Last updated: December 13th at 3:15pm ET
Team Totals: Saints 27.5, Colts 18.5
Severely shorthanded in their pass-catcher corps even despite T.Y. Hilton’s (calf) potential return, the Colts figure to attack a similarly undermanned Saints defensive front on the ground as part of Frank Reich’s 2019 run-first philosophy. Only four teams have run the ball at a higher frequency than Indy this year, and New Orleans was severely weakened this week when DT Sheldon Rankins (Achilles’) and DE Marcus Davenport (foot) went on I.R. Marlon Mack remains a high-risk RB2 play as a big road underdog who was eased in off injury with just 13 touches on 41% of last week’s snaps against the Bucs, but there is reason to believe Mack will be the focus of Reich’s Monday night game plan, especially in an effort to keep the Saints’ high-flying offense off the field. … Jacoby Brissett may still be forced into an indoor track meet if the Colts can’t control this game up front, which is an aggressive ask anyway at the Superdome. The Saints have supported high quarterback floors by permitting top-15 fantasy results in 10-of-13 games, while four straight signal callers to face New Orleans have banked top-12 finishes. If Hilton does play, Brissett will become a legit candidate to outscore Drew Brees on one-game DFS slates.
With just 18 yards since Week 8 and several ensuing calf-injury setbacks, Hilton will be a high-volatility WR3 option if greenlighted against the Saints. Hilton would also attract Marshon Lattimore’s shadow coverage; since Week 4, Lattimore has yielded just 19 completions on 38 targets (50%) for 201 yards (5.29 YPA) and one touchdown. … Hilton’s return would likely push Zach Pascal into the slot with Marcus Johnson on the opposite side. Interior WRs Tyler Lockett (11/154/1), Chris Godwin (7/125/2, 3/47/1), Cooper Kupp (5/120/0), Christian Kirk (8/79/0), Anthony Miller (5/64/0), Russell Gage (5/52/1), Kenny Stills (3/37/1), and Kendrick Bourne (3/18/2 have given New Orleans fits, keeping Pascal in the WR3 conversation. Pascal has been terrific when lined up inside, catching 14-of-19 slot targets (74%) for 242 yards (12.7 YPT) and three TDs. … Johnson’s volume would come into too much question for season-long reliance if Hilton is active, but Johnson would remain very playable on one-game DFS slates based on his big-play potential. Over the past two seasons, 12 of Johnson’s 18 catches (67%) have gained 10-plus yards. … Jack Doyle flopped in last week’s loss to the Bucs because he dropped a pass and was the recipient of several un-catchable throws from Brissett. He still saw six targets, ran 32 routes, played 78% of the Colts’ snaps, and belongs in the TE1 conversation against a Saints defense that was touched up consecutively by Cameron Brate (10/73/0), George Kittle (6/67/1), Greg Olsen (5/44/0), Jaeden Graham (4/41/1), and Austin Hooper (4/17/1) over its last five games.
His home-road splits back in full effect this season, Drew Brees enters Monday night with a 13:3 TD-to-INT ratio and 8.1 yards-per-attempt average in the Superdome versus 4:1 with 6.4 YPA in away games. It’s been very historically profitable to bet on Brees as matchup proof at home, and that especially looks like the right decision following last Sunday’s laser-show overall QB1 finish versus San Francisco. Bend but don’t break for most of the season, the Colts have begun springing major leaks defensively, allowing top-12 fantasy scores to three of their last four quarterbacks faced, including Jameis Winston’s overall QB2 effort in Week 14. … Indianapolis has increasingly played pass-funnel defense, holding enemy backs to 121/467/1 (3.86 YPA) rushing over its last six games. They Colts are still allowing the NFL’s fifth-most running back catches per game (6.1), ideally foreshadowing a voluminous receiving effort from Alvin Kamara. Like Saquon Barkley, Kamara’s midseason high ankle sprain is likely mainly to blame for his slow 2019 season, but he’s still topped 75% playing-time clips in consecutive games and is averaging 17.4 touches since returning from the injury in Week 10. Kamara remains a volume-based RB1 play in a plus draw for any pass-catching back. … Latavius Murray’s touch counts since Kamara’s Week 10 return are 7 > 12 > 7 > 4 > 9, enough for one-game DFS-slate consideration but not season-long flex-play use.
Brees’ 2019 target distribution: Michael Thomas 83; Kamara 51; Jared Cook 32; Ted Ginn 29; Murray 23; Tre’Quan Smith and Josh Hill 14; Taysom Hill 11. … The zone-heavy Colts play the exact style of defense Thomas shreds as a classic zone-beating receiver in the short and intermediate areas. With double-digit targets in 10-of-13 games and 100-plus yards in six of his last seven, Thomas is Week 15’s No. 1 overall WR1 play. … Cook has 70-plus yards and/or a touchdown in seven straight games and will be a surefire TE1 if greenlighted following his Week 14 concussion. If not, Hill will draw the start after managing receiving lines of 3/43/1 and 3/39/0 against Chicago and Arizona filling in for Cook in Weeks 7-8. That would make Hill a sleeper on one-game DFS slates; the Colts allow the NFL’s sixth-most tight end catches per game (5.4). … Ginn hasn’t topped 50 yards since Week 1, while Smith hasn’t gotten to 50 all year. They’re both touchdown-dependent dart throws whose stock is limited to one-game DFS tournaments.
Score Prediction: Saints 30, Colts 20