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.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (shoulder) and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (concussion) were forced to leave Thursday Night's game against the Cleveland Browns. Conner who missed the last two games with the shoulder injury, reaggravated it early in the game, while Smith-Schuster got sandwiched on a tackle in between multiple Browns defenders in the second quarter and immediately fell to the ground. If both players are forced to miss extended time, this Steelers offense becomes completely devoid of playmaking talent. Look for Vance McDonald, James Washington, Jaylen Samuels, and Trey Edmunds to receive immediate opportunities in their absence.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Devante Parker is the most talented man left standing in the Dolphins receiving corps but will face an uphill battle with the Buffalo Bills coming to town in Week 11. Led by shutdown corner TreDavious White, the Bills secondary has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this season, trailing only the New England Patriots. With teammate Preston Williams out for the season following knee surgery, Parker is clearly quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick's favorite place to look, with his 10 targets leading the Dolphins last week in their 16-12 win over the Indianapolis Colts. While the speedy wideout has a touchdown in four of his last six games and should get close to double-digit targets every week, Parker might also be shadowed by the aforementioned White on Sunday, limiting his ceiling and dropping his floor down to zero. Avoid starting him this week but don't sleep on Parker in the future, as three of his next four opponents are in the bottom-six in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers in 2019.
With all of his competition for touches being either traded or suspended, Miami Dolphins running back Kalen Ballage did little to impress in last week's 16-12 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Rushing for only 43 yards on 20 carries, and having rushed for only 113 yards on the season, Ballage has been a complete disappointment this year but will get an easier matchup in Week 11, as the Buffalo Bills have given up the ninth-most fantasy points to running backs in 2019. Ballage should continue to get a high volume of touches - with his only competition coming from Patrick Laird and Myles Gaskin - but he is still struggling to gain yards after first contact and is running behind one of the league's worst offensive lines. Even facing a Buffalo defense that struggles to stop the run, Ballage is no better than an RB3 this week, carrying a floor of zero and little upside. Leave him on your bench if at all possible, until Ballage proves he can contribute in a meaningful way.
Oakland Raiders tight end Darren Waller has strung together three underwhelming outings, but he will look to right the ship in Week 11 versus the Bengals. The 26-year-old has caught just seven passes over the last three weeks after averaging over seven receptions a game through the team's first six games. Teams have begun to shadow the 6'6" pass-catcher in recent weeks, but that hasn't stopped Derek Carr from peppering him with 15 targets in this span. Waller has an excellent chance to redeem himself versus a Cincinnati team who has been vulnerable on defense and are coming off a game where they allowed two touchdowns to Ravens tight end Mark Andrews in Week 10. Waller is a firm TE1 this week as he looks to get back in his high-volume groove from the season's first half.
After a couple of down weeks, Oakland Raiders wide receiver Tyrell Williams will look to rebound in a great matchup versus the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals Defense is susceptible to the passing game, and it's looking likely that their top cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick will be sidelined once again. This is terrific news for Williams, who began the year collecting a TD pass in each of his first five games, although he's yet to find paydirt in his last two outings. The 27-year-old has still seen plenty of opportunities in these games as he's sitting second on the team in targets with nine as the team's WR1. His high-volume role should continue this Sunday, although the offense could lean more on the run game if they get out to an early lead. Williams should be treated as a WR3 in Week 11 with a decent shot at finding the end zone.
