This Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts travel down to The Lone Star State to visit AFC South division rival Houston Texans. This game now looks vastly different due to the incredibly unfortunate loss of Texans rookie QB Deshaun Watson. Of course, Houston losing J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus a few weeks ago was an enormous hit as well.
We'll use a simple rating scale for each player, grading each from A-F:
- "A" is a 'must start'
- "B" is a 'recommended start'
- "C" is an 'if needed start'
- "D" is 'don't start'
- "F" is simply not a fantasy option at all this week.
QB Jacoby Brissett: C
Last three weeks average: 22.7-of-37.7 passing, 215.0 yards, 5.71 YPA, 1.0 TD, 0.3 INT, 3.3 carries, 17.3 yards, 0.0 TD per game
Brissett and the Colts have had some abysmal performances this season but it doesn’t mean that Brissett hasn’t shown some fantasy value. He’s had four games over 15.0 fantasy points this year, and he’ll typically show up in a good matchup. In games against the Browns, 49ers, Titans and Bengals, he averaged 21.41 FPPG. This week against the Texans gives him another opportunity for a solid performance, especially without Watson on the other side.
The Texans rank right near the bottom (30th) in FPPG (20.46) against QB’s. Brissett could be especially dangerous to them because he has the luxury of mobility, which can help buy him time to find pass-catchers downfield. His WR1 also happens to own the Texans, especially down at NRG Stadium, but more on that later.
The Texans have allowed the sixth-most rushing yards to QB’s (148) this season. Brissett currently has 135 rushing yards on his own (and 3 TD’s), so he could definitely add to those totals on Sunday.
RB Frank Gore: C
Last three weeks average: 27.0 snaps, 11.7 carries, 55.0 yards, 0.0 TD, 2.0 catches (2.3 targets), 12.3 yards, 0.0 TD per game
Gore has begun to fall back to Marlon Mack in the Colts offense. In the two games that the Colts have played without Robert Turbin, Mack has seen 71 snaps compared to Gore’s 58, but Gore has 29 touches compared to Mack’s 23. There likely will be no consistency as the season develops — Mack will lead in touches some weeks, as will Gore in others, even if Mack leads in snaps throughout.
With all of that out of the way, Gore is likely playable as a flex this week. With Tom Savage leading the Texans offense instead of Watson, it means the Colts will likely be able to control the time of possession more, which means plenty of hand-offs to Gore. Not having to run into Watt and Mercilus (two elite run-defenders) certainly helps things.
RB Marlon Mack: B
Last three weeks average: 28.3 snaps, 6.0 carries, 23.7 yards, 0.0 TD, 2.3 catches (4.3 targets), 25.3 yards, 0.3 TD per game
I like Mack a little more than Gore this week because A) Mack has been getting the snaps that he deserves, and B) Mack’s big-play ability on the ground and in the air can be exploited this week if the Colts are able to control the ball. On 53 touches this year, he has seven 20-yard plays!
WR T.Y. Hilton: B
Last three weeks average: 59.7 snaps, 1.7 catches (6.3 targets), 20.0 yards, 0.0 TD per game
Hilton’s last three weeks have sucked — a grand total of 5 catches (20 targets) for 61 yards and 0 TD’s. Make no mistake, though, this is a slump and not a sign of things to come for the rest of the season. Like is to be expected with Hilton, he’ll be inconsistent without Andrew Luck. However, after Luck was placed on Injured Reserve yesterday, there is no doubt now that Brissett is the only guy that’ll be throwing to Hilton. The pair needs to get their proverbial s*** together.
As I mentioned earlier, Hilton owns the Texans, especially down in Houston. In five games at NRG Stadium, he averages 5.4 catches (9.0 targets) for 111.8 yards (20.7 avg) and 1.0 TD. In 10 total career games against the Texans, he averages 5.5 catches (8.9 targets) for 94.2 yards (17.1 avg) and 0.7 TD.
The Texans give up 34.1 FPPG to WR’s, which ranks down at 24th. Donte Moncrief may even have a big game!
TE Jack Doyle: B
Last three weeks average: 61.0 snaps, 8.3 catches (10.7 targets), 71.7 yards, 0.7 TD per game
Doyle has been a great fantasy option for much of the year, but especially the last few weeks. Since Week 6, he has 25 catches (31 targets) for 215 yards and 2 TD’s. Brissett loves looking Doyle’s way, and even though Doyle missed a game earlier this season, he is narrowly behind Hilton (56) for the team lead in targets (54).
The Texans are among the worst fantasy Def/ST’s against TE’s, ranking 26th and surrendering 14.9 FPPG.
K Adam Vinatieri: B
Last three weeks average: 2.0-of-2.0 FGA (100%), 1.0-of-1.3 XPA (75.0%), 7.0 points per game
As long as the Colts aren’t completely shut down and unable to move the ball on offense, Vinatieri should have a decent game. In their last three games, the Texans have given up 12.67 FPPG to K’s. The last time a K missed a field goal attempt against them was in Week 1. That’s also the last time that Vinatieri missed a field goal attempt.
Colts Def/ST: C
Last three weeks average: 422.3 YA, 29.0 PA, 1.7 sacks, 1.7 takeaway per game
The numbers of the Colts Def/ST are unavoidable. Although they get sacks and takeaways, they give up way too many yards and points. However, there is some hope this week since Savage is starting. The Texans offense allows Def/ST’s 8.9 FPPG, which ranks 22nd. And that was with Watson on the field.
The Colts look like they’ll have starting CB Rashaan Melvin back on the field, which is great news. Although they’ll likely be without starting ED John Simon again, Barkevious Mingo has played good football in Simon’s place.
The Colts Def/ST is start-able this week, but I wouldn’t feel great about it.
Have any Colts or fantasy football questions? Jake puts out a Q&A video on Facebook Live every week where he answers your questions. Drop him your questions on his Facebook page here.