Week 5 of the 2021 NFL season wraps up with Monday Night Football as the Baltimore Ravens play host to the Indianapolis Colts. Here is my fantasy football preview to the game, offering up my starts and sits for Monday night action.
QB Carson Wentz — Wentz is not a recommended start in both redraft and DFS. His dual ankle injuries are improving but he’ll be without G Quenton Nelson (IR) and RT Braden Smith (foot/thumb) against Baltimore’s blitz-happy pass rush. The Ravens’ are top-5 in blitzes (56), QB hurries (24), and QB pressures (52). Wentz is a low-end QB2 with modest upside.
WR Michael Pittman Jr. — With fellow corners Marcus Peters and Chris Westry on IR, Marlon Humphrey has soldiered through back and knee injuries this year, in an effort to provide even minimal coverage against No. 1 WRs. Thus far Humphrey’s allowed 14-of-24 targets to get past him for a bountiful 161 yards and 2 touchdowns. Add in his 2 pass breakups and 0 interceptions and you get a Passer Rating Against of 106.4, per PFF.com. Count on Pittman as a high-end WR3.
WR Zach Pascal — The once promising slot CB Tavon Young, whose young career has been upended by a slough of injuries, will be manning up against serviceable slot man Pascal. Pascal isn’t likely to see a gaudy sum of targets as Pittman is the clear-cut alpha but this is a good spot for Pascal to make some noise. Pascal is a WR5 with top-36 upside tonight.
WR Parris Campbell — Campbell could get loose against fill-in No. 2 CB Anthony Averett. However, the backup DB has played decently this year and Campbell’s mostly running cardio at this point. He’s a boom/bust WR6.
TE Mo Alie-Cox and Jack Doyle — The Ravens are allowing the most .5PPR PPG to opposing tight ends (16.5), which means all three of these guys need to be in DFS lineups on Monday night. Doyle maintained a lead in snaps through the first three weeks of the season but was slowed by a back injury in Week 4. Alie-Cox immediately took advantage of Doyle’s situation, hauling in 3-of-5 targets for 42 yards and 2 touchdowns. Prior to Week 4, Doyle was the only tight end who’d seen a red zone target (three) but MAC saw four last week, three of which were in the end zone. This kind of production for the latter isn’t new, especially when Doyle is injured or out, but Frank Reich has refused to make Alie-Cox the No. 1 TE regardless. Redraft managers can’t be blamed if they want to chase the recent production but it really is a coin toss as to whether MAC or Doyle will get more work. They are both quality boom/bust TE1 options, given the match-up.
TE Kylen Granson — Of course, the impressively athletic rookie Kylen Granson also saw more snaps in Week 4 (30) than he had in Weeks 1-3. Granson was very productive in his final two collegiate seasons and could be a sneaky DFS dart throw. He’s not a recommended redraft starter though.
RB Jonathan Taylor — Taylor found the end zone for the first time last week, maintaining league-best red zone rushing usage in the process. Hysterically, his touchdown plunge was on a carry from 23 yards out, which means his scoring position usage has actually yet to hit. Indy’s coaching staff have steadily dialed back the number of routes they’re asking him to run (per PFF.com) and he’s totaled just five targets over the last three weeks. Taylor had seven come his way in Week 1. BAL’s front-seven have kept enemy backs to just 70.5 rushing yards per game this year, 8th fewest in the NFL and their NEFF run defense rating of 54.7% ranks 11th best. Taylor can only be trusted as a back-end RB1 in this one.
RB Nyheim Hines — Hines’ usage has been more game-script-dependent than expected but Lamar Jackson and Co. should push the pace this week as Indy’s missing a number of impact defensive players. Hines is a high-end RB4 with easy RB3 upside. Baltimore is allowing 6.5 receptions and 54.8 receiving yards per game to opposing RBs, 7th most and 4th most, respectively.
