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2012 Fantasy Football Preview: Indianapolis Colts

Contributed by: Nick Stahr
Last Updated: Jul 29, 2012 2:16 PM


A new NFL season is almost here and that means fantasy football is gearing up again.

This is a look into the rebuilding Indianapolis Colts. Coming off a dismal 2-14 season, the Colts earned the top spot in the Draft and picked up can't-miss prospect, quarterback Andrew Luck. 

Along with their new franchise quarterback, the Colts performed a complete house-cleaning where no one was safe.

Including former executive-of-the-year Bill Polian, who built his version of the Colts around his No 1 draft pick, four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning. 

Before diving into a position-by-position breakdown of the new-look Colts here is a recap of key veteran departures: QB Peyton Manning, RB Joseph Addai, WR Pierre Garcon, WR Anthony Gonzalez, TE Dallas Clark, TE Jacob Tamme, C Jeff Saturday and LB Gary Brackett.


Quarterback

Let the Andrew Luck era begin in Indy. Luck has the prototypical size at 6-4, 234 pounds, he has the arm, and the football IQ that is needed to be a great passer in this league. Last year proved rookie quarterbacks are viable day-one starters as Cam Newton (4,051 passing yards, 21 TD/17 INT) and Andy Dalton (3,398 passing yards, 20 TD/13 INT) both put up huge rookie stats and joined an elite club of QBs that have thrown for 3,000 or more yards and 20 touchdowns in their rookie seasons. 

With the Colts in full-on rebuild mode, they'll be behind in most of their games and will be throwing the ball a lot, so that will help inflate Luck's stats this year. Barring major injury, Luck will be a top 5 QB in this league...just not this year. 

Verdict: He will make a solid No 2 or No 3 QB on your bench and would be a good bye-week replacement.  Draft him in the middle-to-late rounds. 



Running Back

Donald Brown is a good-but-not-great running back. He rushed for over 100 yards once last year (161 yards against Tennessee, and that was thanks in large part to a breakaway 80-yard touchdown run). He will have a few of those "oh wow" fantasy moments, he did have four 20+ rushes, like the 80-yard touchdown run. With a 2011 stat line of 645 yards, 4.8 YPC, 5 TDs, that may improve a little bit, but with second-year back Delone Carter and rookie Vick Ballard vulturing carries, especially around the goal-line, and a rebuilt offensive line, odds are against it.  

Mewelde Moore signed as a free agent this offseason, but at 29, he's past his prime, and will be fighting with Ballard for the third spot on the depth chart behind Brown and Carter.

Verdict: Don't reach for Brown, he will be available in the late rounds as a No 4 RB. Carter is a possible handcuff, but should be a waiver-wire option.  Moore and Ballard will go undrafted in most leagues.


Wide Receiver

Reggie Wayne is one of two veteran wideout holdovers. This could be an interesting year for Wayne, as his production has definitely slipped over the last few years - even with Manning throwing to him. Now that Dallas Clark, Anthony Gonzalez, Jacob Tamme and Pierre Garcon aren't around to steal targets from Wayne, he should have a comeback year. The Colts will be airing it out on just about every down, so Wayne will be seeing the lions-share of targets.

He should improve on last year's 75 catches, 960 yards, and 4 TDs. Austin Collie also survived being laid-off and could a see a spike in his numbers this year, as he will benefit from a pass-first offense. Donnie Avery signed as a free agent after a lackluster pro career with stints in St. Louis and Tennessee. Don't expect much from him this year.

Verdict: Wayne is one to watch. He is worthy of a No 1 or No 2 WR selection and should be gone by the middle rounds. Collie will be available late and can serve as a Wayne handcuff. Avery should go undrafted.

Tight End

In a pass-happy league, tight ends are in vogue and are legitimate scoring threats as was shown by the record-setting performance by the Patriots' Rob Gronkowski last year (90 receptions, 1,327 yards, 17 TDs). The Colts drafted two athletic receiving tight ends to build around with Luck. 

Colby Fleener is Luck's teammate from Stanford and will be targeted early-and-often. Dwayne Allen caught 50 balls last year at Clemson and will be battling Fleeneer in camp to be the No 1 TE.  Give these guys time, as they should become a solid tandem going forward.

Verdict: These guys are unproven, in an unproven offense. That said, Fleener will be a sleeper pick by most searching for this year's Gronkowski and could be a breakout rookie. Expect him to go in the middle rounds. Allen will be available in the late rounds.


Defense/Special Teams

This team's defense was designed to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks with a relentless pass-rush from defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. They did fine when Manning was running the offense and the team was usually up two scores. 

Last year proved otherwise as they fell apart on defense and ended the season near the bottom in almost every statistical category.  One bright spot from last year was two defensive touchdowns, however that wouldn't be enough to draft them this year.

Verdict: Look for another team's defense/special teams this year as your anchor. 


Kicker

Adam Vinatieri is an outstanding kicker who has been clutch ever since kicking the game-winner in Super Bowl XXXVI against the Rams in 2001. Coming off of a 93-point season, he will look to get better looks in a Luck-run offense. Expect those numbers to get back to typical Vinatieri levels, just not NFL-leading numbers as, at 39, those days are behind him.

Verdict: Vinatieri will be available late along with most other kickers, and could serve as a No 1 K.   He should end the season over 100 points. 

Breakout Rookie: TE Colby Fleener
Sleeper: WR Reggie Wayne
Handcuff: WR Austin Collie

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