INDIANAPOLIS — It's power-on-power. A top-ranked offense vs. a top-ranked defense. That's what you're getting today, when the Indianapolis Colts travel to take on the Cleveland Browns in their Week 5 matchup at FirstEnergy Stadium.
And while we're referring, of course, to a run-heavy Browns offensive attack vs. a stingy Colts defensive unit, which will be one of the more entertaining matchups in football this week, what about the other side of the coin? Can a Cleveland defense, which has struggled to contain quarterbacks, receivers and tight ends from a fantasy perspective so far this season, do anything to slow down a Colts offense that has showed flashes of brilliance, but has mostly just done what it's needed to do to win ballgames to this point? Will this be a breakout day for the likes of Jonathan Taylor or T.Y. Hilton?
So what should you expect from the Colts players on your fantasy rosters in Week 5? We've got you covered here.
(Weekly positional rankings from FantasyPros.com, based on Half-PPR scoring. Ranks as of Friday morning of game week.)
QB Philip Rivers
» FantasyPros Week 5 Position Rank: QB23
» Browns vs. QBs: 30th (24.7 FPPG)
The Colts have a ton of confidence in their defense heading into this one today against the Browns — and for good reason, as the unit is ranked No. 1 in the league through the first four games. But the Browns are averaging almost 40 points per game in their last three games, all wins, so if Cleveland shows any sort of that same offensive consistency in this one, it's going to be up to Rivers and the Colts' offense to keep up the pace. Rivers is yet to really let it loose in his first four games — he had 46 passing attempts Week 1 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, yet most of those were of the quick-throw variety — but, it's not that he can't let it loose, and, if he can limit the mistakes against this opportunistic Browns defense, which has the most takeaways (10) in the NFL so far this season, then chances are there will be chances to deliver the ball down the field with regularity. The Browns have allowed at least 24 fantasy points each to Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow, and Dak Prescott already this season, and Rivers could very well add his name to that list. Start him if you've got him.
RBs Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines
» FantasyPros Week 5 Position Rank: Taylor RB9, Hines RB36
» Browns vs. RBs: 11th (16.9 FPPG)
The rookie Taylor remains a top-10 fantasy back this week, despite the fact his usage within the Colts offense has really fluctuated from week to week. The fact he's still RB9 this week against a decent Browns run defense, though, is likely a result of the attention Taylor's going to get on a weekly basis, and it's only a matter of time before he breaks out in a big way. I'm wondering if Taylor — and Hines, for that matter — will be more involved in the passing game today in Cleveland. The Browns utilize a similar defensive scheme as the Colts, which means those quick passes to the backs will likely be open and available, and then you see if they can work a little magic to break free from there. Also, if the Colts' defense is able to hold up its end of the bargain against this talented Cleveland offense throughout, you know Frank Reich is going to want to run the ball and control the clock.
WRs T.Y. Hilton and Zach Pascal
» FantasyPros Week 5 Position Rank: Hilton WR30, Pascal WR54
» Browns vs. WRs: 30th (34.5 FPPG)
When you allow a ton of fantasy points to quarterbacks, that means someone else on the receiving end is racking up the points, as well. Wide receivers have also thrived against this Browns defense, which allowed 27, 28, 29 and 51 (!) points, respectively in its first four games against receivers of the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Washington Football Team and Dallas Cowboys. Again, Cleveland seems pretty boom or bust in the secondary, and the Colts have the right kind of quarterback to quickly move on from any potential mistakes not be afraid to keep feeding his guys down the field. I know I've said this multiple weeks, but it's coming again: start T.Y. Hilton. It's going to pay off for you one of these weeks when he absolutely busts out, and there will be no better matchup for him in the early goings than this one.
TE Mo Alie-Cox, Jack Doyle & Trey Burton
» FantasyPros Week 5 Position Rank: Alie-Cox TE19, Doyle TE28, Burton TE36
» Browns vs. TEs: 28th (12.9 FPPG)
Would you look at that? The Browns' defense also struggles to contain tight ends — at least from a fantasy football perspective. Against the Browns this season, the Ravens' Mark Andrews had 17 points in Week 1, the Bengals' C.J. Uzomah had 10 points in Week 2 and the Cowboys' Dalton Schultz had 15 points last week. As Reich continues to work Burton back into the mix — and I think we all know what to expect from Doyle — I like this matchup today for Alie-Cox; as I mentioned, it seems as if the Browns' defense will allow at least some space for the Colts' pass catchers to work with, and Rivers has already proven just how much he likes to get Alie-Cox out in the open and let him start chugging down the field. I'd definitely give Alie-Cox a start today, and then if you have Doyle and/or Burton in a deeper league, there's no reason why they shouldn't also be in consideration.
Colts Defense/Special Teams
» FantasyPros Week 5 Position Rank: DST8
» Browns vs. DSTs: 4th (3.5 FPPG)
The Browns' offense gets yards in huge chunks, especially on the ground, as they enter today's contest ranked first in the league in rushing at 204.5 yards per game, including a league-best 5.9 yards-per-carry average. I think it's a credit to coordinator Matt Eberflus and the Indy defense, however, that they're still ranked eighth fantasy-wise coming into today's matchup against such a high-powered offense. The health of the Colts' defense, particularly at linebacker, could play a huge role in this one, but logic tells us this game could realistically go a couple ways: the Colts could shut down the Browns' run game, much like it did in Chicago last week, and force quarterback Baker Mayfield to beat them through the air, or it's a shootout, much like Cleveland's entertaining win over the Cowboys last week. If you're asking me, however, I'm starting the Indy defense until it gives you a reason not to.