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2011 Team Report: Indianapolis Colts

Quarterbacks

Starter: Peyton Manning
Backup(s): Curtis Painter, Dan Orlovsky, Scott Tolzien

Starting QB: Future Hall of Famer, Peyton Manning, will begin his 14th season in the league when the Colts take the field in September. Manning (35) is creeping up in age, however it has yet to affect his numbers as a stalwart at the quarterback position. He is one of four QBs with 50,000+ career yards passing (Favre, Marino and Elway) and he holds the record for most 4,000+ yard passing seasons with 11. The next closest is Brett Favre and Dan Marino who have only six. Not only does Manning possess a phenomenal ability and understanding of the game, but he also thrives on adapting to what each defense gives him. As a result, his supporting cast is very much involved in the offense with several players sharing a piece of the offensive pie. There is some concern as the season approaches, due to Manning's off season surgery to alleviate pain in his neck. The recovery has been a little slower than expected, but at this time it is not expected to keep him from starting in week 1. If anything, this setback (if you want to call it that), may allow you draft him as the 5th or 6th QB off the board, which would be a steal if he continues to be a consistent force among the league's top QBs. Nothing suggests otherwise.

Backup QB: Luckily for the Colts, the backup QB position has not been an area of concern for 13+ seasons. Perhaps looking for Manning's heir apparent, the Colts have bolstered their backup QB position this off season, adding veteran backup Dan Orlovsky and undrafted free agent Scott Tolzien. The duo will battle incumbent backup, Curtis Painter for the team's backup QB role. The Colts are obviously hoping the backup QB position won't be a topic of interest at all in the 2011 season, but at the same time, we may see extensive looks from the aforementioned group in the preseason to determine which one earns the title of Peyton Manning's backup in 2011.

Running Backs

Starter: Joseph Addai
Backup(s): Delone Carter [R], Donald Brown, Mike Hart, Javarris James, Chad Spann, Darren Evans
Fullback(s):

Starting RB: The Colts have a very explosive offense that is easily capable of putting up three or more TDs per game, mostly via the pass. Last year, their running game took a hit for the second consecutive year. No one RB on the roster rushed for more than 500 yards. Even more bizarre, no one RB surpassed 20 receptions all season. Peyton Manning had a career passing year, as a result. Look for the Colts to establish some semblance of a running game to compliment the torrid passing game that Manning orchestrates so effortlessly. The Colts have three main RBs who will share carries in 2011, led by veteran Joseph Addai, who enters his sixth year in the league. Addai was re-signed in the off season and should play a prominent role as the team's primary RB. Addai played in only 8 games last season, due to a lingering neck injury that was slow to heal. He is expected to be back to 100% this year. Addai is someone to target as a RB3 or RB4. He will see the field often, due to his pass catching ability, but also for his mindset to pass protect Peyton Manning at all costs.

Backup RBs: The Colts were 29th in team rushing yards for the second year in a row. Interestingly enough, they still managed 13 rushing TDs. In other words, they primarily used the pass to move the ball down the field. Timely running plays and a superior offense yielded an above average scoring threat from the team's RBs. The neck injury to Joseph Addai opened the door for Donald Brown, a former first round pick. He failed to make an impact, despite being on a productive offense. Brown will compete with rookie RB, Delone Carter to be the team's second option behind Joseph Addai. Carter at 5-foot-9, 222 pounds, plays below pad level and has the ability to bounce off tacklers, similar to Michael Turner and Maurice Jones-Drew. He has the ability and opportunity to come in and make an impact, especially if an injury gives him more playing time. Also on the roster is Javarris James, who pounded in a team high six rushing TD last year (all in the red zone). Mike Hart is also someone who showed promise until he suffered an ankle injury in week 8 that essentially ended his chance to secure the RB role that was left vacant by the injury to Joseph Addai. The Colts RB position, despite it's lack of flair in recent years, is one to target for your fantasy purposes simply due to the team's scoring tendencies. The trendy pick is rookie Delone Carter, however anyone, including Chad Spann, has a chance if the ball bounces their way. Darren Evans was called out by owner Jim Irsay as having a chance to make the team and he was solid at Virginia Tech before Ryan Williams arrived on the scene.

