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2013 Team Report: Indianapolis Colts

Quarterbacks

Starter: Andrew Luck
Backup(s): Matt Hasselbeck, Chandler Harnish

Starting QB: Andrew Luck began his career as the most prolific rookie quarterback, passing for over 4,300 yards with 23 touchdown passes and five rushing touchdowns. His pace dropped off some in year two, but his touchdown passes remained the same (23). He actually finished higher in fantasy rankings last year (7th) than the year prior (10th), despite passing for 500 fewer yards. Year three should continue to yield positive results thanks to the return of veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne (knee), the continued emergence of T.Y. Hilton and the off season acquisition of free agent Hakeem Nicks. Luck's ability to run the ball (632 rushing yards and 9 rushing touchdowns in his first two years) makes him a more sought after fantasy quarterback. If he can increase his touchdown totals into the low 30's or even the upper 20's, he'll be considered one of the best fantasy quarterbacks in the league.

Backup QB: Andrew Luck has not missed a game in his brief career, which is good news for the Colts. Backup quarterback and journeyman Matt Hasselbeck played in three games last year and put up minimal stats in the process. All appearances were in the fourth quarter with the outcome of the game secure. Hasselbeck is entering his 16th year in the league and comes with a great deal of experience as an NFL quarterback. He has over 34,000 passing yards in his career with 201 touchdown passes. His numbers have diminished in recent years, but he is still capable of running an offense and making timely plays if called upon. He is arguably the most experienced and able backup quarterback in the league. The Colts also feature Chandler Harnish as their third string quarterback. Harnish was a seventh round draft selection from Northern Illinois in the 2012 NFL Draft. He has yet to accumulate any pro stats.

Running Backs

Starter: Trent Richardson
Backup(s): Vick Ballard, Ahmad Bradshaw, Dan Herron, Chris Rainey
Fullback(s): Stanley Havili

Starting RB: The Colts traded their 2014 first round pick early in the 2013 season to the Browns for Trent Richardson. Richardson was thrust into the Colts lineup in week three last year without having any off season practice in the Colts system. He struggled to be a dominant rushing force in the early going, resulting in the Colts decreasing his touches. As the season wore on, Richardson slowly began to get more familiar with the offense and his involvement increased. He did not register a 100-yard rushing game last year and he has a career 3.3 yards per carry average. Perhaps we've seen the best of what he can offer? Or maybe he can rise to the occasion and show what he's capable of doing on the field. Richardson should receive the bulk of the team's carries, approaching 200 rushes, however Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw will also see extended time running the ball, especially if Richardson doesn't improve. The presence of the two other backs could limit Richardson's fantasy production, which makes him less of a high round target in upcoming fantasy drafts. On the bright side, his size and power combination makes him a popular goal line contributor, which should yield a good amount of rushing touchdown opportunities.

Backup RBs: Donald Brown has signed a free agent contract with the Chargers and is no longer an option for the Colts running game. Both of the Colts backup running back options for 2014 are coming off injuries that kept them sidelined in 2013. Ahmad Bradshaw is returning to the field after having neck surgery last season, while Vick Ballard is returning from an ACL tear. Both are expected to be ready to contribute by training camp. Bradshaw may have the upper hand to see the most duty after Trent Richardson, but he hasn't played a full season since 2010. Bradshaw when healthy is capable of being a productive backup. He brings experience and a combination of toughness and determination, while Vick Ballard brings youth and versatility. Both should see the field in a similar capacity, which could further limit fantasy production of any one back.

Fullback: Stanley Havili is entering his second year with the Colts. He is not a lead back type of fullback that runs defenders over, but he does come with adequate rushing skills and above average receiving capabilities. Last year he managed only 7 yards on 7 carries, but he flourished as a receiver, catching 18 passes on 21 targets for 128 yards and a touchdown.

Wide Receivers

Starters: Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton, Hakeem Nicks
Backups: LaVon Brazill, Da'Rick Rogers, Dante Moncrief, Grif Whalen, Deion Branch, Josh Lenz

Starting WRs: T.Y. Hilton dominated all Colts wide receivers last year with 82 receptions for 1,083 yards, however he only found the end zone five times. Reggie Wayne was lost for the season after a week 7 torn ACL injury and finished second in receiving yards and receptions among wide receivers. Wayne is expected to return to the field in 2014 for his 14th year in the league. Prior to the injury, Wayne hadn't missed a single game since his rookie season. It is difficult to gauge how Wayne's knee will respond in his first year back, however he is only one year removed from a top 15 season that saw him total 106 receptions on 213 targets. T.Y. Hilton emerged as a receiving threat in his rookie season and he further climbed up the ladder in year two. Some of his success can be contributed to hard work and dedication, but there's also some benefit attributed to Wayne's season-ending injury. The 2014 season will not only include both Hilton and Wayne, but also newly signed free agent Hakeem Nicks. Nicks is looking to benefit from new scenery after struggling to find consistency in New York. Nicks has had his share of leg/foot injuries in the past, which he is hoping to leave behind him. The Colts definitely have some weapons at the wide receiver position, especially if their trio remains healthy. Injuries and return from injury may be the only obstacle keeping the Colts and Andrew Luck from flying high in the AFC South.

