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2013 Player Outlooks – Indianapolis Colts

By: — July 13, 2013 @ 1:22 pm
Andrew Luck

Luck: A low-tier QB1 with upside.

QB Andrew Luck
(2012 QB Rank – #8, 22.9 FPts/G)

The Andrew Luck era started off with a bang in 2012 as the rookie signal caller led the Colts to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth. Despite being saddled with a leaky offensive line, no proven starting running back, a pair of rookies at tight end and a pile of question marks at wide receiver behind Reggie Wayne, Luck set an NFL rookie record by throwing for 4,374 yards and 23 touchdown passes. He also displayed plenty of mobility, rushing for 255 yards and five touchdowns. If there was any knock on Luck’s performance, it was his 54.1 percent completion rate, which could be at least partially explained by former offensive coordinator Bruce Arian’s downfield passing attack. Look for that to improve with the Colts’ employing Pep Hamilton’s version of the West Coast offense. With improved weapons out of the backfield and young receiving options Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener and T.Y. Hilton having a year of experience under their belt, Luck should be a more efficient quarterback in 2013, cutting back on his turnovers (18 interceptions and five fumbles last season) and extending drives. Consider him a lower-tier QB1 with plenty of upside.

RB Ahmad Bradshaw
(2012 RB Rank – #16,11.6 FPts/G; #20 PPR, 13.2 FPts/G)

Despite being just 27 years old and having a moderate salary for a starting running back, the Giants gave up on Ahmad Bradshaw this offseason, choosing to release him and hand the team’s running back duties to the largely unproven duo of David Wilson and Andre Brown. The Colts waited a long time after Bradshaw’s release before signing him to a very modest one-year deal for $1.35-million, an absolute bargain for a player that rushed for 1,015 yards in 14 games last season, has two 1000-yard rushing seasons in the last three years and has averaged 7.5 touchdowns over the past four years. The caveat, of course, is Bradshaw’s inability to stay healthy. While he has only missed eight games over the past five years, he is constantly nicked up and may not even be ready for the opening of training camp due to offseason foot surgery. In Indy, Bradshaw will compete with second-year player Vick Ballard for the starting role, and it seems a foregone conclusion that he will win the job but be relegated to a platoon role, as the Colts will try to keep him healthy for an expected playoff run. That limits his fantasy potential but also lessens his injury risk. Consider Bradshaw a lower-tier RB3 in 2013.

RB Vick Ballard
(2012 RB Rank – #27, 7.2 FPts/G; #33 PPR, 8.2 FPts/G)

As a fifth-round pick in 2012, Ballard’s scouting report highlighted his ability to gets what is blocked, and last season that was good enough to land him the Colts’ starting running back job by midseason. By season’s end, Ballard had amassed 814 rushing yards, 152 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Unfortunately, his average yards per carry of 3.9 and lack of upside convinced the Colts to sign former Giant Ahmad Bradshaw in the offseason. The 27-year-old Bradshaw is expected to earn the starting role, but his lack of durability is what caused the Giants to release him. Look for Ballard to share the running back duties with Bradshaw, but the fact is that staying healthy is the only thing Ballard does better than Bradshaw. Consider Ballard an upper-tier RB4 since he should get at least a few starts because of Bradshaw’s injury issues.

RB Donald Brown
(2012 RB Rank – #56, 5.7 FPts/G; #59 PPR, 6.6 FPts/G)

A first-round pick in the 2009 draft, Brown has proven to be a near complete bust in the Colts backfield, failing to earn a starting role or even prove consistently capable as part of a backfield committee. After being usurped by rookie fifth-round pick Vick Ballard (a player with far less natural ability) in 2012, Brown’s poor showing convinced the Colts to sign former Giant Ahmad Bradshaw this past offseason. That sounded the death knell for Brown’s fantasy value in 2013 and quite possibly his career as a Colt. While Brown has provided some highlight reel plays over the years, his inconsistency will be remembered as his main calling card.

RB Delone Carter
(2012 RB Rank – #82, 4.5 FPts/G; #92 PPR, 4.6 FPts/G)

Taken in the fourth round of the 2011 draft, the 5’10”, 215-pound Carter has had an opportunity to emerge as a key part of the Colts backfield in each of the past two seasons. However, injuries and a lack of talent have held him back. At this point, his calling card is his short-yardage ability (three touchdowns in 32 carries last season), but free agent signee Ahmad Bradshaw has proven effective in that role, so Carter may have a difficult time beating out Donald Brown or rookie seventh-round pick Kerwynn Williams for a roster spot in 2013. Carter is only worth owning in the deepest of dynasty leagues.

