Indianapolis Colts (0-3, 1-2 ATS) at Miami Dolphins (1-2, 1-2), 1 p.m.
Implied Team Totals: Colts 20.25, Dolphins 22.25
Spread/Total Movements: 1.5 to 2, 44.5 to 42.5
Weather: 85 degrees, 25% chance of rain, 15 mph
Colts Injuries to Watch: LG Quenton Nelson (ankle, out), DE Kwity Paye (hamstring, out), CB Rock Ya-Sin (ankle, out), RT Braden Smith (foot, out), RB Jonathan Taylor (knee, questionable), QB Carson Wentz (ankles, questionable)
Dolphins Injuries to Watch: WR Will Fuller (chest, probable), C Michael Dieter (foot/quad, out(
Brolley’s Colts Stats and Trends
The Colts are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games.
Carson Wentz looked like a statue at quarterback playing through his two ankle injuries last week as the Colts managed just 4.6 yards per play going against Tennessee’s weak defense. He completed 19/37 passes for just 194 yards (5.2 YPA) without a touchdown or an INT. Wentz could be without All-Pro LG Quenton Nelson (ankle) this week and the Dolphins have blitzed the second-most times (49) through three games.
Michael Pittman’s quiet Week 1 performance against the Seahawks threw everyone off the scent, but the second-year WR has shown he’s the alpha receiver for Wentz the last two weeks. He saw 12 targets for the second straight week on his way to finishing with 6/68 receiving against the Titans, and Wentz overthrew him for a potential score on a red-zone target. He’s now seen 24 targets over the last two weeks for a 33% target share. The Dolphins are giving up 14.9 YPR to WRs so far and Bryan Edwards managed 3/89 receiving in this matchup last week.
Zach Pascal posted just just 2/31 receiving against the Titans last week, but he still saw seven targets (19% share) from a banged-up Wentz. And, of course, he almost scored. He also saw four different targets inside the 10-yard line so he easily could have added to his three-touchdown total. The Dolphins have given up one WR touchdown to WRs in each of the first three weeks.
The Colts went from playing Marlon Mack 19% of the snaps in Week 2 to making him a healthy scratch last week, and he’s now seeking a trade so he could remain out of the lineup. That’s great news for Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines but they could be without Nelson this week. Taylor has just 2/10 receiving the last two weeks after posting 6/60 receiving in the season opener and he’s yet to find the end zone even with eight carries inside the five-yard line. Hines stole a carry inside the 10-yard line last week and converted on it, and he added 5/54 receiving in a pass-heavy script. The Colts enter as less than field-goal underdogs against the Dolphins this week, and all-time great Peyton Barber posted 23/111/1 rushing and 3/31 receiving against them last week.
Brolley’s Dolphins Stats and Trends
The Dolphins had a six-game home cover streak snapped in Week 2 against the Bills. They’re still 11-3 ATS in their last 14 home games.
Miami is 6-2 toward unders in its last eight home games.
The Dolphins’ offense averaged just 4.2 yards per play in Jacoby Brissett’s first start, which was actually an improvement over the first two weeks. They’re averaging 4.0 yards per play through the first three weeks of their co-offensive coordinator experiment, ahead of only the pathetic Bears at 3.3 yards. Brissett completed 32/49 passes for 215 yards (4.4 YPA) without a passing touchdown or an INT, and he added 7/37/1 rushing in a Week 3 loss to the Raiders. Brissett is in a #RevengeGame this week, and the Colts have allowed multiple passing TDs and 18+ FP in every game this season
Jaylen Waddle had a long gain of nine yards on 13 targets last week with his aDOT sitting at just 2.8 yards against the Raiders. He’s seen his targets grow each week (5<8<13) and he has 9.8 FP in each of his first three games. The Colts have given up just 11.0 catches per game (seventh-fewest) to WRs through three weeks.
DeVante Parker and Will Fuller had aDOTs that were seven times as deep as Waddle last week at 19.7 and 20.0, respectively. Parker has 4+ catches and 40+ yards in each game while Fuller had 3/20 receiving with a two-point conversion while running a route 70% of the time in his first action of the season. The Colts are giving up a generous 15.9 YPR to WRs through three weeks.
Mike Gesicki has seen the second-most targets (18) the last two weeks with Brissett at QB for the vast majority of the time. He posted 10/86 receiving last week on a season-high 66% snap share. The Colts haven’t been tested much by tight ends through three weeks with Gerald Everett doing the most damage with 2/20/1 receiving on only two targets in Week 1.
