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.
Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker, who has missed the last three games with an ankle injury, is listed as questionable for the Titans Week 12 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Should Walker suit up, expect him to be on a limited snap count with Jonnu Smith still functioning as the team's primary pass-catching tight end. If Walker sits, Smith moves back into the low-end TE1 streaming range. Neither would be enticing options if Walker returns this week, however.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Corey Davis (hip) is expected to be available in Week 12 after missing their last game. Since Tannehill has taken over in Week 7, Davis appears to be in a fairly even split with A.J. Brown and Adam Humphries for targets. In a low volume passing offense, Davis is nothing more than a low-end WR3 with a near zero floor. A.J. Brown would be recommended as the top option of the three due to his big play ability after the catch, but none are exciting options in a matchup where the Titans will likely try to run the ball with Derrick Henry.
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry seems to get better as the year progresses every season. Henry is the PPR RB6 overall on a per game basis since Week 8 as the Titans have began to lean more heavily on their stud RB. This week should be no different as the Titans are coming off of a bye to host the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars have been allowing running backs to run freely in recent weeks, most recently allowing the Indianapolis Colts to rush for 264 yards on 7.3 yards per carry. Henry should be able to wear the Jaguars down in the second half, paving the way for big play opportunities.
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara gets a great matchup against the Carolina Panthers in Week 12. Kamara got himself back on track last week, as he racked up 122 scrimmage yards against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team tough on opposing backs. He's still scored just two touchdowns this year, though the Carolina Panthers could be just what the doctor ordered. They've allowed the sixth-most rushing yards and the most touchdowns to opposing backs. Kamara will have a huge workload in this game and has a chance to be the best fantasy back of the week. Start him as an RB1 and reap the rewards.
Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been a QB1 on a points per game basis ever since his insertion into the starting lineup in Week 7. Part of his consistency has come from his willingness to run, with 16 rush attempts through four games. Tannehill and the Titans are coming off a bye week to face a Jacksonville Jaguars Defense that has not lived up to the hype they had coming into the season. Tannehill should once again be able to produce borderline QB1 numbers at home this week, making him a solid streaming option and a nice discount play in daily fantasy formats.
Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (foot) has been ruled out for Week 12 against the Buccaneers. He will miss his second straight game, which will put Brian Hill in line to make the start. Freeman should remain rostered in just about all leagues as he should have a chance to return in Week 13 and he'd likely reassume his No. 1 running back duties. Hill got a heavy workload in Week 11, but didn't do much with it, while Qadree Ollison ended up scoring a touchdown as the team's No. 2 running back in the game. Hill is a low-end RB2 or flex option this week.
Cleveland Browns TE David Njoku (wrist) won't play Sunday, Nov. 24, in Week 12.
Fantasy Spin: There was some hope after Njoku was cleared to practice earlier in the week coming off the Reserve/Injured list, but instead we'll have at least another week of the fantasy-unfriendly Ricky Seals-Jones/Demetrius Harris/Stephen Carlson logjam at tight end.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees will take on the Carolina Panthers at home in Week 12. The 40-year-old has attempted at least 35 passes in four starts and has thrown for multiple touchdown passes in three games this year. The Panthers have a strong pass defense ranked 13th in the NFL and have 39 sacks, tied for first in the league. The Saints may go run-heavy in this game, considering Carolina has given up the seventh-most rushing yards in the NFL. Still, it's hard to bet against Brees in the Superdome. The Panthers may not have an answer for Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas, allowing Brees to do just enough. Brees is a QB1 this week, though he'll likely be a low-end option.
New York Giants TEs Evan Engram (foot) and Rhett Ellison (concussion) on Friday, Nov. 22, were ruled out for Week 12.
Fantasy Spin: Giants tight end fantasy frustration continues, and with Scott Simonson and Kaden Smith now moving up to the top of the depth chart, it's a situation to be avoided altogether until further notice.
Philadelphia Eagles RB Jay Ajayi could have a 'notable role' in Week 12 on Sunday, Nov. 24, especially if fellow RB Jordan Howard (shoulder) misses a second straight game, according to a team beat reporter.
Fantasy Spin: Ajayi didn't play in Week 11, but that was days after being signed off the street. Rookie Miles Sanders' turn as the Philly's lead back didn't net much success (47 yards on 13 total touches) in Sunday's loss to the Patriots, and if Howard does sit out, it sounds like Ajayi would handle most of the Eagles' carries with Sanders reverting back to his pass-catching, change-of-pace role. If Howard is indeed out -- and we likely know for sure until Sunday morning -- throw Ajayi in as a flex/RB2 if you're in late-season need at running back.