WR Reggie Wayne
(2012 WR Rank – #14, 10.3 FPts/G; #8 PPR, 16.9 FPts/G)

Coming off a 2011 campaign in which he failed to reach 1,000 receiving yards for the first time since the 2003 season, expectations for Wayne were at an all-time low in 2012. Despite his advancing age (he turned 34 last November) and playing with a rookie quarterback, Wayne put together an outstanding season, hauling in 106 of a whopping 195 targets for 1,355 yards and five touchdowns. The Colts couldn’t have expected more and Wayne returns in 2013 as the team’s lead receiver. While his age is certainly a concern, he has proven to be a durable performer during his 12-year career, having appeared in 16 games for 11 straight seasons. Although the Colts are moving to a West Coast based offense, Wayne figures to once again approach 100 receptions, although another 1,300-yard season is likely a stretch. Consider him a mid- to lower-tier WR2 with little risk in 2013.

WR T.Y. Hilton
(2012 WR Rank – #25, 8.7 FPts/G; #31 PPR, 12.1 FPts/G)

As a 5’10”, 180-pound third-round pick playing with a rookie quarterback, not much was expected of Hilton in 2012. With Austin Collie unable to stay healthy, the Florida International speedster proved to be a quick study, however, hauling in 50 of his 90 passes for 861 yards and seven touchdowns in the Colts’ vertical passing attack. Those are impressive numbers for a rookie wide receiver and would generally lead you to expect more in future years. However, Bruce Arians has taken his playbook to Arizona and been replaced by Pep Hamilton, who will run a West Coast based offense that will maintain only some of Arians’ deep plays. That dampens Hilton’s fantasy prospects somewhat, but since the Colts are expected to remain a pass-heavy offense, he rates as a lower-tier WR3 in 2013. Just don’t expect much improvement on his production as a rookie.

WR Darrius Heyward-Bey
(2012 WR Rank – #50, 6.1 FPts/G; #56 PPR, 8.9 FPts/G)

After a disappointing four-year run in Oakland, Heyward-Bey, the seventh overall selection in the 2009 draft, brings his considerable athletic ability to the Colts. While DHB may be the fastest player in the league and has never averaged less than 13.8 yards per reception, he never developed into a consistent deep threat with the Raiders and does his best work on intermediate routes. He comes off a disappointing 2012 season in which he caught just 41 passes for 606 yards and five touchdowns after a career-year in 2011 with 975 yards. However, the Colts are expected to throw it plenty in 2013, and DHB’s good size and outstanding speed seem to be a solid fit in new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton’s West Coast offense. Heyward-Bey is worth taking a flier on with a late-round pick in your fantasy draft.

WR LaVon Brazill
(2012 WR Rank – #119, 2.2 FPts/G; #124 PPR, 3.2 FPts/G)

While the Colts are high on their 2012 sixth-round pick, Brazill will miss the first four games of the season as a result of his suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. That pretty much kills his fantasy value in 2013 since he was going to have a difficult time beating out free agent signee Darrius Heyward-Bey in training camp anyway. He is only worth owning in deep dynasty leagues.

TE Dwayne Allen
(2012 WR Rank – #23, 4.7 FPts/G; #25 PPR, 7.7 FPts/G)
As a rookie in 2012, Allen surprised league observers by hauling in 45 of his 66 targets for 521 yards and three touchdowns. Considered a pro-ready blocker but needing polish as a receiver, he supplanted fellow rookie Coby Fleener as the Colts’ main weapon at tight end even though Fleener was taken earlier in the draft. Since Allen is the superior blocker, he is expected to once again earn more playing time in 2013. With new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton installing a West Coast based offense that features more passes to the team’s tight ends, Allen rates as a mid-tier TE2 with upside.

TE Coby Fleener
(2012 WR Rank – #39, 3.3 FPts/G; #38 PPR, 5.5 FPts/G)

Considered the premier pass-catching tight end prospect in the 2012 draft, Fleener was a disappointment as a rookie, missing four games and hauling in just 26 of his 48 targets for 281 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The truth is that he was on the verge of losing playing time to fellow rookie Dwayne Allen when a shoulder injury sent Fleener to the sideline starting in Week 9. Prior to the injury, he averaged 5.1 targets per game, but that declined to just 2.5 post-injury. And while Fleener was a big-play receiver at Stanford, he averaged just 10.8 yards per reception as a rookie. The only good news is that the Colts are moving to a West Coast based offense that should feature the team’s tight ends more in 2013. However, since Fleener will be splitting targets with Allen, he rates as a TE3 this season.

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