FanDuel Single-Game Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 12 Monday Night (Steelers at Colts)

Now fully healthy again, Jonathan Taylor has looked like his old self in recent weeks and should continue to be the focal point of the Colts' offense. Who else could have a huge impact in tonight's matchup?

Week 12 wraps up with what is expected to be a low-scoring game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts. The Colts are 2.5-point home favorites in a matchup that comes in with a modest 39.5 total.

For those unfamiliar, single-game slates feature five flex spots with identical scoring to the main slate. However, kickers are included in these contests, and there is an "MVP" roster slot. The MVP receives 1.5 times his total fantasy points, making this spot crucial.

Our Brandon Gdula has done a deep dive on single-game strategy, and we have projections for the single-game slate if you select the game from the slate tab. It's worth checking out both of those things before you make your lineups.

MVP Candidates

This is one of those rare instances where neither quarterback leads our projections. Instead, we find Jonathan Taylor ($16,500) at the top by a decent margin.

Injuries have put a damper on Taylor's 2022 campaign, but in the two games since sitting out Week 9, he's tallied 163 and 94 scrimmage yards while averaging 22.0 carries, 3.0 targets, and an 84.3% snap rate. He's also scored touchdowns in both weeks as the first option near the goal line (72.7% red zone rush share). Taylor's fantasy credentials speak for themselves, and he will likely be the most popular MVP option.

Following Taylor, we see Najee Harris ($13,500), Kenny Pickett ($15,000), and Matt Ryan ($14,500) all projected for roughly the same number of points.

It hasn't been smooth sailing for Harris this season, but the absence of the injured Jaylen Warren should pave the way toward a heavy workload tonight. After Warren was ruled out early in Week 11, Harris went on to play 92.6% of the snaps with 20 rushes and 6 targets. The end result in that one was 116 scrimmage yards and 2 scores, helping him to his best fantasy output of the season (25.6 FanDuel points).

This is a difficult matchup for Harris against Indianapolis, though. The Colts rank third in schedule-adjusted rush defense, per numberFire's metrics. Still, the workhorse role keeps him in the MVP conversation -- especially given the fantasy limitations of the signal-callers.

Pickett has shown little upside since taking over as Pittsburgh's starter, failing to hit 20 FanDuel points in any of his seven games (six starts). He's thrown just three touchdowns to eight interceptions and has been one of the least efficient passers by just about any metric. The one thing that keeps him on the fringe at MVP is that he's shown some rushing upside with three touchdowns on the ground, and he topped out for a season-high 51 rushing yards in Week 10.

Likewise, Ryan isn't super exciting, particularly with the Colts dialing back his pass attempts under Jeff Saturday. While Ryan's exceeded 20 FanDuel points twice this year, one of those performances required a ridiculous 58 pass attempts, and the other featured a rare rushing score.

The good news? The Steelers rank 22nd in adjusted pass defense, compared to 12th against the run, so the Colts could have more incentive to air it out. It's hard to envision Ryan leading the slate in scoring, but in what could be a low-scoring game all around, he remains an MVP possibility by default.

Finally, if we're taking a chance on a pass-catcher, Michael Pittman Jr. ($13,000) and Pat Freiermuth ($10,000) look like our best candidates.

In his eight games with Ryan, Pittman has a team-best 24.7% target share and 28.6% air yards share. Pittsburgh has allowed the most FanDuel points per game to wide receivers this season, so he'll be in a good spot for a spike week if the Colts opt to throw more.

Since the Chase Claypool trade, Freiermuth has led the team in both target share (29.7%) and air yards share (31.6%) over the last two games. It just so happens that Indianapolis also ranks 28th in adjusted fantasy points allowed per target to tight ends. Tight ends tend to be less popular MVPs, making Freiermuth an intriguing contrarian choice.

Flex Breakdown

Of the remaining Pittsburgh options, George Pickens ($11,500) and Diontae Johnson ($11,000) are the top wideouts, and the Pittsburgh D/ST ($9,000) projects well, too.

Although Johnson has seen far more opportunities than Pickens this season, the latter looks like the preferred play. Johnson simply hasn't been able to do much with his targets all year, as he's yet to find the end zone and hasn't hit double-digit FanDuel points in any game with Pickett at quarterback. On the other hand, Pickens has gone for double-digit points in five of his last seven.

Furthermore, their usage has evened out over the last two weeks, with both having identical marks in target share (15.6%) and route rate (95.0%). Pickens has the air yards advantage over that span, too, recording a 28.0% share, compared to Johnson's 17.5%. Note, however, that both could have a tough time producing ceiling games versus a defense that's allowed the fewest FanDuel points per game to wideouts.

The Steelers' defense has gotten healthier in recent weeks, and they can be considered against the immobile Matt Ryan. Despite playing in just nine games, Ryan has the NFL's sixth-most sacks and is tied for the third-most interceptions.

Rounding out Pittsburgh's wide receiver room, Steven Sims ($7,500) and Gunner Olszewski ($6,500) have earned more snaps with Claypool gone, but with both sitting below a 50% snap rate over the last two weeks, they're dart throws at best.

Flipping over to the Colts, Parris Campbell ($10,500) and Alec Pierce ($9,500) are the top non-Pittman wideouts, and the Indianapolis D/ST ($9,000) is right there with Pittsburgh's defense as a top value.

Campbell has emerged as a favorite target of Ryan's, logging a 24.5% target share and 25.5% air yards share over their last four games together. He's scored touchdowns in three of those four weeks, so he could certainly make an impact in a plus matchup.

Pierce hasn't hit double-digit FanDuel points since Week 6, but he actually led the team in targets (8) last week while posting a 71.0% snap rate and 88.9% route rate. Although the lack of production leaves him as a distant third option behind Pittman and Campbell, you could do worse than take a chance on him at this salary.

The Colts' defense has major upside against a quarterback who's had two three-pick games in addition to a pair of six-sack weeks. Indianapolis ranks 10th in adjusted total defense this season. You could make a case for either defense as a contrarian MVP. Between the two D/STs, the Colts are my preferred choice against Pickett.

With Kylen Granson listed as doubtful, tight end Mo Alie-Cox ($6,000) becomes more appealing as a punt play. That being said, outside of blowing up for 23.5 FanDuel points in Week 4, he hasn't scored more than 4.0 points in any other game this season.

Running back Deon Jackson ($7,500) is a longshot to make much noise backing up Jonathan Taylor, but he did play 27.8% of the snaps last week, racking up one rush and four targets. He could have some appeal in large-field formats.

Last but not least, due to the low over/under, kickers Chase McLaughlin ($8,500) and Matthew Wright ($8,500) have a decent shot to wind up in the optimal lineup, and it doesn't hurt that they'll be playing in a dome tonight.