UPDATE 6:45 p.m.: Brandin Cooks will be ACTIVE, per Ian Rapoport. There is no word on any kind of snap limitations, but if he’s active, this is a solid matchup. The big concern is an aggravation of the injury.
Final injury report: The Chiefs and Texans released their final injury reports on Wednesday for Week 1. Texans wide receiver Brandin Cooks is listed as questionable with a quadricep injury. He was limited on Monday, did not practice at all on Tuesday, and was limited again on Wednesday.
The NFL starts this Thursday night when the Houston Texans travel to Kansas City to take on the Super Bowl champion Chiefs. This is a rematch of the AFC Divisional round in which the Texans got up 24-0, but went on to get toasted 51-31 on the back of Patrick Mahomes throwing five touchdowns.
It’s a Thursday opener, but technically it’s not under the Thursday Night Football brand. Whatever, we just need fantasy insight!
The good news is that when the Texans and Chiefs get together, there are a lot of fantasy points to be had. In their last two games with Mahomes and DeShaun Watson at the helm, they’ve totaled 137 points. The Texans are now without DeAndre Hopkins, which is a blow, but Watson is too good to hold down for a whole game.
The Chiefs are favored by 8 points and should be, but with a 54.5 over/under, there should also be plenty of chances for fantasy points from both sides. We’ll take a look at who to start and sit in a regular 12-team .5 PPR league.
David Johnson, RB, Texans
I’m not a fan of Johnson this season and in any other matchup I might lean toward sitting him, but this game is set up well for him. The one aspect of Johnson’s game that stayed consistent as he declined the last couple seasons was his receiving work. In this matchup, the Texans are heavy underdogs and will need to throw the ball. Last season they were the worst at allowing running backs fantasy points through the air and I expect Johnson to keep that going in Week 1.
Darrel Williams, RB, Chiefs
Williams has won the No. 2 job behind Clyde Edwards-Helaire and should see work in some sort of a timeshare. Edwards-Helaire is the upside play as the apparent starter, but Williams is considered a solid blocker and could be called on with the rookie getting his first taste of NFL action. There are even rumblings that the two will split work on opening night, per The Athletic’s Nate Taylor. In the highest over/under game of the week, Williams has touchdown upside with a chance for an even split in touches.
Will Fuller, WR, Texans
Fuller has the potential for monster games but injuries and inconsistency have kept him as a boom or bust play. This year the Texans are without DeAndre Hopkins and Fuller should take on a bigger role from the get go. And we know he’s healthy coming into this likely high-scoring affair, making him a must start.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Chiefs
Last season, Tyreek Hill was hurt early in Week 1 against the Jaguars and Watkins went on to catch nine passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns. Then, in his next 13 games, he didn’t top 64 yards or score a touchdown until the playoffs, where he stepped up again. Can he have a huge game? Yes, he’s shown that, but after Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs other receivers aren’t consistent enough to count on week in and week out.
Kenny Stills, WR, Texans
There aren’t many players who are sits in this game, but Stills, who still has name recognition, is WR4 to start the season behind Will Fuller, Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb. He’ll see some snaps and could hit a big play, but the odds are against him due to opportunity this week.
Mecole Hardman, WR, Chiefs
Hardman is a smash play waiting to happen and when he gets his shots, he often connects, but those shots are going to be hard to come by to start the season. Hardman will again be returning kicks and likely sharing work with Demarcus Robinson between WR3 and WR4. Playing behind Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and Clyde Edwards-Helaire on the target pecking order. He’ll need to completely beat out Robinson for snaps to have a little more safety for a start in 12-team leagues.