Mike Fanelli | November 21st, 2019
This time next week all of us will be enjoying Thanksgiving with three football games on. Unfortunately, that’s not till next week and we have to get through another week of football first. The good news is this is the last week of the season with teams on a bye. Fantasy owners will be without their star players on the Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, and Minnesota Vikings this week. However, tonight’s matchup between the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans should offer an entertaining game.
To recap last week, no one on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offered a lot of fantasy points but when you have two starting wide receivers and your starting running back all leave the game early with injuries, your offense is going to seriously struggle. Baker Mayfield scored 21.8 fantasy points, good for the QB9 on the week, despite throwing for under 200 yards. Odell Beckham Jr. almost had a touchdown but was ruled down at the one-yard line and finished with just 10 fantasy points. Nick Chubb had the majority of the rushing attempts but was outscored in PPR scoring by Kareem Hunt as he pulled in six balls. I didn’t have a great performance last week, hopefully, I’m better this week, so let’s find out.
Quarterback – Jacoby Brissett
After missing a game with a knee injury, Brissett returned Sunday against the Jaguars, snapping the Colts’ two-game losing streak while scoring 15.1 fantasy points. Brissett threw for just 148 yards and if not for a rushing touchdown, he would have scored single-digit fantasy points. However, it was his first game in two weeks and he should be sharper tonight. While Brissett has scored under 15.5 fantasy points in three straight weeks, he scored a season-high 27.6 fantasy points against the Texans in week seven while throwing for a career-high 326 yards and four touchdowns in a 30-23 win.
Meanwhile, the Texans give up the sixth-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, giving up 21.2 per game. They just gave up a season-high 34 fantasy points to Lamar Jackson last week and have given up three or more touchdowns in five of their last six games. Over the last two seasons, the Texans have struggled to slow down the Colts’ passing game, giving up an average of 28.3 fantasy points per game to the Colts’ quarterbacks over their last three matchups. With Patrick Mahomes and Kyler Murray on a bye, Brissett is owned in just over 50% of ESPN leagues and he is the perfect bye week filler.
Marlon Mack won’t play with a hand injury and there isn’t a lot hope he is ready for next week against the Titans. With Mack out of the lineup, the trio of Hines, Wilkins, and Williams will split the workload, making this backfield hard to predict. The matchup is a good one as the Texans give up 25.8 fantasy points per game to running backs and gave up 44.4 fantasy points to the Ravens’ running backs last week. Against the Jaguars, Mack, Hines, and Williams all scored 12.5 or more fantasy points as the Colts ran the ball 30 times with Mack getting 14 attempts, Williams getting 13, and Hines getting three. Wilkins missed the game with an ankle injury but is off the injury report and will play tonight.
All three running backs are flex options this week in large part because we have no idea how the touches will be split. I would lean Williams because he was featured after Mack left the game but he had just two carries for one yard this season before Sunday. Wilkins has topped five carries just once this season in week five against the Kansas City Chiefs with seven rushing attempts. Hines doesn’t have a game this season with more than four rushing attempts but had caught three or more balls in 70% of his games this season including three of the last four games.
Of the trio, I would lean Hines in PPR knowing he is clearly the passing catching back while I would play Williams in non-PPR as I think he has the best chance to get into the end zone. However, all three of these running backs are a risky flex option with some upside. I would avoid all three if possible this week and see how the touches shake out for next week’s game.
Devin Funchess is expected to miss tonight’s game as at the time of writing this, he hasn’t been activated to the 53 man roster. Parris Campbell has been ruled out for tonight’s game but has a good chance of playing next week against the Titans. Meanwhile, Hilton was listed a full participant in practice yesterday but the Colts didn’t actually practice so his participant designation was a projection. This is a good sign that Hilton will play tonight against the Texans but be sure to check for the game-day inactive list 90 minutes before kickoff. If Hilton plays tonight, he is a must-start this week. Over his last four games against the Texans, Hilton is averaging 24.6 fantasy points per game including 19.4 this season.
If Hilton is active, he is the only Colts’ wide receiver I would play tonight. However, if he is inactive, Pascal is a WR3 with upside while Johnson and Rogers are risky plays that shouldn’t get into your season-long lineups. Rogers has scored more than 5.5 fantasy points just twice this season and just once in his last six games. In the two games, he has scored over 5.5 fantasy points, Rogers got into the end zone both games. Meanwhile, he hasn’t caught more than three balls in any game this season. Johnson had just one catch for nine yards before Sunday while Pascal offers the most upside if Hilton is out of the lineup tonight.
In the three games without Hilton, Pascal has seen at least six targets in every game despite playing with two different quarterbacks. He scored 18.6 against the Steelers three weeks ago but scored just 8.3 fantasy points total over the last two weeks. However, the matchup offers Pascal plenty of upside if Hilton is out. The Texans give up the seventh-most fantasy points per game to wide receivers, giving up 39 per game. They have given up 14 touchdowns to wide receivers and allowed them to score 44 or more fantasy points in 50% of their games this season.
The duo hasn’t been great as neither has scored more than 13.5 fantasy points in a game this season. Both tight ends average under eight fantasy points per game and the duo has scored six touchdowns combined this season. Meanwhile, the Texans give up a little less than the league average in fantasy points per game to tight ends at 11.4 per game. Furthermore, the Texans have held tight ends under 11.4 fantasy points in two of their last three games and have held tight ends under 10 fantasy points in 50% of their games this season. Both tight ends are outside my top 12 options this week even with Travis Kelce and Hunter Henry on a bye. In fact, I rather pick up Ryan Griffin off the waiver wire and play him this week.
