It's safe to say that the Colts have caught the injury bug, leaving lots of questions with fantasy implications ahead of Thursday Night Football. Some are must-make decisions prior to kickoff (should I stream Jack Doyle?) and some are swing for the fences plays (Chester Rogers, eh?). Regardless, in today's Daily Dose, I'll note practice reports to monitor for Wednesday that could have the biggest implications for your leagues.
A Colts RBBC?
The biggest looming question heading into Week 12 stems from the loss of Marlon Mack. After Mack's exit Sunday with a broken hand, we saw journeyman Jonathan Williams close out the game with 13 carries for 116 yards. Though he saw the bulk of the carries through the third and fourth quarters, we should be suspicious of a potential running back by committee approach moving forward.
Perhaps the most notable news item is the likely return of RB Jordan Wilkins to the active lineup. Wilkins has been sidelined with an ankle injury but got in a limited practice session Tuesday, saying he feels like he should be "ready to go." Wilkins hasn't dominated snaps but has shown flashes of explosion in his first two seasons that could prove to, at least, earn him enough snaps with Mack out to muddy our fantasy waters.
Whether it's Williams, Wilkins or a combination of the two, we can't forget the Colts' usage of RB Nyheim Hines in the passing game to further confuse things. While Hines has been limited to just 25 rushing attempts so far in 2019, his true damage has been through the air. So far in 2019, he's commanded 40 targets, reeling in 30 of those for 214 yards.
Aside from Nyheim Hines, the trustworthiness of any asset in the Colts' backfield against the Houston rushing defense is suspect. Though the Texans have allowed the ninth fewest rushing yards, they've actually let up the second-most receiving yards to the running back position in the NFL through 11 weeks. Given that the Texans are -3.5 favorites at home, this could be the perfect game script to get him moving and involved in the passing game.
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Depleted Receiving Corps
From wide receiver to tight end, the Colts are a disaster. Most notably, W.R. T.Y. Hilton has remained sidelined since exiting Week 8 with a calf injury. It's been a surprising season for the 30-year-old wideout, while he's managed to stay on the field. Despite career-lows in yards per reception (11.3) and an average depth of target (9.6 yards), Hilton was miraculously on pace for a career-high in touchdowns before the injury. In his absence, it's been Zach Pascal leading the team in targets, air yards and receiving yards, with TE Eric Ebron close behind. In Pascal's last outing against the Texans, he managed 106 receiving yards and two scores - an intriguing play in DFS.
Speaking of Ebron, he was hit with the DNP status for the second consecutive day, listed with an ankle injury. It's bad news given the short week, but his absence could mean big things for Jack Doyle, who leads Colts' tight ends in routes run. Doyle hasn't been the favorite for targets, but the Colts have ranked fourth in target percentage to the tight end so far in 2019. He could have low-end TE1 upside should Ebron miss this outing.
Running Back Slants
The Dolphins waived RB Mark Walton Tuesday. The decision comes after the team was made aware of a domestic violence incident allegedly involving the assault of a pregnant woman. The charges against Walton are serious, and we may have already seen Walton's last down in the NFL if allegations are true. By all accounts, it looks as though Kalen Ballage will continue to see the bulk of carries in Miami for the time being. He's averaging an abysmal 1.9 yards per attempt in 2019 behind a putrid offensive line. Next up on the depth chart is 2019 seventh-round pick Myles Gaskin, who has amassed just one carry for zero yards so far on the season. It's best to avoid anyone not named Davante Parker in this offense, even when fantasy running backs are hard to come by. ... It sounds as though Steelers' RB James Conner will likely not be ready for Sunday's outing against the Bengals. His absence would leave Jaylen Samuels and, probably, rookie Benny Snell (knee) to carry the load. They've combined for a measly 3.2 yards per carry, and with center Maurkice Pouncey out on suspension, we shouldn't expect much better in Week 12. The Bengals are allowing the fourth-most fantasy points per game to the running back position, and the Steelers' running backs amassed 208 yards from scrimmage in their first meeting in 2019. ... FA RB Alex Collins has had his suspension lifted by the Commissioner and is eligible to play, should he be signed by a team. Collins suffered a broken leg earlier this year but is reportedly healthy and ready to go.
Wide Receiver and Tight End Slants
Jerry Jones stated that he expects WR Amari Cooper to play Sunday versus the New England Patriots, though he continues to be less than 100%. Cooper played just 55% of offensive snaps in Week 11 while sophomore WR Michael Gallup and vet Randall Cobb balled out for 100 receiving yards apiece. They'll face the Patriots Sunday, who have allowed just four receiving touchdowns on the season. ... FA Antonio Brown issued an apology on Twitter to Patriots owner Robert Kraft Tuesday morning for the "bad media and the drama." It's just the latest stop on the roller coaster of Brown's 2019 season, but as Adam Schefter reported, it's unlikely that we see him on the field this year. ... Word came that Tyreek Hill will undergo an MRI in the coming days to further evaluate a hamstring injury suffered on Monday Night Football. The Chiefs have a Week 12 bye, but Hill's timetable will depend on the severity of the muscle strain. Demarcus Robinson and Mecole Hardman would benefit in his absence, ranking as the WR14 and WR28, respectively, in half-PPR formats while Hill was out Weeks 2-5 with a shoulder injury. ... Rob Gronkowski, as it turns out, is not returning to football after his 2018 retirement. His "big announcement" Tuesday was that he'll be hosting a super bowl party in Miami Beach.