Los Angeles Rams (1-0, 1-0 ATS) at Indianapolis Colts (0-1, 0-1), 1 p.m.
Implied Team Totals: Rams 25.75, Colts 21.75
Spread/Total Movements: 3.5 to 4, 46.5 to 47.5
Rams Injuries to Watch: None of note.
Colts Injuries to Watch: RT Braden Smith (foot, out), RG Quenton Nelson (foot/back, questionable), LT Eric Fisher (Achilles, questionable), CB Xavier Rhodes (calf, out), WR Michael Pittman (ankle, questionable), WR Parris Campbell (abdomen, questionable), DE Kwity Paye (hamstring, questionable)
Brolley’s Rams Stats and Trends
The Rams are 4-1 ATS in their last five games as a favorite.
Los Angeles is 4-1 toward overs in its last five road games.
Sean McVay is 10-4-1 ATS in September games.
Matthew Stafford threw for a cool 321 yards and three touchdowns on just 26 passes for 12.4 YPA, with two of his scores coming from a combined 123 yards away. Russell Wilson needed just 23 passes for 254/4 passing against the Colts last week.
Cooper Kupp is looking like the early #1 receiver for Stafford after posting 7/108/1 receiving on 10 targets (38% share) while running a route every single Stafford dropbacks. Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf combined for 4/53/2 receiving on slot snaps last week against Indianapolis.
Robert Woods bailed out his owners with a late touchdown, but he finished with just four targets (15% share) and he ran five fewer routes than Van Jefferson (23 to 18) with DeSean Jackson rotating in for 10 routes. Jefferson made the most of his limited opportunities with 2/80/1 receiving thanks to his 67-yard score to open the game. This WR rotation is one to monitor this week to see if Jefferson continues to play ahead of Woods or if it was a one-off situation. The Colts allowed three touchdown receptions to WRs last week.
Tyler Higbee was a full-time player in his first game without Gerald Everett, playing on every snap and running a route on all but one of Stafford’s dropbacks — he turned his six targets into 5/68 receiving. Gerald Everett and Will Dissly combined for 5/57/1 receiving against the Colts last week.
Darrell Henderson played on 94% of the snaps in the season opener with Sony Michel (1/2 rushing) still getting up to speed. Hendo turned his 16 carries into 70 yards (4.4 YPC) and a touchdown while hauling in a 17-yard catch on 21 routes. Chris Carson posted 127 scrimmage yards against the Colts last week.
Brolley’s Colts Stats and Trends
The Colts are 1-4 ATS in their last five games and they’ve failed to cover four straight home games.
Indy is 0-6 ATS in its last six games as a home underdog.
The Colts are 7-3 toward unders in their last 10 home games.
The Colts rolled with just Jonathan Taylor (55% snap share) and Nyheim Hines (45%) in Week 1 with Marlon Mack planted to the sidelines in his first game back from his Achilles injury. They also dominated the offensive workload with Taylor posting 17/56 rushing and a promising 6/60 receiving on seven targets (18% share) while Hines finished with 9/34 rushing and 6/48 receiving on eight targets (21%). There were some concerns Carson Wentz wouldn’t involve his RBs in the passing game like Philip Rivers did last season but those concerns were eased in the season opener. Taylor will be locked in as an RB1 option if he can average 4+ targets per game after avering 2.6 targets per game as a rookie. David Montgomery posted 16/108/1 rushing and he combined with Damien Williams for 5/38 receiving against the Rams last week.
Carson Wentz showed no ill effects from his August foot surgery in his first action with the Colts, but Indianapolis didn’t really threaten the Seahawks in the season opener. Wentz padded his stats late, completing 25/38 passes for 251 yards and two touchdowns while adding 4/23 rushing against Seattle. The Rams allowed just 5.4 YPA against Andy Dalton last week after allowing the fewest FPG (14.6) to the position last season.
Michael Pittman busted in the season opener with just 3/29 receiving on three targets and 43 routes. Jalen Ramsey and company held Allen Robinson to just 6/35 receiving on 11 targets last week.
Zach Pascal worked with Pittman in two-WR sets ahead of Parris Campbell (1/24 receiving on three targets) in the season opener. He led all Colts WRs with five targets (13% share) and he scored both Colts’ touchdowns on his way to 4/43/2 receiving.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Week 1 – Pace (seconds in between plays): 27.7 (26th)
Week 1 – Plays per game: 51 (32nd)
Week 1 – Pass: 54.9% (23rd) | Run: 45.1% (10th)
Week 1 – Pace (seconds in between plays): 27.6 (25th)
Week 1 – Plays per game: 75 (8th)
Week 1 – Pass: 59.5% (17th) | Run: 40.5% (16th)
The Rams only needed 51 plays to score 34 points on the Bears as Stafford ripped the Bears for multiple chunk gains and Darrell Henderson was efficient on the ground. The Colts offer stiffer competition than the Bears, but Indianapolis just gave up a QB7 scoring week to Russell Wilson (18-of-23 for 254 yards and 4 TDs) and will likely be down CB Xavier Rhodes (calf) again. It’s a tiny sample because the game wasn’t really competitive, but HC Sean McVay, unsurprisingly, was way more pass-heavy when the game was within a score (+/- 8 points) on SNF. On their 19 plays when the game was within a score, the Rams passed a whopping 14 times (74%) compared to just 5 runs. Last year, the Rams were much more balanced – McVay called a pass just 57% of the time when the score was close.
