– Thursday Night Football Preview –
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
Spread: Texans -3 | Over/Under 44.5
The NFL season is entering Week 12 and that means it’s time for another showdown on Thursday night football. The 6-4 Colts are coming off an impressive victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars to head on the road to take on the 6-4 Houston Texans coming off a huge loss. This game is a divisional matchup between two teams that play each other extremely close. According to SBD’s Week 12 opening odds, the Texans are favorited by 3.5 points and the total for the game is 46.5. The last three regular-season games that these teams have played each other have all resulted in three-point wins; with the Colts winning the last regular-season game earlier in Week 7. The over total should definitely be considered if one or both T.Y. Hilton and Will Fuller return to action on Thursday night.
Let’s take a closer look at Week 12’s Thursday Night’s Game.
Deshaun Watson scored just four total fantasy points in Week 11 versus the Baltimore Ravens. This was by far his worst performance of the season. However, that has basically been the sum of Watson’s season where he has been up and down all year. Since Week 1, his fantasy scores have increased and then decreased the following week three times. He was so bad in his last game, that there is a strong chance he bounces back in Week 12, even against the Colts who have had his number. Watson has only had one game where he has thrown multiple touchdowns but has two games with at least 300 passing yards. In his last two games including the playoffs, Watson has thrown for three interceptions versus the Colts. It is also worth mentioning that Watson did suffer an ankle injury in Week 12 so his mobility could be limited in a short week. The Colts over the past four weeks have allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to the quarterback position. He is a low-end QB1 on Thursday night football but gets an upgrade if Fuller returns to the lineup.
Jacoby Brissett returned from his injury in Week 11 and scored 15.1 fantasy points with the Colts clearly focusing on establishing the run. Since the loss of Hilton and his own injury, Brissett has just one passing touchdown over his past three games. Lucky for him the matchup for Brissett is great versus the Texans who he absolutely shredded for four touchdowns and 326 passing yards back in Week 7. Brissett is undefeated versus the Texans in his career throwing for seven touchdowns and zero interceptions in his last three games played. However, Hilton played in all those games as well so Brissett would receive a significant downgrade if Hilton cannot go. The Texans matchup is great with them allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to quarterbacks over the past four weeks.
As of right now, the consensus is on Johnathan Williams as the priority running back in the Colts’ backfield. However, we still do not know if Jordan Wilkins will even be active with Marlon Mack out with a fractured hand. That is why Nyheim Hines is the best play in Indianapolis Colts backfield, especially in PPR formats. His role always seems to increase when players are injured around him. Last year when Mack missed Weeks 1,3, 4 and 5 Hines saw total targets of nine, eleven, five, and nine. The Houston Texans defense is also very good versus the run at home where they have allowed just 3.8 yards per carry. The Texans’ weakness is versus pass-catching running backs. This season no team has allowed more receptions to the running back position than the Texans. Hines best game came back in Week 4 of the 2018 season versus the Texans where he had nine catches for 63 yards and two touchdowns. If you need a spot start go grab Hines off the waiver wire if he was overlooked.
Carlos Hyde is still seeing the majority of touches for the Texans unless they find themselves in a severely negative game script. Duke Johnson Jr. out-snapped Hyde last week, but only saw one more target, and Hyde still led the backfield in carries (nine). The Colts have allowed the seventh-most receptions to backs this season, but have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to the running back position over the past two weeks. Neither of these guys saw more than 35 rushing yards in their first matchup, but Duke Johnson saw five targets in the passing game.
If Hilton is active you are playing him. His track record is just too good versus the Texans, so if I have him I am starting him as a low-end WR1 on Thursday night. In 15 games versus the Texans, Hilton has averaged over 100 yards per game and .7 touchdowns. If Hilton misses Zach Pascal enters in as solid WR3 play. Pascal went for over 100 yards in their last matchup and Pascal saw a career-high in air yards (102) just last week. A sleeper receiver for the Colts is Marcus Johnson who was second on the team in targets last week (four) and led the team in receiving yards (38). He runs a 4.44 40-yard dash, played 92% of the snaps, and ran just one less route than Pascal. He was clearly ahead of Chester Rogers and could be the main beneficiary of a Hilton absence.
As for the Texans, Kenny Stills is FLEX worthy if Fuller misses. He went for over 100 yards in their first matchup. DeAndre Hopkins is always going to be in your starting lineup, but has a top-five upside, if Fuller is out based on his production splits with and without him in the lineup. Hopkins has a touchdown reception in four straight games versus the Colts and gone over 85 receiving yards in three of his last four games.
Both Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle saw five targets in the first matchup with Ebron seeing 70 receiving yards and one touchdown scored. Doyle is coming off a game with zero targets because the Colts were focused on running the ball in a positive game script. He should see more work in this game, but still, you prefer Ebron over Doyle as an option. Ebron has a touchdown reception in his last four games versus the Texans and has seen at least five targets in each contest. The Texans have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to the tight end position over the past two weeks.
For the Texans Jordan Akins ran three more routes than Darren Fells. Fells has now seen his snaps decrease over the past three weeks. The Colts rank seventh-best versus the tight end over the past four weeks. There are much better tight end options this week.
The Colts’ defense has scored at least three sacks or an interception in five straight games making them a safe floor play versus a leaky Texans’ offensive line. The Texans’ defense is the bigger fade here. They just have one game over ten fantasy points since Week 4 and have totaled five outings of under ten points in the past six weeks. With Brissett under center, the best defensive performance a team has had versus the Colts has been just ten points.
This game will most likely not hit the over and projects to be more conservative than anything else. It’s the second game of two divisional opponents which has historically favored the under especially on Thursday night football. However, road dogs have been smashing all ATS (59%) this season, so I will take the Texans with the points. Watson gets the Texans the win late with a clutch fourth-quarter comeback.
Final score prediction: Houston 24-20 over the Colts.
Thanks for reading!