Last updated: November 20th at 5:28pm ET.
Team Totals: Texans 24.5, Colts 20.5
Update: The Colts listed T.Y. Hilton (calf) as questionable on Wednesday’s final injury report but assigned him a full practice designation, which is typically a good sign a player will play. Should Hilton indeed get the green light at Houston, he should be teed up as a WR2 play in a matchup he has famously historically smashed. Marcus Johnson would project to take the biggest playing-time hit; Hilton and Zach Pascal figure to line up as the Colts’ primary outside receivers with Chester Rogers playing sparingly in the slot and Indianapolis continuing to make heavy use of two-tight end packages. Hilton’s return would provide an especially big boost to Jacoby Brissett‘s Thursday night outlook.
Still dearly missing T.Y. Hilton (calf) with fantasy outcomes of QB26 and QB17 in his last two full games, Jacoby Brissett’s Thursday night fantasy appeal is entirely tied to his matchup. 8-of-10 quarterbacks to face Houston have banked top-12 scores, while the Texans’ J.J. Watt-less defense has nose dived to 26th in sack rate (5.5%) and 22nd in QB Hit Rate (14.1%), providing enemy passers with clean pockets and clear passing lanes. Marlon Mack’s broken hand may also force more onto Brissett’s plate, especially if the Colts fall behind the four-point favorite Texans. Brissett is a quality two-quarterback-league starter but a boom-bust QB1 streamer whose outlook will improve significantly if Hilton does give it a go. … With Jordan Wilkins (ankle) on the shelf, former Bill Jonathan Williams emerged as the Colts’ Week 11 feature back following Mack’s injury, parlaying 14 touches into 147 yards versus Jacksonville. Passing-down specialist Nyheim Hines’ role didn’t change with six touches on 36% of Indy’s offensive snaps. Wilkins resumed practicing on a limited basis this week, forewarning Indy’s backfield could devolve into a three-man RBBC should Wilkins get the green light. If Wilkins can’t go, Williams would have an outside shot at 20 carries against Houston, which enemy backs trampled for 58/310/1 (5.34 YPC) rushing over its last three games. … With the Colts projected to encounter negative script, Hines offers PPR-oriented allure on one-game DFS slates. The Texans have surrendered a league-high 76 catches to running backs.
Update: The Colts removed Jordan Wilkins from their Week 12 injury report, a strong indication he will play at Houston. Wilkins’ return pours lots of uncertainty onto Indianapolis’ backfield projection. He was ahead of Jonathan Williams before the ankle injury. My guess is we’ll see the Colts take a hot-hand approach, giving Wilkins and Williams early-game carries and deciding from there which runner they’ll ride for the rest of the game.
Brissett’s Week 11 target distribution: Zach Pascal 6; Hines, Eric Ebron, and Marcus Johnson 4; Chester Rogers 2; Williams 1; Jack Doyle 0. … With six-plus targets on over 94% of the Colts’ offensive snaps in three straight games, Pascal is an opportunity-based, fade-recency bias WR3 option who’s failed to clear 30 yards in three of his last four. The good news is Pascal shredded the Texans (6/106/2) in these teams’ Week 7 date, while Houston has coughed up the NFL’s fifth-most fantasy points to wideouts. Helpfully, Pascal is popping as Week 12’s No. 2 player in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Buy Low Model. … Mark Andrews (4/75/1), Ebron himself (4/70/1), Austin Hooper (6/56/0), and Seth DeValve (4/41/0) all turned in fantasy-useful box scores against the Texans over their last six games. Ebron’s Week 11 usage was scaled back due to the blowout nature of Indy’s 33-13 win over Jacksonville, but the Colts project to face pass-friendlier script at Houston. His matchup improved by the absence of Texans SS Justin Reid (concussion), Ebron offers high-end TE1 upside. Ebron is also popping as Week 12’s No. 3 tight end in Hermsmeyer’s Buy Low Model. … Practice-squad journeyman Johnson has emerged as the Colts’ No. 2 wideout in Hilton, Parris Campbell (hand), and Devin Funchess’ (collarbone) absences. After turning in a 4/38/1 receiving line on 92% of last week’s snaps, Johnson will be playable on one-game DFS slates and as a deep-league WR4 if Hilton remains out. … Slot man Rogers took a Weeks 10-11 backseat with Johnson’s emergence, seeing target counts of 4 and 2 on under 50% of the snaps. … With just one game above 46 yards all season, Doyle is a touchdown-or-bust fantasy gamble against Houston.
