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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 9 CIN at MIA (THU) KC at BUF PIT at NE CHI at GB (MON)
ATL at CAR MIN at DAL SD at WAS On Bye:
BAL at CLE NO at NYJ TB at SEA ARI, DEN, DET
*UPDATED IND at HOU PHI at OAK TEN at STL JAC, NYG, SF

Prediction: IND 27, HOU 17 (Line: IND by 2.5)

Players of Interest: Andrew Luck, LaVon Brazill, T.Y. Hilton, Case Keenum

Update: Darrius Heyward-Bey injured his hamstring in practice on Thursday and was held out Friday. He is still expected to play but I am lowering his projections. Arian Foster is questionable because of his hamstring and was limited all week until Friday when he had a full practice. HC Gary Kubiak considers Foster as a game time decision. Ben Tate was limited in all practices because of his ribs but is expected to play. Unless there is a setback, Foster and Tate are both likely to play and neither will be 100% healthy.

The 5-2 Colts are 2-1 away from home and currently two games in the lead for the AFC South. The 2-5 Texans have lost their last five games, are on their third quarterback and may not have any starting running backs this week. Advantage Colts.

The Texans won 29-17 when the Colts visited last year.

1 OAK 21-17 10 STL -
2 MIA 20-24 11 @TEN -
3 @SF 27-7 12 @ARI -
4 @JAC 37-3 13 TEN -
5 SEA 34-28 14 @CIN -
6 @SD 9-19 15 HOU -
7 DEN 39-33 16 @KC -
8 BYE WEEK 17 JAC -
9 @HOU - ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
IND @ HOU Rush Catch Pass
QB Andrew Luck 30,1 230,2
RB Trent Richardson 50 1-10
WR T.Y. Hilton 5-80,1
TE Coby Fleener 5-50,1
PK Adam Vinatieri 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Colts come off their bye having last beaten Peyton Manning and the others on his team. This week is a big game against divisional rival Houston. But the Colts lost Reggie Wayne and now have almost no holdovers from the Manning years on offense. His absence will be the key to the offense and test just how good Andrew Luck is at making good receivers instead of just inheriting them. It is hard to overestimate the impact of a veteran like Wayne brings to a team.

QUARTERBACKS: Andrew Luck comes off his best game of the year when he passed for 228 yards and three scores on the Broncos and added a rushing touchdown as well. Luck had only passed for seven scores over six games prior to the win over the Broncos. He's already ran in three touchdowns this year as well. Luck loses Wayne but will just have to shift and keep going. There is no reason to think that Luck will suffer any significant decline without Wayne. But he will need to find a new place for those targets.

RUNNING BACKS: Trent Richardson continues to be anything other than a difference maker. He comes off a 37 yard effort on 14 carries in Denver and is never used in the passing game. That's bad enough but now even Donald Brown is getting more work. Brown accounted for 11 runs for 23 yards and added three receptions for 42 yards versus the Broncos. This is a very mediocre rushing attack with no signs of improving.

WIDE RECEIVERS: The loss of Reggie Wayne cuts deeply in many ways. This will be the first time in 190 games that Wayne is not there and at the age of 35 the reality is that Wayne may have played his final down in the NFL. T.Y. Hilton takes over his spot in the two-man formations and heads to the slot when the Colts go three-wide. LaVon Brazill will get more playing time as the deep threat. So far this season there have only been two passes thrown to a wideout outside of Wayne, Hilton and Darrius Heyward-Bey. We'll see more of Hilton and now we can see Brazill. Notable was that Heyward-Bey caught his first touchdown of the year during the Denver win.

TIGHT ENDS: Coby Fleener also scored last week and while it may seem reasonable that his workload increases with the possession receiver Wayne out, Fleener only gained 38 yards on five catches last week. Most of his weeks end up with under 20 yards gained and he has no reliable fantasy value.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Texans have played almost entirely below-average passing teams and yet three times allowed multiple touchdowns. No quarterback has passed for more than 240 yards on the Texans though and only Alex Smith topped 200 yards. The problem is that the Texans offense has been bad and giving up short fields as well as not forcing anyone into a shootout. There is a good chance for a rushing score here after they allowed six touchdowns by running backs but no one ran for over 100 yards on them. Both teams come off their bye and have prepared for two weeks. But only one has a really good quarterback.

