Every year we give our premium content members a team-by-team, player-by-player look at the NFL season that was. The coverage will be in-depth, but because the Dynasty Capsule series begins immediately after the season, we won’t use it to discuss free agency or the draft. Come see us in early May once Mr. Irrelevant is off the board for another 32-article series giving you the same detailed discussion you’ll see below.
Buckle up dynasty fans, because you’re about to be reminded why our motto is, “There is no off-season.”
Well, 2017 was a waste for the Indianapolis Colts. With franchise quarterback Andrew Luck sidelined for the entire season, Indy predictably struggled. They went 4-12, tied for the third-worst record in the NFL.
That sounds bad. But if it’s possible, it was actually worse than that. The Colts’ offense ranked dead last in yards per play (4.6) and scored the third-fewest points (263). Their defense gave up the fourth-most yards per play (5.7) and the third-most points (404). When you get outscored by 141 points, the third-worst point differential in the league, there’s a lot more at play than simply missing your quarterback.
And even if Luck gets back to full health, which isn’t a given, the Colts can no longer take advantage of a weak AFC South. The Jacksonville Jaguars own the league’s top defense, the Tennessee Titans are on the rise, and the Houston Texans will be a force with a healthy Deshaun Watson. So, yeah, not a lot to look forward to for Colts fans.
With that said, a healthy Luck obviously improves the outlook for most of Indy’s skill-position players, and no matter how poorly a team performed this past season, we can always find players to talk about from a dynasty perspective.
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Luck is a really interesting asset right now. He’s been an elite-level dynasty quarterback since the start of his rookie season, but his injury woes and uncertain future make him a very risky player right now. The combination of his cloudy outlook and the rise of a few young signal callers has pushed Luck to the QB5 in our positional rankings. His value is all over the board, as you might expect, with two rankers putting him as their QB10.
Until Luck gets back on the field and looks like the same old Luck, there will be concerns. To make matters worse, the Colts still haven’t solved their issues on the offensive line. They allowed a sack on a whopping 10.1% of dropbacks in 2017, the worst mark in the league.
In any format, if you can find someone who values Luck as a top-five quarterback right now, it’s definitely worth thinking about pulling the trigger. Luck currently carries a lot of risk, and if his shoulder prevents him from being ready for the start of 2018, his value could take a massive hit.
Brissett came to the Colts right before the beginning of the season and got the starting job after Scott Tolzien’s implosion in week one. Brissett’s numbers aren’t pretty, but all things considered – first extended action, traded late in the preseason and playing behind a poor offensive line – he was put in a really tough spot. Brissett finished with 13 passing scores and seven picks. He completed 58.8 percent of his throws for an average of 6.5 adjusted yards per attempt, the 22nd-ranked clip in the league. With his legs, Brissett added 63 carries for 260 yards and four touchdowns.
His running ability helped make him a serviceable fantasy option in the right matchups as he posted six games of at least 14 fantasy points, although he had just one game of more than 18 points. Brissett will hold some value in two-quarterback leagues until we see Luck on the field. He was the QB28, per our December ADP.
Gore managed to have another decent season despite being a 34-year-old back on a poor offense with a bad offensive line. He did it by playing 16 games for the seventh straight year and seeing consistent week-to-week volume. He ended the season with 261 carries, his seventh straight campaign with at least 250 attempts. Gore’s upside was non-existent, but he was the season-long RB19 in PPR formats and scored at least six points in all but two games. Heading into his age-35 season, Gore is set to be a free agent, and Colts owner Jim Irsay has stated he’d like the team to use a high pick on a running back this off-season. Gore’s days as the lead back in Indy appear to be coming to a close, but if he wants to keep playing, he likely showed enough to earn a place in the NFL in 2018.
A fourth-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Mack was used in a complementary role this year, seeing double-digit carries in just two games. Overall, he turned 93 carries into 358 yards (3.8 YPC) and three rushing scores, and he caught 21 of 33 targets for 225 yards and another touchdown.
Mack is the running back whose value is most impacted by Irsay’s comments, since the owner’s sentiments make it seem like Mack won’t take over as the team’s top runner next fall. In our December ADP, Mack is the RB23. Clearly, a lot of his appeal comes from the thought of him being the lead back in a Luck-led offense. If the Colts take a running back in the first few rounds, it’ll certainly dim Mack’s outlook, and it would pretty much crush his value if they take that Saquon Barkley dude third overall.
