Houston Texans vs. Indianapolis Colts
Well, needless to say, this week’s Thursday night game did not have as much controversy as last week’s. No rumbles, no helmets ripped off, and no public clubbings with said helmets. This was just a great division matchup against two 6-4 teams. Tonight we saw the return of Will Fuller, Jonathan Williams getting his first start, and DeAndre Hopkins handing two footballs to his mom. Pretty wholesome compared to last week. Let’s get into what we saw:
- Deshaun Watson: 19/30, 298 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT, 1 Sack | 3 carries, 10 yards
The Texans’ pass game looked completely different than what it did last week against the Ravens. Part of that, of course, is that the Colts secondary is nowhere close to what the Ravens is. But you can not downplay the effect Will Fuller had on this offense. Getting Deshaun Watson’s field stretcher back opened this passing offense up immensely. 11 of Watson’s 30 pass attempts were thrown deep down the field, connecting on five of them for 183 yards and two touchdowns. For those doing the math, that’s approximately 80% of Watson’s total fantasy points coming on those five plays. Watson did have the one interception, which appeared to be tipped at the line of scrimmage, but it was a bad pass. Next week, Watson gets a tough matchup with the Patriots, but he remains a top-end quarterback moving forward.
- Carlos Hyde: 16 carries, 67 yards
- Duke Johnson: 5 carries, 22 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 8 yards
The Texans attempted to establish the run early, with Carlos Hyde plodding his way to short gains with minimal room to run. Things took a turn for Hyde in the second half when the Texans had the lead and we’re focused on milking clock. Granted, this was after Watson hooked up with DeAndre Hopkins for his second long touchdown, so the defense might have been less focused on the run, but Hyde ripped off a 33-yard run to open the fourth quarter. He looked quick in the open field and did a good job hitting the hole on the run. Overall, Hyde looked decent, but his lack of use in the passing game significantly limits his upside. One of life’s greatest mysteries to me will always be, “Why doesn’t Duke Johnson touch the ball more often?” Johnson didn’t touch the ball until late in the second quarter but took the handoff like the spark plug he is and ran 19-yards to mid-field. Once Johnson is in the open-field he’s quick and elusive, a killer combination for defenses. Unfortunately, Johnson saw just one target on the day, which came on a 3rd and 12 and he picked up eight yards on the play. This is the type of player that the Texans should be designing plays for, but instead, we get another six touch, 30-yard game. With the Texans getting the Patriots next week, these backs will most likely be hitting the bench in your fantasy leagues, as the Patriots have allowed the fewest fantasy points to running backs on the year.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
- DeAndre Hopkins: 8 targets, 6 receptions, 94 yards, 2 TD
- Will Fuller: 11 targets, 7 receptions, 140 yards
- Jordan Akins: 4 targets, 3 receptions, 26 yards
Boy oh boy, did the Texans look good with their field-stretcher, Will Fuller, back. I’m not sure what the Colts’ plan was, but playing man coverage with just one safety deep against Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins is just not going to get the job done. Hopkins’ first touchdown came on blown coverage as the safety came up to defend a tight end, leaving Hopkins alone behind the defense. But it wasn’t just that one play, on every down-field completion, featured one-on-one coverage with no safeties to be found. It was bizarre to think that was their plan to stop these receivers. Hopkins is incredible, as highlighted by his second touchdown that required him to stretch out and catch the ball by the tips of his fingers. He also had a sideline catch that the referees had to confer on that showed his body control, as he dragged his toes while pulling in the catch. After making that catch, you could see Hopkins trying to goad the Colts sideline into throwing the review flag which, ultimately, they did not. Fuller played in his first game since Week 7 and he did not show any rust in this game. There was one point after one of his long catches, that he was seen grabbing the back of his hamstring, but ultimately, he remained in the game. This week David Fells took a back seat to Jordan Akins, but to be fair, neither tight end was used much. Akins had a key 13-yard reception on 3rd and 10, and Watson looked his way two other times on third down plays. With both tight ends getting work, it will be difficult to rely on either for consistent fantasy production moving forward.
