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2010 Fantasy outlooks: Indianapolis Colts

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Last year the Arizona Cardinals proved that losing in the Super Bowl doesn't always mean falling apart the following season. After coming up short to the Saints in Super Bowl XLIV, the Colts will try to climb the proverbial mountain and attain success once again.

It shouldn't be difficult. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning has five good receivers at his disposal for the first time in his career, and he's been preparing for the season with most of them (Reggie Wayne has stayed away from offseason practices). Work done this offseason should go a long way in making the team's passing offense difficult to stop. As for the run game, Donald Brown is healthy after playing with a shoulder injury for much of last season and Joseph Addai is motivated since he's in a contract year. The Colts' offensive line remains stable, so finding a weakness among this offense will be a tough chore for the defensive coordinators they face.

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Manning did have surgery for a pinched nerve in his neck this offseason, but it didn't keep him off the field. He was at all of the Colts' offseason practices and has spent plenty of time this spring getting ready for the upcoming season. With a second Lombardi Trophy just out of reach last season and a new contract due after this season, Manning has plenty to play for, which will in turn keep the Colts the offensive juggernaut we've come to know and love.

Sleeper ... Donald Brown, RB

If you glance over Brown's cumulative 2009 stats -- 78 carries for 281 yards and three touchdowns with 11 catches for 169 yards -- you're probably not impressed. But the amount of work he got through his first five-and-a-half games suggest that the Colts had a plan for him before he got hurt. In those games Brown totaled 46 carries for 212 yards and two scores with seven grabs for 138 yards. Even if you were to reel in projected receiving stats (since a 19.7 average is tough to maintain), he projects out to being a rock-solid Fantasy option. So one could easily argue that if not for shoulder and chest injuries derailing his rookie year Brown would have been a sensation in Indianapolis. Now that he's healthy, the case can be made that he'll be a quality option for the Colts this season. And with Joseph Addai potentially in his last season with the team, the Colts might start grooming him for a full-time role.

Fantasy value chart
Player Draft Day value
Quarterbacks
Peyton Manning
Running Backs
Joseph Addai
Donald Brown
Wide Receivers
Reggie Wayne
Pierre Garcon
Austin Collie
Anthony Gonzalez
Tight Ends
Dallas Clark
Kicker/DST
Adam Vinatieri
Colts DST

Breakout ... Austin Collie, WR

Everyone knows how impactful Collie was last season for the Colts' offense, as he registered 60 catches for 676 yards and seven touchdowns. But not everyone realizes that save for the team's regular-season finale at Buffalo when starters were rested, Collie ended the season and barreled through the postseason with at least 66 yards and/or a touchdown in each game. Collie became a nightmare to defend starting last October, posting five games with six receptions and another two with seven or eight receptions (that includes the postseason). Plus, not everyone realizes that Collie has spent his offseason improving his game and working on his timing with Manning (the two originally got to know each other through Manning's offseason passing academy in Louisiana). With defenses forced to key in on studs like Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark, they'll have to lay off coverage on Collie, making him -- no joke -- an 80-catch candidate in 2010. His relationship with Manning and his on-field track record for most of his rookie season should make him a lock to be a key player for the Colts in 2010. He's a must-own in leagues where receptions count (No. 2 receiver) and a strong No. 3 receiver in standard formats.

Bust ... Anthony Gonzalez, WR

If Collie is going to continue doing his thing, and if Pierre Garcon is going to keep getting his share of targets, and if Wayne and Clark keep garnering attention, there simply is no spot for Gonzalez to return to on a regular basis. Not without a teammate getting injured. Sure, the Colts will find ways to use him, but it's tough to expect Gonzalez to play a lot when they have all of these other established, talented and healthy receivers at their disposal. Lest we forget that even when Gonzalez played 16 games in 2008, he accounted for just 664 yards and four touchdowns -- and that's with 57 catches. There aren't many bust candidates on the Colts, but Gonzalez comes the closest.

Schedule breakdown

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
@HOU NYG @DEN @JAC KC @WAS bye HOU @PHI CIN @NE SD DAL @TEN JAC @OAK TEN

Let's be honest, even if the Colts played the Jets, Ravens, Steelers, Cowboys and Packers six times a year each you'd still want most of these guys on your Fantasy team. The only thing people who draft Colts stars are concerned with is whether or not their players will sit toward the end of the year. For those people we bring good news: Indy's schedule is more difficult than last year, which suggests that a perfect season or an early clinching of the AFC South title will be hard for them to come by. That coupled with an easy slate to end 2010 makes the Colts' studs easier to draft than in past years.

Training camp topics

2009 Touches Leaders
Player Touches
Joseph Addai 270
Dallas Clark 102
Reggie Wayne 100
Donald Brown 89
Austin Collie 62
Pierre Garcon 49

Frankly, everyone should know the key players in the Colts' parade of offensive athletes. Save for guys like Brown and Gonzalez vying for reps with the first-team offense, Fantasy owners might be relegated to checking out things like Adam Vinatieri's leg strength or how backup passer Curtis Painter is coming along.

The story is different defensively, though it's just as optimistic. The Colts are welcoming back hard-hitting safety Bob Sanders, who practiced through the offseason and seems about as well as he can be after so many injuries over his career. The team also extended the contract of fellow safety Antoine Bethea and drafted a potential third pass rusher in Jerry Hughes and run stopper in linebacker Pat Angerer.

