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2016 Team Report: Indianapolis Colts

Quarterbacks

Starter: Andrew Luck
Backup(s): Scott Tolzien, Stephen Morris

Starting QB: Prior to last year's injury filled season, Andrew Luck was one of the best quarterbacks in the game, finishing as the number one ranked fantasy quarterback in 2014. A shoulder injury followed by a kidney injury caused Luck to miss nine games in 2015. The injuries are behind him, however there is concern that his style of play will make him more susceptible to further injuries. The Colts want to protect their franchise quarterback, so they took measures in the offseason and draft to improve a weak offensive line. The Colts running game is average at best, which likely will result in more passing opportunities for Luck and his capable corps of receivers. Luck started every game in three years for the Colts before missing nine contests last year. A healthy Luck should yield a Top 5 fantasy finish and make him one of the most sought after quarterbacks in drafts in 2016.

Backup QB: In Andrew Luck's absence last season, Matt Hasselbeck and Charlie Whitehurst shared time as the Colts backup quarterback. Neither one are on the 2016 roster. The Colts will look to Scott Tolzien and Stephen Morris to handle the backup duties this season. Tolzien comes from Green Bay where he saw limited action in relief of Aaron Rodgers. In six career appearances, including two stars, Tolzien has 1 touchdown pass and 5 interceptions for a paltry 67.1 quarterback rating and 1-4-1 record. Stephen Morris spent time with the Jaguars and Eagles practice squads and was signed by the Colts in the offseason. He has no professional stats in his name heading into the 2016 season.

Running Backs

Starter: Frank Gore
Backup(s): Robert Turbin, Josh Ferguson [R], Jordan Todman, Stevan Ridley
Fullback(s): Abou Toure

Starting RB: The Colts did not spend much attention at the running back position in the offseason or the draft. They currently are relying on the consistent legs of 32 year old Frank Gore as their primary running back. Gore has not missed a game in the last five years and has reached 250+ carries in the same span. He has finished in the Top 20 among running backs 9 times in his 11 year career, including each of the last 7 seasons. Gore fell 33 yards shy of 1,000 rushing yards in 2015 and finished the year without a 100-yard game, the first season where he failed to do so. He may be in the twilight of his career, but he is one of the best conditioned players in the league and is capable of putting up good consistent numbers once again in 2016.

Backup RBs: The Colts will rely on Frank Gore as their primary rushing threat. Last year Gore accounted for 79% of the team's carries. Gore's consistent presence may make it difficult for other running backs to make an impact. In the event Gore misses time or that age finally catches up to him, the Colts have newly acquired Robert Turbin, rookie Josh Ferguson, Jordan Todman and late signing Stevan Ridley at their disposal. Turbin found some success in Seattle before stints with Cleveland, Dallas and now Indianapolis. Turbin has a good size and power combination that could be showcased in the short yardage game. Jordan Todman is also a journeyman who can play several roles as a complimentary player. Trey Williams was picked up from the Patriots practice squad. At 5'7, 195 pounds, Williams is elusive in open space and can perhaps work his way into a change of pace back for the Colts. Keep an eye out for UDFA Josh Ferguson. He had 168 receptions in college and his skill set would be ideal for the Colts offense. He has already catapulted up the depth chart to third on the running back hierarchy without playing a regular season game yet. His forte is his receiving ability, but some circles believe he can be effective between the tackles. Keep a watchful eye on the rookie from Illinois. Ridley was signed after being released by the Lions during the preseason. He could make the team as the best inside runner behind Gore.

Fullback: Abou Toure is listed as the Colts fullback, but if previous seasons are any indication, this is not expected to be a fantasy relevant position for the Colts.

Wide Receivers

Starters: T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, Phillip Dorsett
Backups: Josh Boyce, Quan Bray, Joshua Stangby, Andre Dubose

Starting WRs: In the Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen era, the Colts primarily used a two-wide receiver set. Now that Fleener has moved on to New Orleans, leaving Dwayne Allen as the lone tight end threat, the Colts may move to a three-wide receiver base offense that would feature T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett. In Andrew Luck's injury plagued 2015 season, Hilton still managed to top 1,000 yards receiving with five touchdowns. Donte Moncrief added six touchdowns himself in his second year in the league. Phillip Dorsett is slated to see a bigger role in his second year. His rookie campaign was cut short after he suffered a fractured fibula/ankle in Week 7 that kept him out for seven weeks. The Colts have one of the best offenses in the league when Andrew Luck is healthy and playing well. If that returns, expect to see big numbers coming from one or more of the Colts wide receiver corps.

Backup WRs: The Colts have a young and relatively low experienced group of backup wide receivers. Josh Boyce is a 2013 fourth round pick, also from New England. He was on injured reserve last year and did not play. Like Tyms, he was picked up in the offseason and will battle his former teammate for a roster spot. Quan Bray could make the team, but more likely for his return skills than receiving ability.

