Kickoff: Sunday, December 27th at 1:00 PM ET
Location: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Betting Odds: IND -1.5, 44 total via Oddsshark
Philip Rivers (Sit, QB2)
Philip Rivers hasn’t been terrible this season, but he also hasn’t been terribly useful for fantasy purposes. Yes, he’s been limiting mistakes this year (only 9 interceptions), but he also has only one game in his past five with 20+ fantasy points. Pittsburgh has been decimated by injuries in recent weeks and just allowed an 18 point fantasy performance to Ryan freaking Finley, so stranger things have certainly happened recently. They’re still a run-first team and I suspect that will continue in this matchup, but if you’re desperate at QB you could be worse. He’s a sit-in all but the most desperate championship situations.
Jonathan Taylor (Start, RB2), Nyheim Hines (Sit, Flex)
In the last three weeks, Jonathan Taylor has been en fuego. The man has been running like he’s on fire in NFL Blitz 2001 (the best football game of all time, don’t @ me), good for 72.5 PPR points over that span which is second-best in football behind only David Montgomery. Indy has officially unleashed the Kraken, and there’s no reason to think that they’ll cage him back up now. Despite Pittsburgh’s recent struggles, I’m still giving them the benefit of the doubt defensively and ranking Taylor as a RB2 this week, but there’s no doubt he has RB1 upside in your championship matches.
Meanwhile. Nyheim Hines‘ usage has decreased over that same time period, but he’s been a fantastic chance of pace back when called upon and can break a big play at any moment. He’s been an RB3 recently and if you’re desperate for a spot start then he could be your guy, but it’s a high risk-high reward option.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
T.Y. Hilton (Start, Flex), Zach Pascal (Sit, Flex), Michael Pittman Jr. (Sit), Mo Allie-Cox (Sit, TE2), Trey Burton (Sit), Jack Doyle (Sit)
T.Y. Hilton didn’t get his first target until the 2nd quarter last week, and his only big play came in crunch time when he caught a 41-yard bomb at the 3-yard line to set the Colts up for a game-winning TD. He’s been a tough guy to rely upon this year, but in a game that is crucial for Indy’s playoff seeding, he might be called upon more often in this one. He’s historically played poorly against Pittsburgh, but the way they’ve looked lately I wouldn’t expect too much out of that defense. Throw him in your Flex and hope for a TD.
Meanwhile, Zach Pascal was the leading receiver for the Colts last week as he scored two TDs and was targeted on some critical 3rd downs. He hasn’t been consistent at all this year, but he did have five catches and a touchdown against Pittsburgh last season. Hilton didn’t play in that game, but crazier things have happened. He’s a long shot and a DFS tournament play at best. I wouldn’t consider anyone else in this offense at the moment.
Ben Roethlisberger (Sit)
Big Ben’s last three games have been putrid at best. After turning back the clocks and looking like a guy who had found a second life after an elbow injury ended his 2019 season, Ben Roethlisberger has posted season-worst completion percentages in each of his last two games. Is he getting tired? Is there an injury lingering? Has he lost trust in his receivers who keep dropping the ball on him? Who knows, but there’s no reason to trust him in your fantasy championship.
James Conner (Sit, Flex), Benny Snell Jr. (Sit), Anthony McFarland Jr. (Sit)
Benny Snell Jr. filled in admirably for the injured James Conner in Week 14, but Conner practiced in full on Wednesday, and looks like he should play in this game on Sunday. Indianapolis has been solid against the run this season, but they were gashed by David Johnson in the passing game last week. Conner is only averaging just under three targets per game this year, so there’s no reason to think he’ll suddenly get enough to prop up his disappointing fantasy numbers in this game, but maybe Pittsburgh will see something on the Colts-Texans tape that leads them to utilize him more in the passing game. I wouldn’t bank on it, so sit him if you have better options. He’s a Flex play at best.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
JuJu Smith-Schuster (Sit, Flex), Diontae Johnson (Start, WR2), Chase Claypool (Sit, Flex), James Washington (Sit), Eric Ebron (Start, TE2)
I don’t know if these receivers have been listening to way too much Snoop Dogg lately, but they’ve been consistently dropping the ball like it’s hot and it’s killing the Steelers and fantasy teams alike. Diontae Johnson is a special case where he leads the league in drops yet still sees 10+ targets per game, and you still kinda have to roll with him in this one despite the matchup and his lack of success in Week 15. Pittsburgh needs to turn it around ASAP if they’re going to make a deep run in the playoffs, and that starts in the passing game.
It’s time to get Chase Claypool more involved in the offense with some trickery and end around. He’s a playmaker and they need to get the gears spinning again. I don’t trust that they will, so he’s a sit. Meanwhile, JuJu Smith-Schuster has vowed to finally stop dancing on opponent’s logos during pregame warmups, so maybe now there won’t be as much of a target on his back. But, as with Claypool, he hasn’t done enough lately to warrant starting in your fantasy championship.
Meanwhile, after getting injured early in the game and missing the rest of it, Eric Ebron sounds like he may be able to suit up for this one. Indianapolis has been tough against opposing TEs this season, but given that Roethlisberger has relied on Ebron all year as a chain mover and in the red zone, he’s still got TE2 value if you need him.
— Ben Brown (@FelixTheDog23 on Twitter, iamatechnician on Reddit)