XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
We get another game in Germany with the Colts and the Patriots traveling overseas. I wonder what Europeans think of American football since we seem to keep sending pretty terrible games over there . . . then again, Europeans are used to watching sports where two teams just run back and forth for an hour with nobody able to score. Maybe they like it. I don’t know. Anyhow, there’s money to be made here. We have a 43 point Vegas total with Indy favored by 1.5, so essentially a pick’em.
On the Indy side, Jonathan Taylor looks back to bell cow status. Since returning, his snap counts look like 15% → 42% → 50% → 61% → 74%. He saw 23 opportunities last week, an elite number, but just wasn’t able to find any room to run because the Colts run-blocking is #bad and the Panthers sold out to stop the run in the second half. But, volume and talent are clearly on his Taylor’s side, with the matchup being fairly neutral (Pats are not an especially good defense, but that’s offset by the Colts being not an especially good offense). Taylor probably has the highest floor of any skill position player, but there are others who can contend with him for ceiling. Zack Moss at $8,800 is a wildly contrarian play as his snaps have plummeted (just 21% last week with seven carries and no passing game work). He would need JT to get hurt or some wild touchdown variance (he’d probably need two) in order to be optimal.
The Colts passing game is messy this week because rookie Josh Downs, who has quickly established himself as a key piece of the offense, is questionable with a knee injury. Downs played through a knee injury (I’m assuming the same one) last week but only played 20% of the snaps before departing. As of today (Thursday), he has not practiced, so I think it’s highly unlikely that he plays. That leaves Michael Pittman, Alec Pierce, Isaiah McKenzie, and probably Juwann Winfree at wide receiver (and they’ll probably call up a practice squad guy as well). Pittman is, obviously, a strong choice and one of the best skill position options in this game. Averaging 8.6 targets per game, he has scored double-digit Draftkings points in all but one game this season. He also has a whopping 15 targets inside the red zone (next on the team is Downs with just seven), tied for 2nd in the NFL with Ja’Marr Chase and behind only Davante Adams. Those are some good names to be hanging around. Pittman’s role is huge and Downs’ absence will only help him. He’s an awesome play. Pierce, on the other hand, is a tough guy to evaluate. He’s played the second most snaps on the team and over 90% of the snaps in all but one game, but he only has 32 targets on the season. As the primary deep threat receiver, his role is always going to be volatile, but we have only seen “bust” without any “boom” yet. Could Downs missing help get him going? Maybe, but he only saw two targets last week when Downs left early. He’s cheap, and he does have ceiling if he connects on a long one, but the floor is zero. McKenzie, on the other hand, has had almost no role in the offense until last week when he stepped in after Downs left, playing 44% of the snaps and catching two of three targets. He’s always been reasonably talented and makes for a solid value option at just $2,000. Winfree is a punt play.
At tight end, the Colts have devolved into a 3-way split between Kylen Granson, Drew Ogletree, and Mo Alie-Cox. Granson started the season in the clear lead, but the others have started really eating into his role. Ogletree left last week’s game early with a foot injury and has yet to practice, so if he misses that condenses things here (as well as adding Will Mallory as a thin punt option). If Ogletree plays, all of these guys are thin with Granson being the best on-paper play, then Ogletree, then Alie-Cox. If Ogletree misses, Granson becomes a confident value play while Alie-Cox moves from “really thin punt” to “still pretty thin but more viable than previously.”