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Thursday Night Football Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Jets vs Colts

carson wentz fantasy football rankings NFL DFS lineup picks

There’s never a dull moment this football season. Let’s start with the good news from the rollercoaster of emotions in Week 8. We saw backup QBs blow expectations out of the water, as Mike White, Trevor Siemian, and Cooper Rush each led their teams to victories. The best part? White’s performance gives us hope that Thursday’s matchup may actually be exciting.

On the other hand, we had some terrible news break after Week 8. It appears that Derrick Henry will miss the rest of the fantasy season in what is a devastating blow to fantasy managers everywhere. We also learned that Calvin Ridley is dealing with his own struggles and has an undefined date of return. I wish all players a quick recovery to both mental and physical health. 

This Thursday, we have two teams who came out on opposite sides in close matchups last week. After losing in overtime to their division rivals, Carson Wentz and the Colts will look to bounce back in Week 9. Meanwhile, Mike White will try to stay white-hot as he leads the charge against the Colts. This is primed to be a very interesting matchup as narratives are alive and well on both sides of the ball. Let’s dive into it as I bring to you the RotoBaller Thursday Night Preview.

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New York Jets @ Indianapolis Colts

8:20 pm EST 

Notable Injuries


Must-Starts for Fantasy Football Lineups

Jonathan Taylor (RB, IND): Oh my. I don’t think Thursday Night Football has ever had a “must-start” as strong as this one. Literally, there is no reason Taylor couldn’t break the single-game rushing record in this matchup. Okay, maybe that’s a little ambitious, but seriously he should pop off. Let’s start with the player. JT is currently the RB2 on the season and has averaged 5.4 yards per carry. With this, he is second in the league in rushing yards, fifth in attempts, and third in rushing touchdowns.

Now, let’s talk about the matchup. The Jets are allowing the most fantasy points to the running back position this season. Surprisingly, the Jets are allowing the 18th-fewest rushing yards per game. This means their fantasy points are primarily coming from their nearly two rushing touchdowns allowed per game. The Colts on the other hand are averaging over 120 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown per game. I’ll side with the Colts' rushing attack to exploit the Jets' defense despite the surprisingly low rushing yards allowed. Taylor is in a position to be one of the few cases where we see the RB1 on the week play on Thursday. 

Michael Pittman Jr. (WR, IND): Although Pittman is not as locked and loaded as his teammate Taylor, he has been phenomenal for fantasy. Since Week 5, he is the WR6. Over this four-game span, he has at least 17 fantasy points in three games, has topped 80 yards in three games, and has scored four times. The Jets have been solid against receivers this season; however, it is most likely due to teams exploiting their porous run defense. Regardless, Pittman is on fire right now, and there is no reason not to stay in the flames.


Solid Options for Fantasy Football Lineups

Michael Carter (RB, NYJ): After being a huge disappointment for fantasy to start the year, Carter has come out of his Week 6 bye on fire. The best part has been his involvement in the receiving game. In his last two games, he has tallied 23 targets and 162 receiving yards. These are huge numbers and are directly correlated to Mike White’s willingness to check down. Good thing White is starting once again this week. Meanwhile on the ground, although not as efficient, he has had double-digit carries in all but two games this season. The guaranteed work on the ground, plus White’s ability to target him in the receiving game, makes Carter an RB2 this week.

Carson Wentz (QB, IND): I’ll be honest, I was surprised to see that Wentz has been a top-12 QB this season. Lots of this probably has to do with his horrific pick-six last week, but regardless, he has been steady for fantasy. He has scored 17 fantasy points in all but one game this season and has been game-managing his way to fantasy relevance. Despite only passing for over 300 yards once this season, what’s arguably most impressive is how he has passed for two touchdowns every week but one this year. Although the Jets are allowing the eighth-fewest fantasy points to the position, Wentz has managed to get it done all year for fantasy. I’d start him as a lock-in QB2 in Superflex formats or a nice streaming option.


Flex Considerations for Fantasy Football Lineups

Michael Badgley (K, IND): Once again, we have a rare kicker sighting in the Thursday Night Preview. Unfortunately, Rodrigo Blankenship is still injured, but stepping in his place is longtime Chargers kicker Badgley. Although Badgley may not have the best leg, he is a very solid veteran kicker who has yet to miss a kick since Week 6. What gets him an appearance in this section is that the Jets are allowing the most fantasy points to kickers this year. If you are looking for a streaming kicker and want a player in this Thursday Night derby, Badgley is a very solid play. 

Mo Alie-Cox (TE, IND): I won’t lie, this is a terrifying “flex option”. Coming off a game where Alie-Cox had zero receptions on four targets, this is the definition of a “trust the process” play. Disregarding last week, in his previous four games, he had at least three receptions in three of them and four touchdowns in that span. It’s definitely a tough spot to rely on three receptions and praying for a touchdown, but this is where the matchup comes in. The Jets are allowing the seventh-most yards per game to the position and 0.4 touchdowns per game to tight ends. I’m not saying Alie-Cox is a top-five tight end this week; however, if you are living in the tight end wasteland, he could be a high upside streaming option this week. You bet I’m calling the Pie Shop* to be open for the 6’5”, 260 lb tight end.

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

Mike White (QB, NYJ): After becoming the second QB in history (behind Cam Newton) to pass for over 400 yards in his debut, it would be a disservice to leave him out of this article. In what many believe was the best performance by a Jets QB this season, White torched a prolific Bengals defense last week. The Colts have a very solid defense, which is allowing the 12th- fewest fantasy points to QBs this year. Although I don’t love the matchup, White could be a desperate second QB play this week. Who knows, maybe he stays hot and reignites this sputtering Jets offense. However, I think he is more likely to finish as the QB20-24 than post another barn burner performance. 


Consider Sitting for Fantasy Football Lineups

Jets Wide Receivers: The collaboration of Jamison Crowder, Elijah Moore, Braxton Berrios, and the questionable Corey Davis is a fantasy nightmare. Last week, Crowder and Moore managed solid target and yardage totals; however, Berrios was the one who scored a touchdown. With Davis potentially returning from injury, we have no idea who White’s preferred target will be.

Of the options, I have the most confidence in Crowder’s volume and would flip a coin between the upside of Moore or Davis (if he plays). This is one of those situations where I think it is better to proceed with caution, as there are probably better options on the waiver wire for Week 9.

UPDATE: Davis has officially been ruled out


Last week, we kept the streak alive as both the spread and over/under picks came through as the Packers upset the Cardinals. This week, we have a matchup that doesn’t even seem in the same ballpark in terms of the caliber of teams. Either way, it could be a fun one as both teams desperately need to win. As I alluded to in the White breakdown, my confidence in the QB is questionable at best.

Not to take anything away from his impressive performance, but I think last week was more a result of a young Bengals team coming off a statement win against their division rival Ravens the week before and looking ahead to an even bigger rival in Cleveland this week. However, I think the Jets’ win last week has created a nice line for this game. The Colts are at home for the second week in a row and are coming off a heart-breaking divisional loss. I think they match up perfectly against this Jets team.

Ellis’ Picks: Colts -10.5 (5-3), Under 46.5 (7-1)

Career record: Spread (14-12), Over/Under (16-10)

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