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.
Five Sleepers: Week 8
Denver Broncos wide receiver Tim Patrick (hamstring) missed practice all week but is considered questionable for Week 8 against the Chargers. Patrick has been the team's most reliable fantasy receiver so far in 2020 in what has been an inconsistent offense, seeing at least four targets in each game while going over 100 yards receiving in both Weeks 4 and 6. But a full week of missed practices doesn't bode well for his availability in this divisional matchup. As of right now, you should have other options in place. If Patrick is inactive, Jerry Jeudy, K.J. Hamler and DaeSean Hamilton would likely be the team's top three receivers. Check back on Sunday for the official inactives to see if Patrick is suiting up.
Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay (concussion) is listed as questionable for Week 8 against the Chargers. Lindsay did not practice on Wednesday, but he got in limited action both Thursday and Friday, at least giving him a chance to be cleared before Sunday's game. The 26-year-old was more effective than Melvin Gordon in Week 7 against the Chiefs before suffering a head injury, toting the rock nine times for 79 yards (8.78 yards per attempt). He's sporting a 5.2 yard-per-carry average in 2020, but Lindsay can't shake the injury bug, playing in just one full game to this point. If he's active against the Bolts, he'll once again be sharing touches with Gordon, making him a risky RB3/flex for this weekend.
Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon II could see the lion's share of the backfield work in Week 8 against his former team, the Chargers, if backfield mate Phillip Lindsay (concussion) misses another game. Because of the volume he'd see in a revenge game if Lindsay is inactive, Gordon would have RB2 upside. The first-year Bronco ran the ball 17 times for 68 yards and a touchdown in the blowout loss to the Chiefs last week, but he also lost two costly fumbles. Gordon has a potential suspension still hanging over his head after a DUI arrest several weeks ago, but he should be available for this Sunday against L.A. If Lindsay plays, Gordon will be more of a low-end RB2/high-end RB3 for fantasy managers.
Buffalo Bills TE Lee Smith was activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list Friday, Oct. 30.
Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock just hasn't looked good since returning from a shoulder injury two weeks ago. In a 43-16 blowout loss to the division-rival Chiefs last weekend, Lock went 24-for-40 for only 254 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions for the second straight week. He salvaged his stat line by rushing for a score. He'll face a Chargers Defense this Sunday that has given up the seventh-most fantasy points per game to signal-callers, but Lock just cannot be trusted to perform for fantasy managers in Denver's inconsistent offense. The second-year QB has yet to surpass 254 passing yards in a game this year and threw for just 189 yards in the Week 6 win over New England. He's a low-end QB2 for those in superflex leagues.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Le'Veon Bell will look to have a revenge game against the Jets in Week 8. Bell made his Chiefs debut in Week 7 and saw 33% of the backfield snaps behind rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Bell saw six carries in that span and picked up 39 yards, but was not targeted in the pass game. The Jets have allowed 105 yards per game and 45 yards receiving to opposing backs and Bell would certainly like to remind the Jets of what they've missed out on. Edwards-Helaire will continue to be the lead back for the Chiefs, but Bell could see increased action this action and beyond. Bell should be considered at RB3/flex option in Week 8 and beyond for now.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill is in a prime spot to put up big numbers in Week 8 against the Jets. The Jets Defense has struggled against wide receivers and is allowing 176 yards per game to pass catchers. Hill started a new touchdown streak in Week 7 and has now scored six of his first seven games this season. This game could wild with the Chief overpowering offense versus a winless Jets team, and the speedy receiver should be a big part of the game plan. Hill should be fired up as a WR1 Sunday.
Jacksonville Jaguars RB Chris Thompson was activated off the Reserve/COVID-19 list Friday, Oct. 30.
The Jacksonville Jaguars cut FB Bruce Miller Friday, Oct. 30.
Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry will look to get back on track in Week 8 versus the Denver Broncos. Henry only had 23 yards on three catches in Week 7 and hasn't topped 50 yards since Week 3. Henry has been targeted seven or more times by quarterback Justin Herbert in all but one game this season, but he hasn't done much with those opportunities recently. Henry will look to turn that around in Week 8 in a favorable matchup versus the Broncos, a defense that has been allowing 52 yards per game to tight ends. Henry has an opportunity to put together a strong game, but Denver hasn't allowed a touchdown to a tight end since Week 1 and that will limit Henry's upside. Henry should be treated as a low-end TE1 in Week 8.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce will look to get back on track with a Week 8 matchup against the New York Jets. Kelce was held to just three catches for 31 yards in Week 7, but managers shouldn't worry. The Jets are currently allowing 47 yards a game against tight ends. The Chiefs are expected to score a lot on Sunday versus the winless Jets and that puts Kelce in a prime position to help managers. Kelce can safely be plugged in lineups every week as a TE1.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is gearing up for a feast against the 0-7 New York Jets in week 8. Mahomes had a quiet Week 7 by his standards, but also sat out part of the fourth quarter due to the Chiefs large lead and that could again happen on Sunday. The Jets Defense is allowing 29 points per game and 268 yards passing per game and has allowed two or more touchdowns in every game besides two. The Chiefs clearly outmatch the Jets and it's scary to envision what this matchup will like. Managers should be aware that if the score gets out of control, Mahomes will likely be rested, but he should be fired up as a QB1.
Kansas City Chiefs rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire will look to keep his strong season alive in a favorable matchup against the New York Jets in Week 8 that is allowing opposing runners to gains 105 yards per contest and 45 yards per catch, both which bode well for the rookie. Managers should be aware that veteran Le'Veon Bell should see some run in a revenge and moving forward. The Chiefs have a clear edge of talent in this contest and that means that in addition to giving up snaps to Bell, CEH could have a shorter day than normal if the score goes as expected. Either way, Edwards-Helaire should be fired up as a RB1 in Week 8.
The New York Jets waived DE Daeshon Hall with a failed-physical designation Friday, Oct. 30.
Free-agent LB Elijah Lee (Lions) was claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Browns Friday, Oct. 30.
Los Angeles Chargers running back Justin Jackson will have a tough task in Week 8 versus a tough Denver Broncos run defense. Jackson has been the starter with Austin Ekeler (hamstring) sidelined, but he has been splitting the backfield work with rookie Joshua Kelley. Jackson only picked up five carries for 12 yards in Week 7, but he did secure five catches for 43 yards. The Broncos Defense has only allowed 90 yards per game to opposing runners, but running backs are averaging close to seven catches a game against them, and that works to Jackson's benefit. Between a tough matchup and splitting work with Kelley, though, Jackson shouldn't be viewed as more than a flex option in deeper leagues this Sunday.
Los Angeles Chargers rookie running back Joshua Kelley will look to get his season back on track in Week 8 versus a stingy Denver Broncos Defense that has allowed just 90 yards per game to opposing runners. Kelley has really struggled over his last three games and has been splitting work with Justin Jackson in the backfield while Austin Ekeler (hamstring) has been sidelined. Neither Jackson or Kelley has run away as the top back for the Chargers, but Jackson has been operating as the starter in a close to 50-50 timeshare and seems to be preferred the option for coach Anthony Lynn. Kelley is best served as a bench option in Week 8.
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams will look to get back on track in Week 8 against the Broncos. Williams is fully healthy after dealing some injuries earlier in the season, but he has been inconsistent on the season. The big receiver only had one catch for four yards in Week 7, but has a chance to put together a good performance against a Broncos Defense allowing 164 yards per game versus wide receivers. Due to his inconsistency, managers shouldn't count on Williams to be more than a WR4/WR5 with upside on Sunday.
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen will look to keep producing against the Denver Broncos in Week 8. Allen has been a target machine for quarterback Justin Herbert and enters Sunday with 44 receptions, 481 yards and a pair of touchdowns over the first six games of the season. Allen has been heavily featured and remains the top option for a Chargers offense that has become more pass friendly with the arrival of Herbert and running back Austin Ekeler (hamstring) sidelined. The Broncos are allowing 164 yards per game to opposing pass catchers and Allen should be very involved in a game that is expected to go back and forth on Sunday. Allen should be considered a WR2 in Week 8.
Los Angeles Chargers rookie quarterback Justin Herbert will look to keep his strong debut season going against the Denver Broncos in a Week 8 battle on Sunday. Herbert picked up his first victory versus the Jaguars in Week 7 and looked brilliant in doing so. The Broncos Defense has been playing very of late and has only allowed one touchdown over their last three games, but Herbert has been challenged early in his career and has come through. The rookie will come into Sunday's game with 1542 passing yards, 12 touchdowns and three interceptions and has also rushed 25 times for 121 yards and a pair of touchdowns over his first five games. It should be a close matchup between the Broncos and Chargers in Week 8 and Herbert should be considered a QB2 with the potential to put up QB1 numbers.