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.
Chicago Bears kicker Eddy Pineiro missed two more field goals -- one from 47 yards and one from 48 yards out -- in Sunday night's loss to the Rams. Pineiro was 8-for-10 on his field goals and perfect on extra points going into the bye week, but he's hitting just 50 percent of his kicks since then and hasn't made a field goal since going 3-for-5 against the Chargers. Head coach Matt Nagy is disappointed in Pineiro, but he's not ready to make a change at the position just yet. Im not worried about anything right now, Pieiro said. Ive just go to keep making kicks in practice, go back and see what I did wrong, and just try to make kicks. Even in a good matchup with the Giants next week, Pineiro shouldn't be in starting lineups.
Denver Broncos fullback Andy Janovich (elbow) will miss the rest of the season after suffering a dislocated right elbow in the Week 11 loss to the Vikings. He will undergo an MRI exam on Monday to determine if he also has ligament damage. Janovich scored on a one-yard touchdown plunge before his injury. Andy Beck, an undrafted rookie who plays tight end and fullback, replaced Janovich in the second half. Janovich missed the first three games of the year with a partially torn pectoral muscle. His absence the rest of the way is bad news for both running backs Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman.
The Denver Broncos Defense had a solid outing against the Minnesota Vikings, the most noticeable stat being the five sacks they logged against Kirk Cousins and the Vikings o-line. They also managed to force and recover two fumbles, packing the stat sheet for any owners that played them in Week 11. Despite the defensive collapse in the fourth quarter, the Broncos held the Vikings to under 350 total yards and won the turnover battle during the game. They will look to keep up the pace next week against the Buffalo Bills in a road matchup.
Denver Broncos running back Royce Freeman was non-existent in the team's loss to the Vikings in Week 11. The 2nd-year back has started to dip in production his last two games, a daunting sign for owners that were occasionally sneaking him into their flex spot. Freeman only had eight carries for 31 yards, alongside one reception for 14 yards. Things don't lighten up for the Oregon product, as the Broncos face a stout Buffalo Bills Defense next week on the road.
Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus hit three of his four field-goal attempts on Sunday afternoon, while also connecting on both of his extra-point tries. The three hits came from 29, 41, and 47 yards out, while the lone miss was a 43-yard attempt. McManus continues to be a middle of the pack option at kicker, posting solid performances week-to-week.
Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack (hand) suffered a hand fracture during Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He underwent successful surgery to repair the fracture on Monday morning. He's expected to be out for Week 12, and it's likely that he'll be out at least one more week after that. However, this is not considered to be season-ending for him at this point. With Jordan Wilkins inactive in Week 11, Jonathan Williams benefited the most from Mack leaving the game, attempting 13 runs for 116 yards and adding one catch for 31 yards in the win. On a short week Thursday night in Week 12 against the Texans, Williams could have RB2 upside if Wilkins misses another game. Nyheim Hines should also see more work, but he's mostly an RB3/flex for PPR leagues.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson both suffered concussions in Thursday night's eventful loss to the Browns. Smith-Schuster also came away from the game with a knee injury for his trouble, and his status for Sunday's matchup with Cincinnati is up in the air, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. Neither Smith-Schuster nor Johnson have been no-doubt weekly fantasy starters, but fantasy owners will nonetheless want to keep their ears to the ground for updates on these developments. Vance McDonald and James Washington could be in line for increased roles if one or both are inactive for Week 12, as well as the already PPR-friendly Steelers backfield.
Denver Broncos tight end Noah Fant was a highly sought after target for quarterback Brandon Allen, as he hauled in four catches on 11 targets. This is a career-high in targets for Fant, who is starting to see an uptick in production with a change of scenery in recent weeks. Against the Vikings, the rookie tallied 60 yards, his second-highest yards in a game this season. Fant's stock continues to rise as he and the Broncos have a tough test against the Bills next week.
Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku (wrist) was called "day-to-day" by head coach Freddie Kitchens on Monday. Njoku is eligible to be activated from injured reserve this week after fracturing his wrist during Week 2's win over the New York Jets. Kitchens told reporters, "We've got to get him on the football field and see where he's at." There is a strong possibility that Njoku practices on Wednesday as the team gears up for a Week 12 matchup against the Miami Dolphins. Fantasy GMs in need of tight end help should check for Njoku on the waiver wire. He has the potential to be a TE1 down the stretch of the fantasy season.
Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay struggled against the Minnesota Vikings run defense, posting disappointing numbers for his fantasy owners. The 2nd-year back had 16 attempts on the afternoon but only managed 67 yards, with eight yards added in the receiving game. Things don't lighten up for Lindsay, as he faces a stout Buffalo Bills Defense next week.