For the first time in a while, the Colts might have something to crow about on defense.

Injury update

Anthony Gonzalez (knee, hamstring; probable for the start of training camp) ... Bob Sanders (elbow; probable for the start of training camp).

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter . You can also follow Dave at @daverichard . Do you have a question or a comment for our Fantasy staff? Drop us a line at dmfantasyfootball@cbs.com .

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Player News
Raiders bring back Kaelin Burnett
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) The Raiders have inked exclusive-rights free agent Kaelin Burnett to a one-year deal. He's expected to compete for a roster spot in training camp. 

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by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) In the wake of the release of veteran linebacker Russell Allen, the Jaguars are expected to make Dekoda Watson their new starting strong-side linebacker, ESPN reports. He'll also play as a pass rusher and potentially line up as a defensive end on third downs. 

Watson had 42 total tackles, two sacks, an interception, a pass defensed, a forced fumble and a blocked punt with the Bucs last year. 


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(4/18/2014) Colts running back Trent Richardson spoke openly about his disappointing 2013 season, saying that it took him too long to learn a new playbook and get over leaving Cleveland after Week 2. Richardson also told the official team website that he's planning to do everything within his power to be as prepared as possible for 2014. 

"Y'all will see a big significant difference in the way I play, the speed. I won't have to think about a lot of stuff," Richardson said earlier this offseason. "It's going to be big -- timing with the offensive line, timing with Andrew (Luck), just knowing a lot more with the program, the whole system.

"They haven't seen everything they're going to get out of me yet. A lot of it is going to come next year. A lot of it is going to come in the offseason. I'm going to put in a lot of work, as I've been doing this whole season. This season humbled me. ... This season was a lesson to me."

Colts coach Chuck Pagano has had Richardson's back, says the running back, and the coach stressed back in March that his running back's involvement in the offseason program will be key. 

"It's going to be very, very important for (Richardson) to be here for the offseason program and to dive into this thing full steam ahead, which he will," Pagano said. "He wants to be great. He's got all the talent. He's got all the ability. We would have never done what we did if we didn't believe that deep down in our core. So we look for him to have a great offseason and to have a great 2014 campaign."


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(4/18/2014) The Saints announced Friday that the club has re-signed veteran free agent wide receiver Robert Meachem to a one-year contract.

Meachem is a seven-year NFL veteran who was originally the club's first round draft pick (27th overall) in 2007. He re-signed with the Saints prior to the start of the 2013 regular season and appeared in 15 games with five starts. He finished with 16 receptions for 324 yards with two touchdowns.

Meachem said signing with the Saints now should help with his preparations as he will be able to take part in the team's offseason conditioning program, OTAs and mini-camp. Plus, "this is home," he said.


Can Chris Johnson turn into Tomlinson?
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(4/18/2014) The Jets are hoping running back Chris Johnson can do for them what LaDainian Tomlinson did in 2010, reports ESPN.

That season, Tomlinson came from San Diego to New York after he was released. He responded with a team-high 914 yards with six touchdowns on 219 carries and caught 52 passes. He was supposed to be Shonn Greene's backup, but Tomlinson was so impressive that he won the starting job and became an integral part of a team that came within one game of the Super Bowl.

Maybe Johnson, who was let go by the Titans, can do the same thing.

"I can turn the bad things people are saying into a good thing for me, to give me motivation, to keep me hungry and to keep a chip on my shoulder and prove the naysayers wrong," he said Thursday.

Johnson had a disappointing year in 2013 when he averaged just 3.9 yards per carry, but he played 13 games on a torn meniscus and was running behind a suspect offensive line for a team that didn't have its starting quarterback for half the season. The situation in New York should be improved, and hopefully being teamed with Chris Ivory will allow him to play like Tomlinson did in 2010.


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Romo, 34, is coming off back surgery in December, which was the second procedure on his back in a year.

"I came back in a relatively short period of time because of when I had my surgery, so he's at least afforded more time to get ready," Aikman said. "But having said that, two back surgeries in less than a year at his age, I would be a bit concerned.

"I'm hopeful that he's able to come back -- everybody is. This team won't be the same if he's not able to. I anticipate that he will come back. But to say that, 'Hey, he's ahead of schedule and everything's going fine,' I'm not sure how you can really measure that here in April."


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(4/18/2014) The Bengals are expected to exercise the fifth-year option on receiver A.J. Green's contract by May 3, reports Pro Football Talk. But the sides have yet to discuss a long-term contract extension, according to the report.

The Bengals hold the rights to Green through the 2015 season. And in 2016, if a long-term deal hasn't been signed yet, the Bengals can use the franchise tag on Green for that season.

The report says Green can force the issue by trying to boycott offseason workouts or hold out from training camp. But Bengals coach Marvin Lewis is confident Green will be there.


Chris Snee will give it a shot this spring
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(4/18/2014) Giants guard Chris Snee will attempt to go through the Giants offseason program once he's healthy, the New York Daily News reports. Snee had hip surgery last season and an elbow surgery earlier this year. There is no timeline for him to be at 100 percent but he is expected to be on the field for the "bulk" of offseason activities. 

Report: Niners won't release Aldon Smith
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(4/18/2014) The 49ers might expect a suspension for pass rushing linebacker Aldon Smith, but they are not planning to release him, NFL Network reported on Friday.

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