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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
49ers WR Anquan Boldin catches seven passes vs. Chargers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:08 am ET) 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin recorded a team-high seven receptions on nine targets for 61 yards in his team's 38-35 overtime loss to the Chargers in Week 16.

Boldin managed more than half of the team's receiving production Saturday, as the other San Francisco players combined for only 53 yards on eight receptions, though rookie Bruce Ellington did managed to catch a touchdown.

Boldin had his best performance since a nine-catch, 137-yard breakout in Week 12. He's racked up 81 receptions for 981 yards with four touchdowns going into a Week 17 matchup with the Cardinals, a team for which he played from 2003 to 2009. He'll be looking to secure his seventh career 1,000-yard performance in the season finale.


49ers WR Bruce Ellington scores twice in Week 16 loss
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:03 am ET) 49ers wide receiver Bruce Ellington tallied three rushing attempts for 12 yards and a touchdown and added an eight-yard touchdown reception in his team's 38-35 overtime loss to the Chargers in Week 16.

Ellington scored both of his touchdowns in the second quarter, first hauling in the eight-yard touchdown on a play-action pass for which he was wide open. He then added the rushing touchdown on a jet play on third-and-goal where he took the ball on the move immediately after the snap and found a crease on the right side for the score.

It wasn't all positive for the rookie, as he was ruled out in the second half with a hamstring injury. If he can heal sufficiently during the upcoming week, he'll be in line to face the Cardinals in Week 17.


49ers RB Frank Gore rumbles for 158 yards vs. Chargers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:58 am ET) 49ers running back Frank Gore racked up 26 carries for 158 rushing yards with one touchdown in his team's 38-35 overtime loss to the Chargers in Week 16.

Both numbers represent season highs for Gore, who hasn't had a better rushing day since the 2009 season. He set the tone early, shaking off would-be tacklers en route to a 52-yard score less than two minutes into the game. Gore continually proved difficult to tackle, as he would have managed his third 100-yard game of the season even without the long touchdown.

Gore is now up to 962 rushing yards and four rushing scores on 230 carries. He has a reasonable shot at cracking the 1,000-yard mark in his team's Week 17 matchup with the Cardinals.


49ers QB Colin Kaepernick tallies 151 rushing yards vs. Chargers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:54 am ET) 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick completed 15 of his 24 pass attempts for jsut 114 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions but added 151 rushing yards on seven carries in his team's 38-35 overtime loss to the Chargers in Week 16.

Kaepernick had little trouble picking up chunks of yards against a defense that seemed adverse to tackling -- the 49ers set a new team record with 355 rushing yards in the game -- but his highlight came on a 90-yard scamper where he went untouched after crossing the line of scrimmage, with the Chargers committing a penalty on the play for good measure.

The rushing touchdown was the first of the season for Kaepernick, and his 151 rushing yards marked a new regular-season high. However, he's also failed to top 175 passing yards in any of his last four games. The 49ers will look to close out the season in strong fashion when they face the Cardinals in Week 17.


Chargers K Nick Novak nails game-winner in Week 16
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:49 am ET) Chargers kicker Nick Novak made his only field-goal attempt Saturday, hitting the game-winning kick from 40 yards out in his team's 38-35 overtime win over the 49ers in Week 16.

Novak had all week to think about missing two of his three attempts against the Broncos in Week 15 but drilled the key attempt early in the overtime period to send the Chargers home with a win. He also added five extra points, giving him his best point total in three December contests. Novak has a matchup with the Chiefs on the calendar for Week 17.


Chargers WR Malcom Floyd scores key TD in Week 16 win
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:46 am ET) Chargers wide receiver Malcom Floyd caught just four of his season-high 10 targets for 50 yards Saturday but also scored a crucial touchdown in his team's 38-35 overtime win over the 49ers in Week 16.

Floyd hadn't been on the same page as quarterback Philip Rivers for much of the night but came through when it mattered, hauling in the game-tying touchdown on an 11-yard post play with just 29 seconds left in regulation. He's up to 49 receptions, 827 yards and six touchdowns going into a Week 17 matchup with the Chiefs.


Chargers WR Dontrelle Inman catches seven passes Week 16
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:43 am ET) Chargers wide receiver Dontrelle Inman racked up seven receptions on nine targets for 79 yards in his team's 38-35 overtime win over the 49ers in Week 16.

The coaches opened the second half with Inman in the lineup and the team down 28-7, and the little-used receiver was able to reward the gamble with an excellent half of football, picking up all his receptions in the second half. It was the first time this season Inman had even seen a target in a game, but he was able to pick up three first downs, including one on a crucial fourth-and-10 with less than a minute left in the fourth quarter and his team down seven points. The Chargers tied the game two plays later before winning in overtime.

Inman may have earned himself a significant role in his team's Week 17 matchup with the Chiefs, especially if Keenan Allen is unable to return to action.


Chargers TE Antonio Gates scores twice in Week 16 win
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:37 am ET) Chargers tight end Antonio Gates caught seven of his nine targets for 92 yards with two touchdowns in his team's 38-35 overtime win over the 49ers in Week 16.

Gates had a quiet first half but helped lead the charge to come back from a three-touchdown deficit. His first score was on a one-yard catch on third-and-goal that he juggled a bit, but he was able to hang on while taking a hit at the goal line. His second score was on a wide-open 21-yard reception in the fourth quarter to bring his team to within one touchdown.

It was the fourth multiscore game of the season for Gates, who is now up to 65 receptions, 754 yards and 12 touchdowns on the season. He'll match up with the Chiefs in Week 17.


Chargers WR Eddie Royal catches 10 passes in Week 16 win
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:33 am ET) Chargers wide receiver Eddie Royal led his team with a season-high 10 receptions on 12 targets for 94 yards and one touchdown in his team's 38-35 overtime win over the 49ers Saturday.

Royal's touchdown came on a ball floated over the defender near the goal line for the team's only first-half score. They were able to rally back from a 28-7 halftime deficit thanks in large part to the work done by the slot receiver, who made two key fourth-down conversions in the second half.

The big performance gives Royal 58 receptions, 683 yards and seven touchdowns heading into a Week 17 showdown with the Chiefs.


Branden Oliver heads Chargers rushing attack in Week 16 win
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:27 am ET) Chargers running back Branden Oliver lead the running-back committee Saturday, racking up 53 yards on 13 carries and adding three receptions for 28 yards.

Oliver showed plenty of burst while continually churning out positive plays, leading the running-back carousel with 16 of the Chargers backs' 29 touches. Ronnie Brown managed to pick up 33 yards on seven carries while adding a nine-yard reception, and Donald Brown delivered 12 yards on four carries as well as a four-yard reception.

If starter Ryan Mathews cannot play in Week 17, Oliver figures to once again lead a multifaceted rushing attack. The Chargers will square off with the Chiefs next Sunday.


 
 
 
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