This Thursday night matchup is a key AFC South battle between the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans. This will be the fifth time these two teams have met since the start of last season, and the Colts have won three in a row versus Houston, including last year’s playoff clash, though each of the past three regular-season meetings between these two have been one-score games.
Houston are 3.5-point favourites, and the total is listed at 45.5 points on Paddypower.com. For those unfamiliar, single-game slates feature five flex spots with identical scoring to the main slate. However, kickers are included in these contests and there is an “MVP” roster slot. The MVP receives 1.5-times his total fantasy points, making this spot crucial.
Mitchell Trubisky was drafted 2nd overall in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Patrick Mahomes was drafted 10th and Deshaun Watson was drafted 12th. pic.twitter.com/6ft35Uzq2a
— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) November 18, 2019
Deshaun Watson, QB, Texans (£16,000)
Our models have Deshaun Watson with tonight’s top projection, and he figures to be a very popular play with Houston sporting a 24.00-point implied total as a home favourite.
Prior to last week’s stinker against the Baltimore Ravens, Watson had gone for at least 17 Paddy Power Fantasy points in five straight games, with big-time ceiling games of 41.24 and 31.40 in that span. He entered the Baltimore game having run for at least 30 yards in five straight.
The Colts’ defense is slightly above average across the board, per our metrics, but they do a great job limiting big plays, giving up an explosive pass play on just 8% of plays, according to Sharp Football Stats, which is a top-10 number. Watson may have to dink and dunk his way down the field today.
You’ll be paying top dollar with Watson, but he’s tough to fade in this spot.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans (£14,500)
Hopkins is due for a breakout game, and it could come tonight.
Nuk has a 31% target share for the season and has accounted for 36% of the Texans’ air yards, per AirYards.com. Despite the elite usage, Hopkins hasn’t tapped into his ceiling much in 2019, going for more than 20 points only twice. The floor has been solid, though, as he’s posted at least 11.5 points in six straight.
Will Fuller’s status is up in the air. Without Fuller over the past three games, Hopkins has seen an insane 37% target share. Hopkins figures to be heavily involved regardless of whether or not Fuller plays, but one could argue Fuller’s lid-lifting presence may make life easier for Hopkins.
Over his last five games versus the Colts, Hopkins has gone for at least 80 yards and a score three times, with one of the exceptions being a 37-yard day in which he scored a TD. He’s got a great floor/ceiling combination tonight and is firmly in play as an MVP option.
Jacoby Brissett, QB, Colts (£15,000)
With stacking Watson and Hopkins likely being a popular move, Brissett could be a great contrarian MVP pick, and he is in a sneaky-good spot here. Of course, Brissett’s outlook would get a boost if T.Y. Hilton plays, but the matchup is a nice one as Houston is giving up 21.6 points per game to quarterbacks, the sixth-most.
If the Colts get a lead, they’ll probably try to run it as much as they can as they are the fourth-most run-heavy team in the league. But if they fall behind — and they are 3.5-point ‘dogs — they’ll have to let Brissett chuck it. That’s the dream scenario if you use him, and Brissett has scored at least 16 points in six of his eight full games, so he’s had a nice floor.
Our models have just four players pegged to score double-digit points, so going with a stars-and-scrubs approach and rostering both quarterbacks could be the way to go.
T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts (£11,500)
Hilton’s status will alter this slate in a big way.
If he sits, the Colts’ offence becomes less appealing, and it could, in turn, lead to more runs for Houston’s attack. The Colts have averaged just 168 passing yards per game sans Hilton over the last three outings, though those numbers are skewed a bit due to Brian Hoyer playing a majority of one of those games and starting another.
If Hilton plays, there’s merit to stacking him with Brissett, and a better Indy offence could lead to Houston keeping their foot on the gas throughout the night.
As I’m sure you know, Hilton has steamrolled Houston throughout his career, including 74 yards and a score earlier this season. In what is a key game for both sides, the Colts should feed their top wideout if he plays. He’s got a friendly price and is a great way to run it back if you stack Watson and Hopkins.
Given the news of Mack's undetermined return, many will chase after Jonathan Williams via waivers. Don't go bonkers. It's entirely possible Jordan Wilkins, a talented, powerful and explosive runner, could become the primary early-down bruiser. A full-blown RBBC may also form.
— Brad Evans (@YahooNoise) November 18, 2019
Jordan Wilkins, RB, Colts (£6,500)
Indianapolis figures to use Jordan Wilkins and Jonathan Williams (£12,500) on early downs with Nyheim Hines (£10,000) leading the way in passing situations. Hines’ role is pretty safe, but we have no way of knowing how the touches will be split up between Wilkins and Williams with Marlon Mack on the shelf.
Given the lack of clarity, it’s much, much easier to stomach Wilkins at £6,500 than Williams at £12,500.
Wilkins didn’t dress due to an ankle ailment last week while Williams played, which led to Williams seeing 31 snaps and carrying the mail once Mack went out. But for the year, Wilkins has the second-most carries on the team, and he’s expected to play tonight.
If you’re building with the idea that the Colts win, you should roll the dice on one of Williams or Wilkins, though both have very low floors as they’ll cede snaps to Hines if Indy falls behind and goes pass-heavy.