Fantasy Football 32: Indianapolis Colts
The Andrew Luck era is off to quite the start.
Two consecutive playoff berths, exciting victories and, maybe for a very brief second, Colts fans have forgotten about how incredible Peyton Manning had been for them. The Indianapolis Colts are the clear frontrunners to take the AFC South, but there are some concerns with this ball club. For instance, their defense has issues, allowing the 12th-most yards per game, surrendered the 7th-most rushing yards and ranked in the bottom half of the league in interceptions. In fact. numberFire rates the Colts as just the 18th-best roster in the NFL. Luckily, none of that really matters for fantasy.
None of it.
Luck is such a good quarterback.
During his first two seasons in the league, he’s accumulated about 8,200 yards and 46 touchdowns, while adding 632 rushing yards for nine more scores. I mean, if you were building an NFL team right now, outside of Aaron Rodgers, Luck may be my first choice. From a fantasy perspective, Luck has been very productive, ranking as the number four and 10 fantasy passers during that span. His rushing numbers have really helped his overall ranks, as he’s only thrown 23 touchdown passes in each of his first two campaigns. According to Denny Carter of XN Sports, Luck finished just 21st in a metric he uses entitled “fantasy points per aimed attempt (FPAT). The passing numbers weren’t as elite as Luck truly is, but he was consistent, finishing as a top-12 quarterback 50 percent of the time, tied for the third-highest rate behind Manning and Drew Brees. Luck can certainly be the number one quarterback in all of fantasy football, but maybe not under current offensive coordinator, Pep Hamilton.
Hamilton has always been a guy who wants to run the football, and last year’s passing numbers were a bit skewed when you consider the Colts had absolutely zero running game, for the most part. Luck finished the season 11th in passing attempts (570), but during his rookie campaign with Bruce Arians, Luck attempted a healthy 627 passes, the 5th-most in football. Luck will likely be drafted as a top-five quarterback, but with Hamilton calling the plays, his immediate ceiling is capped a bit.
Question; would you like some ice with that burn?
Along with a handful of other first round running backs, Trent Richardson absolutely burnt fantasy owners last year. Everyone expected the trade to Indianapolis would be incredible for Richardson’s value, but he struggled with the playbook and once he touched the ball, all he did was dance in the backfield. He ultimately averaged just 2.9 yards per carry on the year and stated he wasn’t decisive or patient enough when running the football. However, Richardson could end up being a terrific fantasy value this year.
The Colts offense has all the potential to be one of the highest-scoring offenses in football, and Richardson, for as bad as he was last year, is still easily the number one back. Vick Ballard suffered a season-ending injury, while Ahmad Bradshaw is older and slower. Last year, the Colts averaged just 3.2 red zone scoring attempts per game (15th) and were 13th in rushing touchdown percentage. With all of the weapons in this offense, Richardson could score a handful of touchdowns. Also, many people have been comparing Richardson’s move to Indy to Marshawn Lynch and his move from Buffalo to Seattle. According to Jamey Eisenberg, when Lynch was traded to the Seahawks, he averaged just 3.5 yards per carry, while his first true breakout game didn’t come until that memorable game against the Saints. Richardson still has talent, and with another year of learning the offense under his belt, a bounceback is very likely.
Before tearing his ACL last year, Reggie Wayne hadn’t missed an NFL game since his rookie year. This time last year, he was being drafted in the late fourth round. Now? You can wait to grab him in the eighth or ninth round.
He’s one of the better values in fantasy football.
Look, I get it. A 36-year old wideout coming off an ACL injury isn’t very appealing. But, first of all, coming off an ACL tear isn’t nearly as disastrous as it once was, and rumblings out of Indy indicate that he has looked awesome. Before tearing his ACL in Week 7, Wayne was on pace for almost 90 catches, 1,200 yards and five scores. And, according to Raymond Summerlin of Rotoworld, Wayne saw 31.7 percent of Luck’s targets in 2012, the second-highest rate in the league. And, before going down last year, Wayne was seeing almost 26 percent of Luck’s targets. He is still going to force-fed the ball, serving as Luck’s primary option in the passing game. Don’t forget– since Luck entered the league, Wayne has been targeted on 30.6 percent of his routes run, the 9th-highest in football during that span.
Then there’s T.Y. Hilton, who I personally don’t want to touch. Last year, the guy had just two games with more than 15 fantasy points last year. Of course, when he hits, he hits big, as his 10 100-yard receiving games over the last two years ranks 5th among wideouts. He relies on blown coverages to have big fantasy outings, and he needs to expand his route tree more for my liking. He’ll have is games, no doubt. But he’ll likely have a lot more disappearing acts.
Finally, while Hakeem Nicks isn’t the top-20 wideout he once was, I guarantee he doesn’t go an entire season without a touchdown again. Last year, the Colts attempted 74 passes in the red zone (13th), and Nicks can still go up and get it. But there a ton of mouths to feed in Indy right now.
With all of the injuries to the Colts’ receiving options last year, Coby Fleener should have been much, much better. As the secondary option in the passing game for much of the year, and having that Stanford connection with Luck, Fleener scored just four touchdowns and caught more than five passes just once. Now, Dwayne Allen is back, and is a superior tight end. A better blocker, better athlete and better hands (just two career drops), Allen will be the better investment, but there are better options than both of these guys.
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