No team is a bigger favorite this week than the Texans, who are 12 point favorites at home over the Miami Dolphins. This is with good reason. The Texans won 10 games and made it to the AFC’s divisional round, despite Andre Johnson missing 9 games and Matt Schaub missing the final 7, including playoffs (they were 8-3 and had the league’s best Pythagorean Expectation when he went down). The Dolphins, meanwhile, won just 6 games last year and are starting a raw quarterback in Ryan Tannehill, who has 19 collegiate starts. They also traded away their only good wide receiver Brandon Marshall this offseason and have some problems on the offensive line. Defensively, they switched schemes to one that several of their key players don’t fit as well (Jared Odrick, Paul Soliai, and possibly Cameron Wake) and traded away their #1 cornerback, Vontae Davis, to the Colts.
However, the Texans could be without 2 key contributors when they face Miami as Arian Foster and Brooks Reed both injured themselves in practice this week. They’ll both be game time decisions. These are obviously both big losses, as Arian Foster has rushed for 2840 yards and 23 touchdowns on 605 carries over the last two seasons, while catching 119 passes for 1221 yards and another 4 scores. Brooks Reed, meanwhile, had a very strong rookie year last year, with 10 sacks, 6 quarterback hits, and 26 quarterback pressures on 471 pass rush snaps, good for an 8.9% rate. He also played the run very well.
However, the Texans may hold both out against such a weak opponent, rather than risk further injury. Besides, they have the depth to make up for it. The Texans used a 1st round pick on a rush linebacker in Whitney Mercilus, who I thought was the draft class’ best pure pass rusher. He’d step into the lineup for Reed. Meanwhile, #2 running back Ben Tate rushed for 942 yards and 4 touchdowns on 175 carries last season, including 398 yards and 2 scores on 82 carries in 4 starts in Foster’s absence last season. This is a 1 o’clock start game season fantasy owners of Foster and Tate will know whether or not to start their back before the deadline for rosters to be set.