A few weeks ago, I was going through my twitter timeline when I saw a tweet from someone in reference to the "$15 game". It was enough to get my attention and it forced me to track down what exactly the game is. I'm glad I did because it's one of my favorite "fantasy" things to do in sports.
When I was growing up, my friends and I engaged in drafts of all-star teams well before fantasy sports became a way of life. The premise is that you have $15 to spend on an all-time team. The one that I initially noticed was Pro Basketball's all-time team. Players were ranked from $5 down to $1 at five different positions and you could spend $15 or less. I came up with four or five different teams on the spot.
I loved it.
Then on Tuesday, Marc Vandermeer came into the room talking about that game. So, as we discussed, I figured we could do one for the Houston Texans. Now, with football, there are more positions to account for, so there's more money to spend. But after a first run, some edits, some back and forth with Marc, one of the few people in the building that's seen every single player to don a Texans jersey, we came up with our $21 game for the Houston Texans.
The game is simple. There are seven player categories - QB, RB, Pass catcher, OL, DL, LB and Secondary and you have $21 or less to spend to create YOUR All-time Houston Texans team. I chose five players per position and ranked them accordingly. I've also included a short scouting report, just in case all of the young'uns out there need a refresher on some original Texans. So, here's your $21 Texan bucks, pick your team. When you're done, compare it to the teams that Marc, Drew Dougherty, Deepi Sidhu and myself drafted, which you'll see below.
Now, don't go stealing my team, but when you're done, email me at email@example.com with your team and a paragraph or so providing the reasoning behind your team and any trash talk you feel compelled to throw my way. I'll accumulate all of your teams and write a separate post next week so you can see how others responded.
Matt Schaub $5
David Carr $4
Sage Rosenfels $3
TJ Yates $2
Case Keenum $1
Schaub - 2x Pro Bowler - team's historical leader in every career passing category
Carr - Drafted #1 in 2002, organization's first QB - 59 TD and 13,391 career yards
Rosenfels - 6-4 as a starting QB, threw 15 TD in 2007
Yates - led team to first playoff win in organization history, made biggest play of 2011 season with the scramble for first down at Cincinnati
Keenum - 9 TD and nearly 1,800 yards in 2013
Andre Johnson $5
Owen Daniels $4
Kevin Walter $3
Jabar Gaffney $2
Garrett Graham $1
Johnson - 7x Pro Bowler, 2x All Pro - he's good
Daniels - 2x Pro Bowler - 385 career receptions in eight years in Houston
Walter - 326 career receptions, 24 TD in seven years in Houston
Gaffney - an original Texan draft pick, 171 receptions in four years
Graham - 77 receptions and eight TD over the past two years
Arian Foster $5
Domanick Williams $4
Steve Slaton $3
Ben Tate $2
Ron Dayne $1
Foster - 3x Pro Bowler, 2x All Pro - holds nearly every Texans rushing record
Williams - 976 yards rushing each year in Houston, 154 career receptions
Slaton - 6th in the NFL in rushing in rookie season (2008 - 1,282 yards)
Tate - Nearly 2,000 yards in three years and ten touchdowns
Dayne - Led the team in rushing in 2006 and 2007
Duane Brown $5
Chris Myers $4
Eric Winston $3
Chester Pitts $2
Steve McKinney $1
Brown - 2x Pro Bowler, 2x All-Pro - one of the best, if not the best LT, in the NFL
Myers - 2x Pro Bowler in 2011 and 2012
Winston - one of key pieces in 2006 Draft, started every game at RT for five straight years
Pitts - one of the original stars on the Texans OL, started 114 games in Houston
McKinney - local product that started four straight years, an original Texan
JJ Watt $5
Mario Williams $4
Gary Walker $3
Antonio Smith $2
Seth Payne $1
Watt - 2x Pro Bowler, 2x All-Pro, 2012 NFL Def. Player of the Year - uh, yeah
Williams - 2x Pro Bowler, 1x All-Pro, NFL Alumni DL of the Year in 2007
Walker - 1x Pro Bowler, 51 tackles and 6.5 sacks in Texans inaugural season
Smith - 1x Pro Bowler, the Ninja was one of most popular players in Texans history
Payne - An original Texan, 58 tackles, four sacks and three passes defenses in 2005
Brian Cushing $5
Demeco Ryans $4
Jamie Sharper $3
Jay Foreman $2
Connor Barwin $1
Cushing - 1x Pro Bowl (2009), 1x All-Pro (2011), NFL Def. Rookie of the Year (2009)
Ryans - 2x Pro Bowl and 1x All-Pro, NFL Def. Rookie of the Year (2006)
Sharper - An original Texan ILB, 296 tackles in three years
Foreman - Teamed with Sharper for first three years, 258 tackles in three years
Barwin - Ninth in the league in sacks in 2011 with 11.5, had 19 in four seasons
Aaron Glenn $5
Johnathan Joseph $4
Dunta Robinson $3
Marcus Coleman $2
Kareem Jackson $1
Glenn - 1x Pro Bowl, 1x All-Pro - Houstonian who had five picks and two picks sixes in 2002
Joseph - 2x Pro Bowl, nine interceptions in three years
Robinson - NFL Def. Rookie of the Year (2004), 13 INT and six forced fumbles
Coleman - an original Texan, fourth in the NFL with seven picks in 2003
Jackson - 2010 first round selection, four INT in 2012, 193 career tackles
So, what did we come up with...
