INDIANAPOLIS — This has the potential to be a fun game to watch, both from a football schematic standpoint and fantasy perspective.
Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich and Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson — two former NFL quarterbacks who are now considered ahead-of-the-curve offensive-minded head coaches — will square off in a game that features the return of Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.
*Weekly positional rankings from FantasyPros.com, based on Half-PPR scoring.
QB Andrew Luck
- Last two weeks: 60-of-84 passing (71.4%), 498 yards, 4 TD, 3 INT, 5 carries, 9 yards
- Last week: 21-of-31 passing (67.7%), 179 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT, 4 carries, 2 yards
- Average per game: 30.0-of-42.0 passing (71.4%), 249.0 yards, 2.0 TD, 1.5 INT, 2.5 carries, 4.5 yards
- FantasyPros Week 3 Position Rank: QB15
- Eagles vs. QBs: 22nd (19.4 FPPG)
For starters, seeing what Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and his passing game was able to do to Philadelphia last week is encouraging.
He was 27-of-33 passing (81.8%) for 402 yards and four touchdowns. And it wasn't like the Eagles weren't able to get to him — they still sacked him twice. That means despite the Eagles getting pressure on him, Fitzpatrick was still able to put up huge numbers.
It's possible Luck could succeed against the Eagles the same way Fitzpatrick did. Luck is completing 71.4% of his passes so far this season, so high-percentage throws are already a staple of the current Colts offense.
Fitzpatrick was also able to rely on the speed and downfield ability of receiver DeSean Jackson for a 75-yard touchdown, as well as the athleticism of tight end O.J. Howard for another 75-yarder. Luck has a couple of guys that fit that bill in T.Y. Hilton and Eric Ebron, respectively.
The big question mark so far for Luck will be yards. He passed for over 300 yards in Week 1, but it was on 53 pass attempts. In Week 2, he threw for 179 yards, which was his fifth lowest total in his career. The high-percentage throws are obviously closer to the line of scrimmage and the sticks, but the ability to take shots downfield is still there with Hilton, Ebron and even Chester Rogers.
For Luck, the shorter, high-percentage throws are helping keep him clean, which will almost always take priority, especially if left tackle Anthony Castonzo remains sidelined with his hamstring injury.
The Eagles seem like a tough matchup — and they usually are — but Fitzpatrick just showed they can be had through the air.
RBs Marlon Mack, Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines
- Last two weeks: Mack— 10 carries, 34 yards (3.4 avg), 1 reception (2 targets), 2 yards (2.0 avg) | Wilkins— 24 carries, 101 yards (4.2 avg), 5 receptions (5 targets), 24 yards (4.8 avg) | Hines— 9 carries, 26 yards (2.9 avg), 1 TD, 8 receptions (10 targets), 31 yards (3.9 avg)
- Last week: Mack— 10 carries, 34 yards (3.4 avg), 1 reception (2 targets), 2 yards (2.0 avg) | Wilkins— 10 carries, 61 yards (6.1 avg), 2 receptions (2 targets), 3 yards (1.5 avg) | Hines— 4 carries, 7 yards (1.8 avg), 1 TD, 1 reception (1 targets), -2 yards (-2.0 avg)
- Average per game: Mack— 10.0 carries, 34.0 yards (3.4 avg), 1.0 reception (2.0 targets), 2.0 yards (2.0 avg) | Wilkins— 12.0 carries, 50.5 yards (4.2 avg), 2.5 receptions (2.5 targets), 12.0 yards (4.8 avg) | Hines— 4.5 carries, 13.0 yards (2.9 avg), 0.5 TD, 4.0 receptions (5.0 targets), 15.5 yards (3.9 avg)
- FantasyPros Week 3 Position Rank: Mack RB49, Wilkins RB50, Hines RB54
- Eagles vs. RBs: 6th (15.5 FPPG)
What happened in Week 2 should be a decent indicator of what to expect from the Colts run game in Week 3. With Mack back in the lineup, they had only three of their four backs activated, Michael being on the sideline.
Combined carries and receptions went in favor of 12 for Wilkins, 11 for Mack and five for Hines. It should be noted that Mack and Wilkins had the same amount of carries and targets.
According to Reich, Mack was on a snap count last week against Washington since it was his return from a multi-week hamstring injury. Moving forward, we may see Mack pace the group in touches, especially since he got the start in his return to action last Sunday.
In regard to this matchup against the Eagles, they've been staunch against running backs so far. They held one of the league's top duos in the Falcons' Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman to a combined 55 yards on the ground and 40 through the air. Twenty-six of those 40 were picked up in one play.
Last week, despite the Buccaneers overmatching them, Peyton Barber and Jacquizz Rodgers had just 65 total yards of offense.
This will be a tough matchup for the Colts' running backs. If you're in a position where you must start a Colts running back this week, take solace in knowing the Colts have had seven drives end in the red zone and they've run approximately 10 plays inside the opponent's 10-yard line (kicks excluded).
