Thursday Night Football Preview Week 9: New York Jets vs Indianapolis Colts

Mike White and the New York Jets face off against Carson Wentz and the Indianapolis Colts to kick off Week 9 of the 2021 NFL season!

Welcome back in Phinest fans, I hope you all survived what turned out to be an extremely interesting week across the fantasy landscape. In a world where Geno Smith dominated, it is hard to make true sense of things so hopefully, you came out on top and are ready to begin the march to the postseason with this Thursday night breakdown! So let’s dive on in and see who we like and dislike in this matchup between the Colts and Jets.

The Quarterbacks

Carson Wentz: Talk about trending in opposite directions when it comes to our first position group of the matchup. Last week we saw Carson Wentz come out and light the world ablaze with multiple touchdowns to Michael Pittman Jr. in what looked like a path to a huge game for the Colts and their quarterback. Fast forward to the ending though and you find that Wentz made multiple costly turnovers, including an inexcusable pick-six and then overtime interception in what eventually led to the Colts’ downfall as they fell 34-31 to division rival Tennessee at home. So after managing just over 20 fantasy points in week 8, is Wentz worth being in your lineup against the 2-5 Jets? Well, the numbers over the course of the season say that this might in fact be a trap game depending on whether or not you think the Jets are a formidable opponent this week. Through the beginning of the season, the Jets have actually been a middle-of-the-pack matchup for opposing quarterbacks, mostly in part to how porous their rushing defense has been over the season; worst in the NFL in fantasy points allowed per game.

What this should tell us is that unless Mike White, who we will cover here shortly, is able to recreate that magic he had against Cincinnati, this could turn into a Jonathan Taylor and, do I dare say it, Nyheim Hines game while Wentz is left as more of the game manager in the matchup. Now should you think the Jets offense is able to contend which, spoiler alert, I think they will. But we could be in for a big game in which Wentz is heaving the ball around the field. Over the last three games, two of which have been close, we have actually seen teams gouge the Jets defense at all aspects as their offense has come alive apart from New England’s beat down. Overall, even without T.Y. Hilton, Wentz should provide a safe floor for fantasy managers in this home matchup against what is overall, still not a great Jets defense. Look for a few touchdown passes along with one of two untimely interceptions and possibly even some rushing production to anchor your lineup if you are moving forward with this option.

My Final Confidence Rating: Wentz: 3.5 in 1QB and 4 in SF/2QB.

Mike White: Now this is where we come to the glory play of the matchup. Obviously, there is not too much information on this young man out of Western Kentucky University. But what we do know is that so far, White was slinging the ball out there against what had been stout Bengals defense over the season. Head Coach Robert Saleh has already done us the favor of announcing White as the starting quarterback this week. Now the question is, will we see the White that we did in relief duty against New England?

Or will we see the Mike White who took the conference-leading Bengals defense and sent them home with their tails tucked in? Based on the matchup against this Colts defense, it looks like we might just see the ladder of the two. White will be going up against a Colts defense who just surrendered 26 fantasy points to Ryan Tannehill and company. Over the season really, when faced with competent quarterback play, they have been a source of big or at the very least manageable games for fantasy managers. The two best notes we have about White’s matchup this week are that first off, he loves to target his running backs which we will cover more in our next position, and secondly, he did all of that damage with his best-receiving option in Corey Davis who could return to the lineup this week and give White just one more weapon.

All in all, while I will not be starting White in any of my lineups, it does appear that at least for now, he is going to be able to keep the offense on track and provide enough of an impact to give not only starters on the Jets some form of relevance, but possibly even more importantly, the Colts offense reason to continue to play and produce.

My Final Confidence Rating: White: 2.5 in 1QB and 3 in SF/2QB.

