Kickoff: Sunday, September 17th, at 1:00PM EST
Location: NRG Stadium, Houston, TX
Betting Odds: Colts -1 O/U 40 Total via PFF.com
Writer: Matt Prendergast (@amazingmattyp on X/Twitter)
Anthony Richardson (Start, QB2)
Anthony Richardson was by no means flawless, and there’s a lot of room for growth, but last week was nonetheless a promising start for AR in the air and on the ground. This week should provide ample opportunity to improve on what we saw in the first game: while the Jags are currently a middling defensive team, the Texans are still living in a pit of fire and despair. I trust that the new leadership of DeMeco Ryans will improve that status quo in due time, but one can only do so much so fast, and Justice Hill scored twice on them.
If Richardson, a legitimate running option. builds on his week one effort as a passing threat with a big gun in Pittman, he’ll settle in as a low-end QB1. However, I’m hedging a bit and landing on QB2 simply because we’re still in the fresh data-gathering period. If you drafted quarterback late and he was your first at the position, it’s perfectly fine to run him out there. But if he was your QB2 last week, and you didn’t have Rodgers (or worse, Tannehill) in front of him, it’s probably fine to let the rookie marinate a little longer.
Zack Moss (Sit, RB2) *, Deon Jackson (Sit)
If the next three weeks don’t earn Jonathan Taylor all the money, nothing will, until he answers calls from Miami and Green Bay in the offseason. This is a terrible running back situation in the meantime, even if Zach Moss makes it back to the field this week with a functioning arm, and I wouldn’t be playing any of them unless it meant freeing someone from a hostage situation. Moss has never established himself as a starter’s threat; he’s just seemingly more comfortable being the ‘other guy’ who peels away just enough of the RB1’s workload to make you regret drafting either player, because you never picked the right week to play him. Zach Moss – a bloomer on the bench.
We reserve the right to future speculation on Evan Hull, who didn’t get much spotlight before exiting the game and subsequently entire month of September with ‘a knee.’ Hull might still be more enticing than Deon Jackson, who despite two healthy knees, ostensibly refuses to use forward motion as God intended. Until the eventual return of Taylor, or in lieu of a workable resolution for the remainder of the year (such as the signing of a street free agent of some repute), Richardson is likely to serve as the sole driver of a productive rushing attack for these Colts.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Michael Pittman (Start, WR1) Alec Pierce (Sit), Josh Downs (Sit, Flex), Kylen Granson/Mo Alie-Cox (Sit, TE2)
After a year in which Michael Pittman lost a little bit of hype and spotlight (none of that on him, as Jeff Saturday coached this team for awhile, for reals), a new regime and new best friend in Richardson has returned Michael Pittman to fantasy high ground. I can now rue the day I thought I got the upper hand dealing him in my dynasty for Darren Waller even up. Last week was a fun return to the main stage for Pittman; he will at minimum match, or more likely improve on that start by feasting on the Texans secondary like a prime rib buffet.
Beyond Pittman, the Colts questions to work out. Josh Downs saw a lot of field in his first week, working as the unquestioned 3rd WR on 79% of the plays, and more importantly crushing Alec Pierce in targets (7 to 3). Keep an eye on this situation to see if this might develop into a regular relationship with the rookie/rookie connection, but don’t bother with either at this stage. Neither Kylen Granson or veteran Mo Alie-Cox thrill me at all. Granson had the slight edge in snaps and targets, but they combined for 1 reception for 33 yards.
CJ Stroud (Sit, QB2)
There’s a long road ahead for CJ Stroud – but after a less promising preseason, he wasn’t abjectly terrible and having watched a good portion of his output in two of those early showings, I wasn’t positive the Texans hadn’t made a grievous mistake. The stats don’t reflect any reason to start considering him from a fantasy perspective yet, but let’s look at what to keep an eye on in this one as we see how he starts to develop. The distribution in his first week was very well dispersed, with Stroud utilizing ten different receivers throughout their matchup. Okay, nine if you don’t count the one CJ caught himself (Brett Favre did the same thing in his first game, and look how that turned out)!
This matchup against Indianapolis should offer Stroud a better opportunity to settle in, and if the DeMeco game strategy continues along this road, CJ should gain more confidence quickly. A much better opportunity exists to balance him out with an improved running effort this week, so I’ll be watching Stroud closely to see how quickly he can develop into a legit bye-week, streamer option.
Dameon Pierce (Start, RB2), Devin Singletary (Sit, Flex) Mike Boone (Sit)
I’m a huge Dameon Pierce guy. In his rookie year, he consistently outplayed expectations until his late season injury. His generally violent style of running is a thrill to watch, and he gets the opportunity in Week 2 to feast on a suboptimal Colts defense that couldn’t shut down a Press Taylor game plan when they needed to a week ago. Week One’s showdown with the Ravens wasn’t the ideal performance for Pierce, but he’s the clear #1, leading the RB snap count with 35, compared to assumed RB2 Devin Singletary, who only took the field for 16.
In what profiles as a significantly improved matchup for this group compared to the opener, Singletary may get a few more opportunities here, but conjecture isn’t enough to bring him off your bench. Mildly surprising was the 24 snap usage of journeyman Mike Boone, but he received no carries, and totaled only 18 yards on 3 receptions. I don’t expect Boone to shake up the RB room; I love a bounce back for Dameon this week in the high-end of the RB2 range.
Wide Receivers/ Tight Ends
Robert Woods (Start, Flex), Nico Collins (Start, WR3), Noah Brown/Tank Dell (Sit), Dalton Schultz (Start, TE2)
I’m as shocked as anybody by the effectiveness of Old Man Robert Woods in Week 1. Coming up one short of flanker Nico Collins in targets (10 to Nico’s 11) and equaling him on catches with 6 each, Woods can and should provide a veteran hand to help in CJ’s early development. Both have a great situation this week to repeat these types of numbers, and potentially add an end zone celebration this week, but it’s a coin flip as to which (if either) might get that call.
Keep watching rookie Tank Dell as the year develops to see if he can gain more trust and usage than Noah Brown as the season develops. I like Dell a lot, and should injury strike Woods for a game or three, as it has a few times in his career, it would be a prime opportunity for the rookie to step over Brown. Speaking of former ex-Cowboys, I expect a more frequent and impactful presence from Dalton Schultz, both this week and going forward. It’s hard not to improve upon two catches for four yards, and the Texans would be wise to require a bigger timeshare for a player who should be more than just a security blanket as one of the Top 2 options for a rookie signal caller. I’d keep Schultz in there if he’s your top drafted TE.