• A closer look at the Houston Texans' 2013 regular season schedule

    Steady progression over the past three seasons has evolved the Houston Texans into a team that has championship expectations. With the NFL schedule released Thursday, the Texans’ competition will test those expectations.

    Houston will have to face the reigning AFC and NFC champions within the first five weeks of the season. The last team to face the two Super Bowl teams within the first five weeks was the Arizona Cardinals in 2007.  They went on to win both.

    With the acquisitions of Nnamdi Asomugha and Anquan Boldin, San Francisco seems to provide a tougher challenge than Baltimore. However, the Ravens have slightly recovered from their off-season losses, signing Michael Huff and Elvis Dumervil to lengthy contracts.

    One of the departed, safety Ed Reed, will get his homecoming in week three, and Houston will get a chance to win two in a row against the Ravens for the first time in franchise history.

    With both Super Bowl participants at the top of the schedule, this marks one of the tougher openings for the Texans. This season the Texans will face three teams in the opening month who are coming off playoff seasons. The last two seasons they faced three total. None were Super Bowl teams.

    Houston also gets four primetime games, a place they struggled a season ago. Twice the Texans were embarrassed on national television, losing to Green Bay, 42-24 and New England, 42-14.

    With seven games against 2012 playoff teams this season, it’s going to be tough for the Texans to reach the playoffs for the third straight time. If they can get there, they will be the second fastest expansion team to reach three straight playoff seasons since the merger in 1970.

  • Breaking down Rick Barnes' 2013 recruiting class

    The 2013 recruiting class is now official. The Longhorns signed three backcourt prospects to letters of intent Wednesday and are going to need immediate impacts from them if they want to avoid another disastrous season.

    Shooting guard Demarcus Croaker from Orlando, point guard Isaiah Taylor from Oakland and Richardson combo guard Kendal Yancy should all have an opportunity to play early.

    "We are very excited to welcome Demarcus, Isaiah and Kendal to the Texas Basketball program," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "With the addition of these three players, we have made a significant improvement in terms of skill and athleticism in our backcourt."

    Yancy is an explosive scorer that can play both backcourt spots. He is ranked as the No. 87 prospect nationally in the ESPN100 and the No. 107 prospect in the country by rivals.com.

    Croaker, a shooting guard from Jones High School, is ranked as the No. 105 prospect in the nation by rivals.com. He averaged a team-best 23.9 points per game and was a finalist for the Florida Class 4A Player of the Year award during his senior season.

    Taylor, who averaged a double-double his final season in high school, is a true pass first point guard capable of making plays off the dribble at high speeds.

    All three will have the opportunity to contribute immediately as the Longhorns look to the replace their two leading scorers from last season. Point guard Myck Kabongo has declared for the NBA Draft and shooting guard Sheldon McClellan decided to transfer last month.

  • Three biggest surprises in fantasy baseball this year

    We are now a little more than two weeks into the MLB season and it is still way too early to start throwing labels on players, but there are a few players who have been on fire so far this season. Here’s a list of a few guys that have done a lot to increase their fantasy value in the first two weeks of the season.

    1. John Buck, C, New York Mets

    In his first 46 at-bats of the year Buck has already hit six home runs and knocked in 19 runs. This is a good sign for fantasy owners because in 106 games during the 2012 season, Buck hit just 12 home runs and had a horrendous .192 average. I would not recommend making a trade for Buck just yet though; maybe wait a month or so and see if he can continue to put up quality stats. I would also be careful to give up a lot for Buck because in his nine MLB seasons he has never hit for an average above .300. There is no doubt that the way he has been playing has significantly increased his fantasy value, but just make sure to keep a close eye on his performance to see if he can keep it up throughout the rest of the season.  

     2. Chris Davis, 1B, Baltimore Orioles

    Davis has almost identical stats to Buck; in 47 at bats he has hit six home runs, 19 RBIs and is hitting .340. His stats are not as surprising as Buck’s though because last season he hit .270 with 33 home runs and 85 RBIs so it looks like he has picked up right where he left off in 2012. Nonetheless, his stats are still quite impressive and if you are in need of a power hitter who can also hit for a decent average then you should definitely look into trading for Davis, and you should be able to get a fair deal for him.

    3. Matt Harvey, SP, New York Mets

    Harvey has started this season as one of the hottest pitchers in all of baseball. In his first three starts he has recorded three wins, allowed only two earned runs and posted an ERA of just 0.82. This hot start is surprising because in 10 starts last season, he struggled, posting a mediocre record of 3-5, but with a year of experience under his belt the 24-year-old starter looks poised to have a great season. Harvey is owned in 100 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues, but if he begins to struggle a little bit that number could decline and ultimately give fantasy owners a chance to pick him up or trade for him.