Tight Ends

Starters: Dwayne Allen
Backups: Jack Doyle, Erik Swoope, Darion Griswold [R], Michael Miller [R], Chase Coffman

The Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener era is over in Indianapolis. Fleener has moved on to New Orleans, which leaves Allen as the Colts main tight end threat in 2016. Last season Fleener dominated the duo in targets and receptions with 55 more targets than Allen and 38 more receptions. Allen has consistently fought injuries throughout his career which remains a concern looking ahead to 2016. He hasn't played a full season since his rookie year in 2012 and has missed at least 3 games in each of the last three years. Allen has the potential to be a surprise fantasy tight end option, especially given the propensity of Andrew Luck to utilize his tight ends in the red zone in his career. Jack Doyle is next on the depth chart, however he has not been utilized as a receiving option much in his career. There is a chance that he takes another step forward as a receiver, but the real interest is in third year pro Erik Swoope. Swoope is a former basketball player who has good height, size and speed combination. He was raw coming out of college, but he has learned the position over the last two years and may finally be unleashed in 2016. Darion Griswold has a good basketball background and if the UDFA makes the team, it will be for his receiving prowess. Likewise UDFA Michael Miller is a raw NAIA prospect who could make the practice squad as a long-term receiving TE project.

Place Kicker

Adam Vinatieri: The ageless Vinatieri (who once chased Herschel Walker down from behind on a kick return early in his career) had a down scoring year, with only 107 points, but his field goal accuracy was still among the best in the league at 25-for-27 (92.6). Vinatieri did miss three of his 35 extra point attempts, but the Colts still signed him to a two-year contract through 2017. The Colts provided the veteran with enough scoring opportunity to put up 140 points in 2014 and 139 in 2013, so with Andrew Luck back this season from injuries that shortened his 2015, Vinatieri should be considered draftable again, and a good name to remember if you like to be the last one to take your kicker.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Quan Bray

Called up on Philip Dorsett's injury in 2015, Quan Bray made the most of his opportunity by becoming Indianapolis' full-time returner over the latter half of the season. He's a good bet to reprise his role in 2016.

Punt Returners: Quan Bray, Phillip Dorsett

Quan Bray's opportunity as a returner in 2015 came after Philip Dorsett was lost to a season-ending injury, but he played well enough in the role to assume he's the front-runner to keep punt return duties in 2016. While T.Y. Hilton is the most experienced punt returner on the roster, his importance to the offense suggests he won't see much work, but Dorsett is a blazing-fast receiver who was drafted in part with the thought that he could make an impact on the return team.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT Anthony Castonzo, LG Hugh Thornton, C Ryan Kelly [R], RG Denzelle Good, RT Jack Mewhort
Key Backups: Jonotthan Harrison, Joe Reitz, Joe Haig [R], Le'Raven Clark [R], Austin Blythe

The Colts made a splash in the first round when they drafted center Ryan Kelly from Alabama. Kelly rose throughout the draft process and the hope is that he can be a rock for Andrew Luck, the way that Jeff Saturday was a rock for Peyton Manning. The tackles are fairly strong, with left tackle Anthony Castonzo doing yeoman's work every week and Jack Mewhort growing into an above average starter at right tackle. Hugh Thornton should be an acceptable left guard and the right guard competition is between Denzelle Good and Jonotthan Harrison. The coaches are big on Good, who was originally from tiny Mars Hill. Good made his way through the super-regional combines and got starting experience late in the season due to injuries in front of him on the depth chart. Good held his own and should be able to keep Harrison on the bench. Joe Reitz has been one of the league's better utility backups but is getting older. The team is attempting to reload with drafted rookies Joe Haig, Le'Raven Clark and Austin Blythe. Overall, the Colts' offensive line is trending upward but still has serious work to do before it can be considered among the league's better units. Tier Ranking: Low Tier.

Team Defense

The Colts had been a fantasy-worthy D/ST at times in previous years if only because of the quality of their division-mates and the ability to play with the lead because of Andrew Luck. The personnel has been mostly lackluster from top to bottom outside of Vontae Davis, but the Colts still managed four pick-sixes last year, which kept them in the middle of the pack in year-end fantasy D/ST rankings. The return of Luck should help them, and if Arthur Jones can come back to bolster the defensive line, the veteran linebacker corps that includes Robert Mathis, Trent Cole, and D'Qwell Jackson might help this group get back into the low D/ST1 ranks.