Myles Gaskin has been above a 50% snap share with 5+ targets in each of his first three games, but he’s scored between 8.6 and 12.6 FP in each of his first three games. The Colts are giving up just 3.7/33.7 receiving yards per game to RB in the early going.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Week 1-3 – Pace (seconds in between plays): 30.9 (27th)
Week 1-3 – Plays per game: 68.0 (11th)
Week 1-3 – Pass: 63.5% (11th) | Run: 36.5% (22nd)
Week 1-3 – Pace: 24.5 (1st)
Week 1-3 – Plays per game: 71.0 (6th)
Week 1-3 – Pass: 66.5% (6th) | Run: 33.5% (27th)
There are no two ways about it: Frank Reich’s Colts have really struggled to compete against tougher competition. Since 2018, Indianapolis has been an underdog in 22-of-54 games (including postseason). In those 22 games as a dog, the Colts are 5-18 straight-up. That’s pitiful. This week, the Colts are an underdog for the fourth-straight game to start the season which likely means another bad game-script for Jonathan Taylor. We’ve seen a continuation of the Colts being very balanced – they haven’t passed or ran more than expected based on game-script – and Taylor isn’t getting much of the work when trailing. Hines has out-snapped Taylor 66 to 36 out on passing downs when the Colts are behind, so this is set up as another game where Taylor is going to have to break off a big run or get into the box to come through for fantasy. Overall, this matchup is fourth-best on the week in the pace/plays model, but that is all coming from Miami’s side ranking No. 1 in pace and No. 6 in plays per game. The Dolphins have played in three totally different games so far – Week 1 was tight, Week 2 was a blowout, and Week 3 went into OT – but new OCs Eric Studesville and George Godsey have made a clear commitment to playing faster than Chan Gailey’s attack. Last year, the Dolphins were the sixth-slowest team in pace. We saw what can happen last week when Miami plays fast and faces an offense that can put up points as their matchup with the Raiders went off for 59 total points, but I am not confident at all that this version of the Colts will be able to turn this game into a shootout.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
Miami co-OCs Eric Studesville and George Godsey are clearly determined to put the ball into Jaylen Waddle’s hands. Even with Will Fuller V finally back on the field, Waddle was peppered with 13 targets at Las Vegas last week. Some of that volume is a result of Jacoby Brissett attacking underneath to take advantage of the Raiders’ Cover 3. So do not get carried away reading into the fact that Waddle only generated 58 yards on 12 receptions. The reception total will very likely regress, but the yardage will rise in its place. The Colts’ defense offers up a much tougher nut to crack, though slot CB Kenny Moore hasn’t been the inside stud we’re used to seeing.
It’s not the week for your Michael Pittman Jr. fix. Hunter Renfrow put an absolutely beautiful Whip (In) route on Xavien Howard last week , but do not count on seeing Howard giving up many of those. This is not the best of matchups for Zach Pascal either, given the emergence of slot CB Nik Needham, so Indianapolis may rely heavily on the run.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
This is a battle between two teams that, if the season ended today, would owe the Philadelphia Eagles top-10 draft picks. With the Eagles themselves in a retooling year, Eagle fans might have more interest in this game than their own against Kansas City.
Despite playing through two sprained ankles, Colt QB Carson Wentz was on the field for every snap in Week 3, and he was horrifically ineffective without his mobility and second-reaction chops. Wentz has thrown 3 TD passes this year — all to Zach Pascal — and is 24th in total QB scoring. He’s managed to avoid turning the ball over too much (just 2 in three games), but he’s been mostly ineffective behind an offensive line that has injury problems (notably G Quenton Nelson and T Braden Smith) and a receiving corps that lacks depth. He is not a fantasy option. Eagle fans likely want Wentz to have his best game of the season in a Colts win to keep him on the field as long as possible.
Week 1: 76/76 (100%)— Wentz Snap Count (@WentzSnaps) September 26, 2021
Week 2: 62/67 (93%)
Week 3: 61/61 (100%)
Season: 199/204 (98%)
17% of the expected 2021 Colts snaps
The Colts’ only two receivers inside the top 100 scorers are the aforementioned Pascal “The Rascal” and Michael Pittman, at WR32 and WR33, respectively. Pascal’s work has been done in the red zone, as you might anticipate given he’s scored all 3 of the Colts’ passing TDs so far this year. He’s tied with Cooper Kupp for #2 in the NFL with 7 red-zone targets — only Keenan Allen has more. In fact, 39% of Pascal’s 18 targets have come in the red zone. Meanwhile, Pittman is 14th among WRs with 28, and has back-to-back 12-target games. It’s a tough matchup with the Xavien Howard/Byron Jones duo, but I can sign off on Pittman as a WR3 this week. He’s the guy Wentz looks to much of the time, and is really the only downfield threat Wentz has — he has seen 293 intended air yards per SIS, which is 49.3% of Wentz’s intended air yards.
