Fantasy Football Start/Sit for Colts vs Broncos: Start Nyheim Hines, Sit Mike Boone
Michael Owens/Getty Images. Pictured: Mike Boone.
NFL fans have been spoiled thus far with some prime Thursday night matchups.
The NFL kicked things off with the Bills vs. Rams and Chargers vs. Chiefs — two exciting matchups between four teams expected to contend for playoff spots and beyond. Even the Steelers vs. Browns matchup in Week 3 was spicier than I expected a game between Mitch Trubisky and Jacoby Brissett to be.
Thursday Night Football in Week 4 was unfortunately marred by a terrifying injury to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The Dolphins were forced to lean on backup Teddy Bridgewater and were handed their first loss of the year by the Bengals.
This week, we get the 2-2 Broncos hosting the 1-2-1 Colts. Both teams are in the midst of disappointing seasons with new veteran quarterbacks at the helm and have major question marks at the running back position entering Week 5.
Many lineup decisions — like starting Michael Pittman Jr. or Courtland Sutton — are easy. Below are some fringe players at each position you may be on the fence about starting in the Colts vs. Broncos Thursday Night Football game based on matchups, injuries and trends.
Colts Week 5 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em
QB Matt Ryan
Ryan is coming off of his best game of the season for fantasy. The veteran quarterback completed 27 of 37 attempts for 356 yards, two touchdowns and one interception against the Titans and finished top 12 at the position for the first time all year.
Ryan was the QB20 in 2021 and is the QB22 through four weeks in 2022. He has the potential to finish on the QB1 fringe in the right matchups and has the potential to implode at any time. In Week 2, Ryan completed 16 of 30 attempts for 195 yards, zero touchdowns and three interceptions in Jacksonville. In fairness, the Colts were missing two of their best pass catchers in Michael Pittman Jr. and Alec Pierce due to injury.
Verdict: Sit in one-quarterback leagues. Ryan is an acceptable start in two-quarterback/superflex formats, though it's difficult to get excited about anyone on this Colts team right now, including Jonathan Taylor. The Broncos aren't an easy matchup for quarterbacks either and have allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to the position this year. This could be a low-scoring affair and is tied with the Titans/Commanders game for the third-lowest point total of the week (42.5).
RB Nyheim Hines
With Jonathan Taylor ruled out, the Colts will be forced to lean on Hines, Jackson and Phillip Lindsay, who is expected to be elevated from the practice squad.
It's difficult to get excited about any of these running backs given how much Indy has struggled on the ground with Taylor healthy. He's averaging four yards per carry this season — a marked drop from his 5.3 yards per attempt career average entering 2022.
Hines is also trending in the wrong direction. His best game of the season came in Week 1 against the Texans, against whom he had nine touches for 54 all-purpose yards and finished as the RB32 in half-PPR scoring. After that, the Colts' pass-catching running back finished as the RB42 in back-to-back weeks and was the RB59 in Week 4.
Verdict: I would consider starting Hines as a PPR flex option. He does not profile like a traditional back and has 17 catches for 113 yards this year.
Jackson and Lindsay, who hasn't played this season, are deeper league dart throws at best, especially against a Broncos run defense that has allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to running backs this season.
TE Mo Alie-Cox
Alie-Cox had an explosive performance in Week 4 against the Titans. He recorded a career-high six catches on six targets for 85 yards and a pair of touchdowns and finished as the TE2 in half PPR scoring (interestingly, Alie-Cox also caught two touchdowns in Week 4 of the 2021 season against the Dolphins). Kylen Granson, who was a fourth-round pick in 2021, was also involved and caught all four of his targets for 62 yards while Jelani Woods caught his lone target for 33 yards.
It’s rather unfortunate for fantasy football purposes that the Colts can’t seem to commit to a tight end given how much Matt Ryan likes throwing to them. In Week 3, it was the 2022 third-round draft pick Woods with the massive, two-touchdown performance. Prior to Week 4, Alie-Cox had logged just four catches for 44 yards over three games and wasn't even on the fantasy radar.
