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Fantasy Football Matchups Breakdown: Week 4 Indianapolis Colts vs. Chicago Bears

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Optimal NFL DFS picks for Week 5 Monday Night Football Showdown lineups on DraftKings & FanDuel from Awesemo's lineup optimizer & projections

The Colts travel to Chicago to take on the surprise Bears, who, despite a 3-0 start, face mounds of uncertainty, especially with new quarterback Nick Foles under center for his first start of 2020. Can the Bears keep rolling or will the Colts hand Chicago its first loss of the year? For the 2020 NFL season, Matt Savoca will be providing his weekly NFL Fantasy Football Matchups Breakdown column, going through every single game and offensive and defensive matchup, every week of the season. For your viewing convenience, we have broken up the matchups breakdown into several single columns, each one covering a single game. You can find links to every game right here. We have 12 games on tap for Week 4 NFL DFS and NFL Fantasy Football, so let’s dive in into the NFL DFS picks. The entire matchups article will be available in podcast form, every Friday afternoon on the Awesemo Podcast Network. Let’s get into the Colts-Bears fantasy football matchup for your NFL DFS lineups.

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Indianapolis Colts (23.5) at Chicago Bears (21) – 1 p.m. ET

Indianapolis Passing Game

It was a rather relaxing Sunday for the Colts against the lowly Jets in Week 3. After taking Sam Darnold’s first official pass of the day to the house on Sunday, and never looking back. According to nflfastR, in Week 3 the Colts’ win probability hit 95% with 12:54 left in the first quarter and never again dipped below 89%.

Therefore, it’s hard to glean much of anything from the Colts as a team from their Week 3 data. One thing we can be certain of is the injuries that are beginning to pile up at the skill positions for Indianapolis. Michael Pittman Jr. (leg) joins Parris Campbell and Marlon Mack as the next starter who will miss significant time with injury. Though they are getting healthier at tight end (Jack Doyle played 53% of snaps, but didn’t receive a target, and Trey Burton is practicing again this week), they’re suddenly relying on Zach Pascal (93rd in true weighted opportunity share) and Daurice Fountain (106th) to be contributors behind T.Y. Hilton, who has struggled to connect with quarterback Philip Rivers.

Part of that is due to Rivers’ general inefficiency. He ranks 23rd in expected points added per play and 27th in true drive success rate, good for just 25th among signal-callers in quarterback composite efficiency. Combined with the fact that Indianapolis ranks in the bottom 10 in both early down air yards per second (air yards per play vs. seconds per play) in neutral game situations, and in true neutral early down pass rate. Among all quarterbacks who have started and finished two full games this season, Rivers ranks third lowest in dropbacks per game. This is a team content to win games with clock control and their run game. Against the Bears in Week 4, the Colts will likely need significant contributions from Rivers and co., particularly if Foles plays as strongly as he did in relief of Mitchell Trubisky against Atlanta.

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The Chicago defensive unit remains one of the most ferocious units in the league, possessing a top-10 team grade (via PFF) in coverage, pass rush, rush defense, and tackling and the third-best defensive rating overall. This could spell trouble for Hilton in particular, who has struggled to separate from defenders this season, ranking 53rd among wideouts in yards of separation at target. Hilton has the usage to be productive (he’s 27th in true weighted opportunity share), but his ability to turn targets and air yards into production has been horrific. His receiver air conversion ratio (RACR) ranks 85th at the position. Mo Alie-Cox returned to earth after a stratospheric six targets for 111 yards in Week 2, with three catches for 50 yards. This is more in line with his weekly floor, but it’s clear he’s getting the passing game looks over Doyle. With Burton returning this week, and continued questions at receiver, it won’t be surprising if the Colts’ increase their level of two-tight end sets come Week 4 despite already ranking ninth in “12” personnel usage.

