Thu Oct 17 5:51pm ET
By MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett (7) scores a touchdown next to Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Damien Wilson (54) during the first half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (13) runs past a tackle attempt by Kansas City Chiefs safety Juan Thornhill (22) during the first half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) celebrates his touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) is upended by Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu (32) during the first half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
Houston Texans running back Carlos Hyde (23) is held back by Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Charvarius Ward (35) and cornerback Kendall Fuller, rear, during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
Indianapolis Colts coach Frank Reich heads off the field after the Colts defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 19-13 in sn NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Indianapolis Colts coach Frank Reich prefers taking the aggressive approach.
His coaching staff understands it. His players respect it. And opponents know they must be prepared to confront it.
Sometimes, the fourth-down gambles pay off - as they did earlier this season at Tennessee and Kansas City. Sometimes, they backfire. Either way, though, Reich acknowledges he's willing to take the same risky call against Houston on Sunday as he did in last year's home overtime loss to the Texans.
''Those decisions always come down to what's best for the team in the moment,'' Reich said. ''A lot of things go into those decisions, but primarily like you said, it's a belief in the players. Yes, we think situationally it calls for it, but it really stems from a belief that we'll get it done.''
Nobody has been better playing the odds this season than Reich.
Indy has converted all seven fourth-down attempts, the gutsiest call coming from its 35-yard line with less than 2+ minutes to go in a two-point game at Tennessee.
And when things don't go right, such as the incompletion on fourth-and-4 from the Indy 43 with 24 seconds left in overtime against Houston, Reich still seems to hit the jackpot. While the Colts lost that game, he won over the locker room with a season-changing moment.
Indy has won 13 of its 19 games since then including twice at Houston late last season.
''Frank made the call he felt was best for his team and that's in my opinion what Frank does well,'' coach Bill O'Brien said after the Texans converted a key fourth down at Kansas City last week. ''He's an aggressive coach. You know sometimes you have to do in your mind what's best for your team from your preparation and where you are in the game. Those are things that Frank does very well.''
It keeps everyone on their toes - and the bye week may only give Reich more time to contemplate how to play it Sunday.
''I think that mentality is what carries beyond that one play,'' he said. ''I think that's an example of what happened last year. Yeah, that was one play, but it was the belief and conviction in our players I think that carries longer than the one play.''
Four-time Pro Bowler T.Y. Hilton has thrived against the Texans over the years.
In 15 games, the Colts receiver has 78 receptions, 1,506 yards and nine touchdowns. Late last season, with an ankle injury, he still managed to haul in 11 catches for 260 yards in the games at Houston.
The Texans know just tough Hilton can be.
''He's fast, great route runner, can come in and out of his breaks, understands how to attack leverage, has great experience,'' O'Brien said. ''He's seen all of the coverages there are, so he knows how to get open. He's got good chemistry with Jacoby and I think he's targeted quite a bit. It's a challenge.''
HOLDING THE LINE
The Colts went from worst in sacks allowed in 2017 to first last season. Now Houston is trying to follow a similar blueprint.
While Jacoby Brissett has gone down just six times, tied for the second fewest in the league, the Texans have made a dramatic turnaround after giving up 18 sacks during the first four weeks.
Neither Brissett nor Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson have been sacked in their past two games.
''They're doing a heck of a job of playing as a unit,'' Watson said. ''Everyone is up there with the right mindset, positive attitude and always playing the next play. So, those guys up there have been doing a heck of a job.''
The Colts, meanwhile, have only allowed one sack in their past five October games.
Running back Carlos Hyde fit exactly what the Texans wanted when they acquired him from Kansas City on Aug. 31 - after losing Lamar Miller to a season-ending knee injury.
Hyde has been the key to the league's No. 5 rushing attack (139.8 yards) and ran for a season-high 116 yards and one touchdown last weekend.
He's 10th in the NFL with 426 yards rushing and has three touchdowns this season.
HOME, SWEET, HOME
After Indy won 13 straight home games to open the series, Houston has taken three of past four at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Colts' lone victory during this current run came in the 2017 season finale, with Brissett closing out the season as the starter. Indy also had a seven-game home winning streak snapped by Oakland on Sept. 29.
Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller (hamstring) returned to practice on Wednesday and was a limited participant. There's no guarantee that Fuller will return for the first time since Week 7, but we'll track his practice status the rest of the week. If he returns against the Ravens this Sunday, Fuller will be a boom/bust WR3 for a game that could easily be high-scoring. Fuller's return would push Kenny Stills back to the slot and Keke Coutee back to fourth on the receiver depth chart. DeAndre Hopkins has performed better this year with Fuller sidelined.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Dede Westbrook (neck, shoulder) was a full participant in practice on Wednesday and is on track to return in Week 11 against the Colts for the first time since Oct. 27 against the Jets. With quarterback Nick Foles (collarbone) also returning in Week 11, Westbrook has some real potential to return to fantasy relevance as a WR3 this weekend. He has 32 receptions on 55 targets for 383 yards and one touchdown in eight games in 2019. Westbrook's return will hurt Chris Conley the most.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (ankle, knee), wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) and kicker Robbie Gould (quadriceps) all missed practice on Wednesday. Kittle and Gould sat out on Monday night. All three could be game-time decisions in Week 11 against the Cardinals, making it tough on fantasy owners with the late afternoon start. Ross Dwelley and Chase McLaughlin shouldn't be in starting lineups, despite the great matchup, if Kittle and Gould miss a second straight game. Kittle is a must-start if he's active, but you'll need to have a backup plan. Sanders might have the best chance of playing and is being listed as day-to-day for now. Deebo Samuel, Kendrick Bourne and Marquise Goodwin would have bigger roles if Sanders is ruled out, but only Samuel should be trusted for starting lineups.
Baltimore Ravens rookie wide receiver Marquise Brown (ankle) was limited in practice on Wednesday. Brown was targeted just four times in the blowout win over the Bengals in Week 10 and played limited snaps, but he made them count for 80 yards and his fourth touchdown of the season. The speedy deep threat should be fine to play in Week 11 in another great matchup against Houston's banged-up and inconsistent secondary. Brown is a boom/bust receiver in a run-first offense, but he has a good chance to hit his ceiling as a WR3 again this weekend.
New Orleans Saints Pro Bowl offensive guard Andrus Peat (arm) underwent surgery on Wednesday for a broken arm that he suffered in Week 10, and he's expected to be out for six weeks, according to a source. It's bad news for a Saints offense that surprisingly struggled to protect quarterback Drew Brees against a bad Falcons offense last Sunday. It's a downgrade for Brees and running back Alvin Kamara moving forward, but they should be able to rebound nicely in Week 11 against the Buccaneers.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Jordan Howard (shoulder) was listed as a limited practice participant on Wednesday. Howard should be able to play coming off the team's by week, but his practice participation the rest of the week should be monitored. If he plays against the Patriots in Week 11, Howard will remain on the RB2/3 borderline as Philly's top back. If he's limited or sits out this weekend, rookie Miles Sanders would have RB2 upside as a potential three-down back.
Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle (shoulder) and rookie wide receiver Parris Campbell (hand) both missed practice on Wednesday. Doyle has scored in back-to-back weeks while accumulating 66 yards on six catches. He's been a touchdown-dependent TE2 for fantasy owners while sharing time with Eric Ebron. His Week 11 status will be important, as Ebron would be firmly on the TE1 map against the Jaguars if Doyle isn't able to play. Campbell had surgery on his hand, missed last Sunday's game and is expected to miss at least one more game. Zach Pascal and Chester Rogers have been the team's top two receivers the last several weeks, but that could change if T.Y. Hilton (calf) is able to make his return. It's unlikely that Campbell will make much noise the rest of the way with Hilton and Devin Funchess (clavicle) coming back soon.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard (knee) wasn't listed on the Week 11 injury report after reportedly suffering a sprained knee in the Week 10 loss to the Ravens. It's good news for the Bengals offense, but it probably won't matter this weekend against the Raiders. If anything, Bernard's presence is bad news for Joe Mixon. Bernard has had zero standalone fantasy value behind Mixon for the winless Bengals. He's merely a weak handcuff option for those that own Mixon.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Alex Erickson (back) did not practice on Wednesday. Erickson has benefitted from A.J. Green (ankle) not playing at all this season, securing 25 of 38 targets for 343 scoreless yards in eight games. Still, he hasn't been fantasy relevant as the No. 3 receiver in an offense that is now being led by rookie quarterback Ryan Finley. With Green looking likely to miss another game in Week 11 against the Raiders, Stanley Morgan Jr. might be needed to step up in three-receiver sets behind Tyler Boyd and Auden Tate.
Chicago Bears rookie running back David Montgomery (ankle) is on the Week 11 injury report and was limited in practice on Wednesday. It's likely nothing serious, but it's worth keeping an eye on heading into the weekend. The rookie hasn't been great in his first year, averaging 3.6 yards per carry, but his volume out of the backfield can't be argued with. He'll be on the RB2 map for Sunday night's game against the Rams if he's active. If he's surprisingly ruled out, Tarik Cohen will have RB2 upside in this backfield.
Chicago Bears tight end Trey Burton (calf) did not practice on Wednesday. Burton has been a non-factor in both real life and fantasy in 2019, catching just 14 passes (24 targets) for 84 yards in eight games. He's gone catchless on just two targets the last two weeks, so he's obviously not on the fantasy radar even if he's healthy. Adam Shaheen and Ben Braunecker would split tight end repetitions in Week 11 on Sunday night against the Rams if Burton is unable to suit up. Neither would be attractive TE2 streamers in this dysfunctional offense.
