Jaguars vs. Colts
Coming off their bye week, Jacksonville travels to Indianapolis to face the Colt. Both AFC South teams are 3-5, which would be shocking to many during the preseason. The Jaguars defense hasn’t been the same unit as they were last season, but don’t just assume that means that they aren’t still a good unit. Many of Jacksonville’s problems stem from the offense, but fans in Florida hope that the “plan” can get back on track this week for a run at the division (they are only 2 games back in the loss column).
What was the Offensive Plan again?
The passing game for the Jaguars should be “use in case of emergency”, instead opting for a healthy dose of the running game. Prior to the 2017 season, the Jaguars drafted RB Leonard Fournette, who was going to be the blunt instrument that Jacksonville would bludgeon opposing teams with. Unfortunately, the Jaguars have also needed to deal with Fournette’s preponderance of soft-tissue injuries, which have limited him to 6 games in 2018. For the Week 8 London game, Fournette was close to playing and thus far he’s practiced fully in preparation for Week 10 (he’s not even on he injury report). In his absence, RB T. J. Yeldon has done an admirable job filling in, but it is entirely possible he gets relegated to change-of-pace duties, third-down work, and the hurry-up offense given Fournette’s return. The real head-scratcher is RB Carlos Hyde, whom the Jaguars traded for prior to Week 6. Hyde has done nothing on the field for Jacksonville, though the running game was basically scripted out during Week 8 overall. The Colts defense has been better than expected, but they are still a shaky unit, so it is likely that Jacksonville chooses to lean on the running game all afternoon on Sunday. Fournette should be considered a must-start RB2, Yeldon a deep-flex, and Hyde a bench warmer (and possibly droppable after this week).
No Passing No Cry
If it wasn’t evidently clear before the season, QB Blake Bortles should not be the starting quarterback for an NFL team, especially not one with a playoff caliber defense and running game. Bortles has had some big games this season, notably his start against the Patriots, where he put up yardage and touchdowns without playing from behind. All of the other times Bortles has been competent for fantasy, it has been due to the Jaguars playing from behind and hoping that Blake’s bad decision making doesn’t bite them any further. Owing to the return of Leonard Fournette, don’t expect to see any receiver have a big day. WR Dede Westbrook has been the most explosive receiver for the Jaguars and should match up well against the Colts from the slot. Aside from Westbrook, WR Donte Moncrief should stay involved, as he looks like he’s become Bortles go-to option on the perimeter. The surprise WR for Jacksonville may be DJ Chark Jr., who saw more snaps after WR Keelan Cole has done his best to write himself out of any game script. At best, Dede Westbrook is a flex play and any other WR is a bench hold.
The Jacksonville defense hasn’t been the lock-down option it was in 2017, but it is still a good unit. Luckily for Jacksonville, they only have to keep their sights set on three targets, QB Andrew Luck, RB Marlon Mack, and WR T. Y. Hilton. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey will likely follow Hilton most of the game, which should help neutralize him. Edge Defender Calais Campbell should be in Andrew Luck’s face all day long, and the combination of Defensive Lineman Marcell Dareus and Linebacker Myles Jack should provide some tough sledding for Mack. The Jaguars defense lines up exceptionally well against the Colts offense, so this is definitely a week to start Jacksonville defenders.
Boom: Leonard Fournette
Bust: All WR
Sleeper: T. J. Yeldon
The Colts draw division rival Jacksonville at home this week, the first time they’ve played in 2018. With Leonard Fournette back in the mix, the Jaguars are the favorites to win this one despite being in Indy and both teams having that 3-5 record. The Jaguars are coming in on a four game losing streak, with the Colts having won two in a row.
How trustworthy is Andrew Luck against the #1 pass defense in the NFL?
In a tough game, even at home, Andrew Luck isn’t in a great place to succeed. A.J. Bouye being out for Sunday is good news for the passing squad in Indy, but in general I wouldn’t expect Luck to put up monstrous numbers. He’s on a streak of five straight games with 3+ TDs which I expect to come to an end this Sunday.
That being said, Luck is still going to be playable. The Colts defense is not as awful as people think, but there’s pretty minimal chance of this game being over before the clock hits zero unless Luck destroys the Jaguars early. You’re going to see enough attempts out of Luck that it’s unlikely to see another ~150 yard performance like he put up against Buffalo.
Is T.Y. Hilton startable?
Yes, absolutely. There’s a lot of concern about a potential Jalen Ramsey shadow on T.Y. Hilton, but it’s overblown. Ramsey hasn’t shadowed all that much this season, and even when he has receivers have been able to get a solid chunk of yardage against him. That being said, two of those shadows were in weeks seven and eight, the last two Jaguar games.
The other concern is that Hilton just isn’t a great play, and that’s just plain wrong. He had a bad game in week eight, but in reality, he’s been getting a solid target share and has been seeing the field a ton on a team that needs to throw it. He’ll be fine.
How about any other Colts receiver?
If you absolutely had to start another Colts wide receiver, then I’m sorry and you should just forfeit. But I guess Dontrelle Inman, since he’s been seeing the field more than any non-Hilton receiver the past two games. It’s scary since he put up zero against Buffalo, but there was also basically no reason to throw the ball in that game.
If Mack is good to go, do I play him?
He’s entering Sunday without an injury report designation, having practiced in full on Friday, which is great news for owners. I see him as a must start, but since he was likely a free agent pick-up or you had to build your team as if he wasn’t on your bench, you probably have a couple of other running backs. The Jaguars are not the worst run team in football, but they’re not the best either. I would definitely put him over most talented time-share running backs, but I’d be hard pressed starting him over someone like Tevin Coleman, a pretty good running back against a bad run defense.
Is Ebron going to be startable?
Easily the hardest question of this segment. I don’t think he will be extremely startable. Jack Doyle took back his role with a vengeance in week eight, and Eric Ebron was barely on the field. The general idea is that Ebron isn’t very good at pass blocking, so he’ll rarely be used against good pass rushing teams. However, this isn’t the case, and that doesn’t make any sense against the Raiders from week eight anyway. There isn’t a great argument you can make in favor of Ebron. He draws heavy targets when he’s on the field, but if he’s barely on the field it’s going to be tough for that to matter.
I lean toward yes, regardless, but it’s going to be tough. The tight end world out there is so few and far between that it’s not like there’s a great streaming option to take his place. You probably just need to bite the bullet and start him, but don’t be hoping for too much.