The Colts’ backfield is likely to get less murky sooner rather than later. Marlon Mack has been given permission to seek a trade, which is why he was a healthy scratch last week. Unfortunately, it hasn’t translated to major fantasy production for Jonathan Taylor, who remains without a touchdown this year. That would be OK if he was used in the passing game like he was used in Week 1 — Taylor turned his 7 targets into 60 yards in Week 1 and then … Taylor got 4 targets in Weeks 2-3 combined. Nyheim Hines has outsnapped Taylor 68 to 45 on passing downs per PFF, and that role isn’t going away given the Colts recently extended Hines. What could help Taylor would be if Hines didn’t also get red-zone work. Hines’ 9-yard TD run in Week 3 is the Colts’ only TD this season not scored by Pascal. It’s a good matchup for both — the Dolphins are giving up massive production to RBs both as runners (3rd-most RB rushing FPG allowed) and receivers (6th-most RB receiving FPG allowed). Of course, Taylor popped up on the injury report with a knee issue this week. There doesn’t appear to be a reason to worry… but when it rains, it pours.
Now, the Dolphins. Yay. With Tua Tagovailoa on IR with broken ribs, Jacoby Brissett started in Week 3 and managed to throw for just 215 yards on 49 pass attempts, which is the 15th-lowest total all time among QBs with 49 or more pass attempts in a game. However, Brissett’s 65.3% completion rate was the highest among any QB in such a game with fewer than 260 pass yards. What does this mean? Almost all of his completions were in the short to intermediate area, despite Brissett having a solid 7.5 aDOT for the game. And Brissett’s 4.4 YPA was actually higher than his 4.2 YPA from Week 2.
That is good news for rookie WR Jaylen Waddle, who had 13 targets in Week 3 against Vegas. Waddle was on the receiving end of 26.5% of Brissett’s 49 targeted passes in the overtime loss… and he caught 12 of them. That’s the good news. The bad news is that those receptions turned into just 58 yards — with a long of 9 — as Brissett was constantly working to the short area of the field while under siege. Brissett was just 1-for-5 on throws of 20+ yards downfield, with his only completion coming to TE Mike Gesicki on a 4th-and-20 in overtime to extend the game (PFF). He and Will Fuller couldn’t get on the same page. Maybe that comes soon, but Brissett clearly favors Waddle when he needs a quick completion. That’s good for fantasy. One thing I would suggest, though… stop completing passes for safeties. Unfortunately, I don’t think Brissett will need to drop back 50-plus times against the plodding Colts offense, so hopefully he and Waddle can make a downfield connection. He’s a WR3.
#Dolphins Jaylen Waddle's 58 yards on 12 receptions were the fewest receiving yards by a wide receiver on 12 or more catches in the history of the NFL. pic.twitter.com/0ojeh3N0qW— Joe Dolan (@FG_Dolan) September 27, 2021
As for Fuller, he got dinged late in the Raiders’ game and missed some practice this week. He and DeVante Parker operated as the Dolphins’ deep “threats” against the Raiders, though there was no downfield juice going at all. Fuller’s aDOT in Week 3 was 19.3 to 18.7 for Parker… while Waddle’s was a miniscule 3.0… which wasn’t even Waddle’s lowest aDOT of the year (1.1 in Week 2). I’m not playing Fuller until he shows up and stays healthy, while Parker is also a little more volatile. That said, the Colts are allowing 15.9 YPR to WRs this year, which is ripe for the picking if Brissett and Parker can get on the same page.
Here was the Dolphins’ route breakdown in Week 3, Fuller’s first game — Waddle (52), Parker (49), Gesicki (41), and Fuller (40). Gesicki had 10/86 on 12 targets in Week 3, and all 13 of his receptions and 18 of his 20 targets this year are from Brissett. He’s back in the realm of the living, but I don’t trust Gesicki week-to-week as anything more than a wing-and-a-prayer at TE and hope one of his big games happens.
I hate the Dolphins’ backfield. They removed Salvon Ahmed from the equation last week, as he played just 5 snaps and didn’t receive an opportunity, but that just meant a split for Myles Gaskin and Malcolm Brown (52% snap share and 41%, respectively). Gaskin has seen at least 5 targets in every game this year, but he’s just the RB32 because he hasn’t scored a TD. Meanwhile, Brown has received 2 carries and run 3 routes inside the 10-yard-line, the only Dolphin RB to get a goal-line opportunity. (Gaskin has played 1 snap to Brown’s 6 in goal-line situations.) Gaskin is a FLEX option only.