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Offseason Primers: Indianapolis Colts

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Andrew Luck was considered a can't-miss prospect when the Colts took him No. 1 overall last April. But who knew he was a can't-miss for the playoffs as a rookie?!

Luck and the Colts rallied behind head coach Chuck Pagano, whose battle with Leukemia was inspirational to us all, and wowed the league with an 11-5 record. Their defense had little to do with it -- it was all about the offense led by Luck, who pushed the Colts to six wins by four points or less.

Luck was just one of several rookies to make a difference, but it was a wise old owl that really helped the quarterback develop. Reggie Wayne took all of his experience working with Peyton Manning, mixed it with the skills he's honed for years and became someone Luck depended on. Wayne finished second in the league with 194 targets, turning them into 106 catches for 1,355 yards and five touchdowns.

While the end-zone visits weren't what might have been expected, Wayne certainly over-delivered otherwise. He notched his eighth 1,000-yard campaign in nine years and will turn "only" 35 this November. Though Wayne won't be considered a No. 1 receiver, it's pretty clear he has some skills left to help the Colts and Fantasy owners as a prime No. 2 option.

2012 Touches Leaders
779 total touches (rush attempts + receptions)
Vick Ballard 228 (211 car., 17 rec.) 29.3%
Donald Brown 117 (108 car., 9 rec.) 15.0%
Reggie Wayne 107 (106 rec., 1 car.) 13.7%
Donnie Avery 64 (60 rec., 4 car.) 8.2%
Andrew Luck 62 car. 8.0%
T.Y. Hilton 55 (50 rec., 5 car.) 7.1%
Dwayne Allen 48 (45 rec., 3 car.) 6.2%
Coby Fleener 26 rec. 3.4%
All Others 72 9.2%

Wayne, Luck and the rest of the Colts offense will mostly come back intact personnel-wise (Darrius Heyward-Bey joined them this offseason), but not with their offensive coordinator.

Bruce Arians was responsible for Indianapolis' big numbers (22.3 points per game) but he left to become the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, luring away backup quarterback Drew Stanton with him. So the Colts did what they've done before and reeled in someone familiar with Luck to run the offense. Pep Hamilton called Luck's plays at Stanford and will do it again in Indianapolis, running a West Coast offense with some power running and play-action. It's probably for the best for Luck, who did a nice job last year but completed just 54.1 percent of his passes and turned the ball over 23 times (18 interceptions, five fumbles) while producing 20-plus Fantasy points just six times. He's still considered a Top 12 quarterback, but one owners shouldn't reach for. Once guys like Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick get picked, Luck's name will follow.

Between the offensive playbook change and the defense continuing to evolve into something that can stop someone's offense some day (they allowed 24.2 points per game), it appears the Colts are moving in the right direction.

Vick Ballard -- Breakout

2012 Target Leaders
627 pass attempts
Reggie Wayne 194 30.9%
Donnie Avery 125 19.9%
T.Y. Hilton 91 14.5%
Dwayne Allen 66 10.5%
Coby Fleener 48 7.6%
All Others 103 16.4%

If you judge Ballard on his two touchdowns or his one 100-yard rushing game last year, you're probably going to pass him over without a second look. But if you judge him by his 13 starts -- including one in the playoffs -- or his 17.6 touch per game average over those 13 starts, then maybe the light will click on for you. Ballard is the best running back in Indianapolis right now -- more physical and perhaps just as versatile as Donald Brown without the pesky injury history. The coaches seemed to pick up on this last year when he had eight games with at least 15 carries; Brown had three. Moreover, Ballard's collegiate track record suggests he can handle a heavy workload after he ran for 1,189 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior at Mississippi State. Very often we'll remind Fantasy owners that getting running backs with 20-touch potential is a very important factor. The more touches a player gets, the more Fantasy points he can potentially score. Ballard is one of these few precious rushers, and he can be had with a pick in Round 5 or 6 depending on your league's size and scoring system. Consider yourself fortunate if you swipe him as your third rusher but don't be ashamed to have him as your second.

T.Y. Hilton -- Mid-round value pick

Hilton reminds us of a young Mike Wallace: A speedy gamebreaker who takes advantage of single coverage and has a quarterback willing to chuck it to him deep. He averaged 17.2 yards per catch and improbably led the team in touchdowns as a rookie with seven while catching 50 passes for 861 yards. Of those 50 passes, 10 percent were each good for at least 40 yards, and 30 of them were good for either a touchdown or a first down. That's proof that he's more than just a one- or two-shot per game deep threat (he had 108 targets over 17 games), and with Donnie Avery moving on via free agency, Hilton should grow further and pick up more work in the process. If you like Luck's chances to be a great quarterback then you have to be a believer in Hilton as at least a No. 3 Fantasy receiver worth a pick in Rounds 6 through 8.

Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener -- Busts

Expected 2013 Draft Averages
Andrew Luck 70-80 overall
Vick Ballard 60-70 overall
Donald Brown Late-round pick
Reggie Wayne 45-55 overall
T.Y. Hilton 75-85 overall
Darrius Heyward-Bey Late-round flier
Dwayne Allen Undrafted
Coby Fleener Undrafted
Adam Vinatieri Undrafted
Colts DST Undrafted

The Colts spent second- and third-round picks on their two tight ends and they roped in five combined touchdowns in 2012. That return on investment isn't very good but it's not going to deter the Colts from giving them playing time. Allen was the more impressive, more versatile tight end, basically playing three-quarters of snaps for the season. He had 28 catches over the Colts' final nine games with a touchdown. Fleener was bit by the injury bug and never really had the chance to settle in last season. Though we could envision a scenario where Fleener lines up like Aaron Hernandez and Allen plays more like a traditional tight end, it's something we'd have to see frequently to believe in. Neither tight end should be drafted.

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

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Player News
Chargers RB Ryan Mathews could return Week 9
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10:26 pm ET) There's a chance Chargers running back Ryan Mathews will return Week 9, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

"That's in my head," Mathews said. "I'm just going keep doing my treatment this week, come back on Monday, and see what they say." Mathews has missed six straight games due to an MCL sprain. Mathews was able to put in some work prior to Thursday night's game, though he was not a candidate to play. He seemed to handle the workout well. 


Report: Reggie Bush unlikely to play Week 8
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10:22 pm ET) Lions running back Reggie Bush is unlikely to play Week 8 against the Falcons.

Bush is considered doubtful due to an ankle issue, so the move shouldn't come as a big surprise. With Detroit on a bye Week 9, the team will rest Bush another week so that he's healthy down the stretch. 


Report: Lions WR Calvin Johnson unlikely to go in London
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10:18 pm ET) Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson is unlikely to play Week 8 in London, according to ESPN.

Johnson was officially listed on the team's final injury report as questionable due to an ankle injury. With Detroit on a bye Week 9, the team is leaning toward resting Johnson in order to make sure he's healthy down the stretch. 


Cardinals DE Calais Campbell a game-time decision Week 8
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(7:25 pm ET) Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Friday that defensive end Calais Campbell will be a game-time decision Sunday against the Eagles in Week 8, per ESPN. Campbell missed the last two games after suffering a Grade 2 MCL sprain against Denver in Week 5. He returned to the practice field Thursday and Friday and was officially listed as questionable.

"I feel explosive and everything, so it depends on what you consider limited," Campbell said. "In my opinion, I feel like I can play football and help the team win."

Raiders CB D.J. Hayden could be activated before Sunday's game
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(6:22 pm ET) Raiders coach Tony Sparano told reporters Friday that D.J. Hayden is "good to go," but would not commit to whether the cornerback will be activated off the Physically Unable to Perform List in time for Week 8 against the Browns, ESPN reports. The team is expected to place Usama Young and LaMarr Woodley on the season-ending injured reserve list, which would open a spot for Hayden.

The Raiders have 12 days remaining to activate Hayden, or else he lands on the injured reserve list.


Raiders will place Usama Young, LaMarr Woodley on IR
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(6:11 pm ET) Raiders safety Usama Young and defensive end LaMarr Woodley will likely be placed on season-ending injured reserve list, Tony Sparano told the Bay Area News Group on Friday. Young suffered a torn ACL and MCL and Woodley suffered a torn bicep Week 8 against Arizona.

Saints RB Mark Ingram: 'I've got to step up' for my teammates
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:59 pm ET) Saints lead back Mark Ingram wants to return the favor to the backfield mates that carried the load when he missed three games with a broken hand by performing well with them out.

Ingram has been thrust back into the featured back role for Sunday night against Green Bay with injuries sidelining Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson.

"A couple guys are down, so I've got to step up and pull my weight and do my job," Ingram told the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Ingram certainly pulled his weight before his injury. He rushed for 143 yards on 6.0 YPC with three touchdowns in the first two games. But he managed just 16 yards on 10 attempts at Detroit in Week 7.


Patriots add LB Davis, WR Krause to practice squad
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:52 pm ET) The Patriots announced a pair of minor roster moves Friday. The team re-signed linebacker Ja'Gared Davis to the practice squad and signed rookie wide receiver Jonathan Krause to the practice squad, per the team's official website.

Seahawks SS Kam Chancellor all but cleared for Week 8
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:44 pm ET) Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor has been deemed probable for the Week 8 game at Carolina despite an ankle issue. He practiced in full Thursday and Friday after not participating Wednesday.

Chancellor has started in every game this season and has registered 44 tackles.


Report: Bills DB Aaron Williams expected to play Sunday
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(5:42 pm ET) Barring any setbacks over the weekend, Bills defensive back Aaron Williams is expected to play Week 8 against the Jets at MetLife Stadium, according to WGR. Williams was officially listed as questionable for Sunday's game with a neck injury.

 
 
 
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