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 Kenny Stills recorded just one catch for six yards during the Thursday night win over the Indianapolis Colts. Stills logged his worst performance of the year and was a victim from a production standpoint by the return of Will Fuller (hamstring), who missed the team's previous three games. He likely has a few more decent performances left in the tank between now and the end of the season, but his potential will continue to be relegated by Fuller's presence in the lineup moving ahead.
Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins played well against the Colts on Thursday night, finishing things up with six catches for 94 yards and two touchdowns. After recording just two scores during the first six games of the year, the 27-year-old has turned it up as of late by visiting the end zone in three of his last five games. Hopkins continues to get his looks from quarterback Deshaun Watson, and besides Michael Thomas, he remains the most efficient fantasy wide receiver in the league. He will look to keep things going against a rough Patriots Defense in Week 13.
Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller was targeted 11 times during the win over the Colts, finishing with seven catches for 140 yards. After accumulating 217 yards and three touchdowns against the Falcons in Week 5, Fuller fizzled in his previous two contests coming into Thursday night, so this performance was a step in the right direction. Fantasy managers shouldn't expect this type of production consistently moving ahead, especially in Week 13 against a tough Patriots Defense, but the ceiling is always high when the matchup is in his favor, as long as he can stay healthy and on the field.
Houston Texans running back Duke Johnson finished with 22 yards on five carries to go along with one catch for eight yards during the win over the Colts on Thursday night. This was yet another disappointing performance from the 26-year-old, who has now recorded just three receptions over the last two games. While he may have a few more games where he catches four or five passes, his ability to get it done on the ground will continue to be relegated by Carlos Hyde, who is averaging 16 touches per outing on the year. For those who are desperate, Johnson does have the potential to score from a week-to-week basis but don't hold your breath waiting for consistent production.
Houston Texans running back Carlos Hyde Ran for 67 yards on 16 carries during the win over the Colts on Thursday night. This was a routine performance from the 29-year-old, who is averaging 76 yards on 16 touches per game this season, and while he has only four touchdowns on the year, he is well on his way to the first 1,000-yard rushing season of his career. With this game in the books, Hyde will have a tough matchup in Week 13 against the top-ranked Patriots Defense.
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson played better against the Colts on Thursday, finishing the night with nearly 300 yards and two touchdowns (one interception) on 19-for-30 passing. After struggling during the Week 11 blowout loss to the Ravens, it was an acceptable showing from the 24-year-old. He has struggled to some degree over his last six outings, and while he has thrown for nine touchdowns during that span, he has also thrown six picks after tossing just one throughout the first five games of the year. Things aren't looking good moving ahead, nonetheless, as Watson and the Texans will host the Patriots in Week 13.
Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Williams was announced as the starter for the team's Week 12 game against the Houston Texans, and he made the most of his opportunity. He finished with 26 carries for 104 yards and a big touchdown in the second half. He also caught all three of his targets for 17 yards. The Colts continued their strategy of establishing the run, and it worked well for the majority of the game. As long as starting running back Marlon Mack (hand) remains out, it looks like Williams is going to have fantasy relevance every week.
Indianapolis Colts running back Nyheim Hines was expected to see more work in Week 12 with starting running back Marlon Mack (hand) out, and he showed a little bit of something with those snaps. He finished with nine carries for 51 yards and two catches for 10 yards. That's good enough for 8.1 PPR points, and that's likely more than you were hoping for after the quiet season he has had thus far. Hines still remains nothing more than a deep league flex option in PPR formats, but this was a positive development to see with Mack out.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (calf) had been out for a couple of weeks before his return in Week 12, and it wasn't a triumphant one. He caught three of his six targets for just 18 yards. While some of that lack of production could be contributed to rust, the offense as a whole wasn't able to get anything going through the air and Hilton was also on a pitch count in his return. The matchups don't get particularly easy moving forward for Hilton, but you'll likely be forced to start him because of the connection he has shown with quarterback Jacoby Brissett.
Indianapolis Colts tight end Eric Ebron relies on touchdowns for the majority of his value, but in Week 12 he was able to get some solid yardage. He caught four of his five targets for 44 yards, and he'll likely finish among the top 10 in tight ends for scoring this week with just 8.4 PPR points. Ebron has remained a pretty big disappointment after the elite fantasy season that he produced in 2018. When the team has gotten down into the red zone, a number of their scores have come on the ground. Ebron remains the No. 2 receiving target in this offense, but that doesn't turn into much when the offense struggles to move the ball.
Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle failed to register a target in Week 11, but he showed some life in Week 12. He caught three of his four targets for 28 yards, which fell right in line with his level of production that he's maintained throughout the year. He's now caught three or more passes in seven out of the team's 11 games. Doyle will likely never be the breakout player that he was two seasons ago, but when you need to make sure that you don't have a zero in your tight end spot, he's about as safe as you can get.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett had his second straight game with under 150 passing yards in Week 12. He finished the night 16 of 25 for 129 yards. Thankfully for his fantasy owners, he scampered into the end zone on one of his four carries that went for a total of 20 yards. It was still a quiet night for Brissett, and he hasn't displayed the same level of production that we saw from him earlier in the season. He only has a couple of easy matchups remaining on the schedule, so his days as your starting quarterback may be numbered.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (ankle, knee) and wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) and Deebo Samuel (shoulder) were all limited in practice on Thursday. It's NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco's opinion that all three will play on Sunday night against the Packers. That'll especially ring true if all three get in at least another limited practice on Friday. If that's the case, Kittle will be a must-start TE1, with both Sanders and Samuel being acceptable WR3 cases with upside. The rookie Samuel has back-to-back 100-yard games and is closing the season out hot. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo would also be a more appealing QB2 if all of his receivers are active.
The New England Patriots won't be re-signing wide receiver Antonio Brown, according to a source. There were rumors circling that the Pats were looking at Brown again with Mohamed Sanu (ankle) potentially missing multiple games with a high ankle sprain. That's not the case, though, and Brown is highly unlikely to be signed with the NFL still investigating sexual-assault charges tied to Brown. Even after the investigation is up and if Brown avoids a suspension somehow, it's hard to say if an NFL team will take a chance on him in 2020. Julian Edelman and rookies N'Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers might be in three-receiver sets if both Sanu and Phillip Dorsett (concussion) don't play this weekend.
Concerns have surfaced around Dallas Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch (neck), who has already missed one game this year with a neck injury, and he's not expected to play in Week 12 against the Patriots, according to sources. Vander Esch underwent an MRI exam on Thursday after a flare-up of the injury. It would be a big blow to Dallas' defense on the road against a Patriots offense that is vulnerable right now with their receivers banged up. LVE being out would be good news for mainly running backs Sony Michel and James White and slot wideout Julian Edelman. You'll need to look elsewhere at linebacker in IDPS leagues with Vander Esch expected to sit. Expect Sean Lee to see more playing time on Sunday.
The Houston Texans activated tight end Jordan Thomas (ribs) from the Injured Reserve on Thursday and waived defensive end Joel Heath and wide receiver Steven Mitchell in corresponding moves. As a sixth-round rookie last year, Thomas had 20 receptions for 215 yards and four touchdowns. Thomas has some long-term intrigue, but he'll return to a team that has been using Jordan Akins and Darren Fells at the position. It's possible that Thomas could produce a spark here and there, but don't expect him to see a ton of playing time over the other two to close out the season. You can leave him to the waiver wire in most redraft leagues.
New York Giants WR Sterling Shepard (concussion) is 'looking good' to play against the Chicago Bears in Week 12, according to Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com.
Fantasy Spin: Shepard has been out since early October, and while he has the potential to be a WR3, you will probably want to take a wait-and-see approach whenever he makes his return.
Miami Dolphins CB Eric Rowe is expected to be a full-time starter at safety moving forward after CB Bobby McCain (shoulder) and S Reshad Jones (chest) were placed on the Reserve/Injured list, according to Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com.
Detroit Lions running back Bo Scarbrough looked solid in Week 11, posting 55 yards on 14 attempts and one touchdown just one day after being promoted from the practice squad. Week 12 presents an excellent opportunity for Scarbrough to take control of a Lions backfield that has been in disarray since Kerryon Johnson (knee) was lost for the season. Backup quarterback Jeff Driskel's tendency to run and the lack of a pass-game role for Scarbrough does limit Scarbrough's ceiling, but he has a real chance to take over as the go-to running back on this squad with no other real threats around. The Lions play the lowly Washington Redskins in Week 12. Fantasy owners can slot Scarbrough in as a RB3 for this matchup.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Peyton Barber is trending towards being cemented as the clear cut No.2 option in the Bucs backfield. Barber did not get a touch in Week 11, and while he did find the end zone on one of his two targets on the day, it looks like Ronald Jones II is the back to own on this team. The Bucs travel to Atlanta to take on the Falcons in Week 12, and while the Falcons are not the scariest squad, they are not the most giving on the ground. Barber is not a recommended start in Week 12 and can be safely dropped in all formats.