Monday, July 21, 2008

Breakout Player: TE Owen Daniels (Texans)

In 1999, I had the option to move with my family to a small suburb outside of Chicago, IL. The High School where I would have played my senior year of football that year was led by QB Owen Daniels; who ended up leading his Naperville Central Redhawks to an undefeated 14-0 season and the Illinois Class 6A state football title.

After switching to the Tight End position at the University of Wisconsin, Daniels played in 43 games; registering 62 catches for 852 yards. He also was a star special teams player and logged time in at flanker, split end and wingback. In the 2006 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans picked the 6'3'' 246 pound Daniels in the 4th round (98th pick overall).

Playing his rookie season for a dismal Texan offense, Daniels recorded 34 catches for 352 yards and 5 TD's. He showed the ability to get open in the middle of the field, had great ball handling skills and was a presence in the red zone. His best game came against the Tennessee Titans where he made 9 catches for 99 yards and 2 TD's.

Owen Daniels completed the 2007 NFL season starting all 16 games with 63 catches for 769 yards and 3 TD's. He was consistent all season, runs good routes, understands zone coverages and has excellent hands. He is very athletic, does a good job getting off the line of scrimmage and can find the open window/passing lane. He has decent speed but will not burn by defenders. Daniels is best when having to catch the ball in traffic and is not afraid to go up and get the ball over the middle. he plays with a lot of confidence and is a leader on the field.

What are some factors that will lead Daniels to have a breakout season in 2008?

1) Healthy Offense Daniels will benefit from having starting QB Matt Schaub back healthy to start the season after missing 5 games last year. Schaub led the way as the Texans ranked 14th in overall offense, including a No. 11 overall ranking with the team’s improved passing attack. Pro Bowl WR Andre Johnson will also be full strength, helping take some of the pressure off the rest of the offense. Johnson played in only 9 games in 2007 but still racked up 60 catches for 851 yards and 8 TD's. Daniels will still be a go-to receiver on 3rd down and clutch plays.

2) Running Game The Houston Texans will have an improved running game this season with a healthy RB Ahman Green, free agent RB Chris Brown (Texans) and rookie RB Steve Slaton. This should open up the passing game more and control the clock. Daniels displays good blocking ability and can line up all over the field to give opposing defenses different looks.

Fantasy Outlook: Daniels enters this season as one of the Top 10 TE's in Fantasy Football. He gets a lot of catches, is great in the red zone and has potential to have a 1,000 yard season. He will be a household name soon and should be a mid level draft selection.

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