With all of his competition for touches being either traded or suspended, Miami Dolphins running back Kalen Ballage did little to impress in last week's 16-12 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Rushing for only 43 yards on 20 carries, and having rushed for only 113 yards on the season, Ballage has been a complete disappointment this year but will get an easier matchup in Week 10, as their opponent, the Buffalo Bills, have given up the ninth-most fantasy points to running backs in 2019. Ballage should continue to get a high volume of touches - with his only competition coming from Patrick Laird and Myles Gaskin - but he is still struggling to gain yards after first contact and is running behind one of the league's worst offensive lines. Even facing a Buffalo defense that struggles to stop the run, Ballage is no better than an RB3 this week, carrying a floor of zero and little upside. Leave him on your bench if at all possible, until Ballage proves he can contribute in a meaningful way.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Devante Parker is the most talented man left standing in the receiving corps but will face an uphill battle in Week 10, with the Buffalo Bills coming into town. Led by shutdown corner TreDavious White, the Bills secondary has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this season, trailing only the New England Patriots. With teammate Preston Williams out for the season following knee surgery, Parker is clearly quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick's favorite target, with his 10 targets leading the Dolphins last week in their 16-12 win over the Indianapolis Colts. While the speedy wideout has a touchdown in four of his last six games and should get close to double-digit targets every week, Parker might also be shadowed by the aforementioned White in Week 10, limiting his ceiling and dropping his floor down to zero. Avoid starting him this week but don't sleep on Parker in the future, as three of his next four opponents are in the bottom-six in points allowed to receivers.
San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert (knee) and wide receiver Dante Pettis (back) were both limited in practice on Thursday. Mostert has been limited all week but should play and serve as Tevin Coleman's backup in Week 11 against the Cardinals with Matt Breida expected to miss one to two weeks. Mostert will have some flex appeal in deeper leagues in a good matchup with Arizona. Pettis was added to the injury report on Thursday. The 24-year-old has been an utter disaster this year in San Fran's run-first offense, and he could continue to see his role shrink after going catchless on three targets last week. Even if Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) is inactive on Sunday, there are way better options in fantasy than Pettis.
Chicago Bears rookie running back David Montgomery (ankle) and tight ends Trey Burton (calf) and Adam Shaheen (foot) missed practice on Thursday. Montgomery rolled his ankle in practice on Wednesday and could wind up as questionable for Sunday night against the Rams. That will obviously pose a big headache for fantasy owners, but Montgomery is a shaky low-end RB2 even if he does play against an LA defensive front that has been stingy against the run. If he can't get the green light, Tarik Cohen would have RB2 upside. The tight end position has been a fantasy wasteland in Chicago, so Ben Braunecker wouldn't even be appealing if both Burton and Shaheen were inactive Sunday night.
Former Cleveland Browns wide receiver Antonio Callaway is reportedly appealing a 10-game suspension that the NFL handed down earlier in the season. He tested positive for a banned substance after using a CBD edible product in the summer to deal with an ankle injury. Callaway has had several drug-related incidents since declaring for the NFL draft, including a positive test at the combine and a four-game suspension to begin the 2019 season. Cleveland finally gave up on Callaway on Thursday, waiving the former fourth-round draft pick while citing that the receiver had "too many issues." Callaway's appeal with the NFL was heard on Friday and he is still awaiting the NFL's final decision.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (ankle) remains out of practice on Thursday. Green suffered a setback due to swelling in his ankle last week and remains without a timetable to return. He was getting close to making his season debut, but he now appears unlikely to play in Week 11 against the Raiders. At this point, Green could be put on season-ending Injured Reserve. He's not a lock to help your fantasy team before or during the playoffs, and even if he does return, his upside will be limited on a winless Bengals squad with rookie Ryan Finley at quarterback. Cincy will continue to roll with Tyler Boyd, Auden Tate and Alex Erickson in three-wide sets.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Alex Erickson (back) returned to a limited practice on Thursday after being held out on Wednesday. Even with A.J. Green (ankle) unlikely to return this weekend, Erickson isn't a recommended fantasy starter in any league as the No. 3 receiver on a winless Bengals team with rookie quarterback Ryan Finley under center. Erickson missed both of his two targets in Week 10 with Finley throwing him the ball. He had a blowup on Oct. 20 against the Jaguars when he went for 137 yards on eight catches, but that was clearly an outlier. You can avoid Erickson unless you're truly desperate.
Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay said he expects tight ends Gerald Everett (wrist) and Tyler Higbee (knee) to play on Sunday night against the Bears in Week 11. Everett has had a breakout season in 2019 and has become the preferred pass-catching tight end over Higbee. With Brandin Cooks (concussion) out at least another week, Everett has TE1 appeal this weekend, even in a tough matchup with the Bears Defense looming. Unless Everett gets hurt and misses time, Higbee can be left on the waiver wire in redraft leagues.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper (ankle, knee) returned to a limited practice on Thursday after being held out on Wednesday. He should do more in practice on Friday and remains on track to play in Week 11 against the Lions. Cooper has battled through several injuries this year but has remained one of the most consistently productive receivers in the NFL. He'll be a high-end WR1 against a Lions secondary that has been one of the most generous units in the league against opposing wide receivers. Cooper is a must-start.
In a surprise move, the Cleveland Browns announced that they waived wide receiver Antonio Callaway on Thursday. Callaway was suspended ahead of the team's Week 10 matchup against the Buffalo Bills for arriving late but he was expected to return for Thursday night's showdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Instead, Callaway didn't respond well to the benching, prompting Cleveland to release the 2018 fourth-round draft pick. The Browns will move forward with Rashard Higgins as their No. 3 receiver. Callaway should catch on somewhere as he is regarded as a talented player but he might have to settle for a practice squad spot. Offensive lineman Drew Forbes was activated off of injured reserve to take Callaway's roster spot.
The Pittsburgh Steelers placed wide receiver Ryan Switzer (back) and fullback Roosevelt Nix (knee) on Injured Reserve on Thursday. Switzer injured his back in the Week 10 win over the Rams. In corresponding moves, receiver Tevin Jones and linebacker Jayrone Elliott were added to the active roster. Switzer was more of a special teams guy and had only eight receptions on 11 targets for 27 yards in three games for the Steelers this year. He wasn't even on the fantasy map to begin with.
Washington Redskins interim head coach Bill Callahan said that moving rookie wide receiver Terry McLaurin around more could help get him out of his slump. The impressive rookie is versatile and capable of moving to different spots in the formation. The 24-year-old hasn't found the end zone since Oct. 13 against the Dolphins (twice that day), but it's mainly the team's offense and the quarterback situation holding him back. It hasn't helped matters that rookie Dwayne Haskins is now in charge. The matchup against the Jets couldn't be any better, but McLaurin is still more of a boom-or-bust WR3 for fantasy owners. He has nine catches in the last three games.
Washington Redskins interim head coach Bill Callahan said that running back Adrian Peterson was rested in practice on Thursday, and he'll be fine for Week 11 against the Jets. The 34-year-old has been the bell-cow back since Callahan took over, and he's seen at least 18 carries in three of the last four games, so rest is certainly in order coming out of the bye week. Peterson's floor has been higher in recent weeks, but that will change with Derrius Guice (knee) returning this Sunday to an expected big workload. AD will still have a role, but he's back to being a low-upside RB3/flex in deeper leagues.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Tim Patrick (hand) is expected to be activated from the Injured Reserve this week to play in Week 11 against the Vikings. Cornerback Bryce Callahan (foot) is expected to go on IR in a corresponding move. Patrick came on strong at the end of last year after the Broncos traded Demaryius Thomas, but that's unlikely to happen again to close the 2019 season with either inexperienced quarterback Brandon Allen or rookie Drew Lock at the helm. Denver's low-upside offense just can't really support another fantasy relevant receiver behind Courtland Sutton right now. Patrick is only a stash candidate in dynasty leagues.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (ankle, knee), wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) and kicker Robbie Gould (quadriceps) all missed practice for the second straight day this week on Thursday. It's looking like Kittle and Gould will miss their second straight game, while Sanders is doubtful after injuring his ribs on Monday night. Even in a great matchup, it'll make quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo one to fade if he's missing his top receiving targets. Rookie Deebo Samuel will have WR2 upside if both Kittle and Sanders sit out. We wouldn't recommend backup tight end Ross Dwelley or kicker Chase McLaughlin as deep league streamers.