QB Lamar Jackson — Jackson’s 1.4% Completion Percentage Above Expectation (CPAE) is the best mark of his 4-year career, ranking 14th at the position. The young signal caller is an elite fantasy QB1 this week as Indianapolis is allowing 20.9 FPPG to opposing QBs, 13th most in the NFL, and will be playing without starting DE/2021 first round pick Kwity Paye (hamstring) as well as starting perimeter CBs Rock Ya-Sin (ankle) and T.J. Carrie (Injured Reserve). The Ravens will certainly miss LT Ronnie Staley (ankle), but the Colts’ defensive injuries will help offset his absence. Indianapolis’ 37.1% NEFF pass defense rating is just 26th in the league. It’s wheels up for Baltimore’s passing attack.
WR Marquise “Hollywood” Brown — Excluding Week 5 data, Hollywood’s 326 receiving yards and 3 receiving touchdowns are both top-10 figures in the NFL, regardless of position. Indianapolis’ 11% rate of explosive pass plays allowed is T-6th most in the NFL per SharpFootballStats, which lines up perfectly with Brown’s skill set. Don’t forget, starting CBs Rock Ya-Sin and T.J. Carrie are both Out. Brown is a high-flying WR2 with monstrous upside.
WR Rashod Bateman — First-round pick/rookie WR Rashod Bateman (core muscle surgery) has been designated to return from Injured Reserve and was moving well in practice this week. We don’t yet know if he’ll be activated but given the matchup, redraft fantasy managers could fire him up as a WR4 with serious upside. It’s possible he is on a snap count so be wary of a low floor but Bateman has the skill set to immediately assume X-receiver/No. 1 pass catching duties the moment he takes the field. Bateman would be a must-use in DFS.
Update 10/11/21, 9:25am PST: Rashod Bateman will not play tonight but there is hope that he plays in Week 6 against the Los Angeles Chargers.
WR Sammy Watkins — No. 2 WR Watkins has been inefficient with his 29 targets (most on the team), catching just 16 of them for 257 scoreless yards. Even if Bateman stays inactive, Watkins is only a WR5 in redraft formats. Throw a dart in DFS if you please. The matchup could be fruitful (sans Bateman).
WR Devin Duvernay — As mentioned in the Marquise Brown section, the Colts’ back-end has a propensity for giving up long plays through the air. Duvernay produced a 4.39 40-yard dash at the 2020 NFL Combine. He’s unlikely to see a high-volume of targets but he’s a great DFS option and could save the day in a Hail Mary redraft situation.
TE Mark Andrews — Indy’s defense of the tight end position has been decent—9.4 .5PPR PPG, 14th fewest—but they haven’t faced anyone of Andrews’ caliber. He’s an elite, talent-based TE1 again this week.
RB Latavius Murray — Head coach John Harbaugh opted for a Keep It Simple, Stupid approach last week, deactivating the promising, if error prone, rookie back Ty’Son Williams. Former Saint Latavius Murray ran as the team’s lead RB, handling 62% of the backfield snaps and taking 18 carries for 59 yards and 1 touchdown. Although they’ll be missing DE Kwity Paye, Indy’s front-seven is as good as it gets in the run defense department, allowing just 16.4 .5PPR PPG. Likewise, their 54.0% NEFF run defense rating is 12th best in the NFL and as a result, Murray is just a high-floor RB3.
RB Le’Veon Bell — Now-No. 2 back Bell saw a 27% snap share, took 4 carries for 11 yards, ran 10 routes (per PFF.com) and failed to secure his lone target. With Devonta Freeman mostly phased out, Bell is the preferred bellcow backup who could provide standalone value as an RB4 in the right matchup. Week 5 vs Indy’s fearsome front-seven is not that match-up.
Update: Expect Latavius Murray to retain lead back duties as a high-floor RB3. Ty’Son Williams is a boom/bust RB5. The rookie Williams did see some passing game usage earlier in the year and could operate as a pass catching option for BAL this evening.
Le'Veon Bell out, Ty'Son Williams IN tonight vs Indy 👀 https://t.co/kC0aRhDUN1
— NerdBall Fantasy Football (@nerdballff) October 11, 2021