Yahoo! DFS Single-Game Breakdown: Colts at 49ers

Oct 23, 2021
 Yahoo! DFS Single-Game Breakdown: Colts at 49ers

This Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts, fresh off a 31-3 thumping of the Houston Texans, head to San Francisco to take on the 2-3 49ers, who are coming off their bye week and moving back to starting quarterback Jimmy Garoopolo after he missed Week 5 with a calf strain. Both teams desperately need a win to keep pace in their respective divisions, but for the 49ers, the situation is particularly dire. Despite huge playoff aspirations for San Francisco, 2-4 could be a death sentence in the ruthless NFC West.

Depending on the type of contest we’re creating rosters for, we’ll need to adjust our player selection strategy. If playing in a tournament with a huge amount of contestants, it will be vitally important to play something other than the optimal lineup based on projections. Differentiating yourself from the rest of the field is equally valuable. Once we understand the type of roster we need to be building for the specific contest you’re trying to take down, we can then focus on player selection, working to identify combinations of players that could all hit their respective ceilings together, based on specific game environments. Slow, run-oriented defensive battles often allow very different players to hit their ceiling score compared to when a game is fast-paced and pass-happy.

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More Single-Game Breakdowns: FanDuel/DraftKings

Vegas Total and Spread

The 49ers are favored by four points at home, down from an initial spread of five. After getting pushed up from 44.5 to 45.5, the game total has steadily fallen throughout the week, and now sits at 42.5, implying 23.25 points for the 49ers, almost exactly their average points per game this season, and 19.25 points for the Colts.


Heavy rains are expected throughout the game, with sustained winds between 15 and 20 MPH. This amount of expected precipitation and wind boosts our running back expectations, and puts a damper on our projections for both passing attacks.

Potential Game Flow Scenarios

With myriad injuries and plenty of wind and rain expected in the forecast, we could be in for some sloppy football this Sunday Night. And while the lack of outside weapons for Indianapolis and a return to Jimmy Garoppolo ($22) for San Francisco make the storylines more interesting, it doesn’t necessarily affect the expected flow of the game all that much.

The Colts should still lean heavily on their running game, with Jonathan Taylor ($29) a near-lock for 20-plus looks, with Marlon Mack ($11) spelling in the backfield. Michael Pittman ($18) should be the unquestioned alpha receiver and is the most likely to lead the team in targets. With Parris Campbell sidelined indefinitely and T.Y. Hilton out, Zach Pascal ($13) will take over the secondary receiver role he’s played multiple times over the past two seasons. Pascal currently ranks second among all active Colts players in air yards share. While the Colts’ tight ends are averaging a very healthy 20.7% target share, that’s split among three players, with both Mo Alie-Cox ($11) and Jack Doyle ($10) earning 9.6% and 9.0% of the team’s targets, respectively. With a severe lack of weapons, it makes sense the Colts would be implied for under 20 points, and they’ll likely need huge games from Taylor and/or Pittman to surpass their meek implied total.

The 49ers are without key pieces on offense as well, most notably George Kittle, who remains on injured reserve with lower leg ailments, setting the stage for breakout star Deebo Samuel to once again lead the squad in production. With San Francisco, ravaged by injuries at the running back position earlier in the season and still utilizing a committee approach at the position, Samuel has become the one consistent producer on the offense, earning nearly 33% of the team’s targets and nearly 35% of the team’s air yards. While his 14.1 expected fantasy points per game rank a healthy 19th among all players in the NFL, his 5.2 fantasy points over expectation rank fourth, and second among all wideouts. In short, he’s putting together a career year.

After Samuel, the 49ers typically spread the ball around, with Trent Sherfield ($10), Brandon Aiyuk ($14) and Mohamed Sanu ($10) all combining for nearly 22% of the team’s targets—expect that number to approach 35% this Sunday with Kittle out, with Aiyuk the most likely beneficiary of some extra looks. The backfield should be led by Eli Mitchell ($18), but expect San Francisco to continue to rotate backs in and out, with Trey Sermon ($13), JaMychal Hasty ($13), and Kyle Juszcyk ($10) all expected to get run.

Close, low-scoring game

Close, high-scoring game

Blowout for home team

Blowout for away team

Cheap/Unique Stack Options

Jonathan Taylor ($29) and Nyheim Hines ($15)

The knee-jerk answer to when you should play two road-underdog running backs from the same team in a single DFS lineup is “never". With multiple offensive weapons out on the outside and dealing with inclement weather, look for the Colts to establish their backfield early and often, spelling Taylor—who is a virtual lock for 20-plus opportunities—for the shiftier Hines when in need of moderate gains through the air. After a six-target Week 3, Hines has been used sparingly in the Colts offense, earning just five targets over the last three weeks. But with so many players sidelined, it could be time to utilize Hines heavily once again. Hines has seen six-plus targets in three of his last seven games, dating back to last season.

Low Salary Volatile Plays

Ross Dwelley ($12)

George Kittle’s shoes are impossible to fill, but Dwelley played on 88% of San Francisco’s snaps in Week 5, running 19 routes and catching both of his two targets. Dwelley will need to find the end zone to reach value, however, as he’s only received more than four targets in a game one time in his career. At the very least, he’ll be a less popular pass-catcher than Brandon Aiyuk, so if he hits, you’ll likely be gaining on a huge chunk of the field.

Marlon Mack ($11)

Mack is a virtual lock for five carries in this contest and has seen as many as 12 opportunities in a game this season. With weather concerns likely causing both teams to rely heavily on their backfields, expect Mack to get plenty of run, even if only plays on 15-20% of the team’s snaps. The Colts are still trying to showcase Mack for a trade. An unexpectedly big night from Mack could be just enough for another team to pull the trigger on a deal.

Kyle Juszczyk ($10)

Juszcyk might be a fullback who blocks on plenty of plays, but he’s being utilized just enough to consider him in large-field tournaments, especially due to his minimum salary. Juszczyk has played on 72% of the 49ers’ snaps over the last three weeks and has averaged 5.2 expected fantasy points per game over the last three weeks, on par with Trey Sermon and Eli Mitchell. Juszczyk has 14 receptions on 16 targets this season.

Superstar Picks

Jonathan Taylor ($29)

Taylor is averaging 18 opportunities per game and over five red zone opportunities per game over the last three weeks and currently ranks top-10 at his position in rushing yards, receiving yards, and fantasy points per game, all on a 51% snap share. Imagine what he could do with a true three-down role all to himself.

Jimmy Garoppolo ($22)

Back from injury and without Trey Lance available for a QB-sneak at the goal-line, this would look like an excellent spot for Garoppolo, perhaps one of the best chances to play him all season, if the weather weren’t a factor. Not having Kittle hurts, but the Colts rank dead-last in PFF’s team coverage grade and just lost their starting safety to a season-ending injury sustained in practice this week. It doesn’t hurt that he’s $1 less in salary than Carson Wentz, especially when their projections are nearly identical.

Carson Wentz ($23)

Hampered by injuries all around him, Wentz’s 17 fantasy points per game ranks 20th among all quarterbacks this season, but he’s thrown two or more touchdowns in four of his first six games as a Colt and has only thrown a single interception this season. The 49ers’ defense, right at league average in points allowed per play and schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to opposing offenses, should be exploitable for Wentz this Sunday.

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