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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
Can Chris Johnson turn into Tomlinson?
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:12 am ET) 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.


Aikman worried about Tony Romo
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:01 am ET) Former Cowboys quarterback and Hall of Famer Troy Aikman is worried about current Dallas quarterback Tony Romo coming off back surgery, reports the team's official website.

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."


Bengals, A.J. Green not talking extension - yet
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:54 am ET) 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
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:52 am ET) 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
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:50 am ET) 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.

Smith was arrested recently for making false bomb reports at a Los Angeles airport, the latest of a string of troubles for the highly talented linebacker. He was also arrested for suspicion of DUI in January, 2012 and again September, 2013. He also had marijuana on him during that September arrest. In October, 2013 he was charged with three felony counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon. 


Russell Allen among Jaguars' latest releases
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:43 am ET) On Thursday the Jaguars released veteran linebacker Russell Allen along with Will Pericak , D'Aundre Reed and Jabin Sambrano, ESPN reported. Allen was released with a failed physical designation, a sign that he might not quite be over the effects of a concussion suffered late last season. 

Ravens reinstate Rolando McClain
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:41 am ET) Despite a poor workout earlier this month the Ravens have reinstated linebacker Rolando McClain from the reserve/retired list, NFL.com reports. It remains to be seen if McClain has a legitimate chance of staying on the roster this summer. 

J.J. Watt locked up through 2015
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:39 am ET) The Texans have exercised their option to keep defensive end J.J. Watt on the roster through the 2015 season. The Houston Chronicle believes that Watt won't even play under the terms of that fifth year (roughly $10.6 million guaranteed) because the Texans will agree to a long-term extension with him before then. 

Jimmy Smith gets contract extended by Ravens
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:37 am ET) The Ravens exercised their option to tack on a fifth year to cornerback Jimmy Smith's contract, sources tell the Baltimore Sun. He's due nearly $7 million guaranteed for that year. Smith is now signed through 2015.

Chargers keep Corey Liuget around
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:35 am ET) The Chargers have extended the contract of defensive lineman Corey Liuget by exercising the fifth-year option in his contract, worth nearly $7 million, according to U-T San Diego. It will keep him with the Chargers through the 2015 season.

 
 
 
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