The Houston Texans take on the Indianapolis Colts at NRG Stadium to kick off the 2022 NFL season. The two AFC South rivals have plenty to prove and learn in their first game. The Texans will debut Pep Hamilton’s new offense and their preseason rocket ship Dameon Pierce. Meanwhile, Matt Ryan’s first game as a Colt and the introduction of several of their own rookie offensive weapons has created much anticipation in Indianapolis.
Fantasy football owners will all want to see the consensus first overall pick Jonathan Taylor pick up where he left off his spectacular 2021 season. Last season Taylor feasted on the Texans; he put up over 143 and 145 yards respectively and two TDs in both games. Expect the Colts to feed Taylor early and often while slowly integrating the passing game into their offense.
The Colts also feature one of the breakout wide receivers last year in Michael Pittman. Pittman DOUBLED his production in his sophomore year in games started, targets, receptions, and yards and had five more touchdowns. He’s the primary passing option for the Colts and may be lined up against rookie Derek Stingley Jr.
The Texans offense faces a top 10 rushing defense Week 1 and will need to establish the run early in Pep Hamilton’s offense. Dameon Pierce has been the darling of fantasy football pundits for several weeks and has earned the starting role.
Brandin Cooks will be the featured star throughout the season, but faces a tough matchup against newly signed Stephon Gilmore. Cooks will still be targeted early and often as the focal point of the offense.
This game features plenty of fringe roster players for both teams. Rookie Alec Pierce is a dark horse with plenty of upside and is only on 15% of rosters. Brevin Jordan and Nico Collins don’t yet possess fantasy football implications, but both could be options in deeper leagues if the Texans can get to the red zone.
Here’s our Start or Sit predictions for 12 team PPR leagues.
QB - Matt Ryan: SIT
Ryan provides good upside, and in deeper or two QB-leagues should start against a woeful Texans secondary. Project him to throw two TDs and have over 270 yards, but be capped by Jonathan Taylor’s prodigious abilities.
RB - Jonathan Taylor - START
It’ll be impossible to sit your 1.01 unless there’s injury concerns, which there aren’t. Taylor lift team’s to victory by himself. This may be one of those weeks. Bank on 100+ yards, several catches, and at least a TD on Sunday.
RB - Nyheim Hines - SIT
As a fan of Hines, he easily could outplay your designated flex player this week. The Colts could feasibly lower Taylor’s snap count to save a dozen carries for a better opponent and shift those to Hines. However, with a new QB and Hines being PPR-dependent, you’ll need to wait and see before taking this risk.
TE - Mo Alie-Cox - SIT
Colts resigned MAC, but with rookie Jelani Woods on the roster there isn’t much promise for any Colts TE in fantasy. He should see two or three red zone targets, but the veteran tight end isn’t the most formidable receiver.
WR - Michael Pittman - START
In your non, half, or PPR leagues, Pittman is a must start. He’ll get end zone targets galore and could dominate a young and underwhelming Texans defense. However, the Colts could stick to a remedial passing game to hide some of their deeper playbook options for better opponents.
Colts DEF - START
Davis Mills through 10 interceptions in 13 games last season. The Texans have a starting rookie RB. Colts were 9th in points allowed last year and gave up a total of three points in two games against the Texans last season. This is a must start.
QB - Davis Mills - SIT
This should be the case for most of the season. Pep Hamilton will need to get the most out of a loose change of offensive weapons. Colts improved secondary could cause problems too.
RB - Dameon Pierce - SIT
This could be a rough outing for the rookie. He was not the featured back in college and the Colts will zero-in on stopping him. Sure, you’ll be ostracized as the Texans fan who didn’t start Pierce, but it could save your a Week 1 loss you’ll have to dig out of. I’d expect 70-80 rushing yards and 2-3 targets in the passing game.
TE - Brevin Jordan - SIT
Jordan may get a TD catch here, but it’s unlikely to predict his production on a week-to-week basis. Expect four catches for 37 yards and no TDs.
WR - Brandin Cooks - START
Cooks is a quality flex player in fantasy. If you’re in a full PPR league, I like your odds. However, a standard league must be wary. He has yet to record over 90 yards in four games against the Colts. Stephon Gilmore will be tracking Cooks across the field, which could pose problems for Cooks until the game is out of hand.
Texans DEF - SIT
The Texans did drastically improve their turnover margin in 2021, but they won’t be fantasy football relevant for a while.