Fantasy Football Week 10: Indianapolis Colts vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
One of the new wrinkles set up for 2012 is that every week of the season two teams are called upon to cram a week's worth of planning into three short days so they can suit up and play on Thursday night.
My guess is that most of the players/coaches don't like it, but it certainly spices up the week for the majority of fans—especially those who play fantasy football.
Not every owner will have a player from the game on their team, but there are usually a few fantasy-relevant players that might be going against you, so every game is worth reading up on.
With that in mind, here is the analysis of each of those players and what they might do for (or against) your fantasy team this Thursday night.
Quarterback: Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck is really going to be something special, isn’t he?
In the first eight games of this career, Luck already has four 300-yard games, four multiple-TD games, five wins for a team that had only two all of last season and now a rookie record for passing yards in a game after lighting up the Miami Dolphins for 433 yards last week.
The most important stat, however, is that he currently sits in the seven-slot for most fantasy points per game in the league—right behind the guy he replaced this year, Mr. Peyton Manning.
This Thursday night, Luck travels down to Florida for a rematch with a Jaguars team that he torched for 313 yards and two TDs en route to the most fantasy points scored against them all season.
The kid is starting to get a real good feel for things right now.
He’s cut down on his mistakes over the last three weeks (one INT compared to seven in his first five games) while also increasing his completion percentage at the same time.
Jacksonville’s weak spot on defense is more versus the run than against the pass, but Indy’s lack of a strong running game should give Luck the chance to put up low-end QB1 fantasy numbers.
Quarterback: Jacksonville Jaguars
Gabbert has put up a couple of pretty nice games in a row now, despite the fact that the Jaguars lost them both.
At this point, however, whether the team wins or loses, I still feel kind of bad for Jacksonville fans as it seems they’ll have to deal with Blaine as their QB for at least the next couple of years.
When you draft a 6’4”, 233-pound quarterback with the 10th pick in the first round, you kind of have to stick with him at least until his rookie contract runs out. Otherwise, you look incompetent for taking him in the first place.
That being said, even though his team is 1-7, Gabbert DOES look like he’s getting better—though he still sits in the 32-slot for fantasy points per game.
The Colts pass D can certainly be scored upon if a quarterback is truly needed to do so, but their rush defense is even worse, so teams usually just try to beat them with the run.
Whatever the case, the only way you’re starting Gabbert on your fantasy team this week is if you are in a 12- or 14-team, two-QB league. Period.
Running Backs: Indianapolis Colts
Ballard has 272 total yards and a touchdown over the last three weeks now and could be in line for even more touches this Thursday night.
If Donald Brown can’t make it back by game-time, then Ballard will get the lion’s share of touches and should be able to produce a healthy fantasy stat-line for his owners.
Last week he had 98 total yards against a tough Miami defense, so there’s no doubt the rookie is starting to feel more confident in the offense.
The fact that he can run downhill and catch the ball out of the backfield makes him a viable fantasy threat for owners in Week 10, especially since he’ll likely receive the majority of the touches with Donald Brown being at less than 100 percent.
Can he turn in RB2 fantasy stats for your team this week? Yes, he can.
The Jags allow the fourth-most fantasy points per game to running backs this season and gave up a combined 17.7 to Colts RBs back in Week 3.
Though I tentatively expect Brown to suit up this Thursday night (despite being listed as questionable, I’m not expecting much from him if he does.
The former first-round pick came out of the Week 9 game against the Dolphins after just one reception for nine yards and no carries, though it’s a bit unknown as to which injury actually pulled him out of the game.
Whether it was his knee or hip doesn’t really matter, though, because it looks like Vick Ballard is here to stay as at least a timeshare recipient out of the Colts backfield.
It would be a terrific matchup for Brown if he was healthy enough to carry the load, but he’s not.
The most he should be played as this week—if active—is as a flex player in deeper leagues.
Carter has put in some decent work over the last four weeks, but with just over six touches a game in that span, you can’t really think of him as a fantasy consideration.
Both Brown and Ballard would have to be in street clothes for him to even be considered as a pickup.
Running Backs: Jacksonville Jaguars
Even with two starts and the majority of action over the last three weeks, Rashad Jennings is STILL outside of the top-50 fantasy running backs in total points.
What Jennings has NOT been able to do with his fortunate opportunity of late shows more about how good Maurice Jones-Drew really is as opposed to Jennings overall worth.
When your quarterback wouldn’t scare a Division I college secondary, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the rest of the defense is going to play the run. Jennings simply doesn’t have the top-flight skills to beat eight or nine guys in the box on a regular basis like MJD does.
It’s nothing against his talent, because he IS talented—it’s just that MJD is that amazing of an RB.
The Colts can be torn to pieces running the ball, but with the Jags being so inept in the passing game, it will be tougher for Jennings than other RBs as he’ll likely see a stacked box all game long (as usual).
Still, after MJD went off for 177 yards and a TD against Indy back in Week 3, the Jags obviously know a thing or two about beating them on the ground, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see Rashad have his game of the year this Thursday.
I wouldn’t count on it because hey, he’s no MJD; but I’d still take the chance on him as a low-end RB2 with upside this week, especially if I had Trent Richardson or Alfred Morris on a bye.
The Jaguars sorely need him on the field, but he won’t be back for this game as he’s already been ruled out for Jacksonville’s Week 10 showdown with the Colts.
He’s also been said to be questionable for Week 11, so hang tight on the little fireplug as he should be back on the field soon for his fantasy owners.
Wide Receivers: Indianapolis Colts
So even though Wayne was targeted fewer than 10 times (9) for just the second time this season, he was still able to catch seven balls for 78 yards and a touchdown last week against a porous Miami Dolphins secondary.
