This week, the Indianapolis Colts travel east to take on the Buffalo Bills and their wild-as-hell on-site fan base. This is one of the Week 14 NFL slate’s least-sexy matchups, but it’s the opening of the fantasy playoffs for most of us. This game does have some fantasy ramifications.
We'll use a simple rating scale for each player, grading each from A-F:
- "A" is a 'must start'
- "B" is a 'recommended start'
- "C" is an 'if needed start'
- "D" is 'don't start'
- "F" is simply not a fantasy option at all this week.
QB Jacoby Brissett: C
Last three weeks average: 17.3-of-29.7 passing, 197.3 yards, 6.95 YPA, 1.0 TD, 1.0 INT, 4.3 carries, 19.7 yards, 0.0 TD per game
At this point of the season, Brissett is only playable in great matchups, and this is not one of them. The Bills are eighth against QB’s (14.7 FPPG). While they don’t get to the QB much (just 20 sacks so far), they do take the ball away, intercepting it the fifth-most (13). Brissett hasn’t been productive from a fantasy standpoint much at all lately, throwing for 300 yards just once in the last seven games.
Because Buffalo is kind of a mess right now, Brissett has an outside chance of having a nice game. I wouldn’t count on it, but the opportunity is there.
RB Frank Gore: B
Last three weeks average: 32.3 snaps, 15.7 carries, 59.0 yards, 0.3 TD, 1.0 catch (2.0 targets), 8.0 yards, 0.0 TD per game
The Bills are dead last against RB’s (28.4 FPPG), so there is no reason that Gore shouldn’t have a good game. Buffalo has allowed eight different players to run for at least 75 yards, and RB’s have scored 16 TD’s against them.
Gore had two 100-yard games in 2016. If he’s going to do it in 2017, this might be the week. He averages 16.2 touches and 66.8 YPG on the season. Look for him to meet those averages at the very least.
RB Marlon Mack: B
Last three weeks average: 25.0 snaps, 5.7 carries, 21.3 yards, 0.0 TD, 1.7 catches (2.7 targets), 15.7 yards, 0.0 TD per game
I haven’t felt great about Mack from a fantasy perspective in a while, but I do like him this week. For one, he saw an increased amount of snaps last week (30), even leading the Colts’ backfield. We saw him get back into a groove in a tough matchup with the Jaguars, averaging 7.7 yards on his 8 touches. He also took his first carry 25 yards downfield. Plus, this is just too good of a matchup. Mack is a playable Flex this week.
WR T.Y. Hilton: B
Last three weeks average: 59.3 snaps, 2.3 catches (5.0 targets), 29.7 yards, 0.3 TD per game
Hilton has a much better matchup this week than last week, especially if CB Tre’Davious White (concussion) is unable to play. Hilton was able to salvage his day last Sunday with a great 40-yard catch-and-run for a TD. However, he likely would’ve been shut down without the score. Since erupting for 175 yards and 2 TD’s in Week 9, Hilton is averaging just 2.3 catches (5.0 targets) for 29.7 YPG.
The Bills are 12th against WR’s (30.2 FPPG), which is overall pretty good. However, they may be playing without White, and they just sent starting DE Shaq Lawson (and his team-leading 4.0 sacks) to Injured Reserve. That obviously affects Buffalo’s already-limited pass rush and will give Brissett more time to find Hilton downfield. Regardless of if White plays, I like Hilton this week.
*Side note: If Hilton playing outside in cold weather bothers you like it did me (I had to look into it), don’t worry. He has had three 100-yard games outside in cold locations in December/January. Overall, he averages 4.2 catches (7.6 targets) for 62.7 yards in 12 of these games.
TE Jack Doyle: B
Last three weeks average: 61.0 snaps, 4.0 catches (6.0 targets), 39.7 yards, 0.0 TD per game
It’s time to go back to the well on Doyle this week. The Bills are 23rd against TE’s (12.8 FPPG), and Doyle has good games more often than not, especially in good matchups like this one. Doyle is averaging 5.6 catches (7.4 targets) for 50.9 YPG on the season and has scored twice. He’s the team leader in catches (62) and targets (81), so you can almost surely count on that.
K Adam Vinatieri: B
Last three weeks average: 1.7-of-1.7 FGA (100%), 1.3-of-1.3 XPA (100.0%), 6.3 points per game
The Colts are really good at settling for field goals instead of TD’s, so Vinatieri should have a good time in a really quality matchup. Buffalo is 27th against K’s (9.4 FPPG), and The G.O.A.T. averages 6.9 PPG and is 4-of-4 from 50-plus yards.
Colts D/ST: D
Last three weeks average: 339.3 YA, 23.3 PA, 0.7 sacks, 1.0 takeaway per game
The Bills don’t have an explosive offense, so D/ST’s usually have a chance to post a respectable line against them. In fact, Buffalo’s offense is 20th against D/ST’s (8.0 FPPG). The Colts D/ST is near the bottom of the league, but since they rarely get blown out and can usually string together a sack and a takeaway each week, they can be playable in certain matchups. I won’t tell you that this is necessarily a good matchup for the Colts D/ST, but I think they could produce a start-able fantasy line.
Injuries to John Simon, Pierre Desir and (maybe) Rashaan Melvin have me leaning more towards the “don’t start” side of things.