Miami’s secondary was average last year despite playing a quarter of their games against Ryan Fitzpatrick and Mark Sanchez. I don’t think Brady will put up video game numbers since it’s Week 1 and Belichick won’t want to show too much of his hand, but Brady should still should put up around 280 yards and 2 or more scores. Start him with confidence.
The Law Firm scored in both contests against Miami last year, and I’d expect the Pats to emphasize the run to protect Brady early in the season. Look for at least 80+ yards and a score. He could be a Top 10 RB this week.
Woodhead is likely to be on the wrong end of a 65-35 split in terms of touches, but I think the Pats will feature the running game more than usual. He is a reasonable flex option in deeper PPR leagues, but nothing more. Expect around 40-60 total yards and no better than a 50-50 shot at a score.
Welker has been a serious thorn in the Dolphins’ side since they traded him to New England. He’s put up 28 catches for 321 yards in his last three games against his old team. Start him with confidence and expect at least 6 catches, 80+ yards and a possible score.
Belichick has a knack for getting new players involved early in the season, so I could foresee Chad hauling in at least 4-5 passes for 60 yards and a possible score.
Branch was an extremely cheap buy for most owners, going undrafted in many leagues. He’ll have tremendous value in games that the Pats lean on the pass, but that won’t be the case this week. You can start him if you’re really in a pinch, but don’t expect more than 5 or 6 looks and 40 yards.
Aaron Hernandez/Rob Gronkowski
These guys are going to be a headache for owners most weeks because their stats will depend entirely on the kinds of formations the Pats use to create match-up problems. Conventional wisdom would suggest Gronkowski would have an edge due to the fact that he’ll see the field more if the Patriots emphasize the run, but they may use Hernandez more in the passing game this week because he creates a better match-up against Miami’s quick linebackers. I think Hernandez is the better bet for 50+ yards and a score, but Gronk could approach those numbers if the Pats get a big lead early.
How much have we missed this guy? It’s early in the season, and the Pats’ offense may still need a game or two to really start hitting on all cylinders. Don’t be surprised if the Ghost hits 2+ FGs and several extra points.
Any unit playing against Chad Henne deserves plenty of consideration. The Dolphins should have an average running game, but playing the run should be a strength for the Pats. I expect the Dolphins to score around 14-17 points and give up 3-4 sacks and 1-2 turnovers. Miami is well-coached, so don’t expect a special teams score. If there is a score, expect it to be a pick 6.