Indianapolis Running Game

Jonathan Taylor remains the undisputed lead back and a great NFL DFS pick, though his share of team opportunities dipped well below the 43% mark in Week 2 to 25%, near his Week 1 numbers. Part of this was due to game flow, as Week 3 was decided quite early (Jordan Wilkins saw 18% of opportunities, something we can’t expect in closer matchups). Taylor is a virtual lock for 15 touches and has a chance at 20-plus in closer games (such as Week 2). His 57 total touches outpace Nyheim Hines (who’s 4.7 targets and 9.3 touches per game are nothing to scoff at) by nearly 30. As the eighth-highest-priced back on the slate, he’s a fantastic option in lineups. Awesemo’s projections are directly in line with his salary.


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Chicago Passing Game

When Foles entered the game for the Bears with 9:58 left in the third quarter against Atlanta, the Falcons had a 16-point lead and 93% win probability (according to nflfastR). His first drive ended in a punt, but from there, he was lights out. His next four drives ended in touchdowns, while the defense held firm the rest of the way en route to an improbable 36-26 victory and a 3-0 record through three weeks. It only took the eye-test to know that Foles’ play was significantly better than Trubisky, even with the contested-catch interception to Allen Robinson that was first called a touchdown on the field but later reversed upon review. The table below (courtesy of rbsdm.com) exemplifies the stark differences in quarterback efficiency for Chicago:

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fantasy football matchups Bears colts nfl dfs picks

It’s quite a small sample, but both Foles’ true drives success rating (which specifically adjusts for sample size) and EPA per play rank in the top 15, an indicator that Foles may be trending towards being an above-average option at the position (at least for real football, not necessarily for fantasy football) this season.

But the precedent is certainly there. We don’t need to wax poetic about Foles’ meteoric rises (and falls) in 2013, or 2017 for that matter. But there’s no doubt this is the best option for the Bears. It was certainly the best choice for secondary receiver Anthony Miller, who found the end zone twice in the fourth quarter and for Jimmy Graham, who caught two touchdowns in Week 3 as well (one from Trubisky). Foles’ play should encourage fantasy gamers who prefer to bet on usage with Robinson. Robinson ranks seventh at the position in true target share and 11th overall in true weighted opportunity share. Even at WR7 in salary this weekend on DraftKings, he’ll absolutely be in consideration. Robinson represents the most difficult task yet (outside of maybe Adam Thielen) for the Colts’ secondary this season. Miller remains a touchdown-dependent play (his true weighted opportunity share is 93rd among wideouts) but could once again hit pay dirt at his WR37 salary. The Awesemo projections are bearish on Miller this weekend. Jimmy Graham, however, is a player fantasy gamers should consider going back to the well on. His projection ranks him well ahead of his 18th- highest price tag on DraftKings.

Lastly, Darnell Mooney should be mentioned as well. After seeing three targets in Weeks 1 and 2, his target total doubled in Week 3, good enough for third on the team. He’s out-targeting all running backs on the team through three games as well. Still priced $3100 on DraftKings, he’s an exciting low-salary option this week despite a projection in the mid-50s on Awesemo.com this weekend.

Chicago Rushing Game

The Bears lost shifty playmaker Tarik Cohen (ACL) for the season on Sunday, creating a rather large void to be filled in the Chicago backfield. Cohen was averaging 7.7 opportunities (including three targets) that will be distributed either to backfield leader David Montgomery (3.0 targets and 17.3 total opportunities per game thus far) or hybrid asset Cordarrelle Patterson, who is tied for fourth on the team in total touches. After the Cohen injury, the Bears utilized Patterson in the screen game and as a traditional rusher, indicating he may be in line for increased usage with Cohen sidelined. The Colts rush defense has been no slouch, however. They rank 11th in team rush defense grade via PFF and second overall. It will be an uphill battle for Montgomery to return value at his salary of $5,500, 21st highest among running backs on the slate.

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Prediction: Colts 27, Bears 24.

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A middling athlete who was offered his first sports analytics position at age 14, I've been working on NFL and fantasy football data science since 2017. With a particular passion for data visualization and dashboard building, I love to make data accessible by using graphs and charts to communicate ideas that are difficult to explain with words alone. You can contact me by e-mailing [email protected]

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