Kickoff: Sunday, September 25th, 2021, 1:00pm EST
Location: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana
Betting Odds: Ind +7, 49.5 o/u total via oddhsark.com
Writer: Dustin Ludke (@TheDunit13 on Twitter)
Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes (Start, QB1)
Do you need reasons to start Patrick Mahomes? Probably not but I’m gonna give you some anyways. The Colts defense is ranked 21st in the league and their coverage defense is 24th according to PFF.com. They are allowing on average 17.25 points to the quarterback position. It seems to be an easy matchup for Mahomes as he looks to continue leading the Chiefs to a 3-0 start. The Colts haven’t done much on offense which could mean that the game script for most teams would be run later in the game but the Chiefs will continue to pass. They run the ball through short shovel passes and screens which still allows Mahomes to rack up fantasy points. he’s a solid QB1 this week and most weeks. He has not been a qb1 17 times in his career. That’s 17 times out of 64 games.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Start, RB2), Isiah Pacheco (Sit) Jerick McKinnon (Sit, Flex)
It seems we are getting the Clyde Edwards-Helaire we were all hoping for when the Chiefs drafted him in 2020. He has a firm hold on the backfield getting the bulk of the carries in Week 2. He saw eight carries compared to Isiah Pacheco‘s two and Jerick McKinnon‘s four. He now faces the Colts. Despite their losing record the Colts are ranked 2nd in run defense by PFF and are only giving up 15.25 points to the running back position. It’s a tough matchup for C.E.H. If Kansas City gets a good lead they could rest him in favor of McKinnon and Pacheco as they did in Week 1. We saw it slightly in Week 2 where McKinnon played on more snaps than Edwards-Helaire, 27 to 25. You can still put Edwards-Helaire in as an RB2 with an upside if he scores more the one touchdown.
McKinnon is an interesting boom/bust type play. He has volume, especially in the red zone where he saw 2 rushing attempts and 1 target. He scored in week 2 which boosted his fantasy production. I’m not counting on high-end flex numbers but he will be in that range. Another week with a touchdown could mean he gets involved in the offense more going forward. I believe Pacheco had a ton of hype coming into the season but it hasn’t materialized. Outside of a blowout, he is nothing more than a rest-giver for the starter.
Wide Receivers/ Tight Ends
JuJu Smith-Schuster (Start, WR3), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (Sit, Flex), Mecole Hardman (Sit, Flex), Skyy Moore (Sit), Travis Kelce (Start, TE1)
Still, starting Travis Kelce? Yup, I thought so. Even with Derwin James on the field last week Kelce posted five catches for 51 yards. He didn’t reach the end zone but still produced TE1 numbers. The Colts are giving up the 5th most points to the tight end position at 11.5. Kelce will continue to be the leader in targets on the team and produce for your fantasy team. Week 2 did not play out the way I assumed it would. After Week 1 it seemed that Juju Smith-Schuster was the lead dog in terms of targets and snap share. In Week 2 he seemed to lose that to fellow hyphenate Marquez Valdes-Scantling. In Week 2 M.V.S. played on 34 passing snaps and ran 31 routes compared to JuJu who played on 31 and ran 29 routes. It’s not a huge disparity but enough to question who will be the lead dog in Week 3. Juju fell to 5th on the target depth chart behind Kelce, Valdez-Scantling, Mecole Hardman, and Edwards-Helaire. He was also tied with second tight end Noah Gray with 3 targets.
Hardman was a distant third behind the other three receivers in terms of total snaps. At this point in his career is a situation field stretcher who doesn’t get much work outside of that. I think you can play JuJu as a WR3 given the matchup and volume. The volume and production for M.V.S. put him in the low-end flex play which needs a touchdown to catapult him into a WR3 option. Hardman is in a similar boat. If he connects on one of his long bomb-type plays the yardage alone will secure his flex status but you can’t rely on that type of production. Another rookie who had all the hype but hasn’t produced is Skyy Moore. He is basically droppable for now till we start seeing him play more snaps.
Matt Ryan (Sit, QB2)
Is Matt Ryan washed? That’s the question a lot of people are asking this week after one of the worst performances of his 14-year career. There hasn’t been much that has been working for the Colts offense as a whole, but the passing game seems out of sync. Ryan missed Michael Pittman in Week 2 where he threw three interceptions and no touchdowns. It doesn’t look to be turning around any time soon, as they face the Chiefs’ defense that is ranked 6th in coverage and overall. They have been giving up on average 23.28 points to the quarterback position which is the 6th most in the league. Those numbers do come from facing guys like Justin Herbert and Kyler Murray, who are in a class above where Ryan is now at his age. I expect the Colts coaching staff to get back to basics in Week 3 which should allow Ryan to be more around his Week 1 performance. If he gets Pittman back it will be a huge boon to his play. I still don’t think you can start him outside of 2QB leagues. Even then it’s a risky play, but you might not have any other options.
Jonathan Taylor (Start, RB1), Nyheim Hines (Sit)
I’m not going to beat the dead horse that is the Colts’ Week 2 performance. Let’s look at some positives for Jonathan Taylor. He still averaged six yards-per-carry and is tied for 11th in the league with a season average of 5.4. He is still on the field. He played on 37 of the team’s 50 weeks 2 snaps. It was just a bad game all around. Facing a middle-of-the-road run defense in the Chiefs, Taylor should be able to get work in early and continue to be part of the game plan when the Colts are behind. He is still worth starting as an RB1, he has that potential every week.
Nyheim Hines only played on 30% of the team’s Week 2 snaps which is up from 28% the week before. He is considered the pass-catching back but played fewer passing snaps, and ran fewer routes, than Taylor in Week 2. He is getting more targets than Taylor but it’s at such low volume. He would only be considered a desperation flex play against the Chiefs.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Michael Pittman (Sit, Flex), Parris Campbell (Sit), Ashton Dulin (Start, Flex), Mo Alie-Cox (Sit), Kylen Granson (Sit)
All Colts fans and fantasy managers are hoping that Michael Pittman can return in Week 3 after missing Week 2 with a quad injury. It hasn’t been determined yet, but I don’t expect Pittman to play and if he does he won’t be 100%. If he is out there he will get some targets but could possibly be a decoy. It pairs well with the other decoy in the form of Parris Campbell. Campbell hasn’t produced. In Week 2 he led the team in routes run with 30 and yet only received two targets, catching neither of them. Since Campbell plays in the slot he will be seeing coverage from L’Jarius Sneed who is one of the best slot cover corners in the game. There is hope that Alec Pierce returns from his concussion. The rookie hasn’t had a real opportunity to showcase his skills but would provide another option for Ryan. The bright spot in the passing game was Ashton Dulin who saw seven targets on his 25 routes and racked up 79 yards in Week 2. He was tied with Michael Strachan with 25 passing snaps. Even Dezmon Patmon got involved in Week 2 with six targets. Going against a top 10-rated coverage defense while not at full strength is not the type of situation I want to start weapons in. I do think Dulin will lead the team in targets and get enough work to make him a solid flex play.
Both tight ends Kylen Granson and Mo Alie-Cox played on 54% of the team snaps but neither saw enough targets to make them fantasy relevant. One of them is bound to catch a touchdown since they are 6’2 and 6’5 respectively. Add to that Jelani Woods at 6’7 and it’s a very tall tight-end group that should be able to get jump balls.