More like Matty on Ice … as Matt Ryan has been benched by Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich.
Sam Ehlinger has been named the Colts’ starting quarterback for the remainder of the season. The news comes less than 10 days after it was reported that the Texas product had leapfrogged Nick Foles on the Colts’ depth chart for the No. 2 job. The next pass Ehlinger throws will be his first in an NFL regular-season game.
Ryan has looked the part of a fading veteran since the top of the season. He is averaging 6.8 YPA (QB22), and with an average depth of target (aDOT) of 6.0 (QB33), the deep ball has vanished from Indy’s game plan. Instead, Reich has leaned on a short-and-quick approach with the offense, recording the second-most pass attempts (297) in the league.
The blueprint won’t change drastically under Ehlinger, as the 24-year-old is in possession of only adequate arm strength and struggled to accurately push the ball downfield in college. But don’t expect 42 pass attempts per game. Ehlinger has wheels. While that’s usually considered a boon in fantasy, I wouldn’t get too excited. Ehlinger is a sixth-round pick operating behind one of the worst pass-blocking units in the league (8.4% adjusted sack rate). He won’t be on the streaming radar in single-QB leagues and is nearish to (but behind) Taylor Heinicke in superflex formats.
Here’s how the change under center affects the fantasy values of key contributors in Indy:
Taylor is probably the biggest beneficiary here. Ehlinger’s mobility (1,907 rushing yards over four years at Texas) should encourage Reich to lean into the ground game more while simultaneously opening up holes for the team’s RB1. Taylor remains a top-five fantasy play each week and will continue to touch the ball at least 20 times per outing.
Pittman is currently 16th among WRs in PPR fantasy points. Ironically, he was also WR16 last season with Carson Wentz under center. With Ehlinger expected to run more, it’s likely Pittman’s volume takes a hit. His strong hands and physicality after the catch, however, figure to keep him inside the top 18 but outside of the top 12 players at the position. Unfortunately, it seems as though the leap to alpha wideout will have to wait another year.
WR Alec Pierce
The only thing stopping Pierce from being an absolute fantasy force is volume. The former Bearcat knows how to high-point and win in contested situations. His fantasy stock is largely dependent on Ehlinger’s willingness to throw it up and trust the rookie to climb the ladder and beat coverage. That kind of trust doesn’t materialize overnight. Pierce will have his blow-up spots, but consistent looks will keep him in WR3/4 territory.
Campbell has recorded more than 40 PPR fantasy points over the past two weeks combined. Operating as Indy’s primary slot receiver with Ashton Dulin (foot) on IR, Campbell has drawn double-digit looks and scored in back-to-back efforts. There could be a path to continued fantasy relevance under Ehlinger, but it’s unlikely to actualize next Sunday versus Washington. The Commanders’ CBs have been markedly more generous to boundary receivers than those working inside.