Cleat Geeks

Thursday Preview: Indianapolis Colts vs Houston Texans

The Colts will travel to Houston to face off against their division rivals on Thursday. The Colts have dominated in the past leading the Texans 22-4 in the all time series. Since this is a division rivalry, these teams will have even more on the line than usual. There is something else that makes this game different than the last 24 match-ups: Andre Johnson swapped his Texans’ uniform for a Colts one.

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Johnson is having a disappointing start to the season, but you can bet he will be extra motivated on Thursday night. He returns to the stadium that he once called home, but will be coming out from the visitor’s tunnel instead. Johnson and the 2-2 Colts will look to retain their spot atop the AFC South. If Andrew Luck is cleared to play (shoulder), he will attempt to get back on track after struggling the first three weeks of the season. If Luck is unable to play, veteran Matt Hasselbeck will be under center for the second week in a row. Whoever is starting at quarterback for the Colts will look to get their offense rolling since that has been the team’s greatest weakness so far. Long time 49ers running back, Frank Gore, is in the backfield for the Colts this season. He will look to attack a Texans defense who gave up three rushing touchdowns to Devonta Freeman last Sunday. Besides Andre Johnson, T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief will be lined up at wide-out, and Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener will be the Colts’ tight ends. This struggling offense should be able to find some ways to move the ball against a Texans’ defense that gave up 48 points a week ago.

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Speaking of struggling offenses, the 1-3 Texans enter this game with a big question mark at quarterback. Unlike the Colts, the Texans’ quarterbacks are not hurt, they are mediocre. Just a couple weeks after Ryan Mallett stole the starting job from Brian Hoyer, he gets pulled in the 3rd quarter for Hoyer, who finally moved the ball some. Head Coach Bill O’Brien has committed to Mallett being the starter on Thursday, but I can’t imagine his leash is too long. Last week we got to see the season-debut of Arian Foster, but it was in a very limited fashion. It sounds as though Foster will be getting a heavier workload against a Colts defense that gave up 105 rushing yards to T.J. Yeldon last week. DeAndre Hopkins has been the lone bright spot for the Texans so far this season. Through four games he has 31 catches for 309 yards and three touchdowns on an amazing 60 targets! He will be the only receiver worth talking about on the Texans since Nate Washington and Cecil Shorts will both miss the game with injuries (hamstring and shoulder). The Texans will need young guys on offense to step up and their defense to get pressure on the Colts’ quarterback if they want to win this game.

 

Fantasy:

I expect the Colts to come out with a pretty balanced attack, but will rarely force the ball down field on aggressive throws. They will try to establish the run with Gore early, which will set up the play action later on. I think both Gore and Foster have a good chance to get 100 total yards and a touchdown in this game. If Luck is active, I think you have to start him unless you have a much better option. You will just need to pray that J.J. Watt doesn’t bury him in the turf. Like I said before, I don’t expect him to throw the ball downfield too often, but with the athleticism of some of his receivers, they have a a good chance at breaking a 10-yard catch for 20+ yards. T.Y. Hilton has traditionally had his best games playing in Houston: 19 catches for 422 yards and 5 touchdowns in just 3 games. Although I don’t think he matches his current pace, he should have a pretty good game. Donte Moncrief has been impressive this season, but I don’t think there will be enough targets for him to be amazing in this game. I am expecting about 4-6 catches for him, and it’ll all depend on what he does with the ball after he makes the catch. Andre Johnson has been terrible so far this season (9 catches for 46 yards), but I think the Colts will specifically force him the ball more often in this game, especially in the red zone. I’m not saying he will be a top-10 receiver, but I could see him getting around 50-60 yards and a touchdown on Thursday, which would more than double his performance so far this season. Although the tight ends for the Colts always have a chance at a touchdown, they both are desperation plays.

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The Texans will be shorthanded in this game, which doesn’t exactly help anyone else’s value. Hopkins has been a target monster so far this season, on pace for 240 targets, but he will also be what the defense is keying on all night. He will see plenty of targets from Mallett or Hoyer, but they will have to be thrown pretty darn well since he should see tight coverage all night. For the defense to relax on him a little bit, someone else will need to step up in the receiving game. It will be pretty impossible to know who exactly steps up out of the receivers, so I would avoid that situation entirely. Arian Foster on the other hand is not someone I am avoiding. He should get a heavy workload against a defense the he can expose. He is able to hurt the defense both running the ball and catching it out of the backfield. This make him a dangerous weapon that the Texans have missed so far, and I expect him to have a good game. If I had to guess Foster’s stats for Thursday night, I would bet on over 100 total yards and a couple touchdowns.

 

Prediction:

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I don’t think this will be the prettiest game we have ever seen, but hopefully it will at least be exciting. This is one of those games that could get either one of these teams rolling for the rest of the season. I think that is something that very well could happen for the Colts who I think will keep their spot atop the division with a 26-20 win over the Texans.

 

Just a quick reminder that my rankings go up every Thursday afternoon over @FantasyFlurry on Twitter. I am also answering trade and start/sit questions up to the last second before your lineups are set!

One Comment

  1. Zach Brunner

    October 8, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    The projection for the game tonight was assuming Andrew Luck played. The news currently has broke out that he will be out. Hasselbeck will be the starter, but he has been getting IVs due to illness. Josh Johnson will back him up, but hopefully we won’t need to see him. Due to this news, the projections for the Colts players goes down, but Moncrief and the tight ends could see a small boost. This will be a closer game than originally predicted, but it will be exciting to see which team decides to step up.

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