TNF Fantasy Preview: Indianapolis Colts vs. Tennessee Titans

derrick henry

Tonight we have an AFC South divisional matchup between the 5-3 Indianapolis Colts and the 6-2 Tennessee Titans. The winner of this game would have the lead in the division but not a stranglehold as these two weeks will meet again in two weeks. Last week, my recommendations were mostly accurate as both Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams had top-five finishes. Tonight’s game doesn’t offer a lot of star power but has several good options as a flex or bye week filler. With that in mind, let’s dive into this week’s Thursday Night Fantasy Preview.

Indianapolis Colts

Quarterback – Philip Rivers

Rivers was playing well, scoring 22 or more fantasy points in back-to-back games. However, last week he came back down to earth, throwing zero touchdowns and scoring only 7.1 fantasy points. Aside from the two-game stretch, Rivers had failed to throw for two or more touchdowns in any game this season. However, the matchup tonight gives Rivers some upside. The Titans are giving up 19.8 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks and have given up at least two touchdowns in every game since Week 1. While Rivers has scored more than 15 fantasy points only twice this season, the matchup with a questionable Titans’ secondary makes him a high-end QB2 this week. He is an ideal bye week filler for Patrick Mahomes.


Running Back – Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines, Jordan Wilkins

This backfield has been a headache for fantasy owners this season. When Marlon Mack went down for the season in Week 1, everyone thought Taylor would have the featured role. However, between injuries, fumbles, riding the hot hand, Taylor has scored under 10 fantasy points in three of his past five games. Furthermore, since their Week 7 bye, Taylor has played 47 snaps compared to 39 for Hines and 62 for Wilkins. It’s unclear how much of this three-way split is because of Taylor’s injury and fumbles or if this is something the coaching staff wants to stick with for the rest of the season.


Meanwhile, the Titans are giving up an average of 24.4 fantasy points per game to running backs this season. They have given up a rushing touchdown in 75 percent of their games this year. However, the Titans have held running backs under 100 rushing yards in five straight games. With so much uncertainty in this backfield, fantasy owners would be wise to avoid the trio if possible. However, of the three, Taylor is still the one to play while Hines is a flex option in PPR and Wilkins in non PPR.

Wide Receiver – T.Y. Hilton, Michael Pittman Jr., Zach Pascal

In the offseason, many thought Hilton would bounce back this season with the change at quarterback; however, that hasn’t been the case. Instead, Hilton has scored more than 9.5 fantasy points only once this season. He has seen five or fewer targets in all but two games and is dealing with a groin injury that caused him to miss last week’s game against the Baltimore Ravens.

With Hilton out of the lineup, Pittman and Pascal got most of the work at wide receiver last week. Both receivers scored 9.5 or more points, but neither got over the 60-yard mark. Pittman tied for the team lead with seven targets, while Pascal had six. Hilton should play tonight, putting a damper on their fantasy value. However, the matchup offers some upside.


The Titans have been awful at slowing down wide receivers this season, giving up the second-most fantasy points per game to the position at 46.6 per contest. Furthermore, they have given up at least 44.5 fantasy points to wide receivers in seven straight games. They have given up at least one touchdown to the position in six of their last seven games. If you can stomach starting Hilton tonight, the matchup is juicy on paper. However, fantasy football isn’t played on paper. Pittman and Pascal are long shot flex options if you are in a deeper league or are having bye week blues.

Tight End – Trey Burton, Mo Alie-Cox

Each week it seems like a different Colts’ tight end is going off. For many, when they see a fantasy merry-go-round at a position, they try to avoid it, and rightfully so. Of the Colts’ three tight ends, none are averaging double-digit fantasy points per game. For tonight, Jack Doyle won’t play because of a concussion he suffered on Sunday. Meanwhile, Alie-Cox is dealing with a knee injury and is questionable to play. If he plays, all he does is hamper Burton’s fantasy value.

Over his last three games, Burton has three total touchdowns while scoring 10 or more fantasy points twice. The Titans are giving up an average of 13.7 fantasy points per game to tight ends. However, they have given up 17.5 or more fantasy points to the position in half of their games. If both Burton and Alie-Cox are out tonight, Burton’s volume and role makes him a mid TE1 this week.

