NFL Grind Down Week 2: Colts vs. Titans

Vegas Overview

IND @ TEN Team Spread Total Implied Moneyline
TEN -3 44 23.5 -168
IND 3 44 20.5 146

Betting Quick Take: This is one of those AFC South divisional games that could be tough to watch if you aren’t a fan of the Colts or Titans. Both teams want to run the ball and they both have quarterbacks that are best suited in the game manager type of role. While the Colts lost a key piece in Andrew Luck, they still have one of the best offensive lines in football and a good offensive mind leading the way in Frank Reich. I wasn’t nearly as down on the Colts heading into the season and they nearly pulled off the upset last week against the Chargers. The Titans are coming off of a huge upset against the Browns in Cleveland and could naturally have a let-down performance at home in a game that many expect them to win. I wish the line was 3 1/2 points, but I will still take the Colts at +3. As for the total, 44 points isn’t a lot in this day and age, but I am expecting a drag-it-out type of game. I’ll take the under.

Colts +3 / Under 44
Confidence Level: 7 out of 10

Injury Situations

Player Team Pos Status Part Impact
Devin Funchess IND WR O Collarbone 8

Injuries to Monitor:

Indianapolis — We don’t have many injuries to break down for this game, but one significant one in Devin Funchess. He fractured his collarbone and will be out for the foreseeable future. With Luck retiring, this is a much different passing attack than the one we were expecting a month ago. Paris Campbell and Deon Cain should both see an uptick in snaps and target share, but this is still an uninspiring passing attack.

Tennessee — For the first time in what feels like ages, the Titans are at full strength.

Other News and Notes: The game as a whole doesn’t feature a ton of fantasy appeal, but this does feel like the classic let-down spot for the Titans. After everyone hyped up the Browns all offseason, the Titans went into Cleveland and pulled off the upset. Everyone is down on the Colts, but they have a game manager at quarterback and one of the best offensive lines in all of football.

Matchup Factors, Team Identity Metrics, and Game Flow Expectations

Expected Game Pace and Tempo: We are only dealing with a one-week sample when it comes to pace, so I’m hesitant to trust these numbers until we get a larger sample size. The Titans and Colts were both ranked inside the top 20 in seconds per play for Week 1, but that doesn’t tell the story of how we should expect this week’s game to play out. With Luck retired, the Colts want to limit the passing attempts of Jacoby Brissett and lean heavily on their ground game. The Titans have a similar game plan, especially if we expect them to be playing with a lead. Both teams were ranked inside the top eight in rush percentage for Week 1 and that’s a trend that I expect to continue moving forward. We can expect a slow-paced, low-scoring game between these division rivals.

Tennessee Titans Projections Breakdown

Team Projections

QB Team Proj Rank ProjAtt ProjYds Pts/$ FD Pts/$ DK Pts/$ Y Pts/$ FDFT
Marcus Mariota TEN 16.16 QB25 34.80 243.60 Rank 28 Rank 8 Rank 14 Rank 24
RB Team Proj Rank ProjRu% ProjTar% Pts/$ FD Pts/$ DK Pts/$ Y Pts/$ FD
Derrick Henry TEN 15.06 RB13 69% 8% Rank 16 Rank 12 Rank 45 Rank 11
Dion Lewis TEN 9.13 RB35 21% 12% Rank 36 Rank 28 Rank 25 Rank 18
WR/TE Team Proj Rank ProjTar% ProjTar Pts/$ FD Pts/$ DK Pts/$ Y Pts/$ FD
Corey Davis TEN 10.78 WR49 19% 6.61 Rank 44 Rank 32 Rank 29 Rank 25
A.J. Brown TEN 9.48 WR63 17% 5.92 Rank 58 Rank 38 Rank 57 Rank 52
Tajae Sharpe TEN 2.13 WR129 4% 1.39 Rank 113 Rank 114 Rank 113 Rank 114
Adam Humphries TEN 9.59 WR62 17% 5.92 Rank 37 Rank 50 Rank 6 Rank 48
Delanie Walker TEN 9.54 TE11 16% 5.57 Rank 12 Rank 6 Rank 24 Rank 9

IND 18-19 Fpts Allowed: QB Rank 19/RB Rank 12/WR Rank 29/TE Rank 3

Rushing Opportunity Metrics of Note:
Snap Share: Henry 59%, Lewis 3
Rushing Attempts: Henry 19, Lewis 4
Targets: Henry 2, Lewis 43%

Rushing Efficiency Metrics of Note:
Henry’s YAC: 36
Indy’s Run DVOA in 2018: 4th

Half of the battle with the Titans’ backfield is trying to predict the script of each game. The Titans want to run the ball with Derrick Henry, but Dion Lewis is clearly the better pass-catching back of the two. I’m always hesitant to target running backs that need a particular game script to go their way, unless it’s very obvious as to how the game will play out. The Titans are favored at home against the Colts, but we are dealing with a three-point spread. For cash games and single-entry tournaments, I don’t see the need to play Henry. However, in large-field tournaments like the Millionaire Maker and the Sunday Million, he offers a ceiling that very few running backs possess.

