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2018 Colts Fantasy Preview: Colts/Texans, Week 14

2018_0930_HOU_06674

INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans matchups usually breed some high-quality fantasy football results, and in no greater time than the beginning of the fantasy playoffs this Sunday in Week 14.

When the two teams squared off back in Week 4, quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Deshaun Watson combined for 891 yards of offense and seven touchdowns. There were three 100-yard receivers, and the defenses accumulated 11 sacks and three takeaways. Don't forget Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton almost always has at least one blowup against the Texans per year, but more on that below.

*Weekly positional rankings from FantasyPros.com, based on Half-PPR scoring.

QB Andrew Luck

  • Last three weeks avg: 28.7-of-39.3 passing (74.6%), 296.0 yards, 6 total TD, 3 total TO — 21.7 FPPG
  • Last week: 33-of-52 passing (63.5%), 248 yards, 1 total TO — 8.6 FP
  • FantasyPros Week 14 Position Rank: QB9
  • Texans vs. QBs: 6th (16.9 FPPG)

Don’t let the Colts’ offensive clunker last week in their 6-0 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars deter you from using Luck this week. Yes, it’s discouraging heading into the fantasy playoffs, but Luck threw for a career-high 464 yards against Houston back in Week 4.

Luck has had at least 24 fantasy points in nine of 12 games this season. In five of those games, he had at least 30. His top performance was 45.7 points against the Texans.

The Texans have allowed back-to-back 300-yard passers, and Cleveland Browns rookie Baker Mayfield (397) nearly went for 400 last week. Houston has a very good defense, but these Colts/Texans matchups are usually active offensively.

RBs Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines

Last three weeks avg:

  • Mack — 34.3 snaps (50.6%), 13.0 carries, 57.7 yards (4.3 avg), 1.3 reception (1.7 targets), 8.3 yards (6.5 avg), 1 total TD — 9.3 FPPG
  • Hines — 29.0 snaps (40.9%), 6.0 carries, 15.7 yards (2.4 avg), 4.0 receptions (4.7 targets), 30.7 yards (12.2 avg) — 6.6 FPPG

Last week:

  • Mack — 29 snaps (38.2%), 8 carries, 27 yards (3.4 avg), 1 reception (1 target), 6 yards (6.0 avg) — 3.8 FP
  • Hines — 45 snaps (59.2%), 4 carries, 5 yards (1.3 avg), 9 receptions (9 targets), 50 yards (5.6 avg) — 10.0 FP
  • FantasyPros Week 14 Position Rank: Mack RB25, Hines RB41
  • Texans vs. RBs: 10th (22.8 FPPG)

It’s been tough sledding for those who have fantasy shares of Colts running backs lately. With the exception of last week’s loss to the Jaguars, the Colts have managed to be successful without sexy stats from their running backs. Unfortunately, this doesn’t appear to be the week that changes, on paper.

Only five opposing running backs have had at least 80 scrimmage yards against the Texans, and only one has had more than 100.

This is not only a tough matchup for Mack and Hines, but it’s hard to read how snaps and touches will be dispersed. In the last three weeks, Mack’s snap percentage has decreased, going from 61.3 percent to 52.2 to 38.2. Meanwhile, Hines’ snap share has increased, going from 25.8 percent to 37.7 to 59.2. Mack also has not received a touch inside the red zone in the last two weeks.

There are a ton injuries to skill position players around the league right now, so it's understandable if Mack or Hines is your best choice in the FLEX spot.

WR T.Y. Hilton

  • Last three weeks avg: 8.0 receptions (10.7 targets), 119.0 yards (14.9 avg), 2 total TD — 19.9 FPPG
  • Last week: 8 receptions (13 targets), 77 yards (9.6 avg) — 11.7 FP
  • FantasyPros Week 14 Position Rank: WR13
  • Texans vs. WRs: 8th (32.2 FPPG)

It’s no secret that Hilton has been dominant down in Houston. Some say it’s where “The Ghost” nickname was born.

The Texans have done a nice job against opposing receivers this season, as only eight have had at least 80 yards against them, but Hilton and fellow Colts receiver Chester Rogers were two of them.

In Week 4, Hilton caught 4-of-6 targets for 115 yards (28.8 avg), and he did it without playing the entire game, suffering chest and hamstring injuries.

Hilton has been on a hot streak lately, averaging 6.8 receptions (9.8 targets) for 108.5 yards and scoring two touchdowns.

TE Eric Ebron

  • Last three weeks avg: 5.0 receptions (7.7 targets), 42.0 yards (8.6 avg), 2 total TD — 10.7 FPPG
  • Last week: 10 receptions (16 targets), 81 yards (8.1 avg) — 13.1 FP
  • FantasyPros Week 14 Position Rank: TE4
  • Texans vs. TEs: 25th (14.4 FPPG)

It shouldn’t be a struggle whether to start Ebron — fantasy’s TE3 — or not, so let’s throw some stats your way.

Fellow starting tight end Jack Doyle was placed on Injured Reserve last week for a kidney injury. In six games this season with Doyle on the sideline, Ebron averages 6.0 receptions (11.0 targets) for 60.2 yards (10.4 avg) and has scored four touchdowns. He also leads all tight ends in touchdowns on the season with 12, so there’s that.

Ebron had five receptions (10 targets) for 40 yards and a touchdown against Houston in Week 4.

K Adam Vinatieri

  • Last three weeks avg: 1.0-of-1.3 FGA (83.3%), 2.7-of-2.7 XPA (100.0%), 5.7 points
  • Last week: No attempts
  • FantasyPros Week 14 Position Rank: K15
  • Texans vs. Ks: 10th (7.1 FPPG)

This appears to be a pretty decent matchup for Vinatieri this week, who converted both field goal and both extra points attempts for a total of 10 points in the last matchup.

Vinatieri averages 7.8 points per game indoors in his career and 8.3 against the Texans.

Colts Defense/Special Teams

  • Last three weeks avg: 262.7 yards allowed, 13.3 points allowed, 3.0 sacks, 1.3 takeaways
  • Last week: 211 yards allowed, 6 points allowed, 3 sacks, 1 takeaway
  • FantasyPros Week 14 Position Rank: DST25
  • Texans vs. DSTs: 11th (4.0 FPPG)

While you normally want to stay away from starting a defense that’s facing the trio of Deshaun Watson, Lamar Miller and DeAndre Hopkins, the Texans rank 12th both in total offense (374.0 YPG) and scoring (25.2 PPG). Those aren’t “no way, José” numbers.

The Texans struggle to protect Watson, as he’s been sacked 41 times this season, which ranks as the third-most in the league. The Colts actually sacked him seven times in Week 4. The Colts are also the only defense in the league to force a turnover in every game this year.

You have to weigh two things when deciding whether or not to start the Colts defense this week. First, they allowed 37 points and 466 yards in Week 4, which are usually going to yield a poor performance. However, they got those seven sacks and a takeaway to save the fantasy value. They may give up some yards and points again, but they can also get after the quarterback and take the ball away.

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