The Indianapolis Colts turned around their fortunes dramatically in 2012, propelled by a group of rookies on the offensive side of the ball led by quarterback Andrew Luck. Running back Vick Ballard, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen were also part of last year’s draft class for the Colts, with Ballard and Allen making particularly noteworthy contributions.
Fleener captured some optimism from fantasy football owners heading into 2012, due to the fact he and Luck were college teammates and did not have to start at square one in terms of building rapport. But after a promising start (six catches for 82 yards) in Week 1 against the Chicago Bears, Fleener had more than two receptions in a game just twice over the rest of the season and finished with only 26 receptions for 281 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games played.
Fleener was used frequently, and misused in all honesty, as a blocker last season, which minimized his role in the Colts’ passing game and what he does best as a pass receiver. But former Stanford offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton was hired to replace the departed Bruce Arians as offensive coordinator, which should be good news for Fleener in 2013.
Colts head coach Chuck Pagano recently said he expects Fleener’s reception total to double this season, and being used more frequently out of the slot should bring more targets and better production. Hamilton’s familiarity with Fleener should allow the second-year tight end to shine, on the simple premise of his strengths being accentuated as a potential mismatch piece.
Allen’s role will not go away on the heels of his 45-catch campaign last season, but fantasy owners can put Fleener back on their radar with the positive buzz surrounding him. It would be overly aggressive to consider Fleener anything more than a TE2 with upside in 12-and 14-team standard leagues right now, but he has a chance to be a low-end TE1 in deep PPR leagues.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.