The Miami Dolphins head to town on Sunday for the first game of the year in what looks like a mismatch on the field, but what will that mean for your fantasy team? The matchup is obviously favorable for the Texans, but that doesn't always translate to fantasy points. Here's your Texans week one start 'em/sit 'em.
Arian Foster - I said it all last year and I'll continue to say it this season; always start your stud players. Some players are too good to ever consider benching even when facing a tough matchup. They might not put up big numbers, but they'll typically still put up at least average numbers and you don't want to be kicking yourself if they have a great game. Bottom line, you didn't draft Foster or any other star in the first round to leave him on your bench. To this specific matchup, the Dolphins were very good against the run last season ranking third overall in rushing yards allowed, but the Texans still managed to run for 138 yards including 103 yards from Ben Tate. Foster only had 10 carries in the game after re-injuring his hamstring during the first half. Expect a big game from him this week.
Texans Defense - The Texans are the number one team defense fantasy option this week in my opinion. They're facing a rookie quarterback making his first career NFL start, who played only two years of quarterback at the college level, is on the road, with the worst wide receiving group in the league, and a first year head coach; should be a huge day for "Bulls On Parade". The Texans ranked second in the league last season in yards allowed, sixth in sacks, and ranked second in opponents quarterback rating (69.0); they're a must start.
Andre Johnson - The Miami Dolphins ranked 25th last season in passing yards allowed, and no longer have Vontae Davis at cornerback who had nine interceptions over the last three seasons and is now a member of the Indianapolis Colts. Johnson had seven catches for 95 yards and a touchdown last season against the Dolphins. If you have Johnson on your team you'll have to monitor his injury status very closely every week, but he's a must start this week.
In 5 career games vs his hometown Miami Dolphins, @johnson80 has 37 rec, 519 yards & 4 TDs (7.4 rec/103.8 yds per) #Texans— Nick Scurfield (@NickScurfield) September 5, 2012
Matt Schaub - The veteran quarterback looked great in the preseason completing over 70 percent of his passes and showing no signs of still being affected by the injury that ended his season last year. Before the injury last year, Schaub had at least 19 fantasy points in three of his last four games. As I mentioned above, the Dolphins ranked 25th against the pass last season and I don't expect them to play any better this season. On top of the favorable matchup, Schaub also has a few new targets to throw to in Keshawn Martin and Lestar Jean who both played very well in the preseason. Schaub threw for 230 yards, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions at Miami last year; good numbers, but I think he'll do even better this year.
Shayne Graham - This is a good matchup up for Graham because the Dolphins defense is poor enough that it will allow the Texans to move up and down the field, but just good enough, or rather average enough, that it won't allow a touchdown on every long drive and should force a field goal or two. It also doesn't hurt that the roof will be closed with the 50/80 rule at Reliant Stadium so Graham won't have to worry about any wind. The last time Graham was a full-time starter in 2009, he finished the season with the 11th most fantasy points making him a low-end starter in 12-team leagues and a good start most weeks.
Owen Daniels - He could have a big game if the Dolphins double Andre Johnson and leave the middle of the field open, but he's been too inconsistent in recent years to trust in ten team leagues; he might sneak in as a starter in 12 team leagues but I'd still look for a better option. Daniels only had three touchdowns last season and didn't score after week four last year. In their game against the Dolphins last year, Daniels had three catches for 25 yards and zero touchdowns. He may end up being a top 10 tight end this season, he's got that sort of upside, but let him prove it first.
Ben Tate - In the nine games Ben Tate was just the backup last year (started against Indianapolis and New Orleans, took the majority of snaps against Miami), he averaged only nine carries per game. Against a solid run defense like the Dolphins, I can't imagine Tate putting up starting worthy numbers with fewer than ten carries. By his yards per rush average from last year, nine carries would put him at roughly 45-50 yards; he's only worth starting if he steals a goal line carry from Foster which is unlikely and not something I would count on.
Kevin Walter/Keshawn Martin/Lestar Jean - One of these guys may have a big game against a poor Dolphins pass defense if they decide to double Andre Johnson, but there's no way to predict which one of them will be the beneficiary and I wouldn't start any of these three guys.