Game Overview ::
By HILOW >>
- Anthony Richardson was a full participant in practice Wednesday and should make his return to the starting lineup after missing one game with a concussion.
- Tyler Higbee (Achilles) was listed as a ‘DNP’ on the Rams’ estimated practice report Wednesday – Los Angeles played on Monday night, meaning their first full practice will come Thursday.
- Michael Pittman should continue to see double-digit looks week in and week out, but his 5.9 aDOT and 6.8 yards per target leave little in the way of pure upside at his cost.
- The Colts have been most susceptible to perimeter wide receivers but have run zone coverage at one of the highest rates in the league – the wide receiver that has seen the most targets against zone coverage this season is none other than Puka Nacua.
How los angeles Will Try To Win ::
The Rams rank 14th in seconds per play (27.9) and are sixth in pass rate over expectation (PROE) through three weeks. Los Angeles has battled through injuries along its offensive line and varied personnel groupings up front, which has led to an underperforming offensive line to this point in the season. Even so, head coach Sean McVay continues to design and operate an offense that places continued stress on opposing defenses in multiple areas of the field via layered route concepts designed to get his playmakers in space with the ball in their hands. Furthermore, quarterback Matthew Stafford has experienced a relative career resurgence after missing portions of the 2022 season with a back/neck injury, currently ranking fourth in pass yards, second in intended air yards (IAY), third in completed air yards (CAY) per completion, and eighth in intended air yards per pass attempt (IAY/PA). He also somewhat quietly ranks second in total pass attempts through three games, behind only Kirk Cousins. This team should continue slinging the rock in their hunt to prove the doubters wrong this season.
Following the doghousing and subsequent trade of Cam Akers, Kyren Williams has played 95 percent and 100 percent of the team’s offensive snaps out of the backfield. Sean McVay noted this week that the insane workload from Williams is likely unsustainable, but he and the team have expressed little optimism surrounding backups Ronnie Rivers and Royce Freeman to this point in the season. The Colts have allowed opponents to average the third highest rush rate over expectation through three games, but it would take a large leap of faith to project McVay to tilt to a more run-heavy approach based on previous tendencies. Even so, a valid expectation of 14-16 carries and a handful of targets puts Williams in the top seven or eight in expected workload this week, in what should be viewed as a neutral-to-positive spot.
As mentioned above, the Colts have run some of the highest rates of zone coverage found in the league this year, and Nacua has been a hit against zone for these Rams. That should persist moving forward, at least until Cooper Kupp returns to the lineup from his hamstring injury. Now consider that the Bengals went into Week 3 running top-10 rates of man coverage and it begins to make sense why we saw Nacua’s target totals dip from his historic pace. This matchup presents a nice opportunity for those targets to spike once more. The Rams shifted to an offense based almost entirely from 11-personnel after experimenting with inflated rates of 12-personnel in Week 1. That has left an extremely concentrated pass offense amongst Nacua, Tutu Atwell, and Higbee, with Van Jefferson running a lot of empty routes as the safety manipulator of the offense and Williams chipping in with 17 targets over the previous two games. We touched on Stafford’s relative resurgence above, with the lone missing piece to his fantasy puzzle being touchdowns to this point in the season. At some point, that shortcoming is likely to correct fast and hard, which might require Kupp’s return to the roster (or it might not, and nobody will be stacking up Stafford). Even with the up and down performance from the offensive line, Higbee has run the second-most routes amongst tight ends this season and carries a healthy-for-a-tight-end 7.2 aDOT. The offense has simply been so hyper-focused on getting Nacua in space against zone coverage that his fantasy expectations take a slight hit in this spot.