Defensive Line

Starters: DE Kendall Langford, DT Arthur Jones, NT David Parry
Backups: DE Henry Anderson, DE/DT Hassan Ridgeway [R], DT Ty McGill, DT Kelcy Quarles, NT Zach Kerr

Starting DL: The defensive line was a problem area for the Colts prior to 2015, but a series of cuts, draft picks, and free agent additions appear to have greatly improved the depth of this group. However, suspensions and injuries to two of the three starters before the start of the regular season is of great concern. A free agent aquisition last season, Kendall Langford was an anchor, providing veteran presence to a line battered by injuries. On July 9th, it was announced that Langford would need a knee surgery that would sideline him 3-4 weeks. Josh Chapman was cut shortly before the 2015 season began, thrusting rookie David Parry into the starting job. Parry played impressively and started all sixteen games. Arthur Jones missed the entire 2015 season with yet another ankle ailment. He will have to serve a four game suspension for a PED violation, but appears to be ready to go after that point.

Backup DL: Henry Anderson was hurt for the final seven games of the 2015 season, but like David Parry, had been pressed into service as a rookie and performed exceedingly well. The Colts took the versatile Hassan Ridgeway in the fourth round of this year's Draft. Ridgeway can play all three positions along the defensive line and is adept at generating interior pressure. Even though Zach Kerr and Ty McGill saw playing time last season with all the injuries ahead of them, they remain depth-only options.

Linebackers

Starters: ILB Nate Irving, ILB D'Qwell Jackson, OLB Trent Cole, OLB Erik Walden
Backups: ILB Sio Moore, ILB Antonio Morrison [R], OLB Robert Mathis, OLB Trevor Bates [R], OLB Ron Thompson [R], OLB Kurt Maggitt [R]

Starting LBs: The Colts have experienced some offseason turnover that will create a few major questions with this unit. They lost inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman to the Bears in free agency and waived the dissapointing former first-round pick Bjoern Werner. A promising prospect with a checkered past in 2014, Jonathan Newsome was arrested for marijuna possession in January and was cut by the team soon after. Nate Irving steps into one of the inside spots for now. In March, D'Qwell Jackson was found guilty of simple assault and may face a small suspension from the league. Outside linebackers Erik Walden, Trent Cole, and Robert Mathis' are all over 30 and in the final year of their deals.

Backup LBs: Former Raider Sio Moore was challenging Nate Irving for a starting inside linebacker job, but suffered a significant hamstring injury in the team's preseason game against the Bills. The Colts took Florida's Antonio Morrison in the fourth round of the Draft. "Fiery" is often an adjective used by observers to describe Morrison's personality and he has a playing style to match. Behind the aging Mathis, seventh-rounder Trevor Bates (Maine), as well as undrafted free agents Ron Thompson (Syracuse) and Kurt Maggitt (Tennessee), will compete for outside linebacker duties. Though Bates lacks the protypical length and metrics for an outside linebacker, he plays with good instincts and aggressiveness. When Head Coach Chuck Pagano was asked about his thoughts on Maggitt and Thompson in May, he described them as "high-motor guys" that "have a skillset rushing the passer."

Defensive Backs

Starters: CB Vontae Davis, CB Patrick Robinson, FS Clayton Geathers, SS Mike Adams
Backups: CB Darius Butler, CB D'Joun Smith, CB Jalil Brown, FS T.J. Green [R], SS Akeem Davis, SS, Dezmen Southward

Starting DBs: The defensive back group is another part of the Colts' roster that saw major shifts in the offseason. Corner Greg Toler signed with Washington and free safety Dwight Lowery departed for the Chargers. The Colts responded by adding the Saints former first-round pick, Patrick Robinson and promoting Clayton Geathers to the starting lineup. Thirty-five-year-old Mike Adams is in his contract year, prompting the team to add some other options at the safety position through and immediately following the draft. Star corner Vontae Davis recently suffered an ankle injury that may sideline him through October, a big blow to the Colts already vulnerable defense.

Backup DBs: Darius Butler will continue to serve as the slot corner. Last year's third-round selection, D'Joun Smith, barely saw action in his rookie campaign. He was bothered by a knee injury suffered in training camp and only appeared in three games before being placed on season-ending injured reserve. Journeyman corner Jalil Brown met the same fate after suffering a groin injury late in the 2015 season. The Colts selected Clemson's T.J. Green in the second round of the Draft. When speaking at a press conference after the selection of Green, Head Coach Chuck Pagano stated, "he's played safety and that's where he'll start for us.'' As a converted wide reciever, Green will likely play on special teams and join Geathers and Adams on the field in subpackages as he learns the nuances of the position. Special teamer and depth backup Akeem Davis was re-signed on a tender offer. Atlanta cut ties with once highly-regarded safety Dezmen Southward after a failed transition to cornerback. The Colts have held him on the practice squad ever since.

Last modified: 2016-08-29 11:35:50