The Running Backs

Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines: Our next position group features easily the best fantasy asset in the matchup in Taylor so we will not spend too much time on him. This is a smash matchup that fantasy managers dream of and produce in theory week-winning performances. All I will say is that over the last five games, Taylor has been dominating both on the ground and through the air, totaling over 110 yards and a touchdown at least in each of those matchups. He is a locked-in starter for your lineup and that is that. Now for the real question, are you even considering placing Hines into your lineup for this week.

Generally speaking, based on how this season has gone, Hines is not the asset that he was last year for your team. So far this season, Hines has had only one game in week two where you would have been happy having him in your lineup, clearly something that will just not cut it as you gear up for the playoffs and try to get seeding figured out. With that being said, this week with how susceptible the Jets have been on the ground, this could be the week he breaks one or two screens or cheap runs to gain fantasy relevance. Even still, Hines is averaging well below 4 yards per clip and unless you are just decimated by injury, probably is not roster-able let alone worth a spot in your starting lineup. Try to look elsewhere and just enjoy JT’s dominant incoming performance, unless of course, you face him this week.

My Final Confidence Rating: Taylor: 5, Hines: 1.5.

Michael Carter and Ty Johnson: When we get to the New York Jets running back group, it has been quite a long time since fantasy managers have had something to get excited about. Other than watching Frank Gore somehow lead them in rushing attempts in what felt like his 30th season in the league. Over the past two games with White at the helm, Carter has been an absolute PPR machine for the Jets, accumulating a whopping 17 receptions and over 200 total yards. This was on full display in last week’s matchup against Cincinnati as Carter saw 14 targets from his new starting quarterback who has no issue checking the ball short to his running backs. What is probably the most impressive though, is that Carter has been able to gain over 240 yards after the catch, showing that his production is off purely his talent and ability to make plays with the ball in his hands.

In a game where the Colts are favored and should be pulling ahead, Carter could be in line for another double-digit target outing ON TOP OF the 10 or so rushing attempts he will see. At this point, if White is under center Carter is going to be a viable fantasy option. His running mate in the backfield, Ty Johnson, has also come alive with White at the helm the past two weeks. With over 10 receptions in two weeks, Johnson has turned in back-to-back fantasy-relevant performances, all be it while taking away even more production from Carter. Johnson has only been on the field for less than 31% of snaps the past two weeks so this production has been purely based on efficiency and not on volume which is not ideally what you look for in your running backs for fantasy.

With all this being said, the Colts have actually been a stout defense against opposing running backs, after only allowing three running backs to hit double-digit fantasy points, one of which being King Henry. What is promising though for Carter managers is that the Colts defense has still allowed on average 33 yards through the air to opposing running backs while not facing nearly the volume of passing attempts this duo will garner. This could be a matchup where we again see multiple viable options in the Jets backfield with carter being a locked-in stud.

My Final Confidence Ratings: Carter: 4 and Johnson: 2.5.

The Wide Receivers

Michael Pittman Jr. and Zach Pascal: For a team that has been putting up a good amount of points, for the most part, 25 per game, there is not much of anything going to the wide receiver group if your name is not Michael Pittman Jr. As we discussed with our Wentz breakdown, there is not much to get excited about when it comes to the Jets passing defense giving up points through the air as they average below 20 to the entire position on the year. What this tells me though, is that Pittman Jr. could be in for a monster game as he has quickly blossomed into the main attraction of Wentz; despite not giving the QB his number back. Pittman, in case you have not been following much Colts football, has been on a tear this year and in the middle of a real breakout.

On pace for over 1200 yards and eight touchdowns, Pittman has only begun to ramp up his play and could be in for another multi-touchdown performance with fellow receiver T.Y. Hilton already ruled out with a concussion. The Jets allow most of their air yards closer to the line of scrimmage as opposed to getting beat with the deep bomb plays which should play right into Pittman Jr.’s hands with an ADOT of just 10.9, he should be able to utilize the mid-game and continue his strong fantasy outings. Across from him, or at least the number two receiver for this matchup probably will come down to Zach Pascal who, after the first two weeks of the season, has been almost non-existent for the Colts offense. This does not appear to be an offense that is going to sustain multiple WRs for fantasy on top of some low-level tight end usage and then JT feasting every week. Stay away if your players’ name is not Pittman Jr.

