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2012 Fantasy outlooks: Indianapolis Colts

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The last time the Colts took a quarterback at No. 1 overall was 1998 with Peyton Manning, and they hope the addition of Andrew Luck this year will reap similar rewards. Manning took the Colts to two Super Bowls during his tenure, winning one, and had multiple playoff appearances.

As a rookie, Manning passed for 3,739 yards, 26 touchdowns and 28 interceptions. We're expecting Luck to have better stats than that, but don't expect him to be like last year's No. 1 overall pick, Cam Newton, who had 4,051 passing yards, 21 touchdowns and 17 interceptions and 706 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns.

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Newton finished with 396 Fantasy points and was among nine quarterbacks to top 300 points last year. But finding success as a rookie quarterback hasn't been easy, especially for No. 1 overall picks.

There have been nine quarterbacks selected at No. 1 overall since 2001 (Michael Vick, David Carr, Carson Palmer, Eli Manning, Alex Smith, JaMarcus Russell, Matthew Stafford, Sam Bradford and Newton). Only Newton and Bradford topped 200 Fantasy points as a rookie.

Now, to be fair, Palmer didn't play at all as a rookie, and Vick, Manning, Smith and Russell saw limited playing time. Stafford also didn't finish his rookie season due to an injury. But rookie quarterbacks tend to struggle, especially if you don't have mobility like Newton.

In comparing Luck and Robert Griffin III, we would rather have the Redskins starter in seasonal Fantasy leagues, and Luck should be better in dynasty formats. Griffin should have better Fantasy stats this year with his rushing ability, but Luck projects long-term as the better Fantasy option, maybe as early as 2013.

For this year, he should be a mediocre Fantasy option at best. He has decent weapons in Reggie Wayne, Coby Fleener and Austin Collie, and he should be throwing a lot with the Colts trailing in games. But Luck is not going to post overwhelming stats in his first year and should only be drafted with a late-round pick in seasonal formats.

Indianapolis Colts Fantasy Value Chart
Player Draft Day value Estimated round
Quarterbacks
Andrew Luck 12
Running Backs
Donald Brown 8
Delone Carter ND
Wide Receivers
Reggie Wayne 6
Austin Collie ND
Donnie Avery ND
T.Y. Hilton ND
Tight Ends
Coby Fleener 11
Kickers/Defense
Adam Vinatieri 14
Colts DST ND
ND - not expected to get drafted

Sleeper ... Coby Fleener, tight end
Rarely does a rookie quarterback get his No. 1 receiver from college on the same team in their first year, but that's what the Colts have with Luck and Fleener. The Colts took Fleener in the second round of the NFL Draft out of Stanford, and he should shine with Luck much in the same way Dallas Clark did with Manning. Fleener is a tight end with a similar skill set to Clark in that both are standout receivers. In 2011, Fleener averaged 19.6 yards per reception with 10 touchdowns, which followed up an eight-touchdown campaign in 2010. It might be hard for Fleener to become a No. 1 Fantasy option right away, but he's worth a late-round pick in most standard leagues based on potential alone. He should be drafted with a middle- to late-round pick in dynasty/keeper leagues and a first-round pick in rookie-only formats. He might be the best rookie receiver/tight end this year.

Breakout ... Donald Brown, running back
We often wondered how Brown would do if Joseph Addai was out of the picture, and we got a glimpse in 2011 when Addai missed multiple weeks with a hamstring injury. Brown ended up doing a nice job with double digits in Fantasy points in three of his final five games. This year Addai is gone, and Brown should open as the starter while sharing carries with Delone Carter. Brown has the chance for a career year, and we consider him a No. 3 Fantasy running back on Draft Day. He is not someone you want start on a weekly basis, but with a favorable matchup he could be a great fill-in rusher. Carter also should be considered a sleeper since the Colts could be more run-heavy than in years past under new coach Chuck Pagano.

Bust ... Reggie Wayne, wide receiver
Wayne probably should have jumped ship and left the Colts since Manning, Clark, Addai and Pierre Garcon are gone, but he signed a three-year deal to stay in Indianapolis. It's great that he will finish his career with one team, but Wayne is done as a top-flight Fantasy receiver. Not only does he lose Manning and get a rookie in Luck, but he's a step slower at 33 (he'll be 34 in November). Wayne struggled in 2011 with just four touchdowns and only three games with double digits in Fantasy points. Losing Manning for the season didn't help, but Wayne was due to see a decline in production. The change in quarterback likely accelerates that process. Now, he will still have a good week or two during the season, and he's still a quality option in PPR formats (he has at least 75 catches in every year since 2004). But don't expect Wayne to be over 1,200 receiving yards and reach double digits in touchdowns. He's just not that guy anymore, and he should only be drafted as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver with a mid-round pick.

Schedule breakdown

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
@CHI MIN JAC bye GB @NYJ CLE @TEN MIA @JAC @NE BUF @DET TEN @HOU @KC HOU
Defensively, the Colts are going to go through growing pains, even with Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis still around. So much of their success in 2012 will depend on Luck attacking defenses effectively. He should do well against teams lacking a strong pass rush but that accounts for five opponents. From the Bears in Week 1 to a season-ending set of games against the Texans twice with the Chiefs in Week 16, the Colts' schedule is littered with pass rushers aiming at Luck. That should make it tough for him to thrive in his first season.

Training camp topics

The Colts offense has basically looked the same since 1998 with Manning running the show. It will definitely have a new look this season, and the changes should be fun to watch.

