a point per reception, a stud TE can be quite valuable indeed. Over the past decade or so, NFL offensive coordinators have increasingly built game plans around their talented tight ends. It used to be that the position was meant to block in the running game and catch the occasional pass or two. But, more and more, the tight end has become a spot for a big playmaker with soft hands who can block a little.

The position isn’t nearly as deep as QB, but since many fantasy owners don’t consider taking a tight end until the fourth or fifth round, value is often found in the middle rounds. A vast majority of championship teams will get at least average production from the position, so no matter your strategy, you have to find a decent TE somewhere in your draft if you hope to be hoisting the trophy at the end of the season.

Here are a few TEs I’ll be targeting this season along with the round in which each player becomes a good value.

Antonio Gates in the 4th
With Vincent Jackson prepared for a long holdout, Gates will get a ton of targets from Phillip Rivers. It appears that his foot injury is behind him, so he’s in line for another Top 4 year. Gates is as consistent as they come.

Dallas Clark in the 5th
Clark was a stud last season, but with Anthony Gonzalez back and the continued development of Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie, one wonders if he can post 100 catches again. His previous high was 77, so the gut says ‘no.’ Still, even if he takes a 20% cut in production, that still would have been good enough to be TE3 in ’09.

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Raiders are a solid fit for Jason Campbell

Jason Campbell is getting the opportunity to start fresh. It might not be in the most ideal NFL situations, but it’s certainly a great fit for him.

On Saturday, the Redskins traded Campbell to the Raiders in exchange for a fourth-round pick in 2012. There are several media outlets reporting that Campbell already has a deal in place that will pay him $3.14 million this year and $4.5 million in 2011.

Oakland is one of the few places in the NFL where players would probably rather swim in shark invested waters than go to, but this really is a great match for Campbell. He’s not an elite quarterback by any means and he certainly needs a strong supporting cast around him in order to succeed, but he should have no problems beating out JaMarcus Russell and Bruce Gradkowski for the Raiders’ starting quarterback job. He has the strong arm that Al Davis covets and has a couple of players in Zach Miller, Chaz Schilens, Darren McFadden and Michael Bush at his disposal to help him succeed in Oakland’s offense.

I don’t expect Davis to outright release Russell without at least giving him one last chance to win the starting job. But if history is any indication, even the acquisition of Campbell won’t motivate Russell enough to work hard this summer. He just doesn’t have the mental fortitude, the drive or the passion to succeed in the NFL and will likely be out of the league soon enough.

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Fantasy Football Update: 10/28

Jason Witten has a broken rib but wants to play through it this week in a big game against the Giants. Conventional wisdom states that the Cowboys should rest Witten this week because they have a bye in Week 10, so that would give him 2-3 weeks of rest. If Witten can’t go, Martellus Bennett wouldn’t be a bad fill in. Visanthe Shiancoe or Zach Miller would be good spot starters as well…Santonio Holmes will play Monday night, which means that Nate Washington will be relegated back to WR3 duties…Matt Hasselbeck is likely out for Week 9 with a bulging disk in his back. He apparently doesn’t have pain in his back or leg, but he has a ‘dead leg’ feeling. Not good…The 49ers named Shaun Hill their starting QB. He’s an interesting pickup in fantasy leagues since he’s playing in Mike Martz’s offense…Steven Jackson should be ready to go in Week 9, according to Jim Haslett.

Fantasy Fallout, Week 1: Broncos 41 @ Raiders 14

All right, I’m applying a five-year (or maybe a ten-year) moratorium on myself – I’m not going to draft any Denver running backs in the first eight rounds. I’ve been touting Selvin Young all summer, and even though Andre Hall’s emergence started to worry me, I stuck with my recommendation to draft Young in the 5th or 6th round. As always, Mike Shanahan (a.k.a. “Skeletor”) found a way to screw me. While Young did start, and he did score a touchdown, Denver is clearly…CLEARLY…a RBBC. Young had four carries through three quarters, and finally got the rock regularly on a fourth quarter drive, which he punctuated with a 5-yard score. Andre Hall led the team in carries (10) and yards (61), while Michael Pittman…MICHAEL PITTMAN…is the team’s goal line back; he scored twice. Unless Hall goes down with an injury, I think Young owners are in for a long, frustrating year…As you can see, I’m not afraid to skewer myself when I’m wrong. But I’m not afraid to break my arm patting myself on the back, either. I’ve been touting Jay Cutler and Eddie Royal too (and maybe more), and they both delivered in a big way. Cutler threw for 299 yards and two scores, while Royal one-upped DeSean Jackson’s NFL debut by posting nine catches for 146 yards and a TD. Mike Ditka was impressed with his route running, which is especially laudable considering he was going up against two very good cornerbacks in Nnamdi Asomugha and DeAngelo Hall. Simply stated, Royal filleted them. Brandon Marshall will be Denver’s WR1, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Royal finished with 75-80 catches for 1200 yards. He’s that good. As for Cutler, he looked awesome. He was cool, calm and collected, and in complete control of the Denver offense. He has a gun and he’s accurate as well. I think he’s in for a big year…Tony Scheffler had one big reception for 72 yards and Darrell Jackson had a 48-yard TD catch…The Denver offense as a whole looked great, so Matt Prater would be a good pickup at kicker…JaMarcus Russell finished with good numbers (180 passing yards, 2 TD), but he was shaky at the start. He had a couple of near-misses with Ronald Curry (2-18-1), but finally settled in during the second half and started hitting his receivers…Ashley Lelie (3-37-1) could have value if Javon Walker continues to miss time with a “bad hammy” and Zach Miller (4-34) will probably put up better numbers as the season wears on…Justin Fargas turned 20 touches into 109 yards while Darren McFadden had 10 touches for 57 yards. It’s not clear if this was by design or if the coaching staff decided to rein in McFadden once the game got out of control to avoid making the night any worse by risking a potential injury to their prized draft pick.

Tuesday Morning Update: McFadden apparently left the game with a shoulder injury. If he misses any time, Justin Fargas becomes a legitimate fantasy RB2.

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