INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts host the Houston Texans this Sunday in what is an attractive fantasy matchup for members of both teams.
This week, there is no poor weather to worry about, so conditions are ripe for players to meet their potential in their given matchups.
*Weekly positional rankings from FantasyPros.com, based on Half-PPR scoring.
QB Andrew Luck
- Last three weeks: 85-of-124 passing (68.5%), 662 yards, 5 TD, 3 INT, 6 carries, 42 yards
- Last week: 25-of-40 passing (62.5%), 164 yards, 1 TD, 1 carry, 33 yards
- Average per game: 28.3-of-41.3 passing (68.5%), 220.7 yards, 1.7 TD, 1.0 INT, 2.0 carries, 14.0 yards
- FantasyPros Week 4 Position Rank: QB16
- Texans vs. QBs: 15th (16.6 FPPG)
There's been a lot made about both Luck's velocity on his throws and a perceived lack of downfield attempts — thank you on behalf of all Colts fans to Josh Boeke for this reel — as well as his low yards per attempt (5.3). However, I truly think we'll see a difference this week.
For starters, the weather will be perfect on Sunday considering the game is in a climate-controlled atmosphere, which is the opposite of how last week went down in Philadelphia. Remember, the rain likely wasn't not ideal for pass catchers, and Indy had three would-be touchdowns dropped.
Luck has eight career games against the Texans and 44 career games played indoors, and in both scenarios he averages 22.5 fantasy points per game.
Houston is allowing the second-highest passer rating (119.9), fourth-highest completion percentage (73.3%), fifth-highest yards per attempt (8.5) and the sixth-most passing touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks (7).
Yes, the quick-strike offense results in shorter pickups, but the team has expressed a desire for more chunk plays. This is a great week for it.
RBs Marlon Mack, Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines
- Last three weeks: Mack— 10 carries, 34 yards (3.4 avg), 1 reception (2 targets), 2 yards (2.0 avg) | Wilkins— 30 carries, 120 yards (4.0 avg), 7 receptions (5 targets), 25 yards (3.6 avg) | Hines— 14 carries, 44 yards (3.1 avg), 1 TD, 13 receptions (15 targets), 56 yards (4.3 avg)
- Last week: Mack— DNP (out, hamstring) | Wilkins— 6 carries, 19 yards (3.2 avg), 2 receptions (2 targets), 1 yard (0.5 avg) | Hines— 5 carries, 18 yards (3.6 avg), 5 receptions (5 targets), 25 yards (5.0 avg)
- Average per game: Mack— 10.0 carries, 34.0 yards (3.4 avg), 1.0 reception (2.0 targets), 2.0 yards (2.0 avg) | Wilkins— 10.0 carries, 40.0 yards (4.0 avg), 2.3 receptions (2.3 targets), 8.3 yards (3.6 avg) | Hines— 4.7 carries, 14.7 yards (3.1 avg), 0.3 TD, 4.3 receptions (5.0 targets), 18.7 yards (4.3 avg)
- FantasyPros Week 4 Position Rank: Wilkins RB42, Hines RB46, Mack RB52
- Texans vs. RBs: 14th (23.7 FPPG)
Unfortunately, we do not yet know Mack's status for this week. He has been in and out of the lineup since training camp dealing with a hamstring issue. He returned to practice this week on a limited basis, but the team will re-evaluate him later in the week.
If Mack does play this week, he will likely be at or near the top of the pecking order in touches and targets. When he did play in Week 2, he started and both he and Wilkins led the way with 12 carries/targets each.
Also, the last time Mack played the Texans at home, this happened:
With Wilkins, if Mack does not play, you can probably expect somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 to 15 touches as the lead back. He has made the most of his opportunities so far, averaging four yards per carry.
Hines seems to have the same role regardless of who else is available at running back — a handful of carries per game and just as many (if not a little more) targets in the passing game.
Running backs have had relative success against the Houston defense so far through three games. New England Patriots running back James White had nine touches for 56 yards and a touchdown in Week 1. The Tennessee Titans were able to control the game using a heavy dose of Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis in Week 2, the duo touching the ball a combined 34 times. In Week 3, Saquon Barkley and Wayne Gallman of the New York Giants combined for 142 yards and a touchdown on 28 touches.
WR T.Y. Hilton
- Last three weeks: 17 receptions (32 targets), 179 yards (10.5 avg), 2 TD
- Last week: 5 receptions (10 targets), 50 yards (10.0 avg)
- Average per game: 5.7 receptions (10.7 targets), 59.7 yards (10.5), 0.7 TD
- FantasyPros Week 4 Position Rank: WR16
- Texans vs. WRs: 10th (31.0 FPPG)
Hilton got off to a hot start this season, scoring in the first two games. Although he didn't hit paydirt in Week 3, his numbers were pretty similar otherwise.
