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Colts vs Broncos Start 'Em Sit 'Em: Russell Wilson, Jerry Jeudy, Melvin Gordon, Nyheim Hines, Mike Boone, Mo Alie-Cox, Alec Pierce

Michael Pittman Jr. - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

I hope you all survived last week. With monster weeks from lots of second-tier players such as Josh Jacobs, Miles Sanders, and Jamaal Williams, some of the teams with slow starts might have gotten their revenge. 

This week, we have two veteran quarterbacks who are looking to turn their new teams around. Thankfully, both QBs should be able to do this since they seem to be the ones holding their teams back. As a result, both defenses have been formidable against the pass, each in the bottom-10 in passing yards allowed per game.

We’re officially almost a quarter of the way through the season, and we might be missing both of these team’s star young running backs. I hope you’re ready for this one. My name is Ellis Johnson, and this is your Thursday Night Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em article.

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Indianapolis Colts @ Denver Broncos - 8:20 pm ET

Notable Injuries:


Must-Starts for Fantasy Football Lineups

Courtland Sutton (WR, DEN)

After all the hype around Russell Wilson’s potential top target in the offseason, Wilson’s poor performance has dominated the headlines. As a result, Sutton has been quietly doing exactly what fantasy managers hoped in the offseason. 

Even though his ceiling has been limited by this team’s dysfunctions, he is the WR13 on the season. Arguably, more importantly, he has been dominating the team’s targets and receptions. With 13 more receptions and 160 more yards than the next WR on the team, he is clearly the go-to guy on this team. With seven targets in every game so far and 70 yards or a score in each game, he is a locked-in WR2 in this tough AFC matchup.

With his volume and usage every week, it's surprising that he only scored his first touchdown last week. As a result, I'm calling for the Pie Shop to be open for the second week in a row for the emerging receiver.

*Pie Shop: An Australian term (often used in Rugby League) to describe who will score a Try (or in this case touchdown) this week. (Season Calls: 2-1)

Michael Pittman Jr. (WR, IND)

Last week was a game to forget for Pittman managers. Managing a mere 31 yards on six targets (three receptions), Week 5 can’t come fast enough for the young wideout. The good news is that in his other two games on the season, he has a combined 22 targets, 17 receptions, 183 yards, and a score. 

As much managers might be hoping for a bounce-back performance by Pittman, he’ll be matching up against one of the league’s top corners. Patrick Surtain has been the real deal this season and makes the Broncos' passing on Justin Fields look like a good idea. Although Davante Adams managed to crack 100 yards last week, the Colts don’t necessarily have the same receiving threats the Raiders do. As a result, I am certain that Surtain and Pittman will get to know each other really well this week. He is a volume WR2 this week, and I would prefer Sutton between the two.

Nyheim Hines (RB, IND)

Since Taylor is out, Hines ia a must-start this week. Denver’s pass rush has been middle of the pack so far this season; however, Matt Ryan has been a turnover machine.

This Broncos' defense will be licking their chops at the thought of facing Ryan, who has nine fumbles (three lost) and five interceptions in his four games. If the Colts want to win this game, they need to take care of the ball. We’ve seen that with the lack of pass catchers on this team, Hines has managed five or more targets in three of his four games this season. If Ryan is forced to play more conservatively, I expect Hines to get a lot of work this week.



Solid Starts for Fantasy Football Lineups

Russell Wilson (QB, DEN)

Through all the negativity revolving around the veteran QB this season, he has started to get people questioning if he may be limited after all. Thankfully, Wilson is coming off a huge game last week where we saw him use his legs effectively for the first time this season. Rushing four times for 29 yards and a score, he started to look like his former self despite losing to the Raiders. 

Wilson is a hard one to figure out as he has two good games and two bad games this season. Although one of these bad games was against the 49ers and their top-tier passing defense, he also struggled against the Texans. This week, I think he’ll be forced to pass and scramble more without Williams in the backfield. It might be gross, but I’m taking a bite of this Dangerwich and playing him as a low-end QB1 for me this week. 

Melvin Gordon (RB, DEN)

I know this is the last thing the fantasy community wants to see after the team just lost Williams for the season, but Gordon is a solid start this week. Despite the Colts allowing the sixth-fewest rushing yards per game, the team will be forced to overlook Gordon’s four fumbles this season and give him the work. Plus, Mike Boone had some egregious drops to close out last week which might cost him game time. 

Much to the disappointment of William's managers, Gordon was more involved than some expected this year. As a result, the veteran back picked up where he left off last year and has looked fairly decent. Gordon has the pass-catching ability and the nose for the endzone to make him a solid start regardless of the matchup with Williams out.