- Jacoby Brissett: 16/25, 129 yards, 1 sack | 4 carries, 20 yards, 1 TD
Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen a depleted, struggling Texans’ secondary add other team’s castoffs in Gareon Conley and Vernon Hargreaves. Considering they were coming from the Raiders and the Bucs, two other struggling secondaries, one has to wonder how much better these acquisitions have made the Texans. However, thanks to a Colts’ gameplan that took a run-first approach, we didn’t get to see if an extra week together helped the pass defense. Just last week, we saw the Ravens throw for four touchdowns, but the Colts just never found their rhythm in the passing game. While the Texans didn’t sack Jacoby Brissett, he seemed uncomfortable whenever he dropped back to pass. There was one point when the broadcast was focused on Brissett’s knee brace and they wondered how much it affected his abilities. Not counting the Brissett’s touchdown run, which was designed for him to carry the ball, he was forced to scramble five times during the game. One monster 17-yard scramble on 2nd and 16 was called back due to an offensive holding penalty. The Texans had their lone sack come early in the game on third-down, which resulted in a punt. His week was somewhat saved by a five-yard touchdown run. Overall, this was just not what we expected out Brissett when facing a Texans team that allows the sixth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Next week, Brissett gets a matchup with the Titans in a game where we’ll most likely see both teams slow the game down and run the ball.
- Jonathan Williams: 26 carries, 104 yards, 1 TD | 3 targets, 3 receptions, 17 yards
- Nyheim Hines: 9 carries, 51 yards | 3 targets, 2 receptions, 10 yards
While the reports leading up to this game being that the Colts intended to treat Jonathan Williams as the starter, any doubts were removed when Williams not only started but saw touches on the Colts’ first three plays from scrimmage. Early on, Williams plodded his way along, doing a decent job of taking what the offensive line gave to him, but not doing anything special. However, all of that changed on the Colts’ first drive of the second half, when Williams took his first handoff for a 12-yard gain. The Colts leaned on the run during the drive, running the ball on ten of the eleven plays of their first touchdown scoring drive. The drive was capped off by Williams, who looked to be stopped after a five-yard gain before bouncing it to the outside and out-running everyone for a 13-yard touchdown run. Williams finished the game with 104 yards, which featured three carries that went for 10 yards or more. Overall, it was a very impressive start for a back making his first career start. Nyheim Hines played his usual third-down back role, but also served as Williams’ backup when he needed a breather. Hines looked really good any time he touched the ball. On the Colts’ first touchdown-scoring drive, Hines took a 2nd and 11 carry up the middle for an 18 yard gain, setting up 1st and 10 from the Houston 11 yard line. The very next play, Hines rushed down to the five-yard line before Brissett called his own number to make it a 10-7 ballgame. Anyone who was looking for Jordan Wilkins needed to only look to the sidelines, as Wilkins did not see the field at all. After the game, it came out that Wilkins was active as an emergency option just in case of injuries.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
- T.Y. Hilton: 6 targets, 3 receptions, 18 yards
- Eric Ebron: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 44 yards
- Jack Doyle: 4 targets, 3 receptions, 28 yards
- Zach Pascal: 1 target
Much to my surprise, T.Y. Hilton returned this week after not practicing all week and that might explain some things. Hilton saw just six targets but had two big drops. Well, I call them drops, but they might not be drop-drops as much as they are balls we’re used to seeing Hilton come down with. The second of which came on a key 3rd and 4 play in the 4th quarter with the Colts down three points. Overall, I was surprised Hilton didn’t do more against this poor Texans’ secondary, but I think some of that has to be attributed towards the rust of not practicing. Eric Ebron led the way for the Colts in terms of receptions and yards and had two big catches on 3rd down that went for conversions. Jack Doyle had one key third-down conversion, as well as a 12-yard reception down to the Houston 18 yard line that set up an Adam Vinatieri 36-yard field goal as the first half expired. Has anyone seen my missing Zach Pascal? With the return of Hilton, I guess it makes sense that Pascal’s workload was reduced, but this is the same wide receiver that has seen no less than six targets over the Colts’ last three games. With Hilton and the tight ends the primary targets, I’m not sure we can be confident starting Pascal moving forward.
— Rich Holman
(Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire)