There have been a lot of complaints that Monday Night Football doesn't get as many quality games compared to Sunday night or even Thursday night. But I don't think anyone can complain that the Texans versus Patriots will be the game of the week. With Houston still sitting on top of the AFC at an 11-1 record, a loss in New England could blow the quest for the No. 1 seed in the playoffs wide open. If so, the next several weeks are going to be very interesting. As much as some NFC fans will deny this, the AFC is still the more superior conference.
With that said, lets take a look at several players who I think are MUST STARTS, OKAY STARTS and GUYS I'D AVOID AT ALL COSTS.
Arian Foster - Is there really any doubt? Only things that I can say about Foster is how the hell did this kid go undrafted coming out of college? And, how could he not have been good enough to unseat Steve Slaton before the 2010 season?
Tom Brady - The Texans Defense on the ground and through the air seem to have deflated from earlier in the season. But even if they were rock solid, I would still recommend Brady. I know what you're thinking. Between Foster and Brady, I'm telling you things you already know. But I have to list them don't I?
Wes Welker - After a very traumatic Week One against the Titans, where Welker caught just 3 passes, it's been an up-and-down roller coaster. But the one thing that has kept Welker's value afloat is his catches. Since that Week One game, he has yet to get any less then 5 and he racked up his third double-digit game last week against the Dolphins. With Rob Gronkowski out, the team has had to rely more on Welker recently, making him a no brainer.
Aaron Hernandez - I was one of the owners who had to sit on Hern for 7 games this year and it killed me. Having to play matchups while your stud is sitting on your roster isn't a pleasant thing to go through. But Hernandez is good to go and should have another big game on Monday night. I, along with many other owners, desperately need either a win or a lot of points to stay alive for some big money at the end of the season.
Andre Johnson - A part of me was going to list AJ in as an OKAY START, but I get the feeling he will have a big game on the big stage. If you look at his numbers, they are all over the place. He isn't putting up the consistent numbers we are used to. But against a Patriots team that can score at will against any opponent, the Texans will have to pass often. Johnson should be a WR1. But even though I believe he'll rack up big numbers, it wouldn't shock me if Johnson misses out on 100 yards receiving. He only has 4 this year.
Stevan Ridley - I could have put Ridley in as a MUST START. But unlike Foster, Ridley still has some small question marks surrounding him. If you look at his weekly stats, he'll put up really big games. Then he will come back down to Earth. I do think Ridley will have a good, not great, game tonight against the Texans Defense. But I don't see him coming close to the numbers that Foster will put up. Danny Woodhead and Shane Vereen still linger in the background.
Owen Daniels - The Patriots rank behind only the Redskins at the bottom of the barrel against opposing fantasy tight ends, giving up 10.4 points per contest. However, with a mere 63 yards over the last 2 weeks, Daniels can't be counted on compared to Hernandez. Unfortunately for many owners, he is likely the best you had this week. So for your sake, I hope he makes a comeback.
Matt Schaub - Unlike Brady, Schaub is still more of a game manager than a quarterback who is going to become the rifleman. But every once and awhile, he will put up one of those huge games, like the 527 passing yards he put up against the Jaguars in Week 11. Just like I wrote with Andre Johnson, the Texans might be forced to throw a lot, making Schaub a low-end QB1 this week. But you never know; Both teams could try and get the ground game going early and often in this one. A high-scoring affair might not be in the cards (See Saints versus Falcons).
GUYS I'D AVOID AT ALL COSTS
Brandon Lloyd - I know it might be tempting to play Lloyd with the belief that tonight will be his big game, but I'm not buying it. He's shown he isn't good with physical corners and can get taken out of the game fairly early. Going up against Johnathan Joseph, who finally returns from a hamstring injury, I don't expect much from Lloyd this week. He's almost off the WR3 radar completely.
Kevin Walter - Walter is a receiver who isn't great, but he does everything just good enough. Which is why the Texans re-signed him right before the start of free agency in 2010. He's one of those players who will put up 70-80 yards and a touchdown, get added to the waiver wire list, and then you don't hear from him again for the next 4-5 weeks. Stay away.
Texans Defense - I'll take this right out of Matt Zawaski's Week 14 Team Defense Rankings:
12. Houston Texans – The low ranking is strictly due to the Texans match up this week. It’s almost playoff time, so any team facing Tom Brady is in for a challenge. The Texans D had a monster fantasy week in Week 13, but I really don’t think they will be able to repeat that performance vs. Brady and his crew. If you have the Texans D, check your waiver wire for one of the defenses listed above. The Texans aren't the worst play this week, but I’d avoid it if I could.