Free-agent WR Antonio Brown (Patriots) isn't a candidate to be re-signed by the New England Patriots, a source told The Athletic on Thursday, Nov. 21.
Fantasy Spin: Brown is still under investigation by by the league, and until that wraps up, he won't be signing with any team. Even if he's cleared, don't expect to see Brown back in the league until next season.
Philadelphia Eagles WR Nelson Agholor (knee) didn't practice again Friday, Nov. 22, but head coach Doug Pederson says the wide receiver is trending toward being able to play in Week 12.
Fantasy Spin: It sounds like Agholor has a chance of playing Sunday, but so does Philly's top receiver Alshon Jeffery. If so, Agholor falls back to deeper-league flex territory given his injury and recent struggles.
San Francisco 49ers kicker Chase McLaughlin has started two straight games while starting kicker Robbie Gould (quadriceps) has been out. Gould is yet to practice this week and appears to be trending towards missing his third straight game. McLaughlin has converted for of his five field goal attempts and all four of his extra-point attempts in Gould's absence. This week, the 49ers face the Packers in a game that figures to be high-scoring. McLaughlin is worthy of starting this week, just make sure to keep an eye on Gould's status leading up to the game.
Philadelphia Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery (ankle) is trending in the right direction in terms of playing in Week 12, head coach Doug Pederson said Friday, Nov. 22.
Fantasy Spin: Jeffery's last action came before the Eagles' bye in Week 10, and if he plays he'll be a WR2 start against a beatable Seattle secondary. Stay tuned for Philly's official Week 12 injury report.
The 49ers Defense has been floundering a bit lately, giving up between 25 and 27 points in their last three games. This week, they face the Packers, who are coming off their bye week. The Packers average around 25 points per game and have thrown a league-low two interceptions on the year. They've also only yielded 22 sacks on the season. The game could end up being something of a shootout and the Packers will likely end up scoring right around their average in points with little likelihood of turnovers. The 49ers defense is a low-end starting option at best, but you might want to avoid them if you can this week.
San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman is in a great position to have a solid game in Week 12. He's had at least 13 touches in each game he's played since his return from injury and it looks likely that the team will be without No. 2 running back Matt Breida (ankle) for the second straight week. Coleman hasn't flourished with his heavy workload this year, apart from his four-touchdown explosion against the Panthers. Still, he's been managing to gain around 60 yards per game and he's been active in both the run game and pass game for the 49ers. Expect him to see at least 15 touches this week against a Packers Defense that has been vulnerable against both the pass and run. Coleman could end up with between 80 and 100 yards this week with a good chance to score.
The Green Bay Packers Defense will face Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers in Week 12. Garoppolo hasn't been careful with the football this year, as he's committed 17 turnovers in 10 games. The Packers have intercepted nine passes this year, ranking eighth in the NFL. Garoppolo has been sacked at least once in all but one game this year, giving the Packers defense a decent floor this week.
San Francisco 49ers running back Matt Breida (ankle) is yet to practice this week and is listed as questionable for Week 12, though he might be trending more towards doubtful. If he ends up suiting up, he's a very risky start this week. The team's No. 1 running back Tevin Coleman will likely carry the load and if Breida plays, he'd probably see around five or six touches as Raheem Mostert will likely be involved too. Breida should remain on most rosters in leagues of 12 teams or deeper but keep him on your bench this week regardless of whether he's active or not.
San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert (knee) has been a limited practice participant this week, but he appears likely to play. Last week, he saw eight touches against the Cardinals while Matt Breida (ankle) was out and Breida is likely to be out for the second straight game in Week 12. Mostert should see around eight to ten touches this week, which will give him a good chance to break some big plays against a vulnerable Packers Defense. The team has a multitude of injuries, most notably George Kittle (knee), Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) and Deebo Samuel (back). If the 49ers are without a few of those guys in Week 12, Mostert could be counted on even more. He's a potential flex play in leagues of 12 teams or deeper.
Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford (back) is out for Week 12.
Fantasy Spin: Jeff Driskel has been quietly good against two tough teams the last two weeks. He threw for 478 yards, three touchdowns and an interception with 88 rushing yards and a score against the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys. He's a sneaky low-end QB1 against the Washington Redskins.