Turbin was fourth on the team in carries – behind the two aforementioned backs and Brissett – but he was able to turn his 23 attempts into only 53 yards (2.8 YPC) and a score. The veteran back added nine receptions for 56 yards before going on injured reserve in October with an arm injury. Turbin is signed through next year, although Indy can cut him this off-season with no dead money on the cap.
Jones landed with the Colts on a one-year pact and is due to become a restricted free agent this off-season. He saw minimal action, playing in five games and carrying the ball five times for 14 yards. For his career, Jones owns a yards-per-carry mark of 3.9 across 248 attempts, and he’s hauled in 27 of 33 targets for 377 yards and a score.
It’s easy to look at Hilton’s bottom-line numbers – 57 catches for 966 yards and four touchdowns – and be underwhelmed, but once you factor in that he played sans Luck, it’s not a bad line. Hilton maintained his explosiveness, averaging 16.9 yards per grab, the second-best mark of his career, and per Russell Clay, Hilton is now one of six wideouts to post at least 800 receiving yards in each of his first six seasons.
#Colts WR T.Y. Hilton is one of six WRs to have 800+ receiving yards in each of his first six seasons.
The other five:
Hilton was the only one not picked in the first two rounds of the NFL draft. pic.twitter.com/mzuUsmv2tb
— Russell Clay (@RussellJClay) January 8, 2018
I think this year was a really positive sign for Hilton, who still maintained decent production – PPR WR27 for the campaign – despite what was a trainwreck around him. Hilton’s value has held steady as a result. Going by our ADP data, he was the WR12 in December of 2016, and he was the WR14 last month. Hilton was a top-12 PPR wideout in both 2014 and 2016, and he could return to those levels next year if Luck is Luck.
Moncrief had a really quiet season, finishing with 26 catches on 47 targets for 391 yards and two scores. He played in 12 games and has now been a part of just 21 contests in the last two years. Moncrief has yet to average more than 46 receiving yards per game in a season, and his yards-per-game averages the last two years are 34.1 (2016) and 32.6 (2017).
Moncrief’s value has tanked over the past 12 months. He was the – cover your eyes – WR16 in December of 2016, and he was the WR49 in December of 2017. Still, it’s not hard to argue Moncrief is still being valued too highly considering his lack of production four years into his career. The hope since he was taken in the third round of the 2014 draft has been that Moncrief would become a stable fantasy option alongside Luck and Hilton, but it hasn’t happened, and Moncrief is set to be an unrestricted free agent this off-season.
Rogers wrapped up his 2017 season with 23 catches for 284 yards and one touchdown. He had a 104-yard game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he didn’t eclipse the 40-yard mark in any other game. A 23-year-old, Rogers is signed through 2018, and he could see a bump in volume if the Colts let Moncrief walk, although Indy will likely bring in some new wideouts via free agency or the draft.
Aiken had a woefully inefficient season, hauling in a meager 15 of his 44 looks and recording just 133 receiving yards (8.9 YPR) without a touchdown. Aiken was on a one-year deal with the Colts and will be an unrestricted free agent this off-season.
Doyle was the Colts’ best fantasy asset in 2017, finishing as the overall TE7 in PPR leagues. Doyle drew 108 targets, one less than Hilton and the fifth-most at the tight end position. He finished with 80 catches (which ranked second among all tight ends), 690 yards (sixth) and four touchdowns (tied for 13th). His value has skyrocketed over the last year, going from the TE23 in December of 2016 to the TE11 this past month. Doyle has shown he can produce with Brissett under center, and he should have more touchdown upside if Luck returns, making him a safe play at a pretty thin position.
Swoope was a chic sleeper pick heading into this year – or at least someone on the radar of most dynasty owners. It never materialized for Swoope as he injured his knee prior to the season and didn’t get off the injured reserve list. A 6-foot-5 former basketball player, Swoope showed some flashes in 2016, totaling 15 catches for 297 yards and one score. Doyle is going to be the guy, but Swoope is still worth monitoring as the Colts have been willing to play a lot of two-tight-end sets in the past. He’s an exclusive-rights free agent this spring.