Hilton has been targeted at least 10 times and caught at least five in each game. The targets are the biggest deal, as it shows the opportunity is there for receptions, yards and touchdowns.
In six career games at home against Houston, Hilton is averaging 11.2 fantasy points per game. Specifically, he averages 5.2 receptions (8.3 targets) for 66.2 yards and 0.3 touchdowns. In his career at home in general, he averages 4.9 receptions (8.3 targets) for 76.8 yards and 0.4 touchdowns per game for an average of 12.5 fantasy points per game.
Hilton does have an explosive history against the Texans, but that is primarily down in Houston. We'll get to that more in Week 14.
TEs Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron
- Last three weeks: Doyle— 9 receptions (15 targets), 80 yards (8.9 avg) | Ebron— 12 receptions (20 targets), 110 yards (9.2 avg), 2 TD
- Last week: Doyle— DNP (out, hip) | Ebron— 5 receptions (11 targets), 33 yards (6.6 avg)
- Average per game: Doyle— 4.5 receptions (7.5 targets), 40.0 yards (8.9 avg) | Ebron— 4.0 receptions (6.7 targets), 36.7 yards (9.2 avg), 0.7 TD
- FantasyPros Week 4 Position Rank: Ebron TE10, Doyle TE14
- Texans vs. TEs: 20th (14.2 FPPG)
Like Mack, we do not yet know Doyle's status for this week. He was out last week with a hip injury and has yet to practice this week.
Doyle is always a decent PPR play if he's in there, as 30 percent of Luck's targets are going to tight ends so far this season. That number still didn't change last week in Doyle's absence, as 30 percent of Luck's 40 attempts went to Ebron and Erik Swoope. Ebron made up 27.5 of the 30 percent.
If Doyle remains out, we could likely see a heavy dose of Ebron again. Most teams don't have the luxury of having a TE1 behind their TE1.
Against the Texans in Week 1, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski went off for seven receptions (eight targets) for 123 yards and a touchdown. Last week, the Giants' Evan Engram caught his only target for 19 yards before leaving in the first half with a knee sprain.
Athletic tight ends like Ebron have had success against the Texans, and the Colts have been using his size and athleticism to their advantage throughout this young season.
K Adam Vinatieri
- Last three weeks: 6-of-7 FGA (85.7%), 6-of-6 XPA (100.0%), 24 points
- Last week: 3-of-3 FGA (100.0%), 1-of-1 XPA (100.0%), 10 points
- Average per game: 2.0-of-2.3 FGA (85.7%), 2.0-of-2.0 XPA (100.0%), 8.0 points
- FantasyPros Week 4 Position Rank: K9
- Texans vs. Ks: 24th (9.3 FPPG)
Vinatieri is currently tied atop the list of the most field goals made in NFL history, so you can probably book it that he's getting at least one on Sunday. If not for that alone, then we'll rely on the law of averages.
For example, Vinatieri is averaging 2.3 made field goals per game this year. Also, in his 25-game against the Texans, he averages 1.8-of-2.0 on field goal attempts (86.3%), 2.3-of-2.3 on extra points (100%) and 7.6 points per game.
So far, kickers average 9.3 fantasy points per game against Houston. Add in that this is either a good-weather or indoor game, and that's little to no weather interference.
It looks like this matchup is set up for smooth sailing for Vinatieri.
Colts Defense/Special Teams
- Last three weeks: 1,043 yards allowed, 63 points allowed, 10 sacks, 5 takeaways
- Last week: 379 yards allowed, 20 points allowed, 5 sacks, 2 takeaways
- Average per game: 347.7 yards allowed, 21.0 points allowed, 3.3 sacks, 1.7 takeaways
- FantasyPros Week 4 Position Rank: DST17
- Texans vs. DSTs: 13th (5.0 FPPG)
Houston has outstanding weapons on offense — they currently rank eighth overall (396.3 YPG) — but they are prone to allowing sacks and takeaways, and that's what fantasy defenses are all about.
Through three games, they have given up 10 sacks and turned the ball over five times. The Colts are also excelling in both areas on defense, having 10 of their own sacks and five takeaways.
We haven't seen teams test the Colts' secondary downfield much, but that may change this week. Colts.com spoke with safety Malik Hooker this week, and he said although teams have not tested them much yet, he expects Houston to be different.
Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson is tied for the most deep pass attempts in the NFL this year (19) and the fourth-highest percentage of his passes that are thrown downfield (17.9%). However, he ranks just 23rd in deep passing accuracy (36.8%), according to Pro Football Focus.
If Watson is throwing contested balls downfield, Hooker and the rest of his opportunistic teammates could come out with some more takeaways.