Fullback:

Wide Receivers

Starters: Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie
Backups: Blair White, Anthony Gonzalez

Starting WRs: Reggie Wayne has led the Colts in receiving for each of the last four years. The Colts often use a three-WR set with Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon on the outside and Austin Collie occupying the slot position. The Colts receiving corps is so deep, anyone on the field as a WR or TE is fair game in Peyton's attack. Wayne is a lock for 130+ targets, 1000 yards and 6-10 TDs, but the ceiling could be higher. One drawback to the Colts deep receiving group is that no one player dominates the statistics to the point of elite production on a weekly basis. Opposing defenses may scheme to take Wayne out of the game, but Manning will beat them with another option. As a result, Wayne's numbers can vary from week to week, but at the end of the year, he'll be among the Top 10 WRs in the game. Wayne is in the last year of his contract with the Colts and it's possible it could be his last with future Hall of Famer, Peyton Manning. The next productive WR on the team is expected to be slot WR Austin Collie. Peyton Manning loves to use seams in the middle of the field where he often finds his TE Dallas Clark, but also Austin Collie. Collie is coming off two severe concussions last year that kept him from being a Top 5 fantasy WR. He is expected to be completely recovered, however a repeat blow to the head could cause lingering effects all over again. His ability to put up top WR numbers is undeniable. If he can last the year without any further setbacks, he'll be a fantasy bargain.

Backup WRs: The Colts don't exactly have backup WRs. Any receiver on the field is virtually considered a starter, because Peyton Manning sprays the ball all over the field exploiting areas of weakness the defense gives him. Having said that, the Colts have depth to an already deep starting unit. One player who could emerge this year is Blair White. Anthony Gonzalez has been injury prone most of his career and has not performed up to expectations. White on the other hand, looked good in the action he saw last year, as a rookie. White will see snaps during four-WR sets that will also include a fifth receiver in Dallas Clark. The vast majority of Peyton Manning's passes will be caught by Wayne, Collie, Garcon and Clark, however there is room for an occasional TD by White, who had five of them last year.

Tight Ends

Starters: Dallas Clark
Backups: Jacob Tamme, Brody Eldridge

The TE position is often used in the Colts offense, accounting for 107, 109, 120 and 112 receptions in each of the last four years respectively. Most notably the player receiving the vast majority of looks at the position has been Dallas Clark. Clark has seen an improvement in receptions and receiving yards in each of the last four years, before suffering a hand/wrist injury that ended his 2010 season prematurely. Clark was coming off a dominating performance in 2009 that saw him tie the team lead in receptions (100) and reach a career best 1,106 yards receiving, including 10 TDs. In addition to outstanding route running and excellent hands, Clark has a keen knack for finding seams and adapting his path to cater to his quarterback's needs. As a result, he is often Peyton Manning's go-to receiver in times of duress. Manning does not take a lot of sacks, which means he often targets Clark as his hot read. The two combine for a lethal connection that really started to gel after Marvin Harrison's departure. Despite the influx of talented receivers in the Colts offense, Clark figures to again be a major contributor in 2011. Make no mistake about it, Dallas Clark is the team's primary weapon at the TE position. Jacob Tamme played well in Clark's absence last year, however Tamme, as good as he was, is nowhere close to the player Clark is at this point in both of their careers. Tamme proved that he can be relied on in an offense that features the TE extensively, however his production is expected to drop off considerably due to Clark's return from his hand injury. Only consider Tamme as a handcuff to Clark. If there is one TE in the league that deserves a handcuff, it's Clark, simply because the position will always be an area of strength for Peyton Manning and the Colts offense.

Place Kicker

Adam Vinatieri : The Colts kept free agent kicker Adam Vinatieri in the fold, re-signing him to a three-year deal. He's coming off what was probably his best year since he became a Colt. As always, Justin Snow is long snapper. Pat McAfee enters his second third as the Colts punter, holder, and kickoff specialist. He's also been practicing his placekicking (something he had done in college), including from extra long range (up to 75 yards), just in case. After two years in the bottom half of the league, the Colts climbed to 12th in kicker scoring opportunities last year.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Devin Moore, Chad Spann

Punt Returners: David Gilreath, Joe Lefeged, Terrence Johnson

HC Jim Caldwell recently commented, "The speed of the game, that's really the thing you're trying to determine, is whether or not a guy can match up to that speed. I was telling one of the young kick returners the other day, David Gilreath, that he is going to see the biggest, fastest collection of players coming down the field to cover that kick, and anything sideways in this league gets run down pretty quickly. So you better find a seam. It's always interesting to see how guys adjust." WR Gilreath and fellow rookies RB Chad Spann and DB Joe Lefeged are challenging RB Devin Moore for returner roles. Possible leftover returners from last year are CB Justin Tryon or DB Jerraud Powers.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT Anthony Castonzo [R], LG Charlie Johnson, C Jeff Saturday, RG Mike Pollak, RT Ryan Diem
Key Backups: Kyle DeVan, Ben Ijalana [R], Jeff Linkenbach

Team Defense

The Indianapolis Colts were 23rd in the NFL in points allowed with 24.3 per game and 20th in total yards allowed. Even worse, they were only 25th in rushing yards allowed. Once known as a playmaking squad, they were second to last in interceptions with only 10 and only four teams had less forced fumbles. They were also 24th in total sacks with only 30. The Colts still have DEs Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, as well as linebacker Gary Brackett and safety Antoine Bethea. Plus, they added DT Tommie Harris, DE Jamaal Anderson and LB Ernie Sims. Will that be enough? Tough to say. Harris has not had much success lately, and neither has Sims. And Anderson has been a bust since he entered the league.

