NFL Splits Tool, Week 8: Matt Ryan Benched in Indianapolis


After seven-plus months of preparation and analysis, the NFL season is in full swing as we head into Week 7 of the regular season. Over the offseason, I did an “NFL Splits” series, looking at historical trends to help predict the outlook of the 2022 season. I will be continuing the series during the season by using the FTN Splits Tool and looking at actionable takeaways from the previous weeks.


The Splits Tool allows me to experiment with different situations, such as active/inactive players, spreads, locations, and more, to get a better understanding of the rest of the season. Users can sign up for an FTN Fantasy subscription and gain access to all the tools needed to dominate their fantasy leagues.

The QB Conundrum

The Colts have been stuck in quarterback purgatory ever since Andrew Luck announced his retirement after Week 3 of the 2019 preseason. Over the past four seasons, four different quarterbacks have started a game for Indianapolis, with a fifth soon to be added Sunday. Following a divisional loss to the Titans in Week 7, head coach Frank Reich announced that Sam Ehlinger would replace Matt Ryan as the starter for the rest of the season. Although Ryan suffered a Grade 2 shoulder sprain, Reich made it clear that the move would have been made even if Ryan were healthy. The news was especially surprising considering the Colts traded a third-round draft pick for Ryan this offseason, who is under contract through 2023 with a $35.2 million cap hit ($18 million in dead cap). This was the second straight year the Colts quickly moved on from a quarterback they traded despite giving up significant capital. In 2021, they traded a third and conditional first-round pick for Carson Wentz and moved on from him the following season. Although Wentz had his flaws, the Colts were a significantly better offense last season and fell one game shy of making the postseason. In this article, I am going to look at how the transition from Wentz to Ryan has impacted the Colts and if things can get better moving forward.

Jonathan Taylor, RB

Jonathan Taylor Week 8 Fantasy Football Splits Tool

Jonathan Taylor went scorched earth in the back half of his rookie season, averaging almost 140 scrimmage yards (139.5 yards) and over 25 PPR points and finishing as the RB3 in the last seven weeks of the 2020 season. He was a surefire first-round pick early in the 2021 draft season but slowly started falling down draft boards due to systemic risk and a lack of certainty at quarterback. Taylor became one of the biggest day draft day values finishing as the RB1 overall, often available in the second round. As a sophomore, Taylor rushed for a league-high 1,811 yards while leading the NFL in rushing touchdowns (18). Despite another quarterback change in 2022, drafters were no longer shying away from Taylor, who was pegged as the consensus 1.01. Unfortunately, Taylor has not lived up to expectations this season, averaging 13.54 PPR points per game, ranked outside the top 20 among running backs (RB21). Although he sees more opportunities with Ryan under center, he’s averaging significantly fewer rushing yards, receiving yards and fewer scoring opportunities. He saw a career-high nine targets in Week 7 and has been involved as a pass catcher but has suffered playing in a worse offense. It is worth noting that Taylor is working his way back from an ankle injury and should be healthier next week.


Nyheim Hines, RB

Nyheim Hines Week 8 Fantasy Football Splits Tool

Nyheim Hines had the best season of his career in Taylor’s rookie season, rushing 89 times for 380 yards and three touchdowns. As a receiver, he led the Colts in receptions with 63 grabs for 482 yards and four touchdowns. He signed a three-year, $18.6 million contract extension last offseason making him the highest-paid non-starting running back. After a top-20 finish in 2020, Hines finished as RB53 in 2021, playing second fiddle to Taylor’s RB1 overall finish. He posted career-low marks as a receiver catching just 40 passes on 57 targets for 310 yards and one touchdown. Frank Reich acknowledged Hines’s lack of involvement and said, “If I was a fantasy owner, if I was going to be in a fantasy league, I think I’d pick Nyheim this year. I think I’d consider drafting Nyheim. I think it’s worth (considering) drafting him.” Matt Ryan‘s arrival in Indianapolis elevated Hines’s stock the most after leading all quarterbacks in percentage of targets thrown to running backs (26.7%) a season ago. Hines receiving production with Ryan has increased across the board; however, he’s taken a hit as a rusher. When filtering out Week 5, when Hines exited the game early, he is averaging 4.4 receptions, 30.8 yards, and 4.8 targets with Ryan under center. As a rusher, Hines averages just 2.4 attempts and 2.6 rushing yards. If Hines’s role doesn’t continue to grow, he’s nothing more than a handcuff who will likely split time with Deon Jackson and Phillip Lindsay if Taylor were to miss time. 

Michael Pittman, WR

Michael Pittman Week 8 Fantasy Football Splits Tool

After barely surpassing 500 receiving yards as a rookie (503 yards), Colts’ 2020 second-round pick Michael Pittman burst onto the scene as a sophomore. He established himself as the alpha in Indianapolis, leading the team in receptions (88), receiving yards (1,082), and receiving touchdowns (6). Despite playing in a low-volume pass offense, Pittman saw 129 targets, on a 25.7% target share, with no other player seeing 70-plus. With Matt Ryan under center, the Colts have had the second most pass attempts in the league (297) and are top-8 in passing yards (1,824). As a result, Pittman has seen increased targets, receptions, and receiving yards. With Sam Ehlinger as the rest-of-season starter, the passing volume may decrease, with the Colts ideally wanting to run the offense through Jonathan Taylor and the ground game. 

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