Verdict: Sit. There will be the temptation to pick up and start Alie-Cox after an impressive fantasy showing. This could very easily be fool's gold given head coach Frank Reich's volatile usage of his tight end platoon.
Broncos Week 5 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em
QB Russell Wilson
The Broncos' passing game has looked anemic thus far, though Russell "Let's Ride" Wilson finally had a good game for fantasy in Week 4. He completed 17 of 25 attempts for 237 yards, two touchdowns, zero interceptions and tacked on four carries for 29 yards and a touchdown.
The former Seahawks' signal-caller has major boom-or-bust potential. Wilson finished as the QB3 in Week 4 — his first top 12 finish all season. Prior to that, he had finished as the QB29, QB24 and QB14 to start the year.
Verdict: Start as a low-end QB1. Wilson will carry the questionable tag into this Thursday night showdown due to a shoulder issue, though he is expected to play with little to no limitations. The Colts have a middle-of-the-road defense against fantasy quarterbacks and Denver will likely have to lean on their receivers more with Javonte Williams out for the season.
WR Jerry Jeudy
It has been quite the rollercoaster for Jeudy managers this season. He shined in the season opener against the Seahawks and recorded four catches for 102 yards and a touchdown. The Alabama product turned back into a pumpkin in Weeks 2 and 3, finishing as the WR101 and WR87 in half PPR scoring, respectively.
Jeudy bounced back against the Raiders' soft pass defense and caught four of five targets for 53 yards and a touchdown. He was the WR19 for the week and was slightly edged out by teammate Courtland Sutton, who was the WR18.
Verdict: Start as a high-risk, high-reward WR3/flex. Sutton has become a locked-in week-to-week starter in spite of Wilson's struggles. Jeudy is a little less trustworthy for fantasy purposes and seems to be much more big play/touchdown dependent than his counterpart. The Colts have been tough against receivers and are allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points to the position this year.
RB Melvin Gordon III
Gordon is in line for a massive uptick in work; the question is, can he hang onto it?
Gordon — who was the RB21 in half PPR last season while splitting work with Javonte Williams — should be the biggest beneficiary (at least in the immediate term) with Williams out for the year. We have seen him be productive as a feature back for the Chargers and the Broncos as recently as 2020 when he finished as the RB15.
Gordon is just shy of 30, however, and has had major struggles with ball security of late. Per Adam Schefter, the veteran back has fumbled five times in his past 44 carries over five games. Gordon’s fumble on Sunday was costly and was the third time one of his fumbles has led to a fumble-six in Denver's past 12 games. After the turnover, Gordon's usage dropped, which was likely some kind of disciplinary situation with the coaching staff. He ended up with a season-low 10 snaps and three carries for eight yards.
Verdict: Start as a RB3/flex option. Gordon would be a locked-in RB2 moving forward if it weren't for his turnover troubles, which could limit his workload significantly. I expect he will be serviceable this week against the Colts' middle-of-the-road run defense.
RB Latavius Murray and Mike Boone
Murray and Boone were both popular waiver wire adds this cycle with Williams suffering a season-ending torn ACL, though it's hard to get excited about either — especially on a short week.
Murray was just acquired from the Saints' practice squad on Monday in the wake of the Williams news. He recorded 11 carries for 57 yards and a touchdown — with one catch for eight yards — against the Vikings in London with Alvin Kamara out. Boone has been the Broncos' RB3 behind Williams and Gordon thus far. He tallied a season-high four touches for 29 yards and saw a season-high 19 snaps against the Raiders last week.
Verdict: Sit both. Boone and Murray were good additions off waivers, but it's worth waiting to see how this backfield plays out with Williams out. Boone will likely back up Gordon this week, though I prefer Murray in the long term. I believe it is unlikely either one sees a role significant enough to start in fantasy this week against the Colts.