If we look back at last season, Henry racked up 408 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns in Weeks 14 and 15 combined. The Titans want to give him 20 carries a game and that could certainly happen this week against the Colts. It’s not a great matchup by any means, as Indianapolis had the fourth best DVOA against running backs last season and are ranked 12th in schedule adjusted fantasy points allowed over the last two seasons combined. While Henry won’t be heavily involved in the passing game, he did run a route on 33% of Mariota’s drop backs in Week 1 and he should see all of the goal line work this week against the Colts. While he offers large-field tournament appeal, he wouldn’t start to crack my player pool until the fifth lineup or so.

Passing Game Opportunity Metrics of Note:
Snaps: Davis 74%, Sharpe 49%, Brown 43%, Humphries 36%, Walker 48%
Target Share: Davis 13%, Sharpe 8%, Brown 17%, Humphries 4%, Walker 25%

Passing Game Efficiency Metrics of Note:
Indy’s Pass DVOA in 2018: 20th
Indy’s DVOA vs. TE in 2018: 29th

Marcus Mariota used to be a dual-threat quarterback that offered a high floor thanks to his rushing ability. We haven’t seen that as much over the last couple of seasons and it hasn’t helped that the Titans have turned into a run-first offense. While a high-volume passing attack wasn’t needed last week against the Browns, Mariota only aired it out 24 times. He did run the ball three times for 24 yards, but I want to see him sustain that rushing production before I rely on it. He certainly has more weapons at his disposal this season, but there are safer quarterback plays available this week and certainly ones with higher ceilings than Mariota.

A.J. Brown was the talk of Week 1 in Tennessee, as he hauled in 3-of-4 targets for 100 yards in his NFL debut. While he will be a downfield threat all season, there are two reasons why we shouldn’t buy into the hype just yet. The first is that he only played 43% of the snaps last week against the Browns. That number needs to come up before we start considering him on a weekly basis. The second is that Corey Davis was shadowed by Denzel Ward, who established himself as one of the top coverage corners in 2018. Make no mistake about it, Davis is still the number one receiver in this offense. He draws a softer matchup this week against the Colts and could easily command 20%+ of Mariota’s targets. We should be careful to overreact after each week and Davis is in a classic buy-low spot heading into Week 2.

If Mariota is going to lock in on any one receiver, it will likely be Davis. However, Adam Humphries has a target share projection of 17% and might be the best route of attacking this Colts’ defense. They want to limit the big plays and force you to throw the ball over the middle. This is exactly what the Chargers did with Keenan Allen last week, who racked up 123 yards and a touchdown. Obviously, Humphries doesn’t have the same talent level or target share as Allen, but a case can certainly be made to play him in large-field tournaments. Delanie Walker appears to be fully recovered from his injury, as he ran a route on 67% of Mariota’s drop backs and caught two touchdowns last week against the Browns. He’s firmly in play once again, as the Colts were ranked 29th in DVOA against tight ends last season.

Team Quick Summary: While I don’t have much interest in Mariota this week, Davis is an intriguing buy-low candidate. He draws a much better cornerback matchup this week and should garner very little ownership this week. Humphries might crack my player pool once I get into the 20th lineup or so, as the Colts can be beat over the middle. Walker has one of the juiciest matchups of any tight end and is still only $3,500 on DraftKings. Henry offers the highest ceiling of any player for the Titans and has that tournament-winning upside that we are often looking for at running back.

Indianapolis Colts Projections Breakdown

Team Projections

QB Team Proj Rank ProjAtt ProjYds Pts/$ FD Pts/$ DK Pts/$ Y Pts/$ FDFT
Jacoby Brissett IND 16.37 QB24 37.20 242.77 Rank 1 Rank 6 Rank 13 Rank 12
RB Team Proj Rank ProjRu% ProjTar% Pts/$ FD Pts/$ DK Pts/$ Y Pts/$ FDFT
Marlon Mack IND 14.08 RB16 74% 7% Rank 19 Rank 22 Rank 43 Rank 21
Nyheim Hines IND 5.85 RB59 12% 8% Rank 55 Rank 54 Rank 51 Rank 53
WR/TE Team Proj Rank ProjTar% ProjTar Pts/$ FD Pts/$ DK Pts/$ Y Pts/$ FD
T.Y. Hilton IND 15.13 WR14 25% 9.30 Rank 31 Rank 51 Rank 46 Rank 60
Deon Cain IND 10.75 WR50 19% 7.07 Rank 5 Rank 1 Rank 14 Rank 1
Parris Campbell IND 8.3 WR75 14% 5.02 Rank 64 Rank 48 Rank 18 Rank 63
Jack Doyle IND 4.94 TE33 8% 2.98 Rank 31 Rank 28 Rank 34 Rank 29
Eric Ebron IND 7.98 TE19 13% 4.84 Rank 20 Rank 23 Rank 11 Rank 21

