Showdown Slant ::
Presented by top Showdown mind Xandamere!
Week 15 comes to a close with the Colts visiting the Saints. The game has a reasonably healthy total of 46.5, but the Saints are 9 point home favorites, so this one is expected to be something of a beatdown. Injuries are going to play a significant part of this one, as T.Y. Hilton may or may not return (word is he’s only going to be active if he’s 100%), and the Saints have some injuries to defensive linemen that make the Colts’ rushing attack a bit more attractive than it would normally be in this spot.
Let’s start there: the Colts want to run, as they have all year, ranking 29th in the NFL in passing play percentage. The Saints are 10th in DVOA against the run, but missing Davenport and Rankins (the two injured linemen) turn this into a neutral at worst matchup, which means the Colts should be able to find at least some success on the ground as long as the game remains close (that, of course, being the real trick here, as the Saints are likely to be able to score effectively). If you believe the game stays close, Mack is an attractive tournament play, albeit one with a very low floor. Nyheim Hines should see a bit more usage if the Colts fall behind early, though unlike many passing down backs, Hines’ work doesn’t swing dramatically based on game script. He almost always lands in the 3-5 target range no matter what happens in the game, and that has been the case even with the Colts’ receiving corps being completely depleted by injuries. Still, at just $3,800, there’s a strong case for Hines being able to outscore the kickers he’s priced next to.
The Colts’ passing attack obviously changes significantly if Hilton returns. I’m going to assume here that he’s out, and just note that if he’s in, everyone else bumps down a peg (Pascal goes from the WR1 to WR2, Johnson from WR2 to WR3, etc.). Pascal is currently the WR1 in this offense and while at $8k he isn’t priced like a WR1, he’s priced pretty appropriately when you consider he also isn’t as talented as most WR1s. He’s a fair play who can run reasonably effective routes but isn’t really a match for a cornerback like Marshon Lattimore, so there’s some risk here if Lattimore just sticks to him all game. Behind Pascal, Marcus Johnson has been highly effective in the last 2 games and at $5,200 is not priced for his talent, role, or volume. With Parris Campbell on IR, if Hilton is out, it’s hard to even figure out who else sees the field. Ashton Dulin and Chad Williams are next up on the depth chart and are basically minimum salary, though it’s not inconceivable that Dontrelle Inman, despite being signed this week, could see the field for a decent percentage of the snaps since he played with the Colts previously. I’ll be watching the beat reporters for news on this one, as if we get clarity on these three guys, one could emerge as a reasonable value play. In the absence of news I’d take Dulin over Williams, as he played twice the snaps last week when Campbell went down. Next up, at tight end Jack Doyle is now in a full-time role with Ebron on IR, and while he has significant athletic limitations (read: he’s slow as hell), his volume and role are secure at a reasonable price. Mo Alie-Cox is a dart throw who won’t be on the field a ton and has only seen more than one target in a game once this year.
The New Orleans run game has been borderline unplayable for most of the year. Alvin Kamara somehow only has two touchdowns on the year and has been significantly worse since coming back from his injury, while Latavius Murray is leeching enough work to subtract meaningfully from Kamara without having enough to stand on his own as a solid play. This is kind of an aggressive take, so let’s dig in a bit. Since Kamara returned to the field in Week 10, the most carries he’s seen in a game is 13, and while he’s averaging just over 8 targets per game in that span, his passing game role has become “right at the line of scrimmage” as he’s averaged just over 5 yards per reception since Week 10. Since his injury, Kamara’s longest reception is 17 yards and his longest run is 30. I’m not a doctor nor am I an NFL scout, but it looks like some of his burst is gone, as he just hasn’t been the kind of big play threat that we’re used to seeing in the past. Kamara’s floor is extremely solid due to all the pass game work and it’s certainly fair to think he’s due for positive touchdown regression, but all I can say here is I’ve been fading him all year and it has been highly profitable to do so. Poor Latavius Murray just doesn’t get enough work to be relevant and even if he scores a touchdown he’s still unlikely to end up in the optimal lineup at $5,600. He would need multiple touchdowns or some other very unlikely outcome in order to be relevant.
