Peyton Manning has a lot of new things to get used to this year. The Colts will have a slightly different look with coach Tony Dungy gone and offensive coordinator Tom Moore and offensive line coach Howard Mudd not in their same roles. They also replaced their defensive and special teams coordinators. Moore is the only offensive coordinator Manning has ever played for, and it's the first time since Manning's rookie season that the Colts have switched head coaches and both coordinators in the same year. Along with that, the Colts released wide receiver Marvin Harrison in a salary-cap move, and Harrison was always Manning's security blanket. It could be a lot for Manning to digest coming into the year.
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That said, he's still one of the best Fantasy quarterbacks in the league. The receiving corps of Reggie Wayne, Anthony Gonzalez and Dallas Clark will make up for Harrison's absence, and the Colts tried to improve their ground game by drafting Donald Brown in the first round. The defense, as always, will go as far as Bob Sanders can take them, but there are some talented players on that side of the ball. Once again, the Colts will be a playoff contender if everyone stays healthy.
Sleeper ... Austin Collie, WR
Just because Marvin Harrison is gone doesn't mean the Colts are going to stop throwing. Reggie Wayne remains the No. 1 target and Dallas Clark and Anthony Gonzalez will get their share of throws, but there's still plenty of passes to go around. And Collie, a rookie from BYU, could benefit as the team's No. 3 wide receiver. He's expected to play in the slot, where Peyton Manning has made plenty of guys successful, most notably Brandon Stokley in 2004. Collie has a good pedigree after catching 215 passes for 3,255 yards and 30 touchdowns in his college career. He's the type of player you can target with a late-round pick in seasonal formats, and he could be a standout in leagues where receptions count. You should always target receivers who play with a good quarterback in a passing offense, and anyone who steps on the field with Manning has a chance to make a difference.
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Breakout ... Anthony Gonzalez, WR
Gonzalez has steadily increased his production in his first two years, and now he enters his third season ready to take off. Gonzalez should get a significant boost in production with Marvin Harrison gone. And since this is his third season in the NFL, there's no better time for it to happen since this is typically the year wide receivers tend to develop and have breakout performances. Peyton Manning has developed a rapport with Gonzalez, who had 37 catches as a rookie and 57 catches last season. He only has seven touchdowns in his career, but he could be a candidate for double digits in this offense. Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark will see the bulk of passes from Manning, but don't worry about Gonzalez touching the ball. He's worth drafting as a No. 3 Fantasy option with a middle-round selection. It wouldn't be a surprise if he finished as a Fantasy starter by the end of the year.
Bust ... Joseph Addai, RB
The Colts showed no faith in Addai by taking Donald Brown in the first round of the NFL Draft. Last year, Addai's value tanked with Dominic Rhodes playing better. With Rhodes now in Buffalo, Brown will get his turn to take carries away from Addai. We still feel Addai will be better than the guy we saw last season, when he was limited to 750 total yards and seven touchdowns in only 12 games, but his days of being a dominant Fantasy option are gone. If you can get him after Round 4 then consider it good value. But if you reach for Addai before that then you'll be in trouble because he appears injury prone (he also had offseason knee surgery) and will obviously lose touches. Brown is a sleeper candidate, and this could emerge as a 50-50 split if Addai continues to falter. If you draft Addai then plan on taking Brown as a handcuff.
Training camp topics
The Colts offense isn't expected to change, but with so much turnover in the coaching staff there could be some new wrinkles. Whether that helps or not remains to be seen, but you don't want to tinker with something that's been successful for so many years. The last thing we want to see is the stretch play gone for the running backs, Peyton Manning to stop throwing or this offense to become conservative. But we'll find out in training camp if everything, hopefully, will remain status quo. Manning also has to adjust to Anthony Gonzalez replacing Marvin Harrison as a starter since Harrison was his No. 1 target for 12 years before being released. At least there's enough talent in the receiving corps with Reggie Wayne, Gonzalez and Dallas Clark for Manning to make utilize.
Joseph Addai also has to prove he can still be the No. 1 running back for the Colts. He had a down year in 2008, which is why the team drafted Donald Brown in the first round of the NFL Draft. We don't expect Brown to start, but he will definitely get enough carries to make him Fantasy relevant and cut into Addai's production. The Colts are loaded with talent, and Fantasy owners will again benefit from latching on to Manning and Co. for another season.
Injury update ...
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