HC Frank Reich stuck to his ways and had a very balanced game-plan against Seattle in Week 1 despite trailing the entire affair. And, just like last year, the Colts played slow – finishing Opening Day as the eighth-slowest team to the line of scrimmage in between plays. After Carson Wentz was pressured relentlessly in Week 1, Reich is going to have to lean more on the pass and play faster here to keep up with the Rams scoring pace. Overall, this game is the second-worst of the week according to my adjusted pace / play ratings. If this game is going to go off, we need the Colts to keep up on the scoreboard.
(Note: We’re dealing with very small sample sizes early in the season – so I’m saving the deep dive into play-calling tendencies until Week 4.)
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
The Rams and Sean McVay actually bumped their three-wide usage up by around 5%. They called for Matthew Stafford to pass on two-thirds of those snaps. The fact that they ran the ball on nearly 80% of snaps with a heavy set is unlikely to continue — I wouldn’t anticipate the Rams being this predictable moving forward.
The Colts look unlikely to have CB Xavier Rhodes (calf) against this week, and their types of coverages historically have been the kind of coverages that WR Robert Woods succeeds with. I like Woods (and Stafford, and Cooper Kupp) this week.
If the Colts’ offense — especially the line, where fill-in LT Julie’n Davenport was a disaster last week — doesn’t improve, it is going to be a long day for QB Carson Wentz. The Colts’ injury list is long this week, and it includes three projected starting linemen.
RT Braden Smith (foot) is out. RG Quenton Nelson (foot/back) and LT Eric Fisher (Achilles) are both questionable. It’s possible the Colts will be without both starting tackles against Aaron Donald and company, and if either plays, they’re unlikely to be 100%. This is an offense that could be entirely under siege, and Wentz has been awful against pressure since the start of 2020.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
Let’s do the easy part first. I want nothing to do with the Colts from an offensive standpoint if I’m not playing one of their two RBs — Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines. It’s a bad sign for the Colts’ offense that Carson Wentz, who was typically allergic to checkdowns in Philadelphia, directed 39.5% of his throws (8 to Hines, 7 to Taylor) to RBs last week. I think Taylor is a low-end RB1 and Hines a mediocre FLEX in a bad matchup. Everyone else for the Colts is on my “DNP” list until further notice. (Note that top two WRs Michael Pittman and Parris Campbell were added to the injury report on Friday. Good grief.)
Actually… maybe the Colts aren’t the easy part in this game. Maybe the Rams are!
Across the board, given the Colts’ injuries and how little resistance they offered the Seahawks last week, I like the Rams everywhere. Matthew Stafford is a QB1 in a week that has a lot of them. While Robert Woods did run fewer routes than Van Jefferson last week, I’m not going to panic just yet — the Colts allowed 3 WR TDs last week and Woods should have success. Cooper Kupp is an obvious play as well. If Jefferson continues to play a ton, he’s going to have standalone fantasy value in this explosive offense.
One of the underrated studs of Week 1, because he didn’t put up big numbers was Ram TE Tyler Higbee. Higbee played every snap. He ran a route on 26 of Stafford’s 28 dropbacks (93%), which is a massive upgrade from last season when he was essentially a part-time player. (In 2020, Higbee ran a route on just 53% of the Rams passing plays.) Higbee also moved all around the Rams formation in Week 1, lining up in the slot 29% of the time, out wide 25% of the time, and on the line of scrimmage on 46% of his routes. The Colts gave up a TD to Gerald Everett last week, and Higbee is a must play after that kind of usage.
In the backfield, Sony Michel isn’t ready to contribute yet after being acquired just a few weeks ago. So for now, it’s the Darrell Henderson show. Henderson played nearly every snap in the backfield in Week 1 — 49 out of 52, with Michel taking the other 3. And Henderson played well on those 49 snaps, with 16/70/1 rushing and 1/17 receiving, turning in the PPR RB16 performance of the Week. Henderson still has to prove he can stay on the field, and Michel’s role is almost certain to increase once he gets a better grasp of the offense. But tentatively, he’s a high-upside RB2.