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The Houston Texans are set to take on the Indianapolis Colts, in what’s shaping up to be a snooze-fest, though, before the season started, this could’ve been for the division (had there been a healthy Peyton Manning). I’m more interested in this game from a defensive standpoint, as there are plenty of defensive players that I’ll be tracking in this one. With just a few days before Christmas, let’s hope that the IDP studs can help you bring home a title this Holiday season. With the kickoff just around the corner, here’s my take on the game from a defensive point of view…
-Even with a letdown game against the Panthers, the Texans are still 3rd in points allowed, 5th in rush yards allowed and 2nd in pass yards allowed and are a top rated DEF/ST this week against the Colts.
-Brian Cushing isn’t on the injury report this week and will need to be a strong presence for the defense and his IDP owners this week. In their first go round, Cush notched 7 tackles in week 1. Cushing is right up there with the best of the ILBs in the league, a Pro Football Focus has him graded at a +23.3, ranking him 4th among ILBs. Cush, hoping for a big week, needs just 2 tackles to break the 100 mark.
-Defensive ends in a 3-4 don’t get a lot of pub, especially rookies, but JJ Watt is having a fine season and has looked every bit of as good as the Texans hoped, when they grabbed him 11th overall. His tackle numbers are higher than expected, with 50 on the year, and PFF has graded him at a +19.3, ranking him 5th overall among 3-4 DEs. His run stopping has been among the best in the league as well. He makes a solid DL2 this week.
-Phillip Wheeler was inactive last week, allowing Ernie Sims to start and have a big game at the weak-side. Wheeler hasn’t been participating in practice this week so Wheeler, on a short week, could be inactive allowing another start and more snaps for Sims this week.
-We’ll be seeing the NFL’s third leading tackler in Pat Angerer and he seems to be showing no ill-effects of his knee injury that he suffered a few weeks ago. Since missing week 13, Angerer has notched 20 tackles, an INT and a forced fumble in the last two weeks.
-Keep an eye on Robert Mathis, who hasn’t been at practice this week, and his status Thursday. He’s listed as questionable, but I don’t doubt that he’ll play.
Here’s a look inside the numbers, to help determine who to start for Thursday’s game
Fantasy Points Allowed to IDPs
The Houston Texans are 3rd overall in points allowed to opposing DLs, and over the last three games, they rank 13th overall in points allowed. The Indianapolis Colts’ DLs have a favorable match-up.
217 tackles/15 sacks allowed
Favorable Match-Up: Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis have favorable match-ups this week against the Texans’ offensive line.
The Indianapolis Colts are 11th overall in points allowed to opposing DLs, and overt the last three games, they rank 4th overall in points allowed. The Houston Texans’ DLs have a favorable match-up.
205 tackles/21.5 sacks allowed
Favorable Match-Up: JJ Watt and Antonio Smith have a favorable match-up this week against the Colts’ offensive line. There may not be many solo tackles handed out, but there could be sacks.
The Houston Texans are 5th overall in points allowed to opposing LBs, and over the last three games, they are allowing the most points to opposing LBs. The Colts’ LBs have a favorable match-up this week.
307 tackles/7 sacks allowed
Favorable Match-Up: Pat Angerer, Ernie Sims and Kavell Conner have favorable match-ups against the Texans.
The Indianapolis Colts rank 32nd in points allowed to opposing LBs, and are ranked the same over the last three games. The Texans’ LBs have an unfavorable match-up against the Colts.
247 tackles/6 sacks allowed
Favorable Match-Up: The Texans ‘backers are in for a rough match-up. The only LB I’d start in IDP leagues this week, is Brian Cushing.
The Houston Texans rank 6th in points allowed to opposing DBs, and are ranked the same over the last three games. The Colts’ DBs have a favorable match-up this week against the Texans.
328 tackles/4 INTs allowed
Favorable Match-Up: I like the match-up for Antoine Bethea and Jacob Lacey this week.
The Indianapolis Colts rank 32nd in points allowed to opposing DBs, and rank the same over the last three games. The Texans’ DBs have an unfavorable match-up this week against the Colts.
275 tackles/9 INTs allowed
Favorable Match-Up: I don’t like any of the Texan DBs this week, maybe, with the exception of Danieal Manning.
Key IDP Match-ups I’ll Be Watching
Robert Mathis vs. Eric Winston (RT, HOU): Mathis is questionable this week, but I think he plays. Winston has allowed just 4 sacks on the year and just 17 QB pressures this season and has been graded by PFF as a top 5 tackle. Mathis has 2 sacks in the last 4 games and is putting up decent tackle numbers. If Mathis isn’t at 100 percent, he could be in store for a long night against Winston.
JJ Watt vs. Jeff Linkenbach (RT, IND): Houston’s JJ Watt has had a solid rookie year, but has been overshadowed by Von Miller and Aldon Smith. Linckenbach has allowed 26 QB pressures this season and has been graded at a -16.0 and is near the bottom of the league among tackles. I love Watt’s motor and he’s line for a solid game this week, and could get his first sack since week 12.
Brian Cushing/Connor Barwin vs. Indianapolis Colts: The Colts are a horrible match-up play for the Texan backers, just because their offense isn’t on the field much and they don’t do anything really well. Cush did notch 7 tackles in their first match-up. The Colts are allowing, on average, 11 tackles per game to opposing 3-4 ILBs, and with the way DeMeco Ryans has played all season, Cush get those himself. Barwin may not get many tackles, but the Colts have allowed 3 sacks to opposing 3-4 OLBs, and with the way Barwin has been getting to the QB, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him get one.
Antoine Bethea/Jacob Lacey vs. Houston Texans: Bethea has been the playmaker this season for the Colts and is second on the team in tackles with 120. He doesn’t have any of the big plays, but he’s huge in tackle heavy leagues. Bethea is going to be called on to help stop the run against Arian Foster, and according to PFF, he’s been graded at a +4.0 for his run stopping abilities, ranking him 11th among safeties. Jacoby Lacey is coming off three big weeks, notching 29 tackles and an INT in that frame. It’ll be interesting to see how many balls are thrown his way, as the Texans look to be leaning towards a run heavy attack.