Flex Considerations for Fantasy Football Lineups

Jerry Jeudy (WR, DEN)

How can someone have all this talent and barely make an impact on the NFL field? I am sure I will get a lot of heat for that line, but it’s true, he hasn’t been great. Getting firmly outplayed by his counterpart Sutton, Jeudy seems to be the one most affected by Wilson’s poor play.

Last week, he made the most of his five targets, catching four of them for 53 yards and a score. However, in his three healthy games this season, he has only 10 receptions. In these games, he has also been all over the map with his yards, having a game with 17, 53, and 102 yards. It’s hard to know what Jeudy you will get this week against a tough defense, but his two touchdowns in those three games make him a decent flex play in Week 5.

Matt Ryan (QB, IND)

Ryan has been the definition of a QB2 in Superflex leagues. Disregarding the team's shocking shutout to the Jaguars in Week 2, he has between 12 and 17 points each week. What has hurt the veteran the most is his horrific ball security. As mentioned earlier, fumbling nine times (losing three of them) and throwing five interceptions is not a recipe for success.

The team’s struggles are not all on the veteran QB. This team seriously lacks pass catchers and could use a weapon outside of Pittman. Last week, he managed to find the giant TE Mo Alie-Cox for a pair of scores, but that’s not a great second option. Plus, this week, the offense might have lost its heart with Taylor out.

This week, Matty Melted Ice goes against a Broncos team who is allowing the fifth-fewest passing yards per game. I don’t see any upside in this matchup and he is a low-end QB2 in Superflex leagues at best. However, if Taylor doesn’t play Thursday, I don’t think you can play Ryan in any format. 


Consider Sitting for Fantasy Football Lineups

Mo Alie-Cox and Albert Okwuegbunam (TE, IND and DEN)

With the departure of Jack Doyle and Noah Fant, both of these TEs had some optimism for this season. Of the two, Albert O has been the biggest disappointment. With only six receptions and 45 yards in four games, he has officially entered the “unplayable” tier of fantasy players.

As for the giant TE on the Colts, he comes in as the TE13 on the season so far. However, lots of this has to do with his massive performance last week where he went six receptions for 85 yards and two scores. However, before that, he had failed to crack four fantasy points. If you want to play the narrative that Ryan will need to lean on the large target if Taylor is out, you can take your shot at a touchdown. However, I’d be trying to avoid chasing the points in Week 5.

Alec Pierce (WR, IND)

If you’ve watched any Colts games, firstly I’m sorry that you had to see them, but secondly, you’ve probably noticed a large WR outside of Pittman. Alec Pierce has been forced into a fairly involved role opposite Pittman this season. The rookie wideout was selected in the second round by the Colts to help fill the void of T.Y Hilton. The Colts seem to love big receivers, and Pierce has seen five-plus targets in each of his last two games. He’s a solid cheap option in DFS formats, but he’ll need Matty Melted Ice to start playing better before he sees any redraft lineups.

K.J. Hamler (WR, DEN)

K.J. Hamler was selected in the second round (Denver’s pick after Jerry Jeudy) in 2020. Since he has displayed top-end speed and big play ability. However, he has been very disappointing this season and has not seemed to get on the same page as Russell Wilson. Last week, he managed to grab a rocket from Wilson for 55 yards, but that’s his only catch on the season. For some reason, he has decreased his involvement every week so far, and he isn’t even a DFS dart throw in Week 5.

Mike Boone and Latavius Murray (RB, DEN)

It came as a surprise to see Boone outplay Gordon after Williams' injury last week. Maybe this was punishment for Gordon's fumble issues, or maybe Gordon is still recovering from his neck injury and was on limited snaps. Either way, the fact that the team signed Latavius Murray off of the Saints' practice squad does not show a lot of confidence for Boone. It could be that they signed Murray as necessary depth, but we need to wait a week to see what happens before either should be started in any fantasy format.


Ellis’ Picks

Broncos -3.0 (3-1), Under 43.5 (1-3)

We got back on track last week with the Thursday Night picks, getting the spread right (3-1) as well as the Pie Shop call (2-1) but we need to start figuring out the over/under (1-3). Overall, last week was very successful as I managed to place first in the BettingPros Week 4 Moneyline competition, going 13-3 with my picks. 

I’m hoping to carry this momentum into this one, and I really like where the lines are set. Although both teams have had their struggles, I think we finally caught glimpses of old Russell Wilson last week. Plus, the defenses on both sides have been very steady. Unless both Wilson and Ryan turn back the clock, this should be a low-scoring affair in which case I’ll side with the home team that has also looked better all season.

Career Thursday Night record: Spread (25-15), Over/Under (22-18)

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