I can’t remember the last time an NFL regular season game had the kind of hype that the Denver Broncos vs. Indianapolis Colts has tonight. This is Peyton Manning‘s homecoming to Lucas Oil Stadium, and Colts Owner Jim Irsay got the fire going with his comments earlier in the week.
Lost in all of this is Andrew Luck and the Colts who are 4-2 and have a much-improved defense, allowing 16.33 points per game. The Broncos are favored by 6.5 points, but I think the difference will be a lot bigger as the Broncos are now running at full speed with the return of Von Miller.
This game could be a high-scoring outing for fantasy owners. Here are my predictions for Sunday night’s game.
Manning is the No. 1 fantasy quarterback, holding 38-point lead over Drew Brees according to ESPN standard scoring. With all of the weapons Manning has, it’s hard for him not to have a good game. Surprisingly, Manning’s worst fantasy game this season came against the Jacksonville Jaguars last week. He still averages 28 fantasy points per game.
In 160 games at Lucas Oil Stadium, Manning is 115-45. The pre-game ceremony won’t break Manning, and he’ll go out and carve up his former team. Manning will finish at the No. 1 fantasy quarterback this week.
Projection: 21-of-45, 317 passing yards, three TDs (24 points)
Luck, on the other hand, is the 10th-ranked fantasy quarterback. He did struggle on Monday night against the San Diego Chargers, only scoring seven points. It was his second game this season without throwing a touchdown. However, the Colts were only on the field for less than 22 minutes.
The Broncos’ defense has allowed at least 297 passing yards to each of the six quarterbacks they’ve faced this season. Luck is in line for another big game but won’t spoil Manning’s homecoming.
Projection: 20-of-38, 312 passing yards, two TDs, one INT (18 points)
Knowshon Moreno has seen a career resurrection now that Willis McGahee is gone. With the help of his three-touchdown performance last week, Moreno is now ranked fourth among running backs. He averages just 62 yards per game but will eclipse that Sunday night. The Colts allow 132 rushing yards per game, second-most in the NFL, and Ronnie Hillman could find himself in the end zone late in the game. Montee Ball continues to struggle and won’t see much playing time.
Projection: 14 carries, 75 yards, one TD; five receptions, 28 yards (15 points)
When Trent Richardson was traded to the Colts, many thought his fantasy career would skyrocket. The Colts have a much better passing game than the Cleveland Browns and can open up the lanes for Richardson. However, that hasn’t been the case. He’s failed to reach 60 rushing yards in all but one game this season. Richardson will get some red zone carries and score, but his total yards will disappoint fantasy owners again.
Projection: 17 carries, 52 rushing yards, one TD (11 points)
Where do I start with the Broncos’ receivers? They have two of the top-five fantasy wide receivers. Wes Welker has eight touchdowns already this season after only eight all of last year. Over the last four weeks, he has caught 25 of the 31 passes thrown his way. Demaryius Thomas leads the league in yards after catch (281), and he’s shown that he doesn’t need many passes to get a lot of yards — three receptions for 78 yards last week. Eric Decker has had seven targets and five receptions in each of the last three games but doesn’t score a lot.
There will be a lot of scoring for the Broncos, but is there enough football to go around?
Projection: Welker—six receptions, 55 yards, one TD (11 points); D. Thomas—eight receptions, 72 yards, one TD (13 points); Decker—five receptions, 60 yards (six points)
Reggie Wayne isn’t scoring a ton — only two touchdowns — but is a reliable WR2 or flex option. He’s had at least 65 yards in the last three games. Wayne should score more on Sunday night as the Broncos’ defense allows the third-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. T.Y. Hilton hasn’t been as reliable as his teammate, four games with less than five fantasy points. He should be able to break one free but will fail to score again.
Projection: Wayne— seven receptions, 102 yards one TD (16 points); Hilton— five receptions, 78 yards (seven points)