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Fantasy Football Picks: Colts vs. Titans DraftKings NFL DFS TNF Showdown Strategy

Garion Thorne preps you for Thursday’s 8:20 p.m. ET contest between the Colts and the Titans with game-script analysis and Captain’s Picks.

While a battle of AFC South teams on Thursday Night Football is generally a recipe for disappointment, tonight’s clash between the Indianapolis Colts and the Tennessee Titans actually has the potential to be a fun contest of contrasting strengths. To wit, Tennessee comes into this evening’s festivities with the league’s third-best offense by DVOA, while Indianapolis sports the NFL’s third-best defense by the same metric. This matchup could also end up deciding the division, as the Titans currently maintain a one-game lead over the Colts.

Let’s break it all down from a Showdown perspective.

Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: NFL $1.75M Thursday Night Showdown [$500K to 1st] (IND vsTEN)


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SHOWDOWN STRATEGY

Captain’s Picks

A.J. Brown ($15,600 CP) - Since returning from injury in Week 5, few wide receivers have exhibited both as high a ceiling and as stable a floor as Brown. In fact, only Davante Adams has scored more overall PPR fantasy points within this span than Brown’s 103.6, while the Titans’ sophomore also leads all WRs with 20-plus receptions in this stretch in PPR fantasy points per touch (3.98). These are the kinds of things that can happen when you’ve found the end zone in five-straight games and have registered at least 20.0 DKFP in four of your last five starts. Brown has the ability to break off a huge play at any time and, considering how strong the Colts have been specifically against the run, I’m more inclined to lean on Tennessee’s aerial attack. It helps that Indianapolis’ has surrendered some massive DFS performances to wideouts in recent weeks, including Allen Robinson (7-101-1), Tee Higgins (6-125-0) and Marvin Jones Jr. (3-39-2).

Philip Rivers ($14,700 CP) - I’d like to say that the Titans D/ST ($3,600) is sort of sneaky terrible against the pass, but I don’t think it’s all that shocking a trend at this point in the season. Coming into tonight’s game, Tennessee ranks a modest 24th in pass defense DVOA — a product of surrendering the sixth-most opponent passing yards per game (275.0). Still, it’s not just that the Titans’ secondary struggles defending between the 20’s, it’s that they also tend to give up high-leverage plays to QBs. Every quarterback that’s faced Tennessee since Week 1 has finished their start with multiple touchdown passes, as the Titans have conceded an ugly 2.6 opponent passing TDs per game within that span of time. On top of that, Tennessee has generated almost no pressure all year long, with the squad sitting dead-last in the NFL in adjusted sack rate (3.2%). Maybe Rivers hasn’t been the most consistent DFS asset so far in 2020, yet I find it hard to imagine that he won’t be able to take advantage of this soft matchup.


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FLEX Plays

Zach Pascal ($6,400) - The Colts spread out the volume in their passing attack to an almost annoying degree, yet I think it’s safe to say that Pascal is technically the team’s No. 1 wide receiver. Yes, it does appear that T.Y. Hilton ($5,800) will be returning for tonight’s contest, but it’s Pascal that currently leads Indianapolis in targets (40) and receiving yards (297) through eight games. Again, the numbers don’t exactly blow you away; however, if there’s one area of the field where Pascal has separated himself from the pack in 2020, it’s in the red zone. Not only does the 25-year-old lead the Colts in raw targets inside the 20-yard line with eight, he also sports a 36.4% target share inside the opponent’s 10-yard line — the fifth-highest mark among all skill-position players in the NFL. If the aforementioned Rivers is going to throw for multiple scores this evening, there’s a good chance at least one will be to Pascal.

Jordan Wilkins ($5,400) - Well, after discussing the logistical nightmare that is the Colts’ approach to their wide receivers, it would be silly to expect anything different when it comes to the team’s running back usage. It’s essentially a three-headed monster, with Wilkins joined by rookie Jonathan Taylor ($8,800) and third down specialist Nyheim Hines ($6,200). It’s actually the latter that leads Indianapolis in receptions this season with 28 — making him a relatively safe option in a full-point PPR format — but Wilkins stands out as the best play of the bunch, if you’re confident that his recent role maintains on Thursday. At this point, I’m not sure what’s going to change. Taylor’s been plagued by a nagging ankle issue, and he’s been out-snapped (62-to-47) and out-touched (34-to-21) by Wilkins in each of the Colts’ past two contests. Who ends up with the goal line carries if a big variable, yet I’d tend to side with the guy that’s simply been on the field more frequently.

Anthony Firkser ($2,200) - Obviously we’re using a low bar when comparing pass-catchers on the Titans to pass-catchers on the Colts, but Firkser’s 24 receptions so far this season would rank him second on Indianapolis. You read that correctly. Tennessee’s back-up tight end has as many or more catches than every active receiver on the Colts’ roster. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean Firkser’s $2.2K price tag is a steal — the Harvard product has only exceeded 10.0 DKFP once in 2020 — but it does make him a pretty tantalizing pay-down asset in a “stars and scrubs” lineup build. Firkser’s viability is also aided by the continued absence of Adam Humphries (concussion), as the TE was targeted a respectable six times with the slot receiver inactive for Week 9’s win over the Bears. You wouldn’t be wrong to shoot for a little more upside with someone like deep-threat Kalif Raymond ($1,000), yet Firsker’s solid floor does give him value on this slate.


Fades

Jonathan Taylor ($8,800) - We sort of covered this territory above, but it’s worth repeating that I can’t condone utilizing Taylor at this price. Whether you want to cite his underwhelming production, his reduced role or the presence of Hines and Wilkins, there’s simply no reason for the Wisconsin product to be this expensive on a single-game slate. It’s also not like Taylor appears to be in the best standing with his head coach. Frank Reich did state following last week’s loss to Baltimore that he maintains “a level of confidence” in his rookie RB, yet that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement; especially after Taylor received just a single second-half touch. Does the fact that Taylor’s fumble against the Ravens was returned for a touchdown loom large? I’d assume so.


THE OUTCOME

While I do understand the hesitation in trusting the Colts after they were unable to do anything with the football in the second-half against the Ravens, allow me to point out an important distinction in tonight’s matchup: Tennessee’s defense isn’t in the same stratosphere as Baltimore’s. You can pass at will on the Titans and I would anticipate Philip Rivers having a much more successful outing on Thursday. Plus, it’s not like Tennessee’s has looked infallible as of late, dropping a game to Cincinnati and edging out a listless Chicago squad last weekend. I just think Indianapolis is the better team.

Final Score: Indianapolis 27, Tennessee 21

Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: NFL $1.75M Thursday Night Showdown [$500K to 1st] (IND vsTEN)


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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theglt13) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.