WR T.Y. Hilton
- Last two weeks: 12 receptions (22 targets), 129 yards (10.8 avg), 2 TD
- Last week: 7 receptions (11 targets), 83 yards (11.9 avg), 1 TD
- Average per game: 6.0 receptions (11.0 targets), 64.5 yards (10.8), 1.0 TD
- FantasyPros Week 3 Position Rank: WR14
- Eagles vs. WRs: 27th (48.7)
The Colts have moved Hilton around a bit, but he still primarily plays outside, where he will typically be lined up against either Eagles corner Ronald Darby or Jalen Mills.
So far this season, Mills has been targeted 12 times and has allowed 11 catches (91.7%) for 156 yards (14.2 avg) and one touchdown, according to Pro Football Focus.
There are a few factors here as to why Hilton will be a good play this week. First, Reich and coordinator Nick Sirianni are moving Hilton around to create opportunities for him; it's helped him score in both games. Second, Hilton's chemistry with Luck means opportunities will always be there; that's resulted in 11 targets in each of the first two games. Last, Hilton has the upper hand when matched up against Mills, and the coaches are sure to be aware of it.
TEs Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron
- Last two weeks: Doyle— 9 receptions (15 targets), 80 yards (8.9 avg) | Ebron— 7 receptions (9 targets), 77 yards (11.0 avg), 2 TD
- Last week: Doyle— 2 receptions (5 targets), 20 yards (10.0 avg) | Ebron— 3 receptions (4 targets), 26 yards (8.7. avg), 1 TD
- Average per game: Doyle— 4.5 receptions (7.5 targets), 40.0 yards (8.9 avg) | Ebron— 3.5 receptions (4.5 targets), 38.5 yards (11.0 avg), 1.0 TD
- FantasyPros Week 3 Position Rank: Doyle TE12, Ebron TE14
- Eagles vs. TEs: 19th (12.0)
Doyle (hip) has not practiced yet this week, so we'll need to monitor his status. If he's out there, he is always a PPR option, as he's averaging 4.5 catches on 7.5 targets per game. Week in and week out, you know that if Hilton and Doyle are on the field, they will have Luck's attention.
Despite seeing much fewer snaps than Doyle, Ebron has been a fantasy X-factor, scoring in both games. The Colts will continue using him around the lineup as a mismatch, so don't expect that to change. However, if Doyle is unable to play then that obviously opens the door wide for Ebron's role on Sunday.
Last week, the Buccaneers' Howard — who can stretch the field from the tight end position just like Ebron can — put up 96 yards and a touchdown against the Eagles. He was able to turn a routine chunk play into a 75-yard touchdown using his speed after the catch.
K Adam Vinatieri
- Last two weeks: 3-for-4 FGA (75.0%), 5-for-5 XPA (100.0%), 14 points
- Last week: 0-for-0 FGA (0.0%), 3-for-3 XPA (100.0%), 3 points
- Average per game: 1.5-for-2.0 FGA (75.0%), 2.5-for-2.5 XPA (100.0%), 7.0 points
- FantasyPros Week 3 Position Rank: K16
- Eagles vs. Ks: 10th (5.5)
Vinatieri has had quality performances against the Eagles during his career, converting 8-of-9 field goal attempts (88.9%) and 16-of-16 of extra points (100%) in five regular season games. If you throw in his Super Bowl win against the Eagles in 2005 when he was with the Patriots, he's 9-for-10 on field goals (90.0%) and 19-for-19 on extra points (100.0%) — even better!
The Eagles haven't had kickers do much against them so far this year. Both field goal attempts have been converted, but teams have only converted 3-of-5 extra points against them. Neither were blocked, for what it's worth.
Aggressive offensive play is one reason for the low amount of field goals attempted, which is something the Colts are now about.
There is nothing pointing in either extreme — good or bad — to indicate what Vinatieri's day may be like, so you may hang your hat on his average of 7.0 points.
Colts Defense/Special Teams
- Last two weeks: 664 yards allowed, 43 points allowed, 5 sacks, 3 takeaways
- Last week: 334 yards allowed, 9 points allowed, 3 sacks, 1 takeaways
- Average per game: 332.0 yards allowed, 21.5 points allowed, 2.5 sacks, 1.5 takeaways
- FantasyPros Week 3 Position Rank: DST28
- Eagles vs. DSTs: 16th (6.0)
With the exception of points allowed, the Colts have had similar defensive numbers the last two weeks. They have been able to get after the quarterback and force turnovers, all while giving up a bit in terms of yards.
This week, Wentz is back under center but he's got a banged-up cast around him. The Eagles could be without all of Jay Ajayi, Alshon Jeffery, Darren Sproles and Mike Wallace (now on IR). It's also natural to expect Wentz to be a little rusty outside of that.
The Eagles are currently 24th in the NFL in total offense (322.0 YPG) and scoring (19.5 PPG). While they've had their struggles moving the ball and making plays at times, Wentz is a playmaker who is capable of moving around to keep plays alive and finding his man downfield. There is a lot of Andrew Luck to Carson Wentz's game.
If you feel like starting the Colts' defense this week, it may not be the worst thing in the world considering how unpredictable fantasy defenses have been so far.
The Colts may get you a couple of sacks and takeaways like they have been doing so far — especially against a patient quarterback who also likes taking chances.