Backup WRs: The Colts have a strong first wave of receiving expertise in Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton and Hakeem Nicks, but they also boast a solid mixture of experience and youth operating off the bench. Grif Whalen, Da'Rick Rogers and LaVon Brazill each added two touchdown receptions last season. This may very well be a season dominated by the Colts starting trio, but there is a capable blend of others who have proven to be effective with Andrew Luck. Rookie third round pick, Dante Moncrief has adequate size and height for a big receiver, but he also brings a strong understanding of the fundamentals of the position. The Colts have plenty of depth at wide receiver, but Moncrief could get more involved as the season wears on.

Tight Ends

Starters: Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener
Backups: Jack Doyle, Weslye Saunders

Dwayne Allen is returning to the field after a hip injury in week one last year that cut his season short. Allen is joined by Coby Fleener as the team's one-two punch at tight end. Despite the recent signing of free agent wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, the Colts are still expected to put both Fleener and Allen on the field at the same time. Allen is more of an in-line tight end, handling blocking duties on the line, but he can also venture down field and be a physical mismatch to opposing defenses. Fleener saw increased action last year and flourished in open space, which is exactly what made him a success at Stanford. The combination of the two gives Andrew Luck and the Colts offense several options on offense. As good as it sounds, temper your expectations for any one given player. The presence of both tight ends, plus Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton and Hakeem Nicks, decreases the potential for weekly production from a fantasy perspective. The opportunity is there for both to thrive, but consistency week to week will be a challenge.

Place Kicker

Adam Vinatieri: The Colts kept the services of Pat McAfee for another year as punter, holder, and kickoff specialist by placing the franchise tag upon him. Placekicker Adam Vinatieri, now age 40, dipped below his career field goal average last year while missing seven attempts from various distances. Matt Overton is back at long snapper for his second year. The Colts have fluctuated in kicker scoring opportunities the past four years, ranking 15th (last year), 28th, 12th & 23rd.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: LaVon Brazill, Chris Rainey, Griff Whalen, Tony Washington [R]

The Colts did not do much to bolster their return game after the departure of David Reed and Cassius Vaughn. Left behind are LaVon Brazill and Chris Rainey who combined for 9 returns last season. The pair possess speed and will likely battle for the starting job with Griff Whalen, who began to see some return opportunities late in the season. One rookie whose best shot to make the team is as a return specialist is Tony Washington. Washington has 55 kick returns with a 23.4 yard average and 1 touchdown, and also can contribute as a punt returner.

Punt Returners: Griff Whalen, Chris Rainey, T.Y. Hilton, Tony Washington [R]

Indianapolis went through several punt returners last season. First T.Y. Hilton was moved out of the job to avoid injury risk after Reggie Wayne was lost for the season. Chris Rainey and Lavon Brazill performed about the same when given opportunities. At the end of the year Griff Whalen came on the strongest and might start the 2014 season in the lead for the job. The most talented returner on the team is Hilton, but as his importance to the offense has grown, the chances he'll return to handling punts has diminished.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT Anthony Castonzo, LG Donald Thomas, C Samson Satele, RG Hugh Thornton, RT Gosder Cherilus
Key Backups: T Bradley Sowell, T Ben Ijalana, G Jeff Linkenbach, G Joe Reitz, G Mike McGlynn, C Khaled Holmes

The strength of the Indianapolis Colts offensive line lies in the tackle positions. Former first round selection Anthony Castonzo does a solid job at the left side and recent free agent signing Gosder Cherlius should upgrade the right. The Colts added free agent Donald Thomas from the Patriots this spring. Thomas is known as a capable pass blocker and should improve the protection around franchise quarterback Andrew Luck. The rest of the offensive line could look different in the coming weeks, as starting center Samson Satele and starting right guard Mike McGlynn are rumored to be a June 1 cuts for salary reasons. Should this occur, A.Q. Shipley, who stepped in well while Satele was injured last season, would man the center position. Shipley is likely to be backed up by fourth round draft pick Khaled Holmes out of USC. Holmes is recovering for a leg injury, and might not be ready for mini camps. Meanwhile, third round pick Hugh Thornton out of Illinois looks like a strong bet to replace McGlynn at right guard. Thornton will face competition from Ben Iljalana, a former second round pick out of Villanova. Iljalana has talent but has also been injured and needs to stay healthy to finally reach his potential. Utility player Jeff Linkenbach seems to step up whenever he is called upon to start due to injury. Bradley Sowell and Lee Ziemba are former college tackles with developmental chances as depth players. Overall this Colts offensive line is skewing younger and could be in transition for the start of the season. As the year progresses, and these new players gel, this line has the ability to be among the better pass blocking units in football.

Team Defense

It wasn't long ago that the Colts defense could be considered an every-week fantasy starter. Of course, that was when their Peyton Manning-led offense was building big leads and allowing Dwight Freeney to meet Robert Mathis at the quarterback while Bob Sanders threw his body at anyone carrying a football. This ain't that kind of group anymore. The offense, while solid, doesn't pressure opposing defenses. The defense is now a 3-4 scheme and has many new pieces. It will take some time for them to gel, and there seems to be a void of elite playmakers.