The Colts D/ST has been average this season, ranking as the D/ST16, averaging 6.5 fantasy points per game. They have scored under 11 fantasy points in every game this season and scored eight fantasy points against the Texans in week seven despite getting two interceptions and a safety. Meanwhile, the Texans are the 11th toughest team against D/STs, giving up an average of just 4.9 fantasy points per game. Furthermore, D/STs have scored more than nine fantasy points against the Texans in just 20% of their games this season while they have scored under four fantasy points against the Texans in 60% of their games this season. Unless Deshaun Watson turns into Jameis Winston, I have the Colts D/ST outside my top 16 D/STs this week.
Quarterback – Deshaun Watson
Speaking of Watson, he isn’t Winston and nowhere near it but that’s like saying water is wet, duh! However, Watson is coming off a season-low four fantasy point performance against the Ravens where he had two turnovers and threw for just 169 yards. The good news is he should bounce back tonight and return to his 20 plus fantasy point standard. He has scored 20 or more fantasy points in 50% of his games this season. While he scored just 15.5 fantasy points in Indianapolis in week seven, he has played much better at home this season, averaging 27 fantasy points per game over his last three home games.
Meanwhile, while the Colts give up about the league average in fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, giving up 15.6 per game, they haven’t faced too many good quarterbacks this season. In the games where they have held quarterbacks under 15.5 fantasy points this season, the Colts faced Marcus Mariota, Derek Carr, Joe Flacco, Mason Rudolph, and Ryan Fitzpatrick. None of those guys aren’t anywhere near the same class Watson is in, making the Colts’ season average a little inflated. Despite the semi-tough matchup on paper, Watson is still a top-five quarterback this week, especially with Mahomes on a bye. Unless you have Jackson, Matt Ryan, or Russell Wilson on your team, Watson is a must-start.
Both of these running backs have been solid this season. Hyde is averaging 10.5 fantasy points per game and has scored 10 or more fantasy points in 50% of his games this season including in two straight games. More to the point, Hyde has seen 19 or more carries in four of his last six games, while scoring three touchdowns during that span. Meanwhile, Johnson is averaging 9.8 fantasy points per game and has caught four or more balls in two of his last three games. He has gotten at least five rushing attempts in six of his last seven games but his value clearly comes from his role in the passing game. Johnson has scored under 10 fantasy points in six games this season, each of those games he had fewer than three catches.
While both backs have been solid this season, the Colts are one of the toughest teams on running backs this season. They give up the seventh-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs, giving up just 20.5 per game. Furthermore, the Colts have held running backs under 20.5 fantasy points in seven of their last nine games. They have given up just one rushing touchdown since week three and held the Texan duo to just 11.1 fantasy points in week seven. Between the two, I would rather play Hyde because he has a better chance of getting in the end zone but both backs are risky flex options this week with the matchup.
Despite some struggles this season, Hopkins is always a must-play regardless of the matchup. At the time of writing this Fuller is a game-time call but the belief is he should play. However, make sure you check the inactive list 90 minutes before kickoff. If Fuller plays, he is a high risk, high reward WR3 coming off a hamstring injury against the Colts. The last game Fuller played in was against the Colts five weeks ago where he caught his only target for six yards while playing just 3% of the snaps. Furthermore, Fuller is a big risk to play as 55.4% of his fantasy points this season (53.7 of 97) came in one game against the Falcons in week five. He is very much boom or bust.
Whether Fuller plays or not I would stay away from starting Stills or Coutee tonight. Stills failed to score more than 9.2 fantasy points during the three games Fuller missed while dealing with injuries of his own while scoring more than 13 fantasy points just once this season. However, that was against the Colts in week seven where he scored 14.5 fantasy points. Meanwhile, Coutee has been a non-factor all season long, missing three games with an injury and scoring more than 10.5 fantasy points just once. Ironically, he scored a season-high 11.9 fantasy points against the Colts in large part due to a rushing touchdown; his only touchdown of the season.
Despite both Stills and Coutee have their best games of the season against the Colts, I wouldn’t play either in season-long leagues. The reason is the Colts give up a little more the league average in fantasy points per game to wide receivers, giving up 33.9 per game. However, they have held wide receivers under 22 fantasy points in three of their last four games. The Colts could be without several starting defensive backs tonight so again check the inactive list 90 minutes before kickoff but if Rock Ya-Sin and/or Pierre Desir are inactive, I would consider taking a shot on Fuller if he plays or Stills if Fuller doesn’t play. Both receivers would be risky WR3/flex options though despite a banged-up Colts’ secondary.
While Fells had a nice few game stretch about a month ago, neither Texans’ tight end should be in your lineup this week. The duo has a total of five games this season where one of them scored over 7.5 fantasy points. Both guys average under nine fantasy points per game and have combined for just three touchdowns since week five. Meanwhile, the Colts give up about the league average in fantasy points per game to tight ends, giving up 12.5 per game but have held tight ends under 10 fantasy points in four of their last five games including just 8.4 to the Texans’ duo in week seven. Again, I would much rather play Griffin over any tight end in tonight’s game and he is available in 98.8% of ESPN leagues.
Let’s no kid ourselves, the Texans D/ST isn’t an option this week or most weeks. They are averaging 4.6 fantasy points per game this season and have scored five or fewer fantasy points in four of their last five games including just one fantasy point against the Colts in week seven. Furthermore, the Texans have given up 24 or more points in five of their last six games with the exception being the Gardner Minshew meltdown game in London. Meanwhile, D/STs score about the league average in fantasy points per game against the Colts. However, they have scored under five fantasy points against the Colts in 50% of their games this season. I have both D/STs outside my top 16 this week and would rather take a shot on the Falcons D/ST remaining hot against a turnover prone Buccaneers squad.
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