Kickoff: Sunday, October 1st, 1:00 PM ET
Location: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis Indiana
Betting Odds: IND -1.5, 46.5 total via PFF.com
Writer: Justin Mello (@JustinMelloNE on Twitter)
Los Angeles Rams
Matthew Stafford (Start QB2)
Since winning the Super Bowl a couple of years ago, Matthew Stafford has failed to get back to his peak level of play. It doesn’t help that he’s been playing without the injured Cooper Kupp and has dealt with injuries of his own. Regardless, Stafford has thrown twice as many interceptions as touchdowns in 2023 and has been far from a fantasy stud. Luckily, he gets to play the Colts on Sunday who have allowed the fourth most fantasy points to the QB position this season. In a game with a relatively high over/under, enough points should be scored to make Stafford a solid QB2.
Kyren Williams (Start, RB2), Ronnie Rivers (Sit)
One of the most pleasant surprises of the season (at least for those who were able to snag him) has been Kyren Williams. While he initially appeared to be the backup, he now is the clear workhorse running back in Sean McVay’s offense. He has been very involved both by the goal line and in the passing game which has made him a phenomenal start in fantasy. He played 95% of the snaps in Week 2 after the Rams decided to give up on Cam Akers, and he played 100% of the snaps in Week 3 against the Bengals.
The only thing stopping him from another elite outing is the Colts defense. They have a top 10 run defense according to PFF, and have not only Pro Bowler DeForest Buckner at defensive tackle, but also Grover Stewart who is PFF’s #1 ranked interior defensive lineman at stopping the run. The matchup pushes Williams just outside of RB1 territory, but he is still a high-end RB2. Ronnie Rivers has played under 2% of offensive snaps this year and is irrelevant for fantasy purposes.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Puka Nacua (Start, WR2), Tutu Atwell (Start, WR3), Van Jefferson (Sit), Tyler Higbee (Start, TE2)
I mentioned that Kyren Williams has been one of the most pleasant surprises of the season. Another has been rookie Puka Nacua. He came back down to earth a bit in Week 3, but he has racked up a whopping 30 receptions for 338 yards this season (and has become one of my personal favorite players in the NFL). Nacua has essentially been what Cooper Kupp drafters were hoping to have the first few weeks of the season. The Colts have allowed the 8th most fantasy points to receivers this season which presents a large opportunity for Nacua. Cornerback Julius Brents could be a problem though given he is PFF’s fourth highest-rated cornerback in pass coverage. He plays almost exclusively outside on the offense’s right. This is also where Nacua lines up 42% of the time, meaning he may frequently draw coverage from Brents. It is important to remember though that Nacua, like all the Rams receivers, moves around quite a bit and will likely match up against multiple different corners. He is a volume-drive high-end WR2 on Sunday.
Tutu Atwell has also been a surprisingly great fantasy asset through three weeks. He too moves around and lines up all over the field for the Rams and should face multiple corners against the Colts. Like Nacua, he has the opportunity to put up big numbers on Sunday against the Colts’ defense, but he doesn’t quite get the volume that Nacua does which limits his upside a bit more. Nacua has a 34% target share in the offense compared to Atwell’s 22%. This limits the latter to WR3 status against Indianapolis. As for Van Jefferson, he similarly moves around a lot but plays 55% of his snaps from the slot. The big issue for him is that he only gets 10% of Stafford’s targets, and there are only so many points to go around. The two younger guys are a better bet against the Colts.
Tyler Higbee has been a solid and predictable tight end so far this season. He has gotten at least three targets every game and has been a safe TE2. The Colts have been even more predictable against the tight end allowing the position to score no more than 12.1 points but no fewer than 9.9 in a week. This makes Higbee a safe low-ceiling TE2 on Sunday.
Anthony Richardson (Start, QB1), Gardner Minshew (Start, QB2)
The rookie phenom Anthony Richardson put together elite performances before suffering his Week 2 concussion. It appears likely that he will be ready to go for Week 4, and he has a juicy matchup. The Rams are ranked dead last in pass coverage per PFF. Furthermore, Richardson’s real appeal comes from his ability as a runner, and the Rams are ranked as the 4th worst run defense per PFF. Richardson could have an absolute field day if he is able to go and should be treated as a QB1. If he is unable to play, Gardner Minshew is a less exciting but viable QB2 against the struggling LA secondary.
Zack Moss (Start, RB2), Trey Sermon (Sit)
This game evidently has a theme of pleasant surprises because another big one has been Zack Moss. After missing Week 1, Moss has completely taken over as the workhorse running back in this offense. He played over 98% of offensive snaps in Week 2 and had an unfathomable 30 carries in Week 3. The Rams haven’t been great against the run which makes this matchup even more enticing. If Richardson is active and able to vulture goal-line opportunities, it does limit the touchdown upside of Moss though. Moss also likely doesn’t have the talent of most starting RBs (PFF’s 55th-ranked RB) which limits his potential as well. All things considered, he is a trustworthy RB2.
Trey Sermon played just over 20% of offensive snaps in his first game with the Colts last week, so he can be left on the bench (or more likely waivers) unless he carves out a bigger role at some point later in the season.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Michael Pittman (Start, WR1), Josh Downs (FLEX), Alec Pierce (Sit), Kylen Granson (Sit)
The top receiver in Indy has gotten off to a fast start. Michael Pittman has seen at least 11 targets each game so far and has clearly earned the trust of both Richardson and Minshew. As previously discussed, the Rams have not been great in coverage, and Pittman figures to be the biggest beneficiary this week. Per PFF, Ahkello Witherspoon is the highest-graded starting cornerback for the Rams in coverage, and he is ranked 122nd out of 154 cornerbacks. Yuck. Pittman may not have the explosiveness or raw talent of some of the elite WRs in the NFL, but he is reliable and has a great matchup. Fire him up as a WR1.
Rookie Josh Downs is still being out-snapped by sophomore receiver Alec Pierce 167 to 204. Nonetheless, Downs has done more with his opportunities and has 15 receptions compared to Pierce’s 3. The rookie seems to have emerged as the true WR2 in Indianapolis and should be treated as such. He still isn’t playing enough to have major upside from a fantasy perspective, but he can be considered a low-end FLEX play in a favorable matchup. Alec Pierce seems to have lost all fantasy relevance.
Kylen Granson is the top tight end for the Colts, but he only has 64 yards through three weeks. The Rams have allowed the 8th fewest points to the tight end position this season, so Granson is not a gamble worth taking.