After ending their season by being deflated, the Colts’ confidence should be inflated for their upcoming campaign. Playing in a division with two teams who just drafted in the top three, the Colts ran away with the AFC South with an 11-5 record and an appearance in the AFC Title game. This upcoming season, the Colts take advantage of a weak division by getting the second easiest schedule. One other factor working for Indy is the acquisition of some high profile veterans. While they won’t contribute like they once did, they will give this third ranked offense more balance across the depth chart.
Andrew Luck has been improving every single year since his rookie season and should continue that positive trend going into 2015 as well. He has gone from tenth to fourth to second among Quarterbacks in total points and is looking to make the jump to being QB1 by the end of the season. The former Stanford Cardinal has put up at least 4,000 total yards and 25 total touchdowns (remember he can run) in all three of his seasons in Indianapolis, all while not missing one game during that time. Right now, his ADP is at 15.2 on ESPN and the number two ranked quarterback, right behind Aaron Rodgers. The potential and talent that Luck brings may entice people to draft him ahead of his ADP, especially with all the weapons that surround him. With about seven different receiving threats, Luck will have plenty of options to throw to downfield which could result in him improving his impressive numbers from last year. Now that it looks like he has put it all together, I would expect a season with him flirting with 5,000 yards, if not surpassing that, and passing for around 45 touchdowns, while cutting his interception total from 16 to 10. If you want an MVP caliber Quarterback, draft Luck and don’t look back. The perfect quarterback for a dynasty league.
Matt Hasselbeck will be the number two QB on the depth chart. Don’t expect Hasselbeck to throw more than thirty passes if Luck is healthy.
Last years running back group was certainly one to forget. The season started off with Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson getting most of the playing time up until a leg injury wiped out Bradshaw’s season in week 11. Trent Richardson was then given the nod as the feature running back and all he did disappoint. In all, Richardson ran for just 519 yards and a paltry 3.3 yards per carry. Now that they lost a veteran in Bradshaw and someone who can grind out defenses in Richardson, they get the best of both worlds with signing longtime 49er Frank Gore. Gore, when healthy, was able to give you over 1,000 yards and around eight touchdowns. I’m not so sure he’ll be able to replicate his numbers with San Francisco, as the Colts have a more pass heavy system and less of a run friendly offensive line. Sure, he’s on the wrong side of 32, but Gore will be useful, especially in the red zone where he scored three of his four touchdowns inside the 20. Expect around 1,000 total yards while crossing the goal line about seven times.
Sophomore running back Daniel “Boom” Herron will back up Gore where he can pick up from his impressive late season and postseason stretch. In his final nine games (playoffs included) he averaged roughly 82 total yards a game, but on the flip side only scored three times. Unless Gore goes down with an injury, Herron’s touches should be limited enough that there won’t be a reason for him to crack your starting lineup. The third string, Vick Ballard would’ve been a more intriguing pick up if Indy had not signed Gore, as Ballard is more in between the tackles running back. He’ll only see short yardage touches while the first two backs on the depth chart remain healthy.
Once you have your franchise quarterback, the best thing for a GM to do is surround him with plenty of different weapons. The biggest target on the team also happens to be one of the shortest guys on the team, and that is T.Y. Hilton. Hilton is one of the more dangerous targets in the league, finishing 10th among all wide receivers and finishing with 82 receptions, 1,345 yards and seven scores. Hilton also was sixth in the NFL in average yards per reception with 16.4 yards, showing he’s a big play waiting to happen. Look for Hilton to top all three of those stats this year. Lining up opposite of Hilton is veteran Andre Johnson. The future Hall-of-Famer joins the Colts not only to get a ring, but to also finish with more than three touchdown receptions, his lowest total while healthy since 2005. If he plays all 16 games, expect him to come down with more than three touchdowns and to rank higher than the 42nd best wide receiver.
Donte Moncrief comes in next on the depth chart and hopes to feed off a nice rookie campaign. He’ll see more targets as he gains more trust from Andrew Luck. While being a bit of a possession receiver, all three touchdowns of his were 40+ yards. He even has the chance to be WR2 in Indy by the end of the season. Rookie Phillip Dorsett rounds out this impressive group by giving them some who can absolutely FLY. He ran an unofficial 4.27 40 and has the hands to catch anything thrown his way. He’s the definition of the home run play who could be a fantastic late round pick in a dynasty league.
As if Luck didn’t already have enough toys to play with at wide receiver, he gets two more at tight end. There doesn’t seem to be a clear cut number one tight end, but based off of last seasons stats, we’ll give the edge to Coby Fleener (6th) over Dwayne Allen (13th). The two of them are huge red zone targets as the two tight ends both scored five of their eight touchdowns inside the 20 yard line. Fleener gets the nod because he sees more targets away from the red zone, reeling in a total of 51 catches for almost 800 yards. Fleener will get you more points for yards along with the touchdowns, but Allen is quality over quantity. He’s a lock to be on the field when the Colts are in the red zone and is a touchdown machine, as eight of his 29 catches were touchdowns.
The Colts never seem to wow anyone when their defense takes the field. Aside from Vontae Davis and Robert Mathis, there aren’t a lot of names that will wow you. The defenses lack of talent results in the Colts finishing in the middle of the pack in most categories. They do play in a weak division, but finished 19th in points against per game (23.1) and 11th in total yards per game (342.7). That doesn’t look so bad in hindsight, but it looks less impressive considering they played the anemic offenses of Tennessee, Jacksonville and Houston, six times. They could also use a hand in the takeaway department. While they did tie for tenth in takeaways, it was filled with more than half from fumble recoveries which is such a parity, that it can’t be relied to be sustainable. If they can’t get a few more picks, they’ll have to rely on luck to get fumbles. Indy can also counted on to rack up the sacks where they finished ninth last year (41 total). Between a healthy Robert Mathis, team sack leader Jonathan Newsome, veteran Trent Cole and talented Bjoern Werner, sacks shouldn’t be an issue this year. The Colts defense could use some luck (pun intended) to finish higher than the 18th ranked defense.
Player to Watch
It might seem like the easy way out, but my player to watch is Luck. Luck has more weapons than ever and it could make for a potential record breaking season. He has two number one wide receivers and two future number ones, while also having two number one tight ends. Now the Colts also have a stable run game to keep defenses honest as well. Luck is on the way for a gigantic season. I have him down as MVP for this season and to shatter some records as well. Take him and cruise to a championship.
There’s a ton of different routes I can go for key stat, but I wanted to stick with the running game and show how abysmal it was. Last year, the Colts running backs rushed for a stunningly low six touchdowns. To put that in perspective, there were 22 players who ran for at least six touchdowns. Now that they have a legit number one running back in Frank Gore, I can safely presume that number gets jacked up. Now that they have Gore, it opens up the passing game even more which will lead to a gigantic season from #12.
Written exclusively for TheFantasyFix.com by @JoeGolding94.