TEN 18-19 Fpts Allowed: QB Rank 31/RB Rank 32/WR Rank 21/TE Rank 30

Rushing Opportunity Metrics of Note:
Snap Share: Mack 76%
Targets: Mack 0

Rushing Efficiency Metrics of Note:
YAC: Mack 90 (led all running backs in Week 1)
Tennessee’s Run DVOA in 2018: 15th

In general, this isn’t the best game environment for fantasy production. We have two teams that want to run the ball in a game that features a total of 44 points. It’s not exactly the type of situation we are looking to load up on. With that said, there is still some fantasy goodness to be had in these backfields. Marlon Mack finished the 2018 season on a high note and picked up right where he left off in Week 1. Behind what should be a top five offensive line, Mack racked up 174 rushing yards on 25 carries. His outing looks even more impressive when you consider the fact that the Colts were playing from behind and that they were facing a talented Chargers’ front seven. This is promising for his outlook moving forward because he should be heavily involved regardless of game script.

While Mack should get a full workload of carries against the Titans, the fact that he didn’t receive a single target last week is a concern. I’m not worried about his snap count in Week 2, but we like running backs that are involved in the passing game, especially on full PPR sites like DraftKings. We can look at this in one of two ways — you can make the case to fade him as a road underdog or you can look to target Mack at low ownership. We never quite know how these games are going to play out and the spread is set at only three points. Mack led all running backs in Week 1 with 90 yards after contact and should see a healthy dose of rushing attempts again in Week 2.

Passing Game Opportunity Metrics of Note:
Snaps: Hilton 89%, Pascal 37%, Campbell 29%, Cain 17%, Doyle 68%, Doyle 40%
Target Share: Hilton 33%, Campbell 4%, Cain 7%, Doyle 7%, Ebron 10%

Passing Game Efficiency Metrics of Note:
Tennessee’s Pass DVOA in 2018: 21st
Tennessee’s DVOA vs. TE: 11th

Jacoby Brissett can be a good game manager in the right system and that’s exactly what I expect from him under head coach Frank Reich. He’ll rarely have appeal in DFS unless he’s playing in showdown or in a very short slate because quarterback is arguably the deepest position week-to-week. He’s rating out as a strong value in our projections on FanDuel, but this isn’t a week where we are starved for value. When there are other positions to spend down at, I look for quarterbacks that offer a high floor and a high ceiling. On the road against a capable Titans’ defense, I’m not sure Brissett offers much of a floor or a ceiling. Again, I’m higher on the Colts than most, but not when it comes to their passing game.

T.Y. Hilton shocked the masses last week. He not only had a big game without Luck, but he accomplished the feat outdoors. He caught 8-of-9 targets for 87 yards and two touchdowns against the Chargers. After Funchess broke his collarbone, many will expect a larger share of the targets to go Hilton’s way. Personally, I see last week’s outing as more of an outlier than something we can expect moving forward. I still buy into Hilton’s indoor/outdoor splits and opposing defenses will focus all of their attention on him moving forward. I see the biggest boosts with Funchess out going to Paris Campbell and Deon Cain. Of the two, Cain is more of the big playmaker and he’s priced at the stone minimum on DraftKings ($3,000). We currently have him with the second highest target share projection (19%) for Week 2.

As long as Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle are both healthy, they will continue to cut into each other’s fantasy production. In Week 1 against the Chargers, Ebron ran 16 routes and saw three targets, while Doyle ran 13 routes and saw two targets. The tight end position feels a bit deeper as a whole this season and we have no shortage of options in Week 2’s main slate.

Team Quick Summary: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — the Colts are a run-first offense with very few weapons in the passing game outside of Hilton. Devin Funchess being out could open up targets in the offense, it could also lead to more double teams thrown Hilton’s way. I’m not particularly high on this low-volume passing attack, but will take a few dart throws at Cain in tournaments. Mack is the odds-on favorite to be the most impactful fantasy option from the Colts and is worth a look in tournaments.

DFS Recommendations

Optimal DFS Plays: None

Leverage Plays: Derrick Henry, Corey Davis, Delanie Walker, Marlon Mack, Deon Cain

Secondary Plays: T.Y. Hilton, Paris Campbell

About the Author

  • Derek Farnsworth (Notorious)

  • Derek Farnsworth, aka Notorious, is one of the most recognizable names and faces in all of DFS, thanks in large part to the great advice he gives on a daily basis in RotoGrinders.com’s Grind Down for NBA and MLB as well as the First Look column that gives a preview of the day’s games from a DFS perspective. Before joining the RotoGrinders team, Derek received a Masters Degree from the University of Utah. When he’s not busy providing content, he’s dominating the industry as evidenced by his consistent top rankings in multiple sports. Farnsworth provides expert analysis for RotoGrinders Premium members on a daily basis during the NBA season and has also been nominated for five different Fantasy Sports Writer’s Association (FSWA) awards.

    Interview after $100,000 Win

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