Immediate fantasy football takeaways from NFL Week 15 Saturday Night Football

Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (28) rushes the ball Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021, during a game against the New England Patriots at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The Indianapolis Colts defeated the New England Patriots 27-17 on Saturday Night Football. The Colts offense used its tried and true strategy of running Jonathan Taylor repeatedly. The Patriots offense was able to make a number of positive plays, but it was not enough to overcome two interceptions, drops and a blocked punt.

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Table Notes
  • Snaps include plays called back due to penalties like offensive holding or defensive pass interference. The other three stats have these plays removed.
  • Targets may differ from official NFL sources. The most likely discrepancy would be from a clear thrown away pass, where the NFL may give the target to the nearest receiver, while this data will not.
  • Carries are only on designed plays. Quarterback scrambles won’t count for the total number of carries in the game.

New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts

  • Jonathan Taylor: 29 carries, 170 yards (125 yards after contact), 1 TD
  • Hunter Henry: 6 receptions, 77 yards, 2 TDs (2-for-2 on contested passes)
New England Patriots Snaps Routes Run Targets Carries
Jakobi Meyers 64 44 12 1
Kendrick Bourne 48 35 3 2
N'Keal Harry 36 28 5 0
Nelson Agholor 32 19 6 0
Gunner Olszewski 3 3 2 0
Hunter Henry 55 38 8 0
Jonnu Smith 17 4 3 1
Brandon Bolden 38 27 4 4
Rhamondre Stevenson 31 15 1 10
Total 68 47 44 18
Indianapolis Colts Snaps Routes Run Targets Carries
Zach Pascal 34 12 2 0
Ashton Dulin 28 3 0 2
Michael Pittman Jr. 28 11 5 0
T.Y. Hilton 14 7 1 0
Dezmon Patmon 1 0 0 0
Jack Doyle 41 7 1 0
Mo Alie-Cox 40 9 1 0
Kylen Granson 10 0 0 0
Jonathan Taylor 51 11 0 29
Nyheim Hines 10 6 2 0
Total 52 14 12 38

The Patriots without Damien Harris: The Patriots starting running back missed this game with a hamstring injury. Their fourth-string running back, J.J. Taylor, also missed the game due to COVID-19. This left New England with Rhamondre Stevenson as its early-down back and Brandon Bolden as the third-down back. Neither was able to find much success, which contributed to the Patriots' offensive woes. This game made it less likely that Stevenson takes over as the permanent starter in New England anytime soon.

Ignore the Colts' snap counts: The Colts' offensive snap counts looked different in this game from the past, but it’s unlikely this trend continues. Ashton Dulin is the Colts' fourth-string wide receiver, but he’s been the single wide receiver in 13 personnel all season. Indianapolis used a lot of this personnel grouping — especially early — leading to Dulin, at one point, leading the wide receivers in snaps.

Michael Pittman Jr. was always on the field for Indianapolis’ pass plays but was ejected from the game in the third quarter for fighting. This led to Dulin playing even more snaps in passing situations. Pittman won’t lose snaps and Indianapolis will use less 13 personnel in the future. 

Monitor Nelson Agholor and N’Keal Harry‘s injuries: Agholor was having a fine day with four catches for 34 yards before suffering a head injury in the third quarter. He was able to get up and run to the sideline without help but was escorted to the locker room shortly after. He was ruled out in the middle of the fourth quarter. This increased Harry‘s role in the offense. Harry made an instant impact, including a 43-yard catch to put New England in striking distance.

In the last two minutes of the game, Harry took a helmet-to-helmet hit and needed to be helped off the field by his teammates. Gunner Olszewski took over in three-receiver sets. If Agholor or Harry has to miss time, it would move both Jakobi Meyers and Kenrick Bourne up fantasy rankings by a few spots. If both receivers had to miss time, Bourne would go from a part-time role to an every-down receiver, giving him even more of a boost.

The Colts' tight end rotation: Indianapolis was primarily using Jack Doyle as the offense's receiving tight end in recent weeks. The Colts used a lot of two-tight end sets, which meant Mo Alie-Cox played more than last week, including running more routes. Rookie Kylen Granson was a part of the rotation over the last month, but he was restricted to three tight end sets tonight. This remains a position group to avoid in fantasy football.


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