Texans-Colts DFS Picks: Gardner Minshew and C.J. Stroud with Playoffs on the Line! (January 6)

Saturday Night Football features something close to an elimination game. The winning team tonight will make the playoffs as a Wild Card entry, though the winner will have a slim chance of winning the AFC South if Jacksonville loses on Sunday. The loser will be eliminated. In this issue of Stokastic’s NFL DFS picks series, we’ll be providing our Texans-Colts DFS picks for the Saturday Night Football Showdown slate.

Stokastic is bringing plenty of NFL DFS tools and information for all the different slates, game formats and sites. This column will provide a free analysis of the single-slate action on DraftKings and FanDuel. It includes team capsules, player rankings, comments and NFL DFS picks. There are loads of information and NFL DFS Showdown analysis to get into for both DraftKings and FanDuel on this Saturday Night slate, so check out these Texans-Colts DFS picks.

NFL DFS Showdown Picks: Texans-Colts DFS Picks

This should be a spirited game as both teams will go home with a loss. There is still a chance that the winner of this game would be the AFC South Champion, but that requires Jacksonville to lose to Tennessee tomorrow. If the Jaguars win, they have the tiebreaker over both the Texans and Colts.

Houston Texans: 24.5 Points


The Stokastic NFL DFS projections have C.J. Stroud as the QB6 on DraftKings, but he slides down one spot on FanDuel, where Kyler Murray’s rushing production earns him the higher spot over the rookie. Speaking of his rookie status, Stroud currently has a strong edge over wide receiver Puka Nacua, but as we can see by looking at OddsShopper, Nacua could still catch up depending on Stroud’s performance — and if the Rams let Nacua get more than the 29 yards he needs to set the single-season rookie receiving record.

Indianapolis has been in the middle of the pack this season against opposing signal-callers with the 14th passing DVOA. Stroud was forced out of the Week 14 action with a concussion and missed the next two games. He returned to action last weekend, leading Houston to a 26-3 victory over the Tennessee Titans, completing 24 of 32 (75%) passes for 213 yards and a score. These are not eye-popping numbers, but the Texans were able to be conservative after scoring the first 20 points of the game, with the Titans getting on the board with a field goal as time expired in the first half.

A lifetime ago in NFL terms — or in Week 2 for us mere mortals — Stroud lit up the Colts for 384 yards and a pair of touchdown passes. The Colts have recorded strong numbers since Derek Carr got them for 310 yards and two tuddies in Week 9, but that was against a parade of sub-par field generals including Bryce Young, Mac Jones, Bailey Zappe (rhymes with crappy), Baker Mayfield, Will Levis, Jake Browning, Mitch Trubisky, Mason Rudolph, Taylor Heinicke and Aidan O’Connell. Yes, six of Indianapolis’ last eight teams were starting backup quarterbacks.

Running Back

The running game should be able to take pressure off Stroud, with the Colts stumbling to the 24th rushing DVOA this season. In the last seven games, seven different running backs had at least 69 rushing yards, while 11 had more than 68 combined yards from scrimmage.

Devin Singletary has taken over the lead role and he has at least 13 carries and 65 yards in three of the last four games, including a combined 42 carries for 201 rushing yards in the two games against Tennessee. While he did not see a target in Week 14 against the New York Jets, in the last three games he has at least three targets and receptions in each, culminating in 11 targets, 10 receptions and 74 receiving yards.

In these four games, Dare Ogunbowale has been on the field for 38 more offensive snaps than Dameon Pierce. Production has not followed as the nomadic NFL back has just five carries for 30 yards and six targets for one four-yard catch. Pierce on the other hand has 16 carries for 34 yards, with four targets, resulting in three receptions for 13 yards. Ogunbowale is sitting at the $200 minimum salary on DraftKings, which does open up a variety of other options, for those willing to roll the dice on someone who may only earn one fantasy point and has not topped three this season in full-PPR scoring.

Wide Receivers 

Rookie Tank Dell is out for the season, Noah Brown (back) is also out and veteran Robert Woods (hip) did not practice all week. Indications are that Woods is likely to at least suit up, but that leaves Nico Collins as the last remaining healthy regular and this is just the 39th career game and 25th start for the three-year veteran. Collins turned 100 targets into 71 receptions, 1,102 yards and seven scores, so he is going to be on the radar of every DFS gamer.