Defensive Line

Starters: DE Dwight Freeney; DE Robert Mathis; DT Tommie Harris; DT Fili Moala
Backups: DE Jerry Hughes; DE Jamaal Anderson; DT Eric Foster; DT Antonio Johnson

Starting DL: DE Dwight Freeney is 31 years old now, but he still had ten sacks in 2010, making it double digit sacks in seven of his nine seasons. He is said to be healthy and feeling fresh for his "old" age. He's never been one to gather a lot of tackles, but in sack emphasized leagues, he remains a valuable component to your fantasy squad. Robert Mathis is only a year younger than Freeney at 30, but he also remains an impact player. And unlike Freeney, Mathis gets a lot of tackles. He's been a top ten fantasy DE in five of his last six years and had 44-16 tackles last year to go with 11 sacks. DT Tommie Harris comes over after spending seven seasons with the Bears. Bad knees affected his play and he lost his starting job, but the three-time Pro Bowler hopes to turn things around this season. Next to Harris is DT Fili Moala. The third year player out of USC showed improvement in his sophomore campaign but needs to show even more for the Colts to make a bigger impact this year.

Backup DL: DE Jerry Hughes was nothing short of a disappointment for the Colts last year in his rookie season. Their 2010 first round pick barely made a mark in the stat column, but the team hopes his second season will show vast improvement. DE Jamaal Anderson has also been a bust. The former 2007 fist round draft pick (eighth overall), has only four sacks in four seasons. His ability to provide much needed depth is essential to the team, especially as Freeney and Mathis are both 30 or older. At only 26 years old, DT Eric Foster was resigned and should be ready in case Harris is no longer capable to start. Foster has 6.5 sacks in the last two seasons and has averaged 28-8 tackles. DT Antonio Johnson provides additional depth.

Linebackers

Starters: MLB Gary Brackett; SLB Pat Angerer; WLB Ernie Sims
Backups: LB Kavell Conner; LB Philip Wheeler; LB Nate Triplett

Starting LBs: Newcomer LB Ernie Sims will try to bring his athleticism, speed and tenacity to the team, but his start will be slowed by an appendectomy that will cause him to be out until the third week of August. Sims was highly touted coming out of college and had a couple of nice seasons with Detroit, but he has regressed a bit lately and injuries always seems to be an issue with him. Their mainstay in the middle is MLB Gary Brackett. Never overly flashy, Brackett always gets plenty of tackles when he's healthy. Now 31 years old, though, Brackett has missed some time (10 games in the last three seasons) and this is the time in a linebacker's career where someone might start seeing a dip in numbers. Still, Brackett remains a viable LB2. Pat Angerer will start on the other side and the former second round pick had 59-30 tackles last year in a solid effort. Could he be in store for a breakout year of sorts? One to keep an eye on.

Backup LBs: LB Kavell Conner will battle with Sims for one of the outside linebacker spots. The undrafted second year player looked good at times, especially in the second half of the season. The team remains high on Conner and if he wins the starting nod, it would hardly be a surprise. LB Philip Wheeler will try to win the starting job over Pat Angerer. Entering his fourth year in the NFL and with the Colts, Wheeler has shown some production but is far from elite. Nate Triplett provides some depth.

Defensive Backs

Starters: FS Antoine Bethea; SS Melvin Bullitt; CB Jerraud Powers; CB Jacob Lacey
Backups: CB Justin Tryon; S Brandon King

Starting DBs: FS Antoine Bethea brings veteran leadership to the Colts defensive backfield. He also brings solid tackling skills. He has averaged 74-27 tackles in the last three seasons. With Bob Sanders officially gone, expect Bethea to continue to lead the Colts DB in fantasy numbers. SS Melvin Bullitt takes over the starting job held by Bob Sanders, at least when Sanders actually played. Bullitt missed most of last season with a broken bone in his shoulder, but looks ready for 2011. He should be a DB4 in most leagues. CBs for the Colts have long been fantasy standouts, but it's no sure thing this year. CB Jerraud Powers will start on one side. Powers ended last season on IR with an arm injury, but when healthy played good enough to be the starter heading into 2011. On the other side appears to be Jacob Lacey. Lacey sat out a few games last season (a pattern forming for the team last year) due to an ankle injury, but came back and played reasonably well the rest of the season. Still, he'll have to hold off CB Justin Tryon for the starting job.

Backup DBs: CB Justin Tryon will try to win one of the corner jobs. Originally drafted by the Redskins, Tryon returns kicks as well. While the team appears to trust Lacey more, Tryon might be the more talented. S Brandon King is one of many that will try to provide depth for a unit that badly needs it.

Last modified: 2011-08-19 05:06:24

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