Kickoff: Sunday, January 2nd, at 1 PM ET
Location: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana
Betting Odds: IND -7.5, 45 total via Oddsshark
Las Vegas Raiders
Derek Carr (Sit)
The Raiders pass offense has been less than the steller has of late. Most of this lies with quarterback Derek Carr. It’s been more like Derek Subpar ass of late. In his last 3 games, he has 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. On top of that, he has only gone over 250 yards once and has a lost fumble in each game as well. The matchup against the Colts on paper looks to be an easier one. CBS has the Colts ranked 26th in giving up points to the quarterback position. When you watch the games you see a slightly different story. The Colts are 5th in the leagues with 17 interceptions and seem to find a way to get turnovers when it matters. The Colts are in the thick of a playoff push and the defense will be looking to step up. They do allow points to be scored which could lead to some opportunity for Carr. I expect much of the same from Carr that we have seen over the past 3 weeks. I expect around 250 yards, maybe 2 touchdowns but two turnovers as well.
Josh Jacobs (Start, Flex), Kenyan Drake (IR), Peyton Barber (Sit)
This may come as a surprise to some but Josh Jacobs has been a consistent back this year when healthy. He has only two games under 10 points. The issue with Jacobs is his upside. He has only one game over 20 points on the season. It’s going to be a tough game for Jacobs against a Colts defense that CBS has ranked 5th best against the run. With Kenyan Drake on the IR list, Jacobs has seen a small uptick in carries, which has been another knock against him all year. Drake has only 2 games with over 20 carries and he has 4 games with under 10 carries. Peyton Barber has been the change of pace back the past 2 weeks and vultured a touchdown in week 16. Ball security has also been an issue for Jacobs with 2 fumbles over the past 3 weeks and going against the Colts who are known for causing fumbles it scares me in the fantasy championship weekend. The passing volume for Jacobs has saved his fantasy weeks and keeps him at that consistent floor. He’s worth putting into your flex as the Raiders still are in the wildcard hunt.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Hunter Renfrow (Start, WR2), Bryan Edwards (Sit, WR4), Darren Waller (IR), Foster Moreau (Start), Zay Jones (Start, Flex)
What a difference from the start of the year till now for the Vegas pass catchers. No one expected Hunter Renfrow to be such a valuable fantasy asset having 6 touchdowns on the year with matches that he had total for his career before this year. There was much hype for Bryan Edwards coming into this year but he has been a letdown most weeks. Renfrow is worthy of being in your lineups this week. He leads the team with 21 red-zone targets. Since he is in the slot most of the time he doesn’t draw top coverage which allows him to use his superior route running to get open when covered by safties and nickel corners. Top coverage usually goes to Edwards who can’t seem to get open other than on long bomb touchdowns. The combination of Edwards stretching the field and Renfrow working short passes has opened up room for someone else to step up. Over the past few weeks, it has been Zay Jones. He has had 36 receptions over the past 5 weeks. He has yet to score in that span but has only been under 10 points twice. He’s worth throwing into your flex spot. The tight end position has been a bright spot for the Raider’s offense. With Darren Waller out, Foster Moreau you should be starting for fantasy. He has 3 touchdowns on the year but sees 90% plus of the team’s snaps and is getting a healthy dose of targets.
Carson Wentz (Start, QB1), Sam Ehlinger (Sit)
So Carson Wentz is now on the Covid list. This would leave rookie Sam Ehlinger to start. He was an okay college prospect so we will see what he can do against a favorable matchup against the Raiders. I don’t expect much in his first outing. Usually, we see very little from rookies in their first game.
I have to admit that I might have been wrong about Carson Wentz when he left the Philadelphia Eagles. I thought he was pretty close to washed up and was very brittle. I did know that his connection to head coach Frank Reich and offensive assistant Press Taylor were the ones to turn things around if anyone could. Wentz has had a decent season in Indy so far. He has 25 touchdowns on the season which is getting close to his career-high of 33. He also only has 6 interceptions on the year which is currently his career-low which was previously 7. He draws a very favorable matchup in week 17 against the Raiders who are ranked 30th by CBS in giving up points to the quarterback position. He should be a fantasy star in what is the championship week for most leagues.
Jonathan Taylor (Start, RB1), Nyheim Hines (Sit, Flex), Deon Jackson (Sit), Marlon Mack (Sit)
If you ended up with Jonathan Taylor on draft day you were probably cautiously optimistic he could perform well this season. You ended up probably having a great season on the back of Taylor and the Colts rushing game. Now in the fantasy playoffs, Taylor has been nothing but stellar. His opportunities have only gotten better. Since the Colt’s week 14 bye the former Wisconsin Badger has seen 29 and 27 carries. He failed to get into the end zone in week 16 which is the first time he hasn’t scored since week 3. The Raiders have a weak run defense so Taylor should get plenty of opportunities to shine. He has seemed to lose his passing game work as of late to Nyheim Hines. Taylor has only seen 2 targets in the past 3 games. Despite having the majority of the pass-catching work doesn’t have enough volume to make him startable in fantasy unless you are desperate. Deon Jackson scored his first career touchdown back in week 13 but hasn’t seen the field since. Marlon Mack has been on the Covid list and could be activated for this game but the former starter has been nothing more than an afterthought since the Colts drafted Taylor.
Wide Receivers/ Tight Ends
Michael Pittman Jr (Start, WR2), Zach Pascal (Sit), T.Y. Hilton (Sit, Flex), Ashton Dulin (Sit, Flex), Jack Doyle/ Mo Allie-Cox (Start Doyle if he plays, Start Allie-Cox if Doyle is out)
Michael Pittman has come back down to earth after being a rocketship ride in weeks 7 through 10. He is still the focal point of the passing attack for the Colts which gives him an upside but also draws top coverage from opposing defenses. The Raiders have a pair of really good corners in Nate Hobbs and Casey Hayword Jr. Both rank in the top 15 on Pro Football Focus. It will be a tough matchup for Pittman but it should open up room for others to step up. Nine-year vet T.Y. Hilton has shown up at times since returning from injury. In the past 6 games, Hilton has scored over 10 points twice, which came in weeks where he scored touchdowns. He isn’t seeing a ton of volume right now which makes him a risky flex-start. Zach Pascal missed week 16 while on the Covid list. He hasn’t done much when he does play. This has opened up space for Ashton Dulin to step up. Dulin has a monster touchdown back in week 12 and got another score in week 13. Since then he has seen limited snaps, only playing on about 50% of the team’s snaps. While I believe the future looks bright for him he isn’t getting enough volume to be startable. He was getting some gadget run plays designed for him but hasn’t seen them as of late. The tightened play has been inconsistent this year for the Colts. Jack Doyle looked to be finally establishing himself as the main guy until he left the week 16s game with an injury. If he were to miss the game I wouldn’t mind throwing Mo Allie-Cox as my tight end. In week 16 where Doyle missed part of the game, Allie-Cox got 4 targets while playing 90% of the team snaps. He hasn’t scored since week 7 but with that snap percentage and Doyle out he would be a good spot start. He isn’t losing too much work to rookie Kylen Granson. The Raiders are 30th in giving up points to the tight end position and don’t have a safety or linebacker ranked above 16th in their position in coverage. Could be the outlet for Wentz when he sees pressure.
-Dustin Ludke (Dunit13dl on Reddit)
Curious if you take weather into account (GB vs. Minnesota)?