Just when it appeared dynasty owners could make sense of the fantasy landscape in Indianapolis, the Colts complicate things by taking another player from Miami (FL). Often referred to as the Hoosier state, Indiana is making a slow transition into becoming the “U” of the Midwest. Former Miami players on the Colts roster include Frank Gore, Andre Johnson, Erik Swoope (former basketball player now TE), and newly acquired first round pick Phillip Dorsett (no relation to Tony). Head Coach Chuck Pagano as well as former Colts wide receiver, Reggie Wayne, are also alumni of Miami, FL.
Many questions came and went with first round surprise selection of wide receiver Dorsett. The Colts management felt Dorsett was the best value on the board at the pick #29. Analysts and fantasy pundits alike believe he is TY Hilton 2.0. Dorsett is fast, runs solid routes, is smaller in stature, and does have some similarities in his game. Truth is, Dorsett brings some depth and the ability to be a kick/punt returner the Colts have been missing for many years. In short, the morning after the first round of the draft, the Colts released KR/PR Josh Cribbs, leaving many to speculate that the return duties now belong to Dorsett.
The Colts brass have also created leverage following the 2015 when TY Hilton could potentially hit the free agent market. They have built in a short term safety net in case of injury, but are also utilizing a long-term vision of the offense in the absence of TY Hilton. So how does this affect the fantasy landscape in Indianapolis you might ask?
Let’s break down the offense and see how this could affect each player in the “new” Colts offense.
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The Colts did not have a back rush for over 100 yards in a single game last season. Trent Richardson moved on to Oakland and the Colts pursued and signed Gore in the off-season. The Colts finished 18th in the league in rushing attempts last season and 113 passing targets to running backs. With Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw gone, that leaves 81 passing targets for running backs. That resulted in 65 receptions last season for Richardson and Bradshaw which may mean Gore could easily get 40 plus receptions in the passing game, something he has not done since the 2010 season. Gore does provide stability and a three down presence to the Colts backfield. It also leaves fantasy owners to wonder, who will help shoulder the load?
That leaves targets for veterans Dan Herron and Vick Ballard in the passing attack. It will also be interesting to see how the Colts decide to utilize newly acquired rookie Josh Robinson – the Colts love what they have in this sixth round pick out of Mississippi St. Chuck Pogano reported “Josh has soft hands and has the ability to be a three down back in the NFL.” That is positive news and makes Robinson a solid late round target in drafts. If he becomes the primary backup, he could be well worth the risk.
The release of Reggie Wayne and Hakeem Nicks in the offseason frees up 184 targets for the new pass catchers in the Indy offense. Andre Johnson will likely see the bulk of those targets if he can stay healthy. I think it is reasonable for Johnson to have a stat line o0f 85/1,050/8 this season. Johnson is an aging veteran, but he has not missed a game the last three seasons. With that type of durability, he may be able to far exceed many owners expectations this season.
TY Hilton is very likely to take on the same number of targets as last season. I have him projected at 85/1,350/6 which is similar production to this season. Hilton will still be the WR1 in the Colts offense and will finish the season as a WR1/WR2 in fantasy football. Hilton does have an expiring contract at the end of 2016 and the drafting of Dorsett offers a safety net in case Hilton decides to leave town. The Colts will also spend the 2016 offseason creating financial room for Andrew Luck, Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen, left Tackle Anthony Costanzo and inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman. The NFL is a copycat league and Antonio Brown and TY Hilton are finding ways to create monster numbers which in turn creates monster contracts for “small” wide receivers. The Colts may not have the finances to sign Hilton after the season – this could mean Hilton’s value takes a hit if he decides to leave Indy looking for a huge contract.
Phillip Dorsett’s current ADP in rookie drafts is pick is between 2.01 – 2.06. The departure of Hilton could mean a spike in his value leading into next season and now may be the time to buy “low.” This is an early look at what the Packers ran into last offseason with Randall Cobb and the impending value of Devante Adams. Dynasty owners were looking for a boost in Adams’ value with Cobb potentially leaving heading into this season. Now those drafting Dorsett are waiting on the potential value boost. Dorsett has some solid value in return yardage leagues and Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said he would like to use him on some gadget plays and maybe run some wildcat with him. Dorsett is not a big bodied receiver, but he is a standout track star that can be a homerun threat every time he touches the football. The Colts have used him out of the slot during rookie mini-camp, but are also moving him around in formations to create mismatches. It should also be noted that Dorsett is a high school teammate of Duron Carter and was “coached up” by Hall of Fame wide receiver Chris Carter at St. Thomas Aquinas high school in Florida. He seems to have a history of strong play and now has a team to match his talents.
There are two unknowns at this point at the wide receiver position in the Colts offense – Donte Moncrief and the aforementioned Carter. Both players offer a height advantage in the red zone and both are still a bit raw as complete wide receivers. I do not expect Moncrief to take a huge step forward unless the Colts receiving unit suffers injuries throughout the season. Carter may get some sporadic play but may not see the field unless the Colts run a lot of 10 formation (1 RB, 4 WR) sets. I predict that Moncrief puts up similar numbers as last season 35/500/4. I look for Carter’s numbers to be in the range of 20/275/1. These numbers could change, but will be dependent on the philosophical change of offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton as well as the health of the pass catchers in Indy. With so many targets it limits the upside of many players within the offense.
Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen both head into a contract year for the Colts. Allen has been a more complete tight end while Fleener has been the primary pass catching tight end. Allen offers more versatility within the offense, but has had issues staying healthy. If the Colts retain one of these guys after the season I expect it to be Allen. Depending on the evolution of the offense a lot could change this season resulting in both guys hitting free agency. By limiting their numbers, due to so many offensive playmakers, it may keep their values down and the Colts may be able to keep both guys as their tight ends in for the near future.
Based on current offensive line woes the Colts would be smart to re-sign Dwayne Allen because he is a more complete tight end. According to ProFootballFocus, Dwayne Allen finished with a 1.3 Pass Block rating and 1.7 run block rating compared to Fleener who finished with a -4.8 pass block rating and -7.3 run block rating. Allen allows for a more balanced attack and is also a solid receiving option.
I expect a philosophical change on offense this season based on personnel from the Colts. I felt that Hamilton tried to pound the football early in season with Trent Richardson last season without much success. This season they have the offensive weapons to explore mismatches and I expect to see less 12 personnel (1 RB, 2 TE, 2WR) sets and more 11 formations (1 RB, 1 TE, 3WR). The Colts added Dorsett which adds creativity in an offense that was anything but in 2014. Expect low TE1/high TE2 fantasy numbers from Fleener and Allen if both are healthy. With so many offensive weapons in the Colts passing attack it will be difficult to predict the success of either tight end from one game to the next. It would take an injury to one of them to make the other fantasy relevant.
Luck’s value only increases by adding another talented weapon in Phillip Dorsett alongside veterans Frank Gore and Andre Johnson. Andre Johnson and Frank Gore still hold solid dynasty value for veteran players. If I have a team that is in position to win now then I try to flip a second round pick for one or both of them. TY Hilton still holds the most dynasty value of all pass catching options in Indianapolis, but his future value could take a hit depending on his team 2016. Donte Moncrief holds solid long-term value, but needs to develop. The Colts signed Andre Johnson through 2018 and he and Moncrief will both become free agents. If Johnson stays healthy he could suppress Moncrief’s value this season and an impatient dynasty owner may want to unload him at a decent price. Duron Carter is still raw and may become a roster clogger if Johnson can play at a high level and Moncrief develops into a solid WR1 in the Indy offense. Carter could be a solid stash but if the league is anything less than 23 spots I am not holding him. I like Dwayne Allen long term in Indy, but this is solely based on his ability as a pass catcher and ability to block. The Colts offensive line needs a viable tight end to block and Coby Fleener is a liability as a pass/run blocker.
The Colts have upgraded offensive weapons in the offseason, but with impending free agency following the 2016 season it is difficult to predict the long term value of some of some of these players outside of the Colts offense. If I had to predict it today I would guess that the starting Colts offense heading into the 2016 season will be Luck, Gore, Andre Johnson, Dorsett, Moncrief, and Dwayne Allen. Understand this is a prediction based on current events and this article will self-destruct in five….four…..three…..two…..