Second-round rookie John Metchie III played 37 snaps last week, which was his season high by far (28). The former Alabama wideout had his first carry of the year, getting four yards, but his three targets resulted in one lonely eight-yard reception. He has 28 targets, 15 catches and 153 yards on the season. Fellow rookie Xavier Hutchison, a sixth-rounder out of Iowa State, should see a similar workload as Metchie. They will serve as the WR3 and also give Woods a break if his hip is troublesome.

Tight Ends

Dalton Schultz is likely to be on the field for around 80% of the offensive action. He is now second on the team in targets, passing Dell, even though he has also missed time due to injury. It has been four games since he last reached pay dirt, but he does have five touchdowns this season and a good rapport with his rookie quarterback.

Andrew Beck was out last week and is questionable tonight with a calf issue. He has been in a hybrid role as a fullback/tight end with Brevin Jordan getting a bit of a bump as the TE2 and Eric Saubert as the TE3, replacing him on the field — albeit in slightly different packages.

Jordan is good for a couple of targets tonight, Beck should be good for one or two if he plays. Saubert is a longshot, but he got one of his two looks of the season last week.

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Defense/Special Teams

Last week the Colts allowed just one sack against the Raiders, but in Week 16 the Falcons recorded six quarterback takedowns against them. Indianapolis tends to limit turnovers, even with a willing risk-taker under center. Houston has 18 sacks over the last four games, with three interceptions, two fumble recoveries and a pair of return touchdowns.

Indianapolis Colts: 22.75 Points


Gardner Minshew II could get a bit of a respite, depending on the health of defensive linemen Will Anderson Jr. (ankle), Sheldon Rankins (ankle) and Maliek Collins (hip) all questionable and Jonathan Greenard already ruled out. Houston has the 23rd passing DVOA and the second-best run DVOA, so the Colts should employ the pass to move the ball if they are not able to get the running game humming along.

Minshew has been on the field for all but five snaps since rookie Anthony Richardson was lost for the season and is in line to set a career high for passing yards and attempts, topping his rookie campaign as the main quarterback in Jacksonville. This is his fifth year in the league, and he is 204 yards shy of 10,000, with a solid 59 touchdowns against 24 interceptions.

The former Washington State Cougar can be employed in the flex or multiplier-slot for the single-game contests tonight.

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Running Back

Over the last eight games, only James Connor (14/62/0) and Travis Etienne Jr. (20/56/0) have topped 50 rushing yards against the Texans, and the team has allowed just three rushing scores in this stretch. Jonathan Taylor has been back for the last two games, playing 59% and 63% of the snaps. In those games, which came against the Falcons and Raiders, he recorded 39 carries for 139 yards as well as a pair of targets for an eight-yard reception. He also scored a rushing touchdown in each game.

Zack Moss missed both tilts with a forearm injury, but he has been a full participant in practice and is expected to resume his role as the RB2, which will push Tyler Goodson into irrelevance — if he is even active — and Trey Sermon back to the emergency option.

It’s hard to get excited about Taylor, who needs a touchdown to break even on his current salary on FanDuel ($15,500) and DraftKings ($10,000). Moss is pretty much a lottery ticket, but he should see at least a half dozen opportunities.

Wide Receiver

Michael Pittman Jr. is a clear core play, and it would not be a stretch to have him in the Captain/MVP slot for cash game lineups (H2Hs, 50/50s, 3-mans, etc.). Do not worry about the erratic game log and remember he missed time with a concussion while also dealing with a shoulder issue over the last month.

Josh Downs has seen his salary escalate while solidifying his role as the wingman in this offense. Alec Pierce carries the score from anywhere on the field upside, even if the volume has been lacking. D.J. Montgomery is mostly an afterthought as he deals with a groin injury. He only gained in target share because Pittman was out and Isaiah McKenzie has been suspended since Week 15. Over the last three games, this quartet has played all but two of the wideout snaps.

Tight End

Kylen Granson and Mo Alie-Cox should each see action on around two-thirds of the snaps. Will Mallory is a distant third option, but he has three or more targets in four of his last six games. Drew Ogletree has been suspended for a legal matter. Mallory had four targets while playing on 27 snaps in Week 16, but he was invisible last Sunday, just seeing the field for nine offensive plays.

Granson is a borderline core play, but most of the field will be aware of him for his fantasy point-per-dollar ratio, which makes his counterparts live for tournaments.

Defense/Special Teams

Indianapolis has a paltry seven sacks over the last month, but they tallied 21 in the preceding four tilts. Houston has a league-low 14 turnovers, so the Colts are going to need some home cooking to help them create a pick-six or scoop-and-score for fantasy relevance.

