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.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Dede Westbrook (illness) is not expected to practice on Thursday. Westbrook returned to the field last week and caught four of his six targets for just 32 yards in the loss to the Colts. D.J. Chark got all the love from a returning quarterback Nick Foles. Westbrook was Foles' favorite target before he went down in the season opener with a broken collarbone, though, so it's unfair to say that Foles won't be going back to that well at some point moving forward. Westbrook should be fine to play in Week 12 against the Titans. He had five catches for 46 yards against them in the first meeting, and he'll be a WR3 this weekend.
Although New England Patriots wide receiver Phillip Dorsett (concussion) missed practice on Wednesday, there is mid-week optimism that he could be cleared in time to play in Week 12 against the Cowboys, according to a source. Mohamed Sanu (ankle) could now miss multiple games with a high ankle sprain, so the Patriots could be in trouble this Sunday if Dorsett can't play. They'd likely revert to three-receiver sets consisting of Julian Edelman and rookies N'Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers. Harry just made his NFL debut in Week 11, but he'd have more plug-and-play appeal as a flex over Meyers. If he plays, Dorsett will be a risky WR4/flex. Quarterback Tom Brady should be downgraded either way with Sanu now out two to three weeks.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage has earned 18 targets over his past three games. Unfortunately, he hasn't done a ton with them, catching 13 passes for 113 yards. Still, from a player who was seeing only one or two targets a game max for the first half of the season, it's been a promising upward trend. In Week 12, Gage and the Falcons face a very favorable matchup against a Buccaneers Defense allowing the second-most passing yards per game this year. Julio Jones (foot) is currently questionable for the game. If he ends up sitting, Gage becomes almost a must-start in PPR leagues. If Jones plays, Gage could be the third target behind Jones and Calvin Ridley in a game where the Falcons put up a lot of yards and points. He's worth consideration as a WR3 or flex in PPR leagues assuming Jones is in. Bump him up to a low-end WR2 if Jones sits.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods, who was a surprise scratch last Sunday night due to personal reasons, remains away from the team as they prepare for Monday night's game against the Ravens, according to sources. At this point it's a reality that Woods might miss his second straight game with personal issues. He's becoming extremely risky for fantasy owners, especially with the team's Week 12 game coming on Monday night. Brandin Cooks (concussion) is expected to return this week, but Josh Reynolds would continue to serve in three-receiver sets if Woods misses another game. Reynolds would be a low-cost DFS streamer and deep league flex consideration if Woods is out again, but keep in mind that Baltimore's defense has been one of the best in the NFL in recent weeks.
Atlanta Falcons running back Brian Hill had a rough game in his first start of the year in Week 11. He had 15 carries in the game, but managed just 30 yards with them. He also added an eight-yard reception on three targets in the passing game. The Falcons face the Buccaneers in Week 12, a team that's easier to pass against than run against. Hill figures to see around 15 touches in the game, assuming Devonta Freeman (foot) is out. Freeman is currently questionable, but hasn't practiced all week and is most likely going to sit for his second-straight game. Hill's most valuable touches in Week 12 will likely come in the passing game. In Week 10, Hill showed that he can produce solid numbers by putting up 71 yards and a touchdown against the Saints. This week, he has a chance to do the same, but the risk is clear given last week's struggles. Plus, Qadree Ollison appears to be the team's preferred short-yardage and red zone back, which takes some of Hill's upside away. Hill is a low-end RB2 or flex option this week and he's more attractive in PPR formats.
New York Giants tight end Evan Engram (foot) is out of practice again on Thursday, and it's safe to assume that he'll be inactive for Week 12 against the Bears. Keep Engram glued to your bench for another week. With Rhett Ellison (concussion) also not expected to play this weekend, it looks like Scott Simonson and rookie Kaden Smith will split work at the position against Chicago. The Bears have been vulnerable to tight ends, but fantasy owners shouldn't be looking to a Simonson/Smith split for help in the fantasy realm.
Atlanta Falcons running back Qadree Ollison scored his first career touchdown in Week 11, a game where he also saw his first NFL action. Ollison had four carries for 11 yards in Week 11. Brian Hill is the team's No. 1 running back for as long as Devonta Freeman (foot) is out. Freeman is currently questionable for Week 12, though he appears more likely to sit for the second-straight game. Ollison is certainly worth keeping an eye on and he's even worth rostering in the deepest of leagues due to the Falcons' many injuries in their backfield. However, don't consider him as a start option this week as you'd just be hoping for another touchdown. The workload likely won't be there for Ollison to produce sturdy yardage in the game.
New York Giants tight end Rhett Ellison (concussion) is unlikely to play in Week 12 against the Bears, according to head coach Pat Shurmur. Starting tight end Evan Engram (foot) has yet to practice this week and is headed down the same path, so you won't be able to use either tight end in fantasy this week against the Bears. Expect some combination of Scott Simonson and rookie Kaden Smith against Chicago, but we wouldn't expect much production from either player this weekend.
Houston Texans tight end Darren Fells had caught just one pass per game over Houston's last two games. He's got seven games this year with two or fewer receptions. And he's caught six touchdowns, including a pair of multi-touchdown games. What do you do with that? Well, the same thing you do every week: play him in deeper leagues if you don't have other options. Fells could catch two passes for two touchdowns. He could also one catch for seven yards. If you have a reliable option, play that guy instead.
Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (foot) hasn't practiced yet this week and head coach Dan Quinn said that if he can't practice before the team's Week 12 game against the Buccaneers, he won't be suiting up. Freeman is currently listed as questionable for Week 12, but one would imagine he's more on the doubtful side of questionable. He could, however, have a good chance to make his return in Week 13 if he doesn't suffer any setbacks in his recovery. Brian Hill and Qadree Ollison will most likely shoulder the running back workload for as long as Freeman is out.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley is in a great spot heading into Week 12. He's coming off of his best game of the year where he caught all eight of his targets for 143 yards and a touchdown against the Panthers. This week, Ridley and the Falcons face a Buccaneers Defense that has allowed the second-most passing yards per game in the league this year. The team's star wide receiver Julio Jones (foot) is currently questionable for the game. If Jones sits or plays at less than 100%, that gives Ridley even more of a boost. Regardless, Ridley should see around eight targets in the game, giving him a good chance to post between 80 and 100 receiving yards with touchdown potential.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (ankle) sat out Wednesday's practice and is currently questionable for Week 12 against the Buccaneers. However, there doesn't seem to be an indication that he's at risk for missing the game. Sitting out Wednesday's practice appears to have been mostly precautionary. If he is indeed good to go for Week 12, he'll be in good position to have a solid week. The Falcons are a pass-heavy offense facing a very pass-friendly Buccaneers Defense yielding 290 passing yards per game, second most in the league. Expect Ryan to throw for over 300 yards with two or three touchdowns on the day.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (foot) sat out Wednesday's practice and is currently questionable for Week 12 against the Buccaneers. There haven't been many details released in terms of the severity of Jones's foot injury so make sure to monitor his status in the coming days. If he's good to go, he needs to be started in all leagues as the Falcons face a very pass-friendly Buccaneers Defense. Jones has had at least eight targets in five straight games with over 90 receiving yards in four of those five games. He could easily top 100 yards and find the end zone against the Buccaneers in Week 12.
New England Patriots wide receiver Mohamed Sanu (ankle) is reportedly dealing with a high ankle sprain that could sideline him for two, maybe three weeks. Though he's currently listed as questionable for Week 12, fantasy owners should expect him to be out for Week 12 and likely Week 13 as well. While Sanu is gone, Julian Edelman should see a minor boost in targets. Phillip Dorsett (concussion) could benefit from Sanu's absence, though he is currently questionable for Week 12 while going through concussion protocol. N'Keal Harry also stands to benefit and is worth a speculative add if you have an open roster spot in leagues of 12 teams or deeper.
Houston Texans wide receiver Kenny Stills had a good game when the Texans and Colts met earlier this year, catching four passes for 105 yards, but that only happened because a Will Fuller hamstring injury thrust Stills into a larger role. This week, Fuller is a game-time decision with that hamstring injury, which means playing Stills in fantasy should also be a game-time decision: if Fuller's out, Stills has value as an upside WR4 option, but if Fuller plays, Stills' role will be reduced too much to play him.
Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox found the end zone in Week 11 for the first time since Week 3. Knox has shown some promise this year, but he still has a lot of work to do in order to become a borderline reliable tight end fantasy option. The Bills face a tough Broncos pass defense this week and Knox will likely be touchdown-or-bust. Considering he's scored just twice this year, the odds are greatly slanted towards bust.
The Bills Defense is in a great spot heading into a home matchup against the Broncos in Week 12. The Broncos rank amongst the bottom third of the league in both points per game and yards per game. The Bills should be able to hold the Broncos under 20 points in the game, potentially well under 20 points, and they should be able to record several sacks on quarterback Brandon Allen and maybe a few turnovers as well. They are a fantastic starting option this week.
Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller (hamstring) is reportedly a game-time decision for Thursday's game against the Indianapolis Colts. We last saw Fuller against the Colts in Week 7, when he caught one pass for six yards before exiting. Fuller's best game of the year was in Week 5, when he caught 14 passes for 217 yards and three touchdowns, but other than that game, he hasn't found the end zone this season. Boom-or-bust is the best way to describe Fuller at this point, and he's going to be tough to trust in fantasy lineups if he does play Thursday.
Houston Texans running back Duke Johnson has seen some increased involvement in Houston's offense lately, including a five-catch game in Week 9, but that involvement isn't really translating into fantasy success. He continues to trail Carlos Hyde in rushing attempts and his impact in the pass game has been inconsistent all year. The last time Johnson faced the Colts, he had nine touches, producing 56 yards. Something around 50 total yards seems like a good bet based on Johnson's recent production, which means you're not getting much out of him for fantasy purposes unless he finds the end zone. He has done that in three of Houston's last five games, but somehow those touchdowns still feel like anomalies based on how the Texans are using him.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley had a disappointing showing in a very favorable Week 11 matchup against the Dolphins, catching just four passes for 38 yards. It was a game where the Bills scored 37 points and quarterback Josh Allen had a career day, but John Brown was the primary producer amongst the team's receivers. This week, Beasley and the Bills face a tough Broncos pass defense that allows just 210 passing yards per game, fifth fewest in the league. Beasley has been averaging about five targets per game in the past few months and with his 10.4 yards per reception average and lack of touchdown production, he's tough to trust for a big fantasy day. He's a viable WR3 or flex in deep PPR leagues, but if you have another option with more upside, you might want to get away from Beasley this week. In non-PPR he shouldn't be started.