Defense/Special Teams

Surprisingly, the Colts have the top scoring D/ST this season, averaging 11.5 fantasy points per game. However, that number is slightly inflated thanks to their Week 3 matchup against the New York Jets, where the Colts’ defense scored more touchdowns than the Jets’ offense (2-1). Removing the 27 fantasy points from their average, the Colts D/ST average 9.3 fantasy points per game, which would make them the D/ST5 on the year. Meanwhile, D/STs are averaging only 0.8 fantasy points per game against the Titans this season. Furthermore, D/STs have scored negative fantasy points in three games against the Titans this season and haven’t scored more than five fantasy points in any game. The Colts D/ST is a low-end D/ST1 this week.

Tennessee Titans

Quarterback – Ryan Tannehill

Coming off his bye week, Tannehill had back-to-back games where he had eight total touchdowns and scored 58.6 fantasy points. However, in the three games since, Tannehill has scored a total of 49.2 fantasy points, with six total touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Colts are giving up the second-fewest fantasy points per game quarterbacks, giving up only 13.9 per game. Furthermore, they have held quarterbacks under 16 fantasy points in half of their games this season. Tannehill has the weapons and talent to score 20 plus fantasy points, but his recent struggles are a concern. Fantasy owners should value Tannehill as a high-end QB2 this week with a safe floor.

Running Back – Derrick Henry

Yes, Henry had a down game last week, scoring a season-low 6.8 fantasy points. However, you’re a fool if you don’t start Henry tonight. Before last week, Henry had at least one rushing touchdown in five straight games. He has scored 15 or more fantasy points in all but two games this season. While the Colts have held running backs to an average of 18.5 fantasy points per game, they have struggled when facing elite running backs. Furthermore, they have given up three rushing touchdowns to running backs over their last three games, despite not facing a running back with Henry’s talent. Fantasy owners shouldn’t worry about the matchup or his poor performance last week; start Henry with confidence.

Wide Receiver – A.J. Brown, Corey Davis

Since returning from a knee injury earlier this season, Brown has five straight games scoring 12 or more fantasy points. During that five-game stretch, Brown has scored 20 or more fantasy points four times while averaging 20.8 fantasy points per game. Furthermore, Brown has at least seven targets in every game this season while averaging a touchdown per game. Meanwhile, Davis has been a pleasant surprise this season, until last week. Before last week’s game, where he had zero fantasy points and saw only three targets, Davis had scored 11 or more fantasy points in all five of his games. However, Davis is clearly the WR2 behind Brown, as his one big game came when Brown scored only 12.4 fantasy points.

Meanwhile, the Colts are giving up an average of 34.2 fantasy points per game to wide receivers, about 2.5 points fewer than the league average. However, that number is inflated by two matchups against teams with horrible wide receiver play. Over their last six games, the Colts have held wide receivers under 26 fantasy points twice, against the Jets and Ravens. In their other four matchups, they are giving up an average of 43.4 fantasy points per game. Brown is a high-end WR2 this week, while Davis is a safe floor WR3 or flex option, assuming he plays. Unfortunately, Davis’ older brother reportedly died of cancer yesterday, and at the time of writing, it was unclear if Davis would suit up for the game or not.

Tight End – Jonnu Smith

Over the last four weeks, Smith has struggled, averaging only 5.1 fantasy points per game. During that span, Smith has a total of 10 targets and only one touchdown. With both Brown and Davis healthy, Smith’s role in the passing game has minimized. Unfortunately for him, things won’t turn around tonight. The Colts are giving up an average of only 7.6 fantasy points per game to tight ends this season, second-fewest in the league. Furthermore, they haven’t given up a touchdown to the position this season while holding opposing tight ends to under 5.5 fantasy points in half of their games this season. Smith is a mid TE2 this week, and fantasy owners should avoid starting him if possible in single starting tight end leagues.

Defense/Special Teams

While the Colts offense is far from high powered, the Titans D/ST has been awful this season. Last week, the Titans D/ST scored a season-high 13 fantasy points against the Chicago Bears. However, half of those points came on a touchdown, their first of the season. Before last week’s game, the Titans D/ST had scored a total of 11 fantasy points this season (1.6 per game). Meanwhile, D/STs have scored more than three fantasy points against the Colts only twice this season. Leave the Titans D/ST on the waiver wire, where they belong.


Rivers: High-End QB2

Taylor: Low-End RB2

Hines: Flex Option in PPR

Wilkins: Flex Option in non-PPR

Hilton: High Risk/High Reward WR3

Pittman: Avoid

Pascal: Avoid

Burton: Mid TE1

Alie-Cox: Avoid

Colts D/ST: Low-End D/ST1

Tannehill: High-End QB2

Henry: Plug and Play RB1

Brown: High-End WR2

Davis: Safe Floor WR3

Smith: Mid TE2

Titans D/ST: Avoid

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