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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indianapolis Colts‘ defense was reeling early this season.After six games Youth Jack Doyle Jersey , it had allowed an average of 30 points, had given up 37 or more points in three consecutive losses, was languishing near the bottom of the league’s overall rankings and showed no sign of a turnaround.Today, those performances are almost recognizable. Though the names remain essentially unchanged, the Colts overcame that dismal start and have emerged as one of the NFL’s stingiest units and a key cog in Indy’s playoff run.“We feel good, we’ve been rolling,” rookie linebacker Darius Leonard said. “We just want to keep it going. We want to keep everything rolling.”Leonard and his teammates face their biggest challenge yet in Saturday’s divisional-round game at Kansas City. But the timing couldn’t be better for a young, suddenly sturdy defense that still has plenty to prove.Over the past six weeks, the Colts have given up 12.0 points per game, posted their first shutout in four years and ascended to No. 11 in the rankings. But many wonder whether the defense can hold up against the league’s highest-scoring team.So far Jack Doyle Jersey Stitched , Indy (11-6) has passed every test. The defense has played a vital role in two five-game winning streaks. Indy is one of two teams that have not allowed a 100-yard rusher this season and have had at least one turnover in 16 of 17 games.Outsiders have noticed the turnaround by a unit once regarded as a weak link.“I think the players have bought in and they play hard,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “They’re accurate with their assignments.”Reid isn’t alone.Leonard, the league’s leading tackler, was named first-team All-Pro last week, and first-year defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus interviewed Sunday for the Cleveland Browns’ head coaching job. Though he wasn’t hired, the dramatic ascension could help Eberflus stay on the coaching radar.What’s changed? Not much personnel-wise from opening day.Defensive tackle Al Woods and linebacker Skai Moore both wound up on injured reserve. Margus Hunt moved from defensive end to defensive tackle and Pierre Desir claimed one of the starting cornerback spots. Otherwise, the lineup remained as consistent as Eberflus’ message.“When you keep doing the same things over and over again and you get good at the fundamentals of the game, then you can start adding a little bit to your package because the guys understand the basics,” Eberflus said.“You can never move on or never forget the basics of what your system is about. That to me is the hustle, the intensity Youth Adam Vinatieri Jersey , taking the ball away and being smart players.”Eberflus, initially hired by Josh McDaniels and retained by Frank Reich after McDaniels backed out of the job, scrapped the 3-4 defensive front from previous coaching staff and installed the Tampa-2 preferred by general manager Chris Ballard.Reich was on board, too, remembering how the system helped the Colts win a Super Bowl during his first stint with the team.The scheme relies largely on speed and trust and was a perfect fit for a team trying to rebuild. Only three full-time starters returned in the same spot this season while a fourth, Jabaal Sheard, moved from outside linebacker to defensive end, but the simplicity shortened the learning curve for everyone, including the youngsters.And after six games, things started to mesh. Leonard became the breakout star Indianapolis Colts Denzelle Good Jersey , the pass rush became more consistent and the run defense tightened up.“We go into this game knowing that we can beat the best,” Leonard said. “Once you go in as an underdog, there’s a lot more chips on your shoulder. It makes you want to play harder. It makes you want to win more.”NOTES: Four-time Pro Bowl receiver T.Y. Hilton (ankle) is one of five players who did not practice Wednesday. The others are defensive tackle Denico Autry (shoulder), receiver Ryan Grant (toe), safety Malik Hooker (hip/foot) and defensive end Tyquan Lewis (knee). Hilton expects to play. … Tight end Eric Ebron (hip), receiver Dontrelle Inman (shoulder/finger) and Sheard (knee) were limited in practice. A look at some key fantasy questions going into Week 2:IS IT SAFE TO START PACKERS QB AARON RODGERS AGAINST THE VIKINGS?Rodgers' greatness was on full display as he engineered an amazing comeback against the Bears last Sunday. After the game he promised he'd play in Week 2 but coach Mike McCarthy has described Rodgers' situation as day to day. The Vikings gave up the third-fewest fantasy Points Per Game (FPPG) to opposing QBs last season but the bottom line is that A-Rod is matchup proof. You're starting him if he's on the field. Monitor his situation closely as game time approaches and have a backup plan in place. Potential waiver wire QBs you might consider using should Rodgers sit this week include Denver's Case Keenum, Tampa Bay's Ryan Fitzpatrick (although he has a tough matchup against the Eagles) and rookie Jets passer Sam Darnold.SHOULD YOU SELL HIGH ON STEELERS RB JAMES CONNER?That depends on your team's needs. If you're weak at running back, ride the hot hand as long as you can. Conner compiled 192 total yards and scored two TDs in Week 1 and is part of an offense designed to get the most out of its run game. DeAngelo Williams started 10 games for these same Steelers in 2015 and scored 11 TDs and recorded 40 receptions. On the other hand, while we're not sure if or when Le'Veon Bell will report to the Steelers, he is likely to report at some point this season given his contract situation. Conner's trade value plummets after that. We've witnessed Conner being traded for a standout-type receiver like JuJu Smith-Schuster. Depending on your negotiating skills you might even be able to get better value than that. RBs are extremely valuable. Perhaps you can snag Jarvis Landry or even Adam Thielen in a deal?CAN YOU START JAGUARS RB LEONARD FOURNETTE THIS WEEK?Unfortunately you're going to be following his progress very carefully this Sunday. He dealt with injuries last season and hopefully you've assembled a team with plenty of RB depth. Prepare as if he will be inactive this Sunday. Fournette's situation is especially concerning since his game starts at 4:25 p.m. Eastern. Even if he starts this week you might consider replacing Fournette in your lineup if you have viable options. Running backs that deal with lower body injuries leading up to a game are notorious for either underperforming or even worse 鈥?further injury. Jaguars RB T.J. Yeldon is obviously in play this week.WHICH UNDER-THE-RADAR RB HAS THE POTENTIAL FOR A BIG WEEK?We don't usually like recommending Patriots RBs due to coach Bill Belichick's inconsistent play calling Adam Vinatieri Jersey Stitched , but James White has an opportunity to have a busy day against the Jaguars this Sunday. The Pats are simply running out of options at RB for Week 2. They lost Jeremy Hill for the season (ACL), Rex Burkhead is in the league's concussion protocol and Sony Michel has been limited in practices. White should see plenty of targets this week as the Jaguars pass rush will likely force QB Tom Brady to get rid of the ball quickly. White is especially valuable in point-per-reception (PPR) scoring formats.SHOULD YOU START BRONCOS RB PHILLIP LINDSAY THIS WEEK?Lindsay was one of the hottest names being picked up off league waiver wires this week and has a nice matchup against the Raiders. Lindsay's a dynamic runner who can also catch the ball and he'll have a role in the Broncos offense all season; but he won't be a bell cow back. He'll likely cut into more of Royce Freeman's playing time than some fantasy players would like, but the good news is that his Week 1 performance (71 rushing yards, 4.73 yards per carry, TD reception) likely pushed Devontae Booker to the scrap heap for the near future. Lindsay is startable in PPR scoring formats, but expect RB2 or flex-level production.WHICH UNDER-THE-RADAR WR HAS THE POTENTIAL FOR A BIG WEEK?Andrew Luck threw the ball 53 times in Week 1. T.Y. Hilton is clearly Luck's top receiver, but Ryan Grant was targeted nine times and led the team with eight receptions for 59 yards. Luck's throwing arm is obviously still not at 100 percent as he averaged just 6.02 yards per pass attempt. With the Colts being unable to run the ball consistently and Luck still working on regaining arm strength, look for them to continue to utilize a short passing offense. Grant will continue to be heavily targeted this week.IS IT SAFE TO START BROWNS WR JOSH GORDON GOING FORWARD?Gordon had a modest Week 1 performance, catching one ball for 17 yards on three targets. The good news is that the one catch was for a TD. Gordon was on the field for 78 percent of the Browns' offensive snaps and he is expected to be on the field consistently this week. When he's on the field he's a force to be reckoned with. He faces a Saints defense that was torched by the Tampa Bay Bucs this week. Start him and keep him in your lineup going forward.IS DESHAUN WATSON STILL AN ELITE FANTASY QB?We ask this question because in the highly competitive National Fantasy Football Championship (NFFC) leagues, Watson was being drafted ahead of Brady and Russell Wilson and right behind Rodgers. Many fantasy players expected big things from Watson against the Patriots in Week 1. He threw for 301 yards in his first game against them last season Youth Anthony Castonzo Jersey , but apparently Bill Belichick watched last season's game tape and devised a defensive scheme that held Watson to just 176 yards passing yards. Watson is super talented but Rodgers, Brady and Wilson are proven fantasy commodities. If you invested in him, don't push the panic button just yet. Don't be the fantasy player who dropped Watson for an overachieving Fitzpatrick this week (true story). Be prepared for some inconsistency, but there should be more ups than downs.



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