The Colts have made some major splashes in free agency, reuniting veterans Frank Gore and Andre Johnson. Both were teammates at The University of Miami and won a National Championship in 2001. However, the fact that they were both on arguably the greatest college football team of all-time shows their age. It will be very interesting to see how these two acclimate themselves to their new surroundings. How much can they have left in their tanks? Let’s take a look at their potential fantasy value.
RB Frank Gore
Gore will be 32 years old when the 2015 season kicks off. He was drafted in 2005 and spent his entire career in San Francisco to this point. He has been a tremendous back for a decade now. Since his rookie season he has only failed to hit the 1,000 yard plateau once. That was in 2010, when he rushed for 853 yards in only 11 games. He has not missed a game since. Gore has been a durable workhorse who is as tough as they come.
Still, it has to be a bit concerning when you consider his age and the fact that he’ll be running behind an offensive line that has been among the worst in the league for years now. Gore carried the ball 255 times last year, which is about his average, and he still averaged a very respectable 4.3 yards per carry. Everybody has been waiting for this guy to fall off a cliff, however, he has defied age to this point. Will playing behind a subpar O-line diminish his value or will Andrew Luck and the high-octane passing attack open things up for him?
Luckily for Gore, if nothing else he has very small shoes to fill. After Trent Richardson, the Indy fans would be thrilled with just 3.5 YPC. Fantasy owners may not be so gracious. Gore’s production will likely drop, however, at the very least he should see feature back touches. The Colts want to win now and are going to utilize him to his max capabilities. His PPR production should also increase a bit with Luck under center.
Gore should be okay but don’t be shocked if he’s a bit of a bust. The O-line will certainly hurt his per-carry production and the Colts love to throw to their tight ends in the red zone. Gore is no doubt an upgrade to T-Rich and Boom Heron, just don’t set your expectations too high. Draft him as a high risk/high reward flex option. Don’t reach for him, though. If somebody else drafts him too high, let them. He’s far from a sure thing.
WR Andre Johnson
Johnson is actually two years older than Gore and will turn 34 in July. He was the third-overall pick of the Texans in 2003 and has put together a Hall of Fame resume. During 11 great seasons in Houston, Johnson has amassed 1,012 receptions for 13,597 yards and 64 touchdowns. He’s been as good as any WR over the past decade. Last season, Johnson saw a significant drop in production. In 2013, he totaled 109 receptions, 1,407 yards and 5 TDs. Those numbers dropped to 85 receptions, 936 yards and three TDs. Not awful numbers but certainly a noticeable decline.
Johnson did fall off last season, but who wouldn’t with that brigade of defective duck lobbers the Texans paraded out to lead their interpretation of a passing attack. He is literally going from arguably the worst possible situation for a WR on a run first offense with a slew of nightmarish QBs to a high-volume aerial assault lead by one of the most prolific quarterbacks in the NFL. The Colts had the top ranked offense in the league, the Texans ranked 24th. It’s hard to imagine him not improving on last season’s production.
Johnson should fit right in to the Colts passing game and give Luck the reliable big bodied outside target that he so desperately needs. With another one of Johnson and Gore’s former teammates at “The U” Reggie Wayne gone, the Colts need his presence on the outside. The Colts have tried out multiple veteran options over the past two-seasons. Unfortunately, Hakeem Nicks career was drastically derailed and Darrius Heyward-Bey is the worst wideout of all-time, so that fell through. Now with T.Y. Hilton in the slot, Donte Moncrief emerging and a dynamic TE duo, Johnson may not only be the missing piece but the key piece to the offense. There are a lot of mouths to feed in Indy. There are also a lot of balls to go around. To be exact, in 2014 there were 661 balls to go around. Draft Johnson as a low-end WR2. He will definitely have a high ceiling and not a very low floor.