Denver Broncos quarterback Brandon Allen is starting to get his footing under himself after two starts with Broncos in Joe Flacco's absence. He posted a strong first half against the Minnesota Vikings but wasn't able to close out the game on Sunday. Allen threw for 240 yards and one touchdown alongside one interception. The 27-year-old quarterback will face his toughest test yet next week as he and the Broncos make a trip to Buffalo to face the Bills.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Tim Patrick tallied 77 yards in his first game of action in 2019. Patrick is fighting for minutes in a receiving corps that currently has a gap alongside established star Courtland Sutton. Sunday's performance has lighted hope into Broncos fans that have been looking for someone to pop out in the receiving corps, and Patrick is making a case to be that someone moving forward. Patrick logged four catches on eight targets for 77 yards and is available on almost all waiver wires. He could be a flyer pick for owners looking to add depth with potential moving forward.
Washington Redskins wide receiver Trey Quinn has not seen more than four targets in a game since Week 3, nor has he caught more than three passes in this same span. That trend regrettably continued in Week 11 with his second straight game of single-digit receiving yards. There was a glimmer of promise in his 2019 fantasy profile after being targeted 20 times combined in his first three games, but inconsistent QB play and an otherwise inept offense have cast him into the void. Whatever PPR upside Quinn possessed coming into the season, that ship has clearly sailed.
Washington Redskins tight end Jeremy Sprinkle was once again mostly a non-factor in Sunday's loss to the Jets, catching two passes for 16 yards on three targets. Unlike the rest of his stat lines this season, which all look a lot like this one, he scored a touchdown in Week 11. The game was all over but the shouting by the time Sprinkle hauled in his one-yard score, as his visit to the endzone narrowed the Redskins' deficit to 17 points with just over a minute left to go in the fourth quarter. Even in an offense nearly devoid of reliable pass-catching options outside of Terry McLaurin, the Redskins have clearly not placed an emphasis on getting the ball to Sprinkle at tight end. He hasn't been targeted more than three times in a game since Week 3. Touchdown or no touchdown, he can continue to be overlooked in fantasy leagues.
Denver Broncos FB Andy Janovich (elbow) is expected to miss the rest of the season with a right elbow injury suffered in Week 11. He will seek more medical opinions before determining whether surgery will be needed.
Washington Redskins wide receiver Kelvin Harmon was the primary beneficiary in terms of playing time with Paul Richardson sidelined for Sunday's game. Harmon was targeted six times (two more than any other Washington pass-catcher), and hauled in five for 53 yards. The Week 11 performance exponentially increased his season-long catch and yardage totals, which should tell you everything you need to know about whether he's been seeing chances on a regular basis. The fact that he was more productive than Richardson has been for most of the year and immediately outplayed Trey Quinn might earn him more such chances going forward, but this is still a pass offense without safe or trustworthy options outside of Terry McLaurin.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton made his presence known all over the field in the Broncos loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday afternoon. The 2nd-year receiver caught five passes, ran the ball twice, and completed one pass. He only managed 10 yards rushing, but the pass was an impressive 38-yard completion to teammate Tim Patrick. The most important part though was his five catches for 113 on nine targets. Sutton has continued to put up impressive numbers despite having a shaky quarterback situation and looks to keep it rolling in Week 12 with a tough matchup against the Buffalo Bills.
New York Giants TE Evan Engram (foot) shed his walking boot Monday, Nov. 18, and believes he can resume running and cutting at some point later in the week. He told ESPN's Jordan Raanan that it is 'definitely possible' to return in Week 12 against the Chicago Bears.
Fantasy Spin: Players are typically optimistic about their chances early in the week, but fantasy owners should be skeptical considering Engram wasn't practicing Monday with the team coming off a bye. As such, Week 13 is looking like a more realistic return date. Either Rhett Ellison (concussion) or sixth-round rookie Kaden Smith should draw the start against Chicago if Engram sits.
Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson had to contend not only with a stout Jets run defense on Sunday, but also with the return of second-year teammate Derrius Guice. Naturally, Peterson's fantasy output in the 34-17 home loss to New York suffered. He saw just nine carries and took them for a combined 25 yards. Sunday marked the first time since Week 5 that Peterson did not see at least 14 carries or 16 touches in a game, and fantasy owners have to believe there are going to be a lot more days like this one with Guice back in the fold. Peterson will need to be downgraded as a result, as his 2019 fantasy value has been entirely the product of opportunity.
Chicago Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky (hip) suffered a right hip pointer when he was sacked at the end of the second quarter in Week 11 against the Los Angeles Rams, according to head coach Matt Nagy. Trubisky was pulled from the game late in favor of Chase Daniel, but Nagy insisted the move was made due to the injury. 'Every decision that was made, it had zero to do with his play. It was completely based off his injury and where he was at,' Nagy said.
Fantasy Spin: Trubisky was not particularly good again in Week 11 even before the injury. His play across the board has deteriorated from last year, and one of the biggest differences in his game in 2019 is how little he has scrambled (and how ineffective he has been at doing it). Trubisky has two good upcoming matchups against the New York Giants and Detroit Lions, but it will be difficult for owners to start him in fantasy at any point the rest of the way.