INDIANAPOLIS — The weather forecast for Sunday once looked messy for this matchup as Hurricane Florence barrels into the Mid-Atlantic region. However, it looks like the weather may not be as bad as once thought in the Landover, Md., area come Sunday, so we will proceed as if there will be no major hindrance on gameplay.
As Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich explained how he approaches bad-weather games to the media this week, “Don’t make a big deal about it. It’s not as bad as you think it is.”
On paper, after what they did to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 1, the Washington Redskins look like a tougher matchup for the Colts than they might actually be.
The Redskins absolutely stifled Arizona last week, but it seemed to be a mix of both ineffectiveness on Arizona’s part to go with a stout performance from Washington’s defense. The Colts should be a taller task for the Washington defense than they faced last week.
*Weekly positional rankings from FantasyPros.com, based on Half-PPR scoring.
QB Andrew Luck
Last week: 39-of-53 passing (73.6%), 319 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT, 1 carry for 7 yards
FantasyPros Week 2 Position Rank: QB14
Redskins vs. QBs: 2nd (2.8 FPPG)
Last week, we saw that Reich, Luck and offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni will have a lot of high-percentage passes set up in this offense, as Luck completed 73.6 percent of his passes against the Cincinnati Bengals.
There were also some missed opportunities last week that could have led to a hugely productive day for the passing game, as Luck threw an interception, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton couldn’t reel in what would’ve been a deep gain downfield and tight end Jack Doyle fumbled on the Bengals’ side of the field late in the game.
This matchup with the Redskins presents some challenges, but Luck is typically the type of player to be relatively matchup-proof.
Last week, Cardinals quarterback Sam Bradford finished with just 153 passing yards, a 35th-ranked 4.5 YPA, no touchdowns and had two turnovers. Overall, the Arizona offense was just 1-for-9 on third and fourth downs (11.1 percent), which is worst in the league.
Conversely, Luck threw for 319 yards, a 6.0 YPA, two touchdowns and had one turnover. The Colts are tops in the league on third/fourth downs, converting 11-of-17 for 64.7 percent.
Luck doesn’t have a rich history against Washington — facing them just once in his career — but that game was a big one. That day, he completed 70.4 percent of his passes for 370 yards and five touchdowns.
When you factor Luck’s passing volume last week, his high completion percentage and his deep group of pass-catchers, this should not be the avoidable matchup for him that it may appear to be. Also keep in mind that Luck has the longest active streak in the NFL with 24 consecutive games with a touchdown pass.
RBs Marlon Mack, Jordan Wilkins, Nyheim Hines and Christine Michael
Last week: Wilkins—14 carries, 40 yards (2.9 avg), 3 receptions (3 targets), 21 yards (7.0 avg) | Nyheim Hines—5 carries, 19 yards (3.8 avg), 7 receptions (9 targets), 33 yards (4.7 avg) | Christine Michael—2 carries, 9 yards (4.5 avg)
FantasyPros Week 2 Position Rank: Wilkins RB40, Mack RB46, Hines RB59, Michael RB72
Redskins vs. RBs: 20th (26.5 FPPG)
Like last week, we don’t yet know if Mack will be available as he recovers from a hamstring injury suffered on Aug. 9. He was a limited participant last Thursday and Friday as well as this Wednesday and Thursday. Perhaps the Colts give Mack another week to prepare to hit the field considering hamstrings can easily be re-aggravated. We likely won’t know until Sunday.
Last week, the Colts’ backfield touches were distributed primarily to Wilkins (17), who was the lead back and handled many three-down duties, followed by Hines (12) who was often used as a chess piece type that we expected, and then Michael (2) came in to spell the pair.
The Redskins held Cardinals stud running back David Johnson to just 37 yards last week, but the Cardinals did not have as much of a threat of an aerial attack that the Colts possess. Regardless, the Redskins do have an impressive defensive front to worry about no matter how you cut it.
It’s hard to make any fantasy decisions on this backfield this early in the week, outside of maybe Hines because his role could stay consistent throughout the year. It would be wise to wait until gameday to first see if Mack will be available, and then to decide if you want to play him or Wilkins if you are in that situation.
WR T.Y. Hilton
Last week: 5 receptions (11 targets), 46 yards (9.2 avg)
FantasyPros Week 2 Position Rank: WR14
Redskins vs. WRs: 6th (16.0 FPPG)
Likely drafted as your WR2, you’re probably going to want to keep Hilton in your lineups this week.
Josh Norman, Fabian Moreau and Quinton Dunbar are a nice trio of corners to worry about, but Hilton having the chemistry he has with Luck usually presents an exception to the matchup.
The Colts are spreading the ball around, as nine different players caught passes last week. That helps keep some attention off of Hilton. If you’re worried about that ball distribution, however, know that Hilton was still targeted 11 times last week.
TEs Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron
Last week: Doyle—7 receptions (10 targets), 60 yards (8.6 avg) | Ebron—4 receptions (5 targets), 51 yards (12.8 avg), 1 TD
FantasyPros Week 2 Position Rank: Doyle TE10, Ebron TE15
Redskins vs. TEs: 6th (4.9 FPPG)
This pair should be safe fantasy plays most weeks, this one included.
They were targeted 15 times last week, which should be a pretty consistent number considering the importance of tight ends in Reich and Sirianni’s offense, as well as Luck’s penchant to heavily target the position.
Some extra sauce:
Both Doyle and Ebron are more productive in outdoor games. For Doyle, he averages 0.5 more catches, 0.8 more targets and 2.8 yards more per game outside opposed to inside. Ebron averages 0.7 more catches, 1.2 more targets and 4.4 more yards. He also catches a touchdown every 3.5 games outside compared to one every five games inside.
K Adam Vinatieri
Last week: 3-for-4 FGA (75%), 2-for-2 XPA (100%), 11 points
FantasyPros Week 2 Position Rank: K14
Redskins vs. Ks: 2nd (0.0 FPPG)
Vinatieri missed a field goal last week (from 55 yards out) and still managed 11 points.
This week should bring a relatively normal game for him. He averages 1.6-for-1.9 on field goal attempts (80.7%), 2.3-for-2.3 on extra points (97.8%) and 7.0 points per game outside.
Vinatieri has had some struggles against Washington in the past, converting 69.2 percent of field goal attempts in five games. However, he hasn’t faced the Redskins in Washington since 2010. That week, he converted 2-of-4 field goals (one of which was blocked) and hit all three extra points attempts.
Colts Defense/Special Teams
Last week: 330 yards allowed, 34 points allowed, 2 sacks, 2 takeaways
FantasyPros Week 2 Position Rank: DST32
Redskins vs. DSTs: 5th (2.0 FPPG)
This young Colts defense proved to be an aggressive bunch last week as they forced two turnovers in the first quarter, got two sacks in the second half and pressured Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton 12 times. They did, however, give up 330 yards and 27 points (seven of the 34 total points came from a Bengals defensive touchdown).
The Redskins offense rolled last week behind running backs Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson's 294 yards from scrimmage. They put up 429 yards and 24 points overall as an offense. They were sacked three times and turned the ball over once, which does indicate it's something in which the Colts could capitalize.
In the end, this is a pretty tough matchup for the Colts defense. Bengals running back Joe Mixon had success against them last week, putting up 149 total yards and a touchdown on 22 touches, so Peterson and Thompson definitely present a challenge this week. Quarterback Alex Smith is also well known for not turning the ball over, averaging just 7.9 turnovers per year over the last seven seasons.