The Indianapolis Colts were hit hard during the 2019 offseason when Andrew Luck announced his retirement. Many people thought they were going to take a step back last season without him. Jacoby Brissett is a solid quarterback, but is nowhere near Andrew Luck talent wise. The Colts were one of the most surprising teams to start the season. They started off the season 5-2 with all 7 of those being one possession games. They then went on to lose their next 2 games by a combined 6 points. The Colts then only won 2 games the rest of the season and went 7-9. The Colts were supposed to have the 13th pick in this year's NFL Draft, but traded it for defensive lineman Deforest Buckner from the San Francisco 49ers. Buckner should help the defensive go from a middle of the pack defense to a well respected defense by the rest of the league. Frank Reich likes to run a West Coast offense with a lot of RPOs and a little bit taken from Mike Leach and Hal Mumme's air raid offense. The Colts spend two second round picks on skill positions. This should make the offense as dangerous as ever and should help them compete for a playoff spot.
Projected depth chart:
Quarterback: 1. Phillip Rivers 2. Jacoby Brissett
Running back: 1. Jonathan Taylor 2. Marlon Mack
Wide receiver: 1. T.Y. Hilton 2. Michael Pittman Jr. 3. Dezmon Patmon 4. Marcus Johnson
Slot receiver: 1. Parris Campbell 2. Zach Pascal
Tight end: 1. Jack Doyle 2. Trey Burton
Quarterbacks - In 2019, the Colts got the shocking news that Andrew Luck was going to retire. This thrusted Jacoby Brissett into the starting role. Brissett passed for 2942 yards on 60.9% completion, 18 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions. Brissett added 228 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground. Brissett finished as the QB23 and was very inconsistent. He only had 8 out of 15 games where he scored above 15 fantasy points. Brissett also had 4 games under 10 points. He was on most waiver wires because of this.
The Colts obviously weren't satisfied with Brissett and went out to sign Philip Rivers in free agency from the Los Angeles Chargers. Rivers had a down year as he scored under 250 fantasy points for the first time since 2012. Rivers passed for 4615 yards on 66% completion, 23 touchdowns, and 20 interceptions. He finished as the QB18 and had under 15 points in 9 out of his 16 games. Rivers only scored above 20 fantasy points 4 times, which is not very good for a quarterback in fantasy.
Rivers has very similar weapons this year than he did last year in Los Angeles. He has a 1-2 punch at running back, a proven wide receiver followed by other solid receivers with not a lot of depth, and solid tight ends. Rivers is usually going undrafted in fantasy. This is due to him getting older and his turnover issues. If Rivers can fix these issues he could be a deep sleeper and could have some good games.
Running backs - Marlon Mack put up respectable numbers last year as the Colts' starting running back. He had 247 carries for 1091 yards and 8 touchdowns on the ground and had 14 receptions for 82 yards through the air. Mack finished as the RB22 and was very boom or bust. He scored under 10 fantasy points in 7 of his 14 games. In the other 7 games, he scored no less than 14.8 points.
Marlon Mack has not finished a season yet and has missed 10 games in his 3 year career. The Colts wanted to secure their future at running back and did so via the NFL Draft. They selected Jonathan Taylor in the second round. Taylor is one of the greats at the running back position in college football. He ran for just under 6000 yards in his 3 year college career. If you are into college fantasy football, Taylor finished no lower than the RB10 in college fantasy in his 3 years at Wisconsin.
A lot of people think Jonathan Taylor is just going to take the starting job for Marlon Mack immediately. That's not going to happen. Mack is a respectable starting running back in the NFL. Marlon Mack is not the best receiver and will probably play on the early downs. Look for Taylor to play on the later, passing downs. If Mack were to get hurt, Taylor would likely take the job for him entirely. Taylor is going around the 4th-5th round and I think that is good value for him if you already have 2 running backs that can hold everything down while you wait for Taylor to take the job. Mack is going around the 8th-9th round and I am not targeting him because at some point, he will get injured and Taylor will take the job.
Wide receivers - T.Y. Hilton has been on the Colts since he was drafted there in 2012. Prior to last year, his worst year was where he scored just over 175 fantasy points. That season was in 2017 and at that time, it was the lowest amount of targets he received in his career since his rookie year. It was also the first time he had under 1000 receiving yards since his rookie year.
Last season was T.Y.'s worst season ever. He was injured for most of the season and only played in 10 games. He finished as the WR57 and scored under 10 points in half of his games. Zach Pascal was the number 1 receiver for fantasy. He scored only 10 more points than T.Y. in 16 games. Pascal was a great waiver wire addition as he had a couple of big games for the Colts.
The Colts traded up to select Michael Pittman in the 2020 NFL Draft. Pittman will slide right in as the WR2 for the Colts. He is being drafted in the 10th-11th round and I think he is a great sleeper this year. Rivers is an upgrade over Brissett and should be able to give more targets and be able to support a WR2. T.Y. Hilton is also a sleeper this year. He is being drafted around the 4th round, which is insane for a WR1 in an offense that passes a lot. Hilton is the type of player where I would be confident with him as my WR1 after I take 3 running backs.
Tight ends - Eric Ebron regressed big time from his production in 2018. In 2018 he had 66 receptions for 750 yards and 13 touchdowns. In 2019, Ebron had 31 receptions for 375 yards and 3 touchdowns. Regression was expected from his 13 touchdowns but not this much. Ebron finished as the TE27 and only scored over 10 points 3 times in 11 games.
Jack Doyle took the TE1 spot from Ebron and had 43 receptions for 448 yards and 4 touchdowns. Doyle finished as the TE14 and had a couple of decent games. He scored over 10 points 5 times. There were definitely better options for fantasy last year as Doyle only received 5 or more targets in 6 of his 16 games.
Before free agency, I had Jack Doyle as a huge sleeper heading to 2020. But, the Colts signed Trey Burton in free agency. Burton will likely assume the Eric Ebron role in this offense. I would expect the Colts to play Burton and Ebron at the same time with their lack of receiver depth. Both are going undrafted in most leagues and I am not targeting either of them.
Sleepers: Phillip Rivers, Michael Pittman, T.Y. Hilton, Jonathan Taylor
Bust: Marlon Mack
I'm not targeting: Eric Ebron, Jack Doyle, all other Colts receivers (not enough targets)
I hope you enjoyed 2020 Fantasy Previews Part 14: Indianapolis Colts. Next up is 2020 Fantasy Previews Part 15: Jacksonville Jaguars. Feel free to comment your thoughts on the Colts' offense for fantasy football 2020.