QB Andrew Luck (Indianapolis)
Andrew Luck is an overrated quarterback in real life, but he was great in fantasy football last season and he should be better in both reality and fantasy next season. Pep Hamilton is coming over from Stanford to reunite with Luck as his offensive coordinator and will be installing an offense that fits his skill set better. He’ll also be better protected and another year more experienced. The Colts should still throw about 600 times, even with the team using more two-tight end sets, because both of their tight ends are comfortable pass catching, and Luck should be more efficient on those 600 throws. He also adds added value on the ground
Projection: 4350 passing yards, 26 touchdowns, 16 interceptions, 270 rushing yards, 3 touchdowns (291 pts standard, 343 pts 6 pt td leagues)
RB Ahmad Bradshaw (Indianapolis)
8/16/13: Chuck Pagano called Bradshaw an every down back. He’ll be their lead back, with Ballard serving as a backup. The only concern is injuries.
Bradshaw was cut by the Giants this off-season going into just his age 27 season because they grew tired of his laundry list of injury problems. It took him a while to get picked up this off-season, but he’s one of the toughest running backs in the NFL, missing just 7 games in 4 years despite all the injury problems.He’s rushed for 3687 yards and 30 touchdowns on 831 carries in those 4 seasons, a 4.4 yards per carry clip, and he’s added 125 catches for 1033 yards and 2 touchdowns in the air. He’s also averaged 15.9 carries per game over the past 3 years as a starter, so being able to work in tandem with another back will help him.
Projection: 220 carries for 920 rushing yards 8 total touchdowns 35 catches for 280 receiving yards (168 pts standard, 203 pts PPR)
RB Vick Ballard (Indianapolis)
8/16/13: Chuck Pagano called Bradshaw an every down back. He’ll be their lead back, with Ballard serving as a backup. Ballard is still a valuable handcuff because of injuries, but he’s moving down.
Ballard took over the starting job from Donald Brown week 5 and averaged 15.8 carries a game from that point on, rushing for 814 yards and 2 touchdowns on 211 carries with 17 catches for 152 yards and a touchdown. He averaged just 3.9 yards per carry, but you can blame his offensive line for that somewhat (he averaged a decent 2.5 yards per carry after contact) and he’s the type of back who would be better in tandem with another back. That’s where Ahmad Bradshaw comes in. He’ll probably lead the team in carries, but both backs will carry the ball and Bradshaw will work on 3rd downs. Ballard will get short yardage and goal line looks, though Andrew Luck scored 5 of the team’s 11 rushing touchdowns last year.
Projection: 110 carries for 480 rushing yards 4 total touchdowns 15 catches for 120 receiving yards (84 pts standard, 99 pts PPR)
WR Reggie Wayne (Indianapolis)
Wayne turns 35 this November. Over the next 2-4 years, Wayne can be expected to go from top flight receiver to complementary player to gone. That’s just what happens to receivers around this age. Even the average top-20 receiver (in terms of yardage all-time) has his last 1000 yard season at age 34-35, averages 48 catches for 594 yards and 3 touchdowns for 2 more seasons after age 34-35, and is done playing by age 36-37. Wayne already showed some signs of slowing down in the 2nd half of last season, catching “just” 45 passes for 520 yards and 2 touchdowns. He could have another big year, but let him be someone else’s problem.
Projection: 75 catches for 1020 receiving yards 6 touchdowns (138 pts standard, 213 pts PPR)
WR TY Hilton (Indianapolis)
8/26/13: It doesn’t look like TY Hilton is going to beat out veteran Darrius Heyward-Bey for a starting job. Hilton had 26 catches for 506 yards and 5 touchdowns in his final 8 games last season, despite making just 1 start, but the Colts are planning on using more two-tight end sets and fewer three-wide receiver sets this season with Bruce Arians gone and Pep Hamilton coming in. They also won’t emphasis the deep passing game as much as they did last season, when Luck led the NFL in pass attempts 20+ yards downfield through the air, which is where Hilton wins as a route runner. He could still beat out DHB at some point this season and I think he’d be a better pick for the starting job, but he’s being overdrafted at his current ADP in the 6th round.
Since 2005, 28 receivers have gone in the 1st round. They’ve averaged 40 catches for 557 yards and 3 touchdowns per season. I don’t have the numbers for the descending rounds, but they are almost definitely lower. And Hilton, a 3rd round rookie, greatly exceeded these first round numbers, catching 50 passes for 861 yards and 7 touchdowns. In his 2nd year in the league, he should improve on those numbers. Donnie Avery is gone so Hilton is expected to be a starter and Reggie Wayne is aging. In his final 8 games of last season, he caught 26 passes for 506 yards and 5 touchdowns in his final 8 games, almost more yardage than Reggie Wayne. He’s a dark horse to lead this team in receiving.
Projection: 58 catches for 940 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns (130 pts standard, 188 pts PPR)
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (Indianapolis)
8/26/13: I don’t know why, but Darrius Heyward-Bey seems to have beaten out TY Hilton for the starting job. He’s not that great, but the Colts passing offense could make him fantasy relevant. Donnie Avery was incredibly inefficient last season, yet he still managed 60 catches for 781 yards and 3 touchdowns. He’s worth a look as a depth receiver.
Projection: 57 catches for 850 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns (115 pts standard, 172 pts standard)
TE Dwayne Allen (Indianapolis)
Allen is not just a great blocker, but he also had 45 catches for 521 yards and 3 touchdowns on 368 routes run (1.41 yards per route run). Going into his 2nd year in the league in an offense that focuses more on the tight ends, he should exceed those numbers, though the Colts’ two tight ends will probably keep each other from being fantasy relevant.
Projection: 50 catches for 620 receiving yards 4 touchdowns (86 pts standard, 136 pts PPR)
TE Coby Fleener (Indianapolis)
He was pretty mediocre as a rookie and disappointed as a pass catcher, catching just 26 passes for 281 yards and 2 touchdowns on 252 routes run (1.12 yards per route run). Still, he’s a natural pass catcher who should have an improved 2nd season in the league. Having his old offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton should help. However, again, the two tight ends will probably keep each other from being fantasy relevant.
Projection: 44 catches for 600 receiving yards 4 touchdowns (84 pts standard, 128 pts PPR)