Defensive Line

Starters: DE Cory Redding, DE Ricky Jean-Francois, NT Aubrayo Franklin
Backups: DE Bjoern Warner, DE Fili Moala, DT Montori Hughes, DT Brandon McKinney, DT Josh Chapman, DT Drake Nevis,

Starting DL: Cory Redding is a top notch 3-4 DE that, while he's never had more than seven sacks in any of his nine NFL seasons, still knows how to rush the passer. Look for more of the same this year as the 22-14 tackles and 2 sacks he had in 2012. Not a big IDP threat, but he's likely on somebody's roster and can fill a hole for bye week or injury problems. Ricky Jean-Francois was signed as a free agent in the offseason and is projected as the opening day starter. Jean-Francois can play both DE and DT, but has little IDP upside. The Colts also signed Aubrayo Franklin in the offseason, and he'll be the starting nose tackle. At 32 years old, Franklin is not the reliable IDP performer he once was, although he still merits some value in leagues that must start a DT.

Backup DL: DE Bjoern Werner's draft stock went down a bit after there were questions about his speed, but the Colts felt like they got a steal here and all he might need is some more experience before he settles into a double-digit sack man. IDP owners should be wary if Werner moves to LB, as that will greatly diminish his long term value. DT Montori Hughes was a good risk pick because of his size/speed combination. However, he is very raw and it will take some time to determine if he has starter capabilities. DT Fili Moala needs to get healthy again, far from a given at this point, and he will still face other competition at DT. The team signed Brandon McKinney a year ago, seemingly to insert him immediately as the starting nose tackle, but knee surgery forced him on the shelf and he missed the entire year. McKinney isn't flashy or frankly overly talented, but he's a veteran player. Drake Nevis has flashed some potential and could make an impact at either NT or DE. DT Josh Chapman is a wild card who has the talent to start if he's healthy, and is one of the few linemen on the team with IDP upside.

Linebackers

Starters: ILB Jerrell Freeman; OLB Robert Mathis, ILB Kavell Conner, OLB Erik Walden
Backups: ILB Pat Angerer, OLB Lawrence Sidbury, ILB Kelvin Sheppard, OLB Justin Hickman

Starting LBs: To say that undrafted ILB Jerrell Freeman was a pleasant surprise last year is an understatement. The 26 year old rookie, who had previously played in the CFL, opened eyes in training camp. After LB Pat Angerer suffered a broken foot in the first preseason game, Freeman had his opportunity. An interception touchdown return in the first game was the first score of the season for the Colts, and Freeman never looked back. He ended the season with a remarkable 90-55 tackles, 2 sacks, a forced fumble and an interception. The Colts might appear to have a glut in the middle if Angerer comes back healthy and with the addition of ILB Kelvin Sheppard from the Bills, but having 3 of those 4 on the field at the same time might be more common than some think. Freeman is a high-end LB2 in 2013. ILB Kavell Conner is a solid linebacker who had 37-17 tackles last year. With Angerer healthy, it's unlikely Conner has much IDP value this year. OLB Robert Mathis had 8 sacks last yeat, despite missing 4 games due to injury, but as a linebacker, his value is minimal at best. Look for Mathis to take Dwight Freeney's outside spot as the team moves OLB Erik Walden to the spot previously occupied by Mathis. The Colts will be Walden's fourth team in 6 years. Walden is a reliable, solid player, but hardly worth a blip on IDP radar screens. And he might see less playing time since the team has 4 better players better suited on the inside in Freeman, Conner, Angerer and newly acquired ILB Kelvin Sheppard.

Backup LBs: On the inside, Pat Angerer should finally be healthy again, giving the team addiotnal decisions to make about handling their linebackers. Angerer fought his foot injury all season long. Angerer is just a year removed from 78-70 tackles and it's quite possible that he steps in to replace Conner as a starter. The Colts switched linebackers with the Buffalo Bills by trading OLB Jerry Hughes for ILB Kelvin Sheppard. Sheppard gives them yet another talented ILB. At only 25 years old, Sheppard has the talent to start sooner than later, and indeed started 15 games last year for Buffalo. OLB Lawrence Sidbury comes over from Atlanta and it be his first venture in playing on a 3-4 defense. He should backup Mathis. OLB Justin Hickman saw limited duty last, playing mostly on special teams.

Defensive Backs

Starters: FS Antoine Bethea, SS LaRon Landry, CB Vontae Davis, CB Greg Toler
Backups: S John Boyett, S Joe Lefeged, CB Darius Butler, CB Cassius Vaughn, CB Josh Gordy

Starting DBs: After just one season with the New York Jets, strong safety LaRon Landry comes over and provide an instant boost to their defensive backfield. Landry had arguably his best year in 2012, with 75-25 tackles, 4 forced fumbles and 2 interceptions. He was also named to his first Pro Bowl. With the addition of Landry, free safety Antoine Bethea might no longer be the leader of the defensive backfield, but he remains as solid as they come. Bethