Matchup Analysis: Indianapolis Colts at Los Angeles Chargers

Vegas Prediction

Vegas says: Colts 20, Chargers 26

FBG Projections

TeamRushYardsTDCompAttPass YdTDINT

Colts Rushing offense

Neutral matchup vs. the Chargers defense.

Marlon Mack will lead the Colts backfield with Nyhiem Hines working in on passing downs in a similar fashion from the 2018 season. Mack finished 2018 with 908 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns despite missing four games with a hamstring injury. He is a powerful runner capable of producing on all three downs and now has limited competition for touches in Week 1 with Jordan Wilkins and Jonathan Williams nursing injuries. Charcandrick West was recently added to the roster but presents little threat to Mack’s Week 1 workload. The Colts offensive line looks primed to pick up where they left off in 2018, grading out as a consensus top tier unit led by Pro Bowl left guard Quenton Nelson. The subtraction of Andrew Luck from this offense may lower the floor for this unit as a whole, but their strong offensive line and a healthy Marlon Mack should keep this rushing offense on the map in Week 1 at least.

The Chargers defensive front remains intact from 2018 with the primary change being the addition of veteran linebacker Thomas Davis, who should help with run defense. They also spent a first-round draft pick on defensive tackle Jerry Tillery to help on the interior, but he may need a few weeks to get fully up to speed. Tillery is known more so for his pass-rushing abilities rather than stopping the run, but he is a talented body who can provide some depth to what otherwise is a mediocre defensive tackle position group. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram round out this defensive line, but neither are noted as particularly dangerous against the run. From a run-blocking perspective, the Colts offensive line should have a slight advantage here.

Colts Passing offense

Tough matchup vs. the Chargers defense.

The Colts passing offense has been a key subject of news this offseason with the blockbuster retirement of Andrew Luck. This news clearly downgrades the Colts offense as a whole, but Jacoby Brissett is a fine option to have as a replacement, all things considered. Brissett is a mobile quarterback who has shown some success as a passer based on his 2017 campaign in which he started 16 games and passed for over 3,000 yards and 13 touchdowns with a 59% completion rate. T.Y. Hilton still figures to be the top target for this offense, but his ceiling was certainly lowered with the departure of Luck. Hilton did finish with just under 1,000 yards and four touchdowns in 2017 with Brissett, but those net out to low-end WR2 numbers instead of the low-end WR1 numbers he has put up with Luck under center. Behind Hilton, the Colts added some new faces via Devin Funchess in free agency and Parris Campbell from the draft. Funchess will represent a big-bodied red zone option while Campbell is a slot guy with impressive speed and route-running ability. The duo of Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle return at tight end and will both add safety blanket options for Brissett. Ebron should not repeat his 13-touchdown outburst from 2018, but he remains a red zone threat in this offense. Doyle had some very positive games with Brissett in 2017, so that chemistry could easily re-blossom this season. Finally, Nyhiem Hines returns as their primary passing downs running back. Hines could see a benefit from Brissett under center, particularly this week with the Colts looking at the possibility of playing from behind during much of this game as almost a full touchdown underdog.

The Chargers defense was dealt a huge blow this preseason with the loss of Pro Bowl safety Derwin James, who is expected to miss most of the regular season with a foot injury. James was the best player in this secondary and will be impossible to replace. The Chargers do, however, return an impressive group of cornerbacks anchored by one of the league’s top slot cornerbacks Desmond King. King, along with top outside cornerback Casey Heyward Jr, helped contribute to the Chargers allowing just the fifth-fewest fantasy points per game (29.7 in PPR scoring) to wide receivers in 2018. Look for Parris Campbell to be smothered by King this week, while T.Y. Hilton should draw a difficult matchup with Hayward. The addition of Thomas Davis at linebacker should only help bolster their linebacker group both from a pass rush and coverage perspective, helping to keep tabs on the likes of Nyhiem Hines. The Chargers do also return a strong defensive line with Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa while spending a first-round pick on defensive tackle Jerry Tillery. The Colts have a strong offensive line in their own regard though, making for a relatively even matchup in the trenches. While the loss of Derwin James may bump this unit down from the elite level, they are still a very solid passing defense for the Colts to square off against this week.

Chargers Rushing offense

Tough matchup vs. the Colts defense.

The Chargers rushing offense has been the center of attention for most of the offseason with the ongoing contract situation of Melvin Gordon. With no deal in sight, the Chargers will look to move forward without Gordon in Week 1. This will cede rushing duties to the combination of Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson. Jackson performed reasonably well in three games without Melvin Gordon last season, averaging 4.3 rushing yards per attempt with two rushing touchdowns from Weeks 13-15. Austin Ekeler had a great season both with and without Gordon in 2018 as he averaged over five yards per carry for 554 rushing yards while finishing with over 50 receptions and 404 receiving yards. Ekeler should be expected to play the lead role until Gordon returns while Jackson will mix in on first and second downs. Their offensive line is anchored by a Pro Bowl center in Mike Pouncey and young talented guard Forrest Lamp. They will be without left tackle Russell Okung for the foreseeable future though as he battles blood clots that could sideline him for at least six weeks, if not indefinitely. With their current squad, this offensive line ranks average at best.

The Colts return most pieces of what made them an above-average run defense in 2018, allowing just 85 rushing yards per game to opposing running backs (9th-fewest). Second-year linebacker Darius Leonard was a big part of that success as he anchors this linebacker group. Margus Hunt and Denico Autry are both proficient defensive tackles returning on the interior. The Colts actually bolstered their defensive end position with the big addition of Justin Houston to help opposite Jabaal Sheard on the edge. Sheard has actually been dealing with an injury throughout the preseason though, and his status for Week 1 is in question. The lack of Sheard will bump down this run defense slightly, but in assessing them from 2018, this still looks to be an improved group overall.

Chargers Passing offense

Neutral matchup vs. the Colts defense.

The Chargers passing offense will see a few changes this season, but most of their key contributors are returning. Phillip Rivers remains under center as one of the most consistent quarterbacks in the game. He opened the 2018 season with 12 straight multi-touchdown games and finished the season with 4300 total passing yards. Keenan Allen should remain the top receiver for Rivers despite a preseason ankle injury that led to scares of surgery and missed time in the regular season. All reports indicate Allen should be on track for Week 1, but do keep an eye on the injury report come Sunday morning. Tyrell Williams departed for Oakland, which immediately solidifies the increased role Mike Williams should play in this offense. Despite splitting snaps with Tyrell Williams last season, Mike Williams showed spectacular playmaking ability as he doubled his per catch production from 8.6 yards to 15.4 yards while converting over 15% of his targets into touchdowns (10 touchdowns from 66 targets). The return of tight end Hunter Henry should also benefit this offense after Henry missed the entire 2018 season. Henry has both the size and speed to put up elite numbers for a tight end, whether from making big plays to move the chains to powerful grabs in the red zone. Running back Austin Ekeler will also plan to contribute through the air in a similar, but possibly expanded, role from 2018. With Melvin Gordon missing Week 1 (and TBD beyond), Ekeler should see even more snaps and usage out of the backfield.

The Colts enter 2019 with a young but talented secondary that helped them finish near the middle of the pack against the pass in 2019. Pierre Desir is the “veteran” of this group and looks to be their top cornerback option while Quincy Wilson covers the other side with Kenny Moore manning the slot. None of these cornerbacks are particularly great, but they are all serviceable in their matchups. Malik Hooker took a big step forward at safety last season and is proving to be worth his high draft pick in 2017. Second-year linebacker Darius Leonard also returns after his breakout season in 2018. The big news for the Colts this offseason was the addition of pass rusher Justin Houston to help improve upon what were average sack numbers for the Colts last season. The Chargers offensive line should struggle against this improved pass rush of the Colts. Overall, this defense was on the rise in 2018 and looks to be improved coming into 2019. Chargers wide receivers look to be evenly matched, but the deciding factor will be how well this offensive line holds up to the Colts pass rush.

Philip Rivers (FanDuel: $7500, DraftKings: $5900)

1PROJ-Dodds23352601.90.811019.919.919.9 (H=47)19.9 (H=60)
1PROJ-Tremblay21322551.80.9220.119.819.819.8 (H=46)19.8 (H=59)
1PROJ-Bloom21342261.8111017.617.617.6 (H=38)17.6 (H=48)

Jacoby Brissett (FanDuel: $6000, DraftKings: $5300)

1PROJ-Dodds22362381.40.84140.118.718.718.7 (H=53)18.7 (H=60)
1PROJ-Tremblay27432941.31.13110.120.520.520.5 (H=62)20.5 (H=70)
1PROJ-Bloom17261971.20.54180.116.616.616.6 (H=43)16.6 (H=48)

Andrew Luck (FanDuel: $8300, DraftKings: $6700)

1PROJ-Dodds00000000000 (H=0)0 (H=0)
1PROJ-Tremblay00000000000 (H=0)0 (H=0)

Marlon Mack (FanDuel: $6900, DraftKings: $5600)

1PROJ-Dodds15660.51.7120.111.413.112.3 (H=22)13.1 (H=30)
1PROJ-Tremblay13540.31.51108.39.89.1 (H=13)9.8 (H=18)
1PROJ-Bloom18750.41.07010.611.611.1 (H=18)11.6 (H=24)

Nyheim Hines (FanDuel: $5300, DraftKings: $3900)

1PROJ-Dodds4140.12.3180. (H=7)6.7 (H=13)
1PROJ-Tremblay4160.12.618046.65.3 (H=6)6.6 (H=13)
1PROJ-Bloom2903.0230. (H=6)6.8 (H=14)

Jordan Wilkins (FanDuel: $4600, DraftKings: $3000)

1PROJ-Dodds2800.2100.91.11 (H=0)1.1 (H=0)
1PROJ-Tremblay2700.7501.21.91.6 (H=0)1.9 (H=2)
1PROJ-Bloom31400.0001.41.41.4 (H=0)1.4 (H=1)

Darius Jackson (FanDuel: $5100, DraftKings: $3000)

1PROJ-Dodds0000.000000 (H=0)0 (H=0)
1PROJ-Tremblay1400.4300.71.10.9 (H=0)1.1 (H=0)
1PROJ-Bloom0000.000000 (H=0)0 (H=0)

T.Y. Hilton (FanDuel: $7700, DraftKings: $6600)

1PROJ-Dodds5.4740.40009.815.212.5 (H=20)15.2 (H=33)
1PROJ-Tremblay5.5820.30001015.512.8 (H=21)15.5 (H=34)
1PROJ-Bloom5.0720.40009.614.612.1 (H=19)14.6 (H=31)

Parris Campbell (FanDuel: $5000, DraftKings: $3800)

1PROJ-Dodds1.7200.10002.64.33.5 (H=3)4.3 (H=6)
1PROJ-Tremblay1.7220.10002.84.53.7 (H=3)4.5 (H=7)
1PROJ-Bloom1.01300001.32.31.8 (H=1)2.3 (H=2)

Jack Doyle (FanDuel: $5400, DraftKings: $3400)

1PROJ-Dodds3.1280.247.15.6 (H=7)7.1 (H=17)
1PROJ-Tremblay3.2300. (H=7)7.4 (H=18)
1PROJ-Bloom2.0230. (H=5)5.5 (H=11)

Mo Alie-Cox (FanDuel: $4000, DraftKings: $2500)

1PROJ-Dodds0.990.11.52.42 (H=1)2.4 (H=3)
1PROJ-Tremblay0.9900.91.81.4 (H=0)1.8 (H=2)
1PROJ-Bloom1. (H=1)2.4 (H=3)

Xavier Grimble (FanDuel: $4000, DraftKings: $2700)

1PROJ-Dodds0.880. (H=1)2.2 (H=2)
1PROJ-Tremblay1.0100. (H=1)2.6 (H=3)
1PROJ-Bloom0.000000 (H=0)0 (H=0)

Trey Burton (FanDuel: $5600, DraftKings: $3900)

1PROJ-Dodds0.000000 (H=0)0 (H=0)
1PROJ-Tremblay2.3250.23.764.9 (H=5)6 (H=11)
1PROJ-Bloom0.000000 (H=0)0 (H=0)

Indianapolis Colts (FanDuel: $3600, DraftKings: $2600)

1PROJ-Dodds24.93622.20.90.600. (H=16)7.1 (H=22)
1PROJ-Tremblay25.253572.10.90.600. (H=18)7.6 (H=25)

Austin Ekeler (FanDuel: $6400, DraftKings: $5500)

1PROJ-Dodds12490.44.0340.211.915.913.9 (H=29)15.9 (H=43)
1PROJ-Tremblay12510.44.0360.212.316.314.3 (H=31)16.3 (H=45)
1PROJ-Bloom12440.34.0320.311.215.213.2 (H=27)15.2 (H=40)

Justin Jackson (FanDuel: $5900, DraftKings: $4000)

1PROJ-Dodds9370.41.9160.18.310.29.3 (H=16)10.2 (H=27)
1PROJ-Tremblay9370.32.5200. (H=16)10.6 (H=29)
1PROJ-Bloom9330. (H=7)6.7 (H=13)

Keenan Allen (FanDuel: $7700, DraftKings: $7300)

1PROJ-Dodds6.5770.401010.216.713.5 (H=23)16.7 (H=35)
1PROJ-Tremblay5.9770.514011.11714 (H=25)17 (H=37)
1PROJ-Bloom7.0710.40009.516.513 (H=22)16.5 (H=35)

Mike Williams (FanDuel: $6400, DraftKings: $5300)

1PROJ-Dodds3.9530.51208.512.410.4 (H=18)12.4 (H=29)
1PROJ-Tremblay3.2490.5010811.29.6 (H=15)11.2 (H=24)
1PROJ-Bloom3.0440.40006.89.88.3 (H=12)9.8 (H=19)

Hunter Henry (FanDuel: $6100, DraftKings: $3900)

1PROJ-Dodds3.8470.47.110.99 (H=14)10.9 (H=32)
1PROJ-Tremblay3.1390. (H=10)8.8 (H=22)
1PROJ-Bloom4.0460.57.611.69.6 (H=16)11.6 (H=35)

Virgil Green (FanDuel: $4000, DraftKings: $2500)

1PROJ-Dodds0.670. (H=1)1.9 (H=2)
1PROJ-Tremblay0.560. (H=1)1.7 (H=2)
1PROJ-Bloom0.000000 (H=0)0 (H=0)

Ty Long (FanDuel: $--, DraftKings: $--)


Mike Badgley (FanDuel: $--, DraftKings: $--)


Los Angeles Chargers (FanDuel: $4000, DraftKings: $3000)

1PROJ-Dodds213752.810.600. (H=21)8.8 (H=28)
1PROJ-Tremblay18.753882.81.10.900.511.311.311.3 (H=33)11.3 (H=44)