Washington Redskins running back Chris Thompson (toe) is still "out with injury," according to interim head coach Bill Callahan. Tight end Vernon Davis (concussion) remains in the league's concussion protocol coming out of the bye week. Thompson has been out since Week 6 and has no timetable for a return from his turf toe injury. With Derrius Guice now back, Thompson's value has dried up in PPR leagues in this bad offense. Davis has been out since Sept. 29 and also has no timetable for return. He needs to be on the waiver wire in all leagues. Jeremy Sprinkle hasn't been able to take advantage of his opportunity in Davis' absence, and that will likely continue with rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins under center the rest of the way.
Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich said that wide receiver Devin Funchess (clavicle), who was put on Injured Reserve after the season opener, returned to practice on Wednesday ahead of Week 11 against the Jaguars. Funchess had three catches for 32 yards against the Chargers in Week 1, and he could have a significant role down the stretch for the Colts in a crowded receiver room that features T.Y. Hilton, Zach Pascal, Chester Rogers, Marcus Johnson and Parris Campbell. He could return to game action sometime within the next three weeks, but whether he can handle contact in practice will be the determining factor. For now, continue to leave Funchess to the waiver wire.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (hamstring) missed practice on Wednesday. Thielen is headed for his second straight missed game with the team's bye week coming in Week 12. You should prepare to be without him in Week 11 against the Broncos. Stefon Diggs has had two slow weeks with Thielen injured, and that could continue this Sunday with Chris Harris Jr. expected to shadow him. Olabisi Johnson, Laquon Treadwell and tight ends Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith Jr. should continue to see bigger roles in the passing game if Thielen misses another contest. Check with his practice status the rest of the week.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (shoulder) practiced in full all week and was taken off the final injury report for Week 11 against the Browns on Thursday night. Conner will return after missing the last two weeks, and he should be in a workhorse role in a solid matchup against Cleveland's weak run defense. Consider James a solid RB1 in his return, while Jaylen Samuels will move to a backup role. He's only worth considering in deep PPR leagues as an RB3/flex with Conner back in the fold.
Cleveland Browns tight end Ricky Seals-Jones (knee) was able to practice in full on Wednesday, but he's questionable for Thursday night against the Steelers in Week 11. Defensive end Olivier Vernon (knee) missed practice all week and has been ruled out. RSJ sat out in Week 11 and will be a game-time decision. He has just nine catches (14 targets) for 155 yards and two touchdowns in five games this year, so you should be looking elsewhere already. Demetrius Harris would have a bigger role if Seals-Jones doesn't play, but he's merely a desperation TE2. Vernon's absence is good news for Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph and running back James Conner.
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr will be on the streaming radar in Week 11 as the lowly Cincinnati Bengals travel to the West coast for Sunday's game. The Bengals Defense has been awful this season, giving up the third-most fantasy points to the QB position, including five-straight 20 or more point performances. On the flip side, Carr seems to be improving every week in his second season under head coach Jon Gruden as he's sporting career-bests in completion rate (70.8%), and QB rating (104.4). The only worry for the veteran this week is if the offense leans more on Josh Jacobs and the ground game as the Bengals are just as bad at defending the run as they are the pass. Carr has displayed a high floor so far in 2019, but the ceiling will be much higher than usual in this salivating matchup.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett (leg) flew back to Seattle on Wednesday after spending the last two days in a hospital, according to a source, and the expectation is that Lockett will be ready to face the Eagles in Week 12 after having the bye week to rest up. The 27-year-old had a dud of a game with three catches for 26 yards on Monday night in the win over the 49ers. He doesn't always see a lot of volume in this run-first offense, but he's as efficient as they come and can blow up any given week, evidenced by his 13-catch, 152-yard, two-touchdown game in Week 9 against the Buccaneers. He'll have WR1 upside against Philly's secondary in Week 12 if he's able to get cleared.
New York Jets chief executive officer Christopher Johnson said that head coach Adam Gase will return next season despite a current 2-7 record. "I want to assure you there will be no changes in coaches here," Johnson said in an opening statement to reporters. "Adam has the trust of this team. He has the trust of Sam [Darnold]. He has Joe [Douglas'] trust. He has my trust. He's a good man, he's a good coach." Gase has led a very poor offense so far in 2019, with both quarterback Sam Darnold and running back Le'Veon Bell having extremely frustrating seasons. The Jets, however, have a chance to win two in a row in Week 11 in a good matchup with the Redskins.
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said that wide receiver A.J. Green (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday. Green was close to making his season debut in Week 10 before experiencing swelling in his ankle after practicing early in the week. He looks to be on the wrong side of questionable for Week 11 against the Raiders, too, and the Bengals might even shut him down for the rest of the season. Green is still worth stashing in deeper leagues, but you shouldn't expect much from him even if he returns to this winless Bengals squad. For now, Tyler Boyd, Auden Tate and Alex Erickson will continue to operate in three-wide sets.