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Thursday Night Football preview: What to expect fantasy-wise from Colts at Titans

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Fantasy preview of Thursday Night Football.

Indianapolis Colts v Detroit Lions Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

The Indianapolis Colts head to Tennessee to take on the division rival Titans for rights to first place in the AFC South on Thursday Night Football.

Colts

Philip Rivers heads to Tennessee as a potential, if shaky, streaming options against a Titans’ defense that’s allowing 2.4 passing touchdowns per game to opposing signal callers (tied for most in the NFL). Rivers1.6% Completion Percentage Above Percentage shows that he’s still got it to some degree, completing a small portion of passes that the average quarterback routinely fails to make. He’s a QB2.

Blackhole target vacuum T.Y. Hilton is set to return from his groin injury, complicating the prognostication of the team’s target dispersal. As evidenced by snap share numbers, Zach Pascal was steadily running as the No. 2 WR before Hilton got injured in Week 8, with Marcus Johnson hot on his tail as the No. 3. Rookie Michael Pittman Jr. filled out the three-wide receiver sets last week with Hilton riding the pine.

Week 10’s potential wide receiver outlook: T.Y. Hilton has proven that at this point, his body has betrayed him. Outside of a contrarian mindset in DFS, Hilton should be avoided in this contest.

As shown on the inimitable Josh Hermsmeyer’s airyards.com, Marcus Johnson’s commanding lead in average depth of target over the last four games—15.6 yards as compared to second-in-aDot Michael Pittman Jr.’s 13.6 average—gives Johnson high-potential upside as the team’s downfield threat. With his role unaffected by Hilton’s return and the Titans’ allowing the 3rd-most .5PPR points to opposing wideouts (37.4), Johnson is a safe plug-and-play flex option this week.

The Colts’ target market share over the past four games has shown a healthy dispersal, with no pass catcher clearing 16%. Zach Pascal, who’s body is still functioning, has accumulated a 14% target market share (3rd-highest on the team) which makes him an intriguing flex play as the Titans are allowing the 2nd-most receptions per game (18.4) to his position.

Michael Pittman Jr., likely to be relegated to relief duty, is just a boom/bust flex option in an albeit great match-up.

Although tight end Mo Alie-Cox provides a unique receiving presence with his towering stature and elite athleticism, the team clearly prefers to use Trey Burton as an offensive weapon as evidenced by their compared target distribution and the fact that in Week’s 6 and 8, the Colts schemed up carries for Burton from one and two-yards out. He found pay-dirt on both carries. Burton is a high-end TE2. MAC should be avoided.

Tight end Jack Doyle is out with a concussion.

Running back snap shares and combined touches over the last two weeks, since the Colts’ Week 7 bye:

  • Jonathan Taylor: 34% and 31%, 12 touches and eight touches
  • Jordan Wilkins: 51% and 34%, 21 touches and 13 touches
  • Nyheim Hines: 21% and 34%, eight touches and four touches

Tennessee’s front-seven has been vulnerable to opposing backfields (8th-most .5PPR PPG at 22.2), especially in the touchdown department. Their 0.9 rushing touchdowns allowed are tied for the 8th-most in the league and their 0.5 receiving scores are 2nd. The overall haplessness of the box defenders should allow Taylor to produce on the back-end RB2/flex fringe while also allowing volume-favorite Wilkins to register solid flex numbers as well. Although Taylor and Wilkins split red zone carries in Week 8, Taylor took all three of the team’s red zone rushing attempts in Week 9, making him a decent bet for a touchdown while Wilkins works it between the 20s.

Hines, meanwhile could see an elevated passing game volume as the powerful Titans’ offensive should push the pace against the Colts in ways that other foes couldn’t. Hines’s receiving prowess could also lead to some passing game red zone work, which sets up nicely given Tennessee’s touchdown-woes against pass catching backs. He’s a flex option as well.

Titans

When viewing raw statistics, quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s Week 10 date with Indy can be a bit misleading. Although the Colts have surrendered the 2nd-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing signal callers, said signal callers include the likes of Sam Darnold, Nick Foles, Baker Mayfield, Joe Burrow (in just his sixth NFL game), Matthew Stafford (in a game where Kenny Golladay exited with a hip injury), and a struggling Lamar Jackson. The high-scoring Titans offense (29.0 PPG, 7th-most in the league) should have no issue moving the ball and putting up points against a nominally tough Colts’ defense. Tannehill retains right to Top 12 status at the position for Week 10.

As evidenced in this screenshot by 4for4’s John Paulsen, second-year receiver A.J. Brown is waging unholy conquest on opposing secondaries this year. Brown is a no-brainer WR1, regardless of the opponent.

Corey Davisbox score roller-coaster ability keeps him locked firmly in the very-high-ceiling, very-low-floor flex rankings on a weekly basis. The fact that slot receiver Adam Humphries was unable to clear the league’s concussion protocol for tonight’s game bodes well for Davis’ high-ceiling potential though.

Cameron Batson and Kalif Raymond will likely split slot route responsibilities with Humphries shelved but tight ends Jonnu Smith and Anthony Firkser are the men who stand to benefit the most. Tight ends have, at times, found themselves running free against Indy’s tight end coverage, as evidenced by the target totals of Austin Hooper, T.J. Hockenson, and the Baltimore duo. Jonnu Smith is a locked-in TE1. Firkser is a DFS-only contrarian option.

Derrick Henry has totaled 192 touches this season—most at the running back position—an impressive feat, given that the team has already had their bye week (Week 4). Despite the fact that Indianapolis has kept opposing backfields mostly contained, Henry remains a locked-in RB1 with 20+ touches a guaranteed occurrence.

The Titans signed Achilles-derailed running back D’Onta Foreman two weeks ago with backup RB Darrynton Evans going on IR (hamstring). Jeremy McNichols remains the clear-cut No. 2 back but neither he, nor Foreman, offer more than pure handcuff value.