The Saints’ pass game is basically Michael Thomas, Jared Cook, and a pile of other random dudes who only really get involved much if the Saints get in a shootout. Thomas, of course, is perhaps the best receiver in the NFL this year, and is used as an extension of the run game with a ridiculous catch rate (albeit on mostly short passes). His volume is incredibly safe, as is his red zone role, and the Colts zone scheme just doesn’t have a way to stop him unless they try to change their entire plan to double him up (which seems highly unlikely). He’s the most expensive player on the slate and you’re paying for safety here, kind of like with Christian McCaffery. He’s a very solid play, but at $12,600 he is, at least as far as I can remember, the most expensive guy we’ve seen in showdown besides CMC. As for Cook, he has somewhat quietly put together a stretch of seven straight games with double-digit DK points. The Indianapolis scheme is weak in the middle of the field and presents a positive matchup, and at $6,800 I think Cook is a solid value. As the season has gone on, Tre’Quan Smith has been outsnapping Ted Ginn in the last several weeks, though Ginn is still drawing more target volume. Both are low volume boom/bust options with big play upside and floors of around 0. Behind those guys, Krishawn Hogan keeps seeing the field about 20% of the time or so but has yet to draw a target this year. At $200, you could bet on that changing this week as a very, very low owned MME play (good luck and godspeed to you if you go that route). Josh and Taysom Hill, the Hill twins (they’re not really twins), are the banes of my DFS existence as they always seem to score random touchdowns that suck points away from the Saints who I’m actually playing. Both are a threat to do that at any time and I’m not going to pretend that I can predict it happening (it’s worth noting that Taysom is 4th on the team in touches inside the 10 yard line, so there is a real role here with some upside). Finally, I want to note that while Drew Brees is obviously a strong play, at $12,000 he’s one of the most expensive quarterbacks we’ve ever seen in a showdown, and this is for a guy with no rushing ability who has only scored over 30 DK points once this season. He’s a solid play but he’s at least $1k too expensive.
The way this game is most likely to play out is for the Colts to try to keep the game on the ground for as long as possible, but the Saints should be able to carve up their defense as the short-area New Orleans passing attack matches up perfectly with the Colts’ zone D. At some point the Saints should pull ahead by more than one score and we’ll see the Colts have to open things up in response, and whether or not their undermanned receiving corps can keep up will determine how the game goes from there.
Some other ways the game could play out:
- Especially if Hilton misses, it’s not impossible to think that the Saints’ competent defense could just clamp down on Indy. I don’t want to make a habit of betting against really good coaches, but a Saints onslaught is certainly in the cards here.
- On the flip side, even if Hilton isn’t active (but this scenario is more likely if he is), we could always see a good old-fashioned Superdome shootout. We got one last week that almost nobody was on (on a week when I was on vacation and put my single entry as a stack on that game….sigh) and we could see one again here. There’s going to be a ton of ownership on Kamara, I expect, and a fair bit on Mack and Murray, so just betting entirely on QBs and receivers is an interesting take.
My overall favorite captain in this one is Hilton if he plays, as $8,200 is just too cheap for him in the Superdome. If Hilton misses, I’ll take Marcus Johnson as my favorite captain play. To be clear, I also love Michael Thomas, but it’s just hard to make him work as a captain and I’m also trying to avoid just picking the most obvious guy on the board.
Some groups to consider:
- At most 1 kicker
- At most 1 defense
- Pair captain receivers with their QB (consider waiving this rule for Michael Thomas, partly because he can get there more on volume than TDs and partly because it just leaves you with no salary to spend elsewhere)
- Pair captain QBs with at least 2 receivers
- At most 1 of Ginn and Smith
- At most 1 of the various Saints pipsqueak squad (the Hills, Hogan, Harris, Line)
JM’s Notes for Thursday-to-Monday Players ::
- The big pieces of news here for the run-leaning Colts are injuries to Marcus Davenport and Sheldon Rankins on the Saints defensive line, as these injuries will have potential to open up pathways to production from Marlon Mack. Of course, Mack’s improved matchup also needs to be considered against this game environment as a whole, where the Saints shouldn’t have too much trouble moving the ball against the Colts’ zone-heavy defense, and where the Colts’ banged-up, short-area passing attack will have a difficult time keeping pace.
- The Saints side of the ball also has to take into account the injuries and recent ineffectiveness of the Colts offense, as the Saints can score points in any spot, but they are only likely to get ultra-aggressive – and are only likely to heavily involve ancillary pieces – if the Colts are able to keep pace. The likeliest scenario in this spot, then, has Michael Thomas landing in roughly his typical range of usage and production, while Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray round out the heavy usage pieces. These plays should be able to reach their typical range of production regardless of game flow (making Thomas a Tier 1 option and the running backs deeper Tier 3 plays), with the unlikely development of a more competitive game environment boosting ceiling from there. Behind these pieces, Ted Ginn and Tre’Quan Smith remain merely hope and pray options, while Jared Cook will remain a clear upside piece at the tight end position if he gets cleared in time for this game, and where Cook’s usage will largely flow to the main pieces of this offense if Cook remains sidelined.
- Mack remains a thin play for the Colts with the Saints likely to control this game and limit rushing volume for Indy, though his big play upside, locked in role, and improved matchup at least keep him on the fringes of the large slate conversation.
- The Saints have been hit for a few big games through the air this year, but for the most part they have been a lockdown unit, while the Colts at this point are a fairly vanilla, short-area-focused offense that needs things to really go right in tougher matchups in order for production to emerge. No one on this side of the ball stands out on the large slate, but if choosing to go here, Zach Pascal is a fair bet for around seven or eight targets, while Jack Doyle has potential to see heavy involvement as well. With Parris Campbell now on injured reserve (R.I.P.), Marcus Johnson is left behind as the Colts’ primary big play threat. He is not a piece that the Colts are actively scheming work to, but they may need him to step up in this game, and they may take a couple more downfield shots to him as plays break down, keeping him on the outer edges of the large-slate, Week 15 discussion.