With Andrew Luck throwing for 433 yards in the game, you probably would have expected better numbers from a top-10 fantasy wide receiver, but it certainly wasn’t a poor showing for his owners.
However, this week has a chance to be a lot better for Reggie with the Jaguars pass D being pretty well decimated right now and susceptible to the big game as is.
Most of Reggie’s touchdowns come at home, but this Thursday night is looking like it could be the exception to the norm.
When these two teams faced off back in Week 3, Wayne caught eight of his 15 targets for 88 yards, but ended up with just a mediocre fantasy stat line as he was kept out of the end zone in the Jaguars lone win of the season.
With Andrew Luck in a groove right now, I expect Wayne to come out much better in this one and should be worthy of fantasy numbers somewhere in the mid- to low-end WR1 range.
Not that I didn’t expect it to ever happen again, but I think some sort of a party is in order for Donnie Avery after putting up his second 100-yard game of the 2012 season.
As shocking as it may be to hear, Avery is actually 18th in targets this season—and that’s with him already having his bye week.
To put that in perspective, he’s been targeted more than Demaryius Thomas, Julio Jones, Roddy White, Andre Johnson and a whole slew of other big-name receivers in the league thus far, so it stands to reason that he’d have a few more nice fantasy games than he has.
Could this be the start of something worth paying attention to in the fantasy world? I wouldn’t count on it.
He’s a talent in this league, that’s for sure, but something seems to be missing and it looks like Andrew Luck knows it.
Avery will likely get right around 10 targets again this Thursday, but I wouldn’t expect more than his normal four catches for 40-60 yards.
I wonder if this last game against the Dolphins was T.Y. Hilton’s coming-out party, because six catches on 11 targets for 102 yards and a touchdown doesn’t sound like a fluky game to me.
Earlier this season against the Jaguars, Hilton had four catches on eight targets for 113 yards and a touchdown, so if there was ever a game to kick-start his career, this sure looks like the one to me.
Hilton is a pure slot receiver, so it's unlikely you'll ever see him put up those huge games like Reggie Wayne or A.J. Green or Brandon Marshall does. However, he’s talented enough to do what Wes Welker does for the Patriots, though maybe not for another year or two.
This week looks like a great time to take a chance on him as a flex play, though being a rookie, inconsistency marks his way more than anything else so I wouldn’t go skipping over a more steady play just for the hell of it.
The Colts other rookie WR had five targets this last week and is starting to catch Andrew Luck’s eye, but not enough to be truly considered just yet.
Keep an eye on him, but don’t be over-zealous.
Wide Receivers: Jacksonville Jaguars
There’s no doubt that Cecil Shorts has big-play and big-week ability, but if there is one thing I would advise fantasy owners not to do when all else seems to be equal, it would be to avoid taking chances on a kid in a bad offense that puts up the fewest points per game in the league.
Besides, with Laurent Robinson back in the lineup, Shorts saw just four targets to Robinson’s nine this past week against a terrible Lions secondary.
Shorts has certainly had a couple of nice games this season, but he’s averaging just 5.6 targets and 2.9 catches a game this year and is one of the bigger crapshoots you’d be taking if you decided to play him this week.
For all his talent and all his ability, there’s just no hope for a slot receiver on a team that can’t pass the ball, can’t move the ball and can’t score touchdowns. It’s really that simple.
There will be a day in the near future (and I’m talking a couple of years down the line) when Blackmon will be talked about as a starting fantasy player, but not in 2012.
Because of his immense talent, he was worth taking a shot on in fantasy drafts this season, but he is not worth starting on your fantasy team and ruining your season just to prove a point.
Robinson came back from his concussion last week to tie Justin Blackmon for the most targets of any receiver on the team.
He’s being paid the most of any receiver on the team as well, so you know the Jags front office will make sure they get their money’s worth out of him before the season is through.
Despite the rise of Cecil Shorts, Robinson is still the best weapon Gabbert has at his disposal, so if you’re desperate and need someone to play in your flex position this week, I’d say Laurent is the guy to go with over both Blackmon and Shorts.
Tight Ends: Indianapolis Colts
Would you believe it if I told you that Jacksonville and Indianapolis are the two best teams at defending the tight end in the entire league? It’s true!
What the Jaguars do against them, however, is all that matters to Dwayne Allen fantasy owners right now, so I'll tell you that the Jags are one of only two teams not to allow a touchdown to an opposing tight end in 2012 and have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to TEs on the season.
Basically, even though Coby Fleener has already been declared out for the game, Allen probably still shouldn’t be depended on as more than a low-end TE2 at best for this contest.
Fleener has already been ruled out, so go ahead and look to the waiver wire yet again if you were depending on him.
Well, hopefully you weren’t depending on him in the first place, but if you were, there should still be a few guys out there on waivers to take a look at.
Last week I would have suggested his teammate and fellow rookie, Dwayne Allen, but not in Week 10.
Maybe take a look at a few guys with good matchups like Anthony Fasano, Zach Miller or Kellen Davis if you’re in a pinch.
Tight End: Jacksonville Jaguars
I'll ask it again because it's actually hard for me to believe as well, but would you believe it if I told you that Jacksonville and Indianapolis are the two best teams in the entire league at defending the tight end?
Well, they are, but for Marcedes, it's what the Colts do against them that counts.
So far this season, Indianapolis has allowed the fewest receptions (22 in eight games), just a single touchdown (to Kyle Rudolph back in Week 2) and the least amount of fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends.
Marcedes hasn’t done enough this year to be considered a useful fantasy play anyway, but with the fact that the Colts are the absolute best at defending tight ends this year, you’d have to be a suicidal fantasy maniac to even consider starting him on your team.
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