Saturday Night Football Single-Game NFL DFS Strategy

The rankings below are best utilized for building out single-entry and three-max lineups and for head-to-head and three-man formats. They provide a nice barometer for player value. However, those taking the MME approach should remember that correlation is key. This means matching a receiver or two with a quarterback in the Captain/MVP slot. That also works conversely, pairing a Captain/MVP pass catcher with his quarterback.

The Vikings-Broncos DFS picks for the Sunday Night Football Showdown game in our NFL DFS showdown picks series, which uses the latest...

Texans-Colts NFL DFS Rankings 

Top 10 NFL DFS Showdown Picks for Texans-Colts

  1. Michael Pittman Jr.: Counting on a a resurgence, he is a clear top option on DraftKings, there is an argument for the field generals to be promoted above him on FanDuel.
  2. Gardner Minshew: Home field, more experience and a discount to his counterpart.
  3. C.J. Stroud: How thrilled are both he and the Texans that Carolina chose Bryce Young with the top pick last April?
  4. Nico Collins: The defense will be all over him as the last man standing.
  5. Devin Singletary: The salary discount earns him the nod over Taylor.
  6. Jonathan Taylor: Just imagine a world where he did not have a contract battle with the team and Indy actually beat Jacksonville in the opener or didn’t lose to the Rams in OT for a heartbreaking Week 4 home loss. The Colts would have been in the catbird seat even without Richardson.
  7. Dalton Schultz: Forever an island game DFS hero!
  8. Ka’imi Fairbairn: Seven-year veteran who overcame injuries and converted on 26 of 27 field goals in his 11 appearances with his lone miss coming from beyond 50 yards.
  9. Matt Gay: Two years removed from Pro Bowl recognition, league average this year, but the team has run him out for 11 attempts from 50-plus yards and another nine from 40-plus.
  10. Kylen Granson: Solid fantasy point per dollar ratio on both sites.

Secondary NFL DFS Showdown Picks for Texans-Colts

  1. Josh Downs: Three or fewer targets in his last four games and just 17 targets for 14 receptions and 143 yards during this span. Hard to justify his salary, though that is the recipe to have him as a potentially underrepresented tournament target. Returns punts and kickoffs with McKenzie suspended.
  2. Robert Woods: Hopefully the veteran suits up and is more than a decoy or inspiration.
  3. John Metchie III and Xavier Hutchison: Extreme discount dandies, if Woods is out, then gamers will push their popularity up the charts.
  4. Dare Ogunbowale: DraftKings only at the $200 minimum, if not for that his two-point projection would have limited this section to just three lines.

Lottery Ticket NFL DFS Showdown Picks for Texans-Colts

  1. Will Mallory: Love the $2,000 salary on DraftKings, but fewer gamers will choose him over Granson on FanDuel, where Mallory has a $1,000 premium.
  2. Alec Pierce: Popularity is surging, but that may come down a bit once we find out more about Woods’ health.
  3. Indianapolis D/ST: Has home-field advantage and will face a rookie — even if it is the likely RoY.
  4. Houston D/ST: Minshew is a backup on his third team in five years for a reason despite being a great story and fan favorite at every stop.
  5. Dameon Pierce: Clear RB2, but he is just an injury away. He also returns kickoffs, and the Colts have a mediocre 78% touchback rate.
  6. Zack Moss: Did a great job filling in for Taylor this season, even though the fantasy-darling results faded down the second half of the season. Salary pushes him deeper than actual talent or projection.
  7. Brevin Jordan and Mo Alie-Cox: Not so sneaky and on opposite teams, but still worthy of our consideration.
  8. D.J. Montgomery, Andrew Beck and Trey Sermon: Should at least get touches, though 4.5 collectively feels like the right threshold.
  9. Tyler Goodson, Eric Saurbert, Sam Ehlinger, Case Keenum and Davis Mills: Never say never, but going down this path is a desperate tactic.

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Stokastic NFL DFS Tools & Tips

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Eric "EMac" MacPherson won the 2007 Fantasy Baseball grand prize (trip for two to the MLB All-Star game) in the Roto format on ESPN. He won again in 2008, this time in the H2H format. As one of the early adopters of daily fantasy sports, EMac has been providing content for baseball and basketball as well as both professional and college football since 2012 for a variety of websites including DraftKings Playbook, FanVice, RotoWorld, Daily Fantasy Bootcamp, and RotoGrinders. He is well into his third decade of fantasy sports and has a wealth of knowledge and experience. Follow him on Twitter @EMacDFS or contact EMac by emailing [email protected].

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