The Indianapolis Colts vs. Jacksonville Jaguars has never been one of the NFL's marquee matchups. But at least there was a time when the outcome was in doubt.
While the new-look Colts have won three in a row this fall, the struggling Jaguars are in the midst of a five-game losing skid that would surely be six if not for a Week 6 bye week. Rather than the matchup, the focus will be on Andrew Luck and the surprising feel-good story that is the 2012 Colts.
But as long as fantasy football exists, every NFL regular-season game will have purpose.
Let's take a look at some players who will become fantasy studs on Thursday Night Football.
T.Y. Hilton, WR
The Colts' third-round draft pick is coming off a game against the Miami Dolphins in Week 9 in which he caught a season-best six passes for 102 yards and a score. Big name or not, that's a starter-worthy effort.
Although Miami's secondary is ranked among the worst in football this year, Jacksonville's isn't much better, ranking 25th in terms of yards allowed. Therefore you can expect Andrew Luck to continue his pattern of targeting Hilton when Reggie Wayne isn't available. The 5'9" wideout was targeted 11 times last week against the Dolphins.
Hilton is only owned in a little more than 2.5 percent of all ESPN fantasy leagues, which means that he should be an easy pickup before kickoff on Thursday night.
Justin Blackmon, WR
Justin Blackmon recorded his first career NFL touchdown reception last week against the Detroit Lions, and now he can finally begin to breathe a little.
He and the Jags will be at home again in Week 10, were he's caught 14 passes in his last three appearances for Jacksonville. Also good news for fantasy owners, Blackmon is becoming more of a regular target in the passing game.
The rookie is averaging a shade under eight targets per game over the course of Jacksonville's five-game losing streak this fall. With the Jags' rushing attack nonexistent because of the injury to Maurice Jones-Drew, expect Blackmon to make a few receptions and ultimately find his way into the end zone for the second straight week on Thursday night.
Vick Ballard, RB
Another Colts rookie, fifth-round draft pick Vick Ballard looks poised for a stellar outing on Thursday night. Not only will the former Mississippi State Bulldog see more carries with Donald Brown recovering from hip and knee injuries, but Jacksonville's defense ranks just 27th in the NFL defending the run.
Although Ballard hasn't scored a rushing touchdown this season, it will only be a matter of time before he does considering that he rushed for 60 yards on 16 carries against the league's No. 3-ranked rush defense in Week 9.
There's certainly a lot to love about Ballard's game, as he's improved dramatically over the Colts' first eight games in 2012.
With the Jags' run defense giving up more than 137 yards on the ground per game this fall, and Ballard beginning to hit his stride, expect another mighty performance from this under-the-radar rookie.
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