2011 Touches Leaders
Player Touches
Donald Brown 134 carries, 16 catches
Joseph Addai 118 carries, 15 catches
Delone Carter 101 carries, 5 catches
Reggie Wayne 75 catches
Pierre Garcon 70 catches, 4 carries

All eyes will be on Luck and his development, but Fantasy owners should pay attention to how Collie does since he will now start in place of Garcon. Rookie T.Y. Hilton could also make an impact, and the Colts are high on Donnie Avery, who is trying to make a comeback after failed stints with St. Louis and Tennessee.

The other thing to watch will be the split in reps with Brown and Carter and whether or not Carter can turn into a touchdown vulture with his short-yardage ability. Where Fleener lines up should also be interesting since he could see time at receiver.

The Colts are in a rebuilding mode after going 2-14 last year. Things should definitely improve and hopefully Fantasy owners can benefit from some better offensive production this year.

Injury update

Carter (thumb; probable for the start of training camp)

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook

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Player News
Fisher impressed by Sam Bradford's explosive plays
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:55 am ET) Rams coach Jeff Fisher told the media Thursday that the most impressive part of Sam Bradford's training camp thus far isn't just that he's back on the field after tearing an ACL, but that the passing game has become much more explosive. 

"We are getting a lot more explosive plays," Fisher explained. "Sam's throwing the ball real well. The balls going down the field on time to Kenny (Britt) and to (Brian) Quick and to Tavon (Austin) and Cookie (Jared Cook) and all the guys. ... Now, before you put the shoulder pads on there's a lot of congestion in the pocket, but now the pocket's starting to clean itself up because offense has pads on things are starting to even out a little bit, so we're getting time to make those throws."

Before getting hurt in 2013 Bradford averaged 241.0 passing yards and two touchdowns per game. 


Rueben Randle to reap rewards of the red zone?
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:47 am ET) After Rueben Randle got a bunch of targets in the red zone during drills on Thursday, the Newark Star-Ledger advised that "we should probably get used to seeing" the Giants' tall receiver used in such a capacity. Randle dropped one target but caught the other two. 

Randle had missed a couple of practices with a hamstring issue but was back at it. Randle had 41 receptions for 611 yards and a team-high six touchdowns last season.


Even if he's splitting reps, Maurice Jones-Drew is motivated
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:36 am ET) Saying it's "hilarious" to hear about people doubting his abilities, Maurice Jones-Drew said Thursday that he's fully prepared to show the world that he can still play at a high level

"I know what I have left," Jones-Drew said according to the San Jose Mercury News. "I know the work I put in this offseason to get to where I need to get to be able to play at a high level. I stopped worrying about what people were saying."

Raiders head coach Dennis Allen reaffirmed that Jones-Drew will split carries with Darren McFadden, something MJD has to get used to since he hasn't split with anyone in some time. A Sports Illustrated report said McFadden has an edge on Jones-Drew in the race to start. 

Through his eight-year career, Jones-Drew has amassed 1,818 carries and 342 catches. He'll be 29 years old when the season starts and turns 30 in March 2015. 


Eddie Lacy off to sensational start in camp
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:24 am ET) The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says the lowlight of Eddie Lacy's training camp thus far was dropping a pass thrown from his position coach during a sideline drill. Everything else about Lacy's camp "couldn't have looked any better."

Lacy figures to remain as the Packers' primary running back, so long as he stays healthy.  


Report: Despite 'good' camp, Foles will have 'strong' season
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:22 am ET) The Philadelphia Inquirer has noticed that Eagles quarterback Nick Foles has had a good but not great camp thus far. For example, he's thrown an interception in each of his last two days of practice and even mis-threw a ball during a 7 on 7 drill. But the paper went on to say "Foles is going to have another strong season, barring injury." 

Over 13 games and 317 pass attempts, Foles completed 64.0 pct. of them for 2,891 yards (9.12 yards per attempt) with 27 touchdowns and only two interceptions. He added three rushing touchdowns and 221 rush yards. 


Texans sign receiver Joe Adams
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:14 am ET) The Texans have signed former Panthers receiver Joe Adams to a contract, the Houston Chronicle reports. Originally a fourth-round pick, Adams struck out in Carolina after one season. He last played for the Edmonton Eskimos in the Canadian Football League but was released in April

Decision on Josh Gordon not expected Friday
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:08 am ET) Browns receiver Josh Gordon will appeal his reported one-year suspension on Friday, but the Cleveland Plain Dealer doesn't expect an immediate announcement on his future. Gordon is expected to be back in Cleveland on Saturday. 

Gordon faces a one-year ban for reportedly failing a third drug test over his career. He was also arrested and charged with a DUI earlier this offseason. 


Marshawn Lynch retools current contract, receives higher base salary
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(7/31/2014) The week-long holdout worked to a certain extent for Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch. The 28-year-old restructured his current contract with the Seahawks, which will give him $6 million guaranteed this season, per Pro Football Talk.

Lynch will make a $5 million base salary in 2014, with a possible $500,000 roster bonus and another $500,000 bonus if he reaches 1,500-plus rushing yards. He totaled over 1,500 yards of offense with 14 total touchdowns last year but had over 400 total touches between the regular season and postseason.

DeMarcus Ware back at practice
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/31/2014) Broncos defensive end DeMarcus Ware returned to a limited practice Thursday after missing two practices with a bruised lower right leg, reports ESPN.com.

Mike Wallace might not be ready for preseason opener
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/31/2014) Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace missed a second straight day of practice with a sore hamstring and won't play in Saturday's scrimmage at Sun Life Stadium, reports the Miami Herald. His status for the Aug. 8 preseason opener against the Falcons is uncertain.

The paper said the injury is not serious, but "obviously slows the growth of Wallace's and quarterback Ryan Tannehill's ability to team up on dynamic long passes."


 
 
 
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