Monday Night Football will make or break matchups everywhere in the first week of the fantasy playoffs. The Texans take on the Patriots in what could be a shootout at Gillette Stadium.
Houston allows the fourth-fewest points per game in the league, while New England is outscoring every other team. Both offenses are filled with fantasy studs, so owners will want to have at least a few of these names in the starting lineup.
Let's take a look at who you need to start on Monday night, and who needs to take a seat on the bench in Week 14.
Matt Schaub, quarterback - New England ranks 29th against the pass. Schaub settled down a bit after his five-touchdown explosion against Jacksonville, but he still stands to put up solid numbers against one of the leagues worst pass defenses. This will be the Texans third road game. They'll need a big game out of their quarterback to improve to 12-1. Schaub is worth starting as a QB2.
Arian Foster, running back - Foster rushed for just 38 yards last week against the Titans. Justin Forsett stole a fair amount of carries after the game got out of hand, but no one expects a blowout between these two teams. Foster will be on the field for the entire game this time, and he should have a good shot at finding the end zone against a defense that allowed four touchdowns over the last four weeks. You're always starting Foster.
Andre Johnson, wide receiver - The Patriots have yielded 15 touchdowns to opposing wideouts in 2012. Gary Kubiak wants to get the ball into Johnson's hands, and he has the right matchup here to post great numbers yet again. Expect an impressive night from No. 80.
Owen Daniels, tight end - Daniels has a nice matchup against the teams that has allowed the second-most receptions to tight ends this season. He's consistently a scoring threat, providing a touchdown in half of his games so far. You'll want to start Daniels in what should be a high-scoring affair.
Texans defense/special teams - Normally starting the Texans D/ST seems like smart play. Facing an offense that scores 35.8 points per game, though, makes you second guess your options. The Patriots put up 59 points the last time they played in Foxborough. You might be stuck starting them now, but be sure to temper your expectations.
Tom Brady, quarterback - Last week's matchup with Miami didn't impress his owners. Losing Julian Edelman mid-game likely threw off the game plan a bit, so Brady should be well-prepared this time around. Keep in mind the Texans did give up four touchdowns to Chad Henne just a few weeks ago. Brady will be fine.
Stevan Ridley, running back - Ridley scored a touchdown in each of his last fives game. He's the primary runner in the Patriots backfield, and he consistently produces for his owners. The Texans have only allowed two rushing scores, both coming to Mikel Leshoure on Thanksgiving. Still, you'll want Ridley in your lineup for the playoffs. Danny Woodhead and Shane Vereen are too inconsistent to worry about.
Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd, wide receiver - Both receivers are questionable again, and both are expected to play, again. Same story every week. Welker went off last week, and he'll continue to be featured even more with Gronk and Edelman out now. Lloyd hasn't produced decent numbers since the Patriots bye week. He's bound to see an increase in targets now, though, as the injuries continue to take a toll. Welker is a must-start. Lloyd could be a decent flex play.
Aaron Hernandez, tight end - Hernandez caught eight passes for 97 yards in his second game back from injury. He's back to being featured in the offense, and he'll continue to be a primary red zone target for Brady. Hernandez is locked in as a TE1 in all formats.
Patriots defense/special teams - The Patriots rank 16th in points per game allowed. Houston's offense is no slouch, either, as it scores just six fewer points than New England each week. Neither D/ST is looking like much of an option for Monday night.