My Final Confidence Ratings: Pittman Jr.: 4 and the rest of the Colts WRs: 1.5.

Jamison Crowder, Corey Davis, and Elijah Moore: So this is where we get to our first dilemma of whether or not you can flex some of the players in this matchup. It has been disappointing, to say the least when it comes to Elijah Moore and his usage throughout the year. This rookie hype train just never has gotten to leave the station, at least not at this time. Moore should not be rostered in the majority of redraft leagues and certainly not started. Where the real value could come from though is these next two guys as Jamison Crowder and Corey Davis, if healthy, go up against a Colts defense allowing 25 points per game to the position.

As mentioned earlier, Davis has the potential to play this week which would be one more option for White to move the ball to and help spread out the defense just a little more. Should Davis start, he would be the definition of a boom or bust flex appeal player with how this offense is for all we have seen, unreliable to say the least. Apart from week 2 against New England where the entire team struggled, Davis has been at the very least serviceable for your lineups with WR3 upside and that should continue. The best receiving option for this wide receiver core is the ever-so-boring and consistent Crowder. The veteran safety blanket over the middle of the field has been exactly that, a safety blanket for both quarterbacks when healthy and on the field.

Through nearly half the season, Crowder has had at least 6 targets every game he appeared in. With a matchup like this, expect those 6 targets or more to turn into about 60 or so yards with a real shot at a score which would be the perfect line for your flex spot should you have injuries or lineup issues.

My Final Confidence Ratings: Davis: 3 and Crowder: 3.

The Tight Ends

For these next two groupings, I am going to keep it brief and to the point, as both units are providing close to nothing in the form of tight end production from a fantasy perspective. From one side with the Jets, you have the ever-exciting Ryan Griffin leading the tight end room with less than 100 yards on the year. That is all you need to hear, the Jets’ tight ends are not fantasy-relevant. Across the ball though, the Colts have the behemoth of a man in Mo Allie-Cox who, in the world of tight ends that nearly always disappoint, does at least offer an above-average chance at a touchdown with 4 already on the year. Other than Cox, there is no need to even look at the Jack Doyle’s of the world. Save yourself the trouble Phinest fans, you do not need me to tell you that.

My Final Confidence Ratings: Cox: 2.5 and everyone else: 0.

The Defenses

If you had asked me last week about whether there would be a defensive streaming option in this matchup, I would have been all over the Colts. At home, going up against Zach Wilson’s backup and a Jets team that that would be coming to town on a short week after presumably getting pummeled by the Bengals. Fast forward through week 8 and the Jets are flying high while the Colts seem to be the ones in some turmoil. With all that being said, fantasy managers could do worse than the Colts in this one as White is more than likely going to throw one or two interceptions in addition to multiple sacks as we have watched the Jets give up over three per game. On the flip side, there is not much to look at from a D/ST perspective for the Jets so stay away.

My Final Confidence Ratings: Colts 3 and Jets: 1.

This Colts vs Jets matchup could be the breaking point in an Indianapolis season where we saw them go all in for a playoff run when they acquired Carson Wentz for what will look like a first-round pick in this year’s draft. After heartbreaking overtime losses to the Ravens and division rival Tennessee, the Colts can not afford to drop this game at home as they enter what is probably the easiest stretch of games on their schedule. Across the ball, the Jets all of a sudden are one or two good Mike White games away from having a potentially very real quarterback controversy involving their second overall rookie draft selection and an early career journeyman quarterback making his first real NFL experience. Either way, there will be plenty of storylines coming out of this Thursday Night Football matchup which at the least should make for good viewing! As always, if you have any start or sit questions feel free to send them our way and we can talk them out. Good luck this week and we will see you in next weeks breakdown!

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