Thursday night sets up as a traditional bounce-back spot for the Texans returning home from their blowout loss in Baltimore. Yet no NFL defense has more consistently had Deshaun Watson’s number than the Colts’ with twin fantasy scores of QB17 and QB17 in his last two regular season meetings with Indy and a miserable playoff performance mixed in, where Watson went 29-of-49 (59.2%) for 235 yards (4.8 YPA), one touchdown, and one pick in last January’s Wild Card loss. This year, eight of the last nine signal callers to face the Colts have finished with a fantasy score of QB12 or worse. Watson is an obvious every-week season-long starter, but there are reasons to temper Week 12 expectations. … Carlos Hyde’s floor is always dangerously low due to his passing-game nonexistence – he’s caught more than one ball in 1-of-10 games – but this is a good enough spot to deploy Hyde as a season-long RB2 with Houston favored at home and an average of 17.8 touches over his last six games. Hyde’s matchup is no cakewalk, however; Indianapolis’ defensive front has shut down enemy backs for 52/159/0 (3.06 YPC) rushing over its last three games and held Hyde to 35 scoreless yards on 12 touches in Week 7. … Duke Johnson is just a one-game DFS-tournament dart with theoretical potential against a Colts defense that’s allowed the NFL’s sixth-most running back catches (63). But Johnson is averaging only 8.4 touches per game, and that average dips to 7.8 in the Texans’ six wins. They are favored to win Thursday night’s contest.
DeAndre Hopkins beat up on the Colts for 9/106/1 receiving in Week 7 and catches DC Matt Eberflus’ secondary shorthanded with rookie LCB Rock Ya-Sin unable to practice much after injuring his ankle in last Sunday’s win and top CB Pierre Desir getting in limited work following a month-long hamstring injury. Averaging 12 targets over his last five games, Hopkins is always a top-end WR1 play. … If Will Fuller (hamstring) returns – he’ll be a game-time decision – Fuller will bookend Hopkins with Kenny Stills likely moving into the slot. Eberflus’ zone is specifically designed to stamp out long pass plays that are Fuller’s bread and butter, and speed-merchant wideouts battling hamstring injuries always have low floors. … Stills has been excellent inside this year, catching 13-of-17 slot targets for 205 yards (12.1 YPT) and a score. He waxed Indianapolis for a season-high 105 yards in Week 7. If Stills had enough interior snaps to qualify, his 2.66 yards per slot route run would rank No. 2 among 45 qualified receivers behind only Michael Thomas. At this point, Stills’ fantasy owners should probably be rooting for Fuller to play. It can’t hurt that Stills is popping in Hermsmeyer’s Week 12 Buy Low Air Yards Model. … Finally out of the doghouse, Keke Coutee reappeared to play 72% of Houston’s Week 11 offensive snaps, catch all three of his targets for 25 yards against the Ravens, and would be a compelling one-game DFS sleeper if Fuller were to sit. If Fuller plays, Coutee will be the Texans’ No. 4 receiver versus Indy. … Darren Fells and Jordan Akins are still rotating; Akins has run one more route (46) than Fells over the past two weeks (45), while Fells has one more target (6, 5). Fells may benefit if Fuller returns, reducing the Texans’ deployment of two-tight end sets and enhancing their reliance on Fells in three-receiver, one-tight end formations. Ultimately, Fells is likely best viewed as a touchdown-or-bust play.
Score Prediction: Texans 24, Colts 23