INDIANAPOLIS — Alright, fantasy football degenerates; it's playoff time. No, not fantasy playoff time; that's already done. I'm talking about the actual NFL playoffs. You know, where most other people have already checked out of fantasy for the season. Not people like us, though.
If there's still football to be played then there's still fantasy to take into account as well. With that, let's dive into the Indianapolis Colts' wild card matchup with the Houston Texans as the two teams square off for the third time this season.
*Weekly positional rankings from FantasyPros.com, based on Half-PPR scoring.
QB Andrew Luck
- Last three weeks avg: 23.7-of-36.3 passing (65.1%), 278.0 yards, 5 total TD, 2 total TO — 21.0 FPPG
- Last week: 24-of-35 passing (68.6%), 285 yards, 3 total TD, 1 total TO — 28.7 FP
- FantasyPros Wild Card Round Position Rank: QB2
- Texans vs. QBs: 14th (17.8 FPPG)
Luck was dominant against Houston this season. He had a career day in Week 4 and followed it up with his second-most passing yards of the season in Week 14. In those two contests, Luck averaged 33.5-of-51.5 passing (65.2 percent) for 431.5 passing yards, 13.5 rushing yards, 3.0 touchdowns and 1.0 turnover for a 106.1 passer rating and 33.9 fantasy points per game.
Since Week 11, Houston has given up some solid performance to opposing quarterbacks — Marcus Mariota (303 yards and two touchdowns), Baker Mayfield (397 yards and one touchdown), Luck (399 yards and two touchdowns), Sam Darnold (253 yards and two touchdowns) and Nick Foles (471 yards and four touchdowns). Two of those quarterbacks — Mariota of the Tennessee Titans and Darnold of the New York Jets — pull the strings on bottom-10 passing offenses, so the Texans' secondary has been non-discriminant.
RBs Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines
Last three weeks avg:
- Mack — 46.7 snaps (64.1%), 21.3 carries, 97.3 yards (4.6 avg), 1.7 receptions (2.3 targets), 4.3 yards (2.6 avg), 4 total TD, 2 total TO — 17.7 FPPG
- Hines — 22.0 snaps (30.8%), 3.0 carries, 8.3 yards (2.8 avg), 3.7 receptions (5.3 targets), 37.0 yards (10.1 avg), 1 total TD — 8.4 FPPG
- Mack — 53 snaps (67.1%), 25 carries, 119 yards (4.8 avg), 3 receptions (3 targets), -1 yards (-0.3 avg), 1 total TD, 1 total TO — 17.3 FP
- Hines — 14 snaps (17.7%), 1 carry, 4 yards (4.0 avg), 3 receptions (5 targets), 25 yards (8.3 avg) — 4.4 FP
- FantasyPros Wild Card Round Position Rank: Mack RB5, Hines RB12
- Texans vs. RBs: 7th (21.2 FPPG)
Mack sat out Week 4 with a hamstring injury, so he's only got one game against Houston this season. He wasn't able to put much together from a yardage standpoint in Week 14 (14 touches for 33 yards [2.4 avg]), but a touchdown salvaged his fantasy value for the day.
Hines, meanwhile, has been steady in two matchups, scoring two touchdowns in Week 4. Overall, he averaged 3.5 carries for 5.5 yards (1.6 avg), 6.0 catches (8.0 target) for 39.5 yards (6.2 avg), 1.0 touchdown and 13.5 fantasy points per game against Houston.
Like the Colts, the Texans have not allowed any 100-yard rushers this season. They also have only allowed two opposing running backs to eclipse 100 total yards of offense, so banking on yardage against this defense is not a safe bet. Touchdowns, however, are a different story as they've allowed 14 from scrimmage to the running back position this season.
WR T.Y. Hilton
- Last three weeks avg: 4.7 receptions (7.3 targets), 94.7 yards (20.3 avg) — 11.8 FPPG
- Last week: 2 receptions (6 targets), 61 yards (30.5 avg) — 7.1 FP
- FantasyPros Wild Card Round Position Rank: WR2
- Texans vs. WRs: 9th (33.6 FPPG)
In typical fashion, Hilton setup shop in Houston's secondary in two matchups. In the first game, he only played roughly half the game due to chest and hamstring injuries but still went over 100 yards He would eclipse 100 yards in both games (199 in Week 14) and averaged 6.5 catches (9.0 targets) for 157.0 yards (24.2 avg) and 19.0 fantasy points per game.
If the Texans have been generous to quarterbacks, then that of course means receivers have had some success as well. Twelve opposing receivers have had at least 80 yards (six with 100; Hilton had two of the six) against them, but those receivers had just four touchdowns between them.
TE Eric Ebron
- Last three weeks avg: 2.7 receptions (4.7 targets), 32.0 yards (12.0 avg), 1 total TD — 6.5 FPPG
- Last week: 4 receptions (6 targets), 60 yards (15.0 avg), 1 total TD — 14.0 FP
- FantasyPros Wild Card Round Position Rank: TE2
- Texans vs. TEs: 31st (15.7 FPPG)
Like Hilton, Ebron has been a stud against the Texans this year. He averaged 4.5 catches (9.0 targets) for 52.5 yards (11.7 avg), 1.0 touchdown and 13.5 fantasy points per game.
In general, tight ends have had some big performances against Houston, who gives up the second-most points to the position. Six opposing tight ends have had at least 60 yards against them, and those players scored seven total touchdowns in those games.
K Adam Vinatieri
- Last three weeks avg: 1.7-of-1.7 FGA (100.0%), 3.0-of-3.3 XPA (91.7%), 8.0 points
- Last week: 2-of-2 on FGA (100.0%), 3-of-4 XPA (75.0%), 9 points
- FantasyPros Wild Card Round Position Rank: K3
- Texans vs. Ks: 6th (6.8 FPPG)
Vinatieri has had a good season against Houston, averaging 1.5-of-1.5 on field goals (100.0 percent) and 2.5-of-2.5 on extra points (100.0 percent) for 7.0 points points per game. He is almost always going to give you something, and the game being indoors adds for extra chances for Vinatieri to boot a 50-yard field goal, which often counts as bonus points in many leagues.
Colts Defense/Special Teams
- Last three weeks avg: 314.0 yards allowed, 14.7 points allowed, 1.0 sacks, 1.7 takeaways
- Last week: 258 yards allowed, 17 points allowed, 3 takeaways
- FantasyPros Wild Card Round Position Rank: DST6
- Texans vs. DSTs: 11th (4.5 FPPG)
The Colts defense is one of the hottest in the league in the second half of the year, but Houston has been able to put up yards and points against them. And in general they take care of the ball, ranking second in the league in turnover differential (+13). The Texans have only turned the ball over once against the Colts this year. In the two matchups, the Texans are averaging 390.5 yards and 29.0 points allowed, but the Colts are sacking them 6.0 times per game.
The sacks could be looked at as a saving grace for the Colts DST's fantasy value. It's not just that they've sacked Houston a lot this year; everyone has sacked Houston a lot this year, ranking dead last with 62 given up. If you're getting sacked that much, catastrophic issues can unravel the game for you. Colts defensive tackle Denico Autry wound up being named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week after his two-sack performance against Houston in Week 14.
While the Texans have a challenging offense, so do the Colts on defense. They rank fifth in the league in negative run plays forced (65), seventh in overall negative plays forced (107) and allowed the third-fewest amount of points over the final eight weeks of the season (131).
It may not be a dominating performance, but the Colts defense has shown they can handle Houston's attack.