WHAT TO WATCH: The passing game will change without Reggie Wayne there. His share is going to likely move mostly to T.Y. HIlton and allow LaVon Brazill to finally see playing time as the #3 wideout.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points IND 12 19 18 20 5 14
Preventing Fantasy Points HOU 4 21 1 4 18 31

 

1 @SD 31-28 10 @ARI -
2 TEN 30-24 11 OAK -
3 @BAL 9-30 12 JAC -
4 SEA 20-23 13 NE -
5 @SF 3-34 14 @JAC -
6 STL 13-38 15 @IND -
7 @KC 16-17 16 DEN -
8 BYE WEEK 17 @TEN -
9 IND - ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
vs Rush Catch Pass
RB Arian Foster 60,1 3-20
WR DeAndre Hopkins 4-60,1
WR Andre Johnson 6-90
TE Garrett Graham 4-30
PK Randy Bullock 1 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The news only gets worse for the Texans who come off their bye with questions still about the offense. The running backs could be down to a practice squadder Ray Graham thanks to injuries and the evils of marijuana. Matt Schaub could be healthy but maybe the Texans don't want him to be. This five game losing streak should end soon with upcoming home games against the Raiders and Jaguars. But this week? Hard to see it happening.

QUARTERBACKS: The Texans now have "a situation". Matt Schaub missed the week seven game with ankle and foot injuries and he may not be healthy for this matchup. Case Keenum took over against the Chiefs and turned in a very credible 15 of 25 for 271 yards and one touchdown and he did NOT throw a pick six to finally end the record-setting streak of the Texans. And he was playing in the toughest venue of the year so far.

HC Gary Kubiak named Keenum as the starter but Schaub will be there as the back-up.

RUNNING BACKS: Arian Foster only lasted for four carries in Kansas City before his hamstring forced him out. With a bye week to recover, Foster is hoped to be ready this week. Ben Tate suffered four fractured ribs which don't preclude him from playing, just from playing well. Normally Cierre Wood would be moving up but he was caught smoking marijuana at the team hotel and immediately released along with three other players. So the only healthy running back may be practice squad player Ray Graham. The Texans also signed Deji Karim and Dennis Johnson. That is a sign that all is not well.

HC Gary Kubiak said he won't decide which running backs will play until late in the week. I will assume a limited Foster returns and update as warranted.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Another reason why Keenum may be an attractive option this week is that against the Chiefs, he was better than Schaub in using his wide receivers. Andre Johnson caught four passes for 89 yards for a solid showing and DeAndre Hopkins scored once on his three receptions for 76 yards. On the road in Kansas City no less. No other wideout ever matters for the Texans but at least both starters were productive with Keenum.

TIGHT ENDS: Even though Owen Daniels has been out for two games now, Garrett Graham still doesn't matter much. In both games he only caught two or three passes for negligible yardage and no score.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Colts defense is a little weaker against the run but that may not matter this week depending on what player is healthy in the backfield. Foster is always a must start when healthy and could have a decent game here. But the passing is going to be more challenging against a secondary that has played very well and only averages allowing one passing score per week. Any element of this passing offense is a risk to start but both Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins were very productive in Kansas City. Johnson deserves the start but Hopkins has not been nearly consistent enough to expect a repeat.

WHAT TO WATCH: Keenum already surprised in Kansas City but how much of that was the standard "new quarterback on a bad team why prepare that much?" by the Chiefs. Keenum was impressive but this week answers if he can maintain that level of passing or if the fickle crowd starts calling for Schaub again.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points HOU 24 9 20 5 26 28
Preventing Fantasy Points IND 12 5 19 9 12 2

WEEK 9 CIN at MIA (THU) KC at BUF PIT at NE CHI at GB (MON)
ATL at CAR MIN at DAL SD at WAS On Bye:
BAL at CLE NO at NYJ TB at SEA ARI, DEN, DET
*UPDATED IND at HOU PHI at OAK TEN at STL JAC, NYG, SF


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