by Dr. Vasu Vaddiparty
Week 5 of the NFL has a matchup of two teams who have played just ok to start the year. The Patriots, everyone’s gold standard has been nothing short of pedestrian the first 3 weeks but then, after the ugly upset in Detroit two Sunday nights ago, came back and showed the 1st place and previously undefeated Dolphins that they are not exactly conceding the AFC East yet with a 38-7 win in which all three phases played extremely well. Specifically, the defense who had been shell-shocked stepped up and held Miami to very little offensive production.
The Colts have started out 1-3 but have been very competitive in all four games including a big upset win at Washington who some believe could win the NFC East. The Colts had the lead vs. the Bengals in week 1 but the defense let them down. The Redskins win was very big. The Eagles loss was late in the 4th and because of Luck’s arm strength, not all the way back had to use their backup Brissett for late heave on the final play of the game. Last week, after coming back down 14 to send it to OT, they decided to forgo a punt and a potential tie to end up losing in OT to Houston.
The question here is can the Colts be competitive at New England a place that has been a house of horrors including the bludgeoning by the Pats in the AFC Championship game some years ago, that eventually lead to the whole “Deflate-Gate” situation. Ever since then the Patriots have made it a personal mission to go after the Colts every time.
The Thursday preview of Fantasy Football ramifications will be broken down below between the Patriots and Colts to get you a good jump on your week.
Andrew Luck is certainly back and has shown the competitive fire when he was completely healthy in his first few years. Post-surgery has been a question mark of exactly how healthy he is. He’s had 4 pretty good games but the arm strength is not there. That was never more evident than the end of the game in week 3 vs. Philadelphia when they took him out on the final play of the game. Luck is a good choice because he doesn’t make mistakes and won’t cost owners negative points. The Patriots defense hasn’t been good all year until this last weekend. This is a spot where Luck could succeed but if there are other options I would use them. This could be a tough spot for Luck considering the history between the two teams and the way the Patriots played last weekend.
This section of the Colt’s preview is going to consist of one sentence. Unless you have bye-weeks and injury, there are no options for the Colts from the RB standpoint. Wilkins and Hymes are the two main backs for Indy but these are clearly RB3 and RB4 options. Not to totally dump on them Hymes did have nine catches for 63 yards last week in the OT Loss vs. Houston. All in all, if you have to rely on the Colts RB for fantasy points then you can expect a loss without having to worry about other positions.
WR / TE
Receivers are a different story for the Colts because of Luck and his ability to find open receivers. They have had success in the air for the four weeks so far this season. TY Hilton has been Luck’s “go to” receiver, but he will not be available on Thursday night due to injury. He would be a 1.5 or WR2 on any fantasy team because Luck will look for him. Ryan Grant the former Redskins player is another option for Luck. Luck’s lack of arm strength enables the offense to get quick short passes out and this could be an option for a TE with the skill of Eric Ebron as a solid TE2. He has been a very good option through the first four weeks and should be a decent option.
Tom Brady, Tom Brady, Tom Brady. He is everyone’s QB1. While his numbers have not been great this year, he has the ability to pick up numbers. The running game has featured a few injuries and potential roadblocks to a decent running game. This could be a great spot for Brady to attack the Colt’s defense. Coming off a big victory last week vs. Miami and at 2-2 challenging for the division again should be enough motivation for Tom Terrific to have one of his great, or at least really, really, really good game. Not to mention whenever he is on National TV he always seems to rise to the top. Start him!!
Rex Burkhead has been up and down and suffered an injury that caused him to miss last week vs. Miami and that has now landed him on the IR list. James White has been in the system for a few years. He has been effective but nothing more than a solid RB3 because there are other options that can be used. However, the star of the blowout last week was rookie RB Sony Michel. The rookie from Georgia is a quick, small load. 112 yards last week on 25 carries. Granted a lot of that was after the Pats established a big lead but he is an effective back and if the Patriots get out to a big lead again look for him to get a good workload going. He is a solid RB2 for your team.
WR / TE
Rob Gronkowski came out early last week against Miami with a non-serious injury. Bumps and bruises are starting to get in the way of fantasy football owners as well as bye weeks. Check your injury reports to find out what his status is. You may not know until near game time what Gronk’s status is but the faster we find out the faster the click to No. 1 TE button and start him. He’s the best TE or definitely top 3 so he’s a clear TE1 pending injury status. Phillip Dorsett has become a deep threat for Brady since the loss of Cooks from last year. The big question is how much will Josh Gordon be implemented into the offense. With the potential of Gronk being out feeling is that Gordon knowing the playbook better and the Colts secondary not playing very well could be another factor to make Gordon a starter on your team this week. WR1.5 or WR2 is the most likely spot for Gordon because of the ability for Tom Brady to utilize his entire offensive weapons.
Special Teams/ Defense
Both special teams and defenses have been shaky at best. Though the Colts has played pretty well before week 4’s OT loss vs. Houston. 34 vs. Cincinnati, 9 in a win vs. Washington, 20 vs. Philadelphia and 37 vs. Houston. Lots of yards and lots of points on defense has gotten them off to a 1-3 start. Not a good play on the Colts defense. The Patriots gave up 20 to a struggling Houston offense in a win, 31 given up to a so-so offense in Jacksonville in a loss, 24 to a Lions team whose offense is pretty good but a bad night overall. Last week looked the part for NE has they had all phases working but defensively was outstanding giving up 7 points and thoroughly stifling the Dolphins offense. This is a good play for the Patriots to start as a defense for the following reasons; it’s Thursday night football, a home game and finally the last game of domination against Miami.
Patriots are -10 with an over/under of 51. This might be a low number based on last Sunday’s game if, in fact, the Patriots are back from their dominant win over Miami. The Colts could find themselves in a tough spot coming off an OT Loss on Sunday and then trying to get ready for a potential Super Bowl contender only 3 days rest. This could be a bad spot for Indy and NE licking their chops. This is where Belichick and the coaches are the best prepared when it comes to preparing for two opponents at the same time.
Don’t forget to listen to our Fantasy Football Doctors podcast with Dr. Charlie O. Mallonee and myself Dr. Vasu Vaddiparty on SportsServiceRadio.com for the rest of the NFL as it relates to Fantasy Football.
Any correspondence you may have can be sent to my twitter account @VPartySports or directly to Sports Service Radio.