Marc Vandermeer, the Voice of the Texans
QB - Sage Rosenfels $3 – At his best, he was very effective. And at $3, he's a bargain. He was 6-4 as a starter (small body of work but the highest winning percentage among Texans QBs). He went 4-1 in 2007 including a stretch run with wins over Tampa Bay, Denver and Jacksonville to help the Texans finish .500 for the first time.
RB - Steve Slaton $3 – I'll take the Slaton from 2008 that led the AFC in yards from scrimmage and had more rushing yards than fellow rookies Chris Johnson and Matt Forte. He was a hot receiver out of the backfield and could carry the rock productively. His career went downhill when he started having neck issues in his second year.
Pass Catcher - Andre Johnson $5** - There is no substitute. Sure OD is a two time Pro Bowler but Andre Johnson is the greatest player in team history. He's a terror to every defense, well worth giving max dollars in our little exercise here.
OL - Chester Pitts $2 - He didn't play on the best Texans teams but he was one of the best linemen to ever set foot in NRG Stadium. He even did a decent job as a left tackle. Getting him for $2 here enables you to spend more elsewhere.
DL - Antonio Smith $2 - The Ninja only missed two games in five seasons here. Once Wade Phillips arrived, he averaged six sacks per season, a very nice number for a 3-4 defensive end. His presence has helped J.J. Watt get one on one blocking on many occasions. He's a steal at $2.
LB - Jamie Sharper $3 - He won a Super Bowl in Baltimore, came here in the expansion draft and led the NFL in tackles in 2003. I'll take him for $3 and not look back, thank you.
DB - Dunta Robinson $3 - I would have loved to save more money and go with Marcus Coleman for $2 but Dunta gets the nod because of tough, physical play (he's the second leading tackler in team history! Remember how hard he used to hit?). He's the all time leader in picks with 13.
Here's the team Drew Dougherty, All-around Texans guru and Host of Texans TV, selected
QB - Sage Rosenefels $3
WR/TE - Garrett Graham $1
RB - Domanick Williams $4
OL - Duane Brown $5
DL - Ninja Assassin $2
LB - Demeco Ryans $4
DB - Marcus Coleman $2
I want to be able to run the ball and play a little defense. Value-wise, I think I got a pretty good deal in Rosenfels. Let's protect him with the best lineman available in Duane Brown, and give him a fairly versatile running back in Domanick Williams. Garrett Graham's worth a lot more than a buck, so I like where I sit with the offense. Defensively, I got a $4 player for just a couple of bones in Antonio Smith, and I coupled him with a team leader and Pro Bowler in DeMeco Ryans. We'll be stout against the run and pass.
Deepi Sidhu, co-host on Texans Radio and a daily contributor to HoustonTexans.com, chimed in with her squad here:
QB - Schaub $5- He's still the best QB in team history, despite last season. See passing stats and TD stats. That and there's just too much drop off with other guys.
WR - AJ $5- Hall of Famer. Best player in franchise history. I might have even paid half my salary for him. Maybe.
RB - Tate $2- Can't be spending like I have a $100 budget so I'm going Tate here. His production could have been higher if he were a starter. Still, he averaged 4.7 yards per carry and that's since 2011 and splitting carries with Foster. Even with three cracked ribs, he scored three TDs and rushed for over 100 yards in Week 13 vs. NE.
OL - Pitts $2- Pitts was a versatile lineman, played both tackle and guard. The more you can do, right? Injury cut his career short otherwise he might have been valued higher.
DL - Watt $5- Can single-handedly end an opposing drive with all the disruption he can cause. Plus, I want some national exposure here and lots of flashy commercials for my money.
LB - Barwin $1- Barwin helps me save some cash but I like him because he was steady and could rush the passer. He could play against the run and defend against the pass equally. He's an every down player. All the other LBs listed other than Cushing come off the field on 3rd downs.
DB - Jackson $1- That's it? $1? I think he is underrated. He may not be a shut-down corner, but the upside could be huge.
My team? Glad you asked...
QB - TJ Yates $2
RB - Arian Foster $5
Pass Catcher - Owen Daniels $4
OL - Duane Brown $5
DL - Seth Payne $1
LB - Jay Foreman $2
Secondary - Marcus Coleman $2
I loaded up on offense because I'm putting butts in seats with this team. We'll score some points, but my defense is consistent, tough and can generate turnovers. In Foster, I'm getting the best running back in team history but also one of its best receivers too. Duane will dominate up front while keeping TJ upright. Payne, Foreman and Coleman were huge pieces of the early Texans' defenses and provide great value at all three levels for a total of $5. Worst case, I'll outscore everyone but I don't think I'll need to with a defensive trio like I selected. So, there you have it. Again, here's your $21, come up with your team and email me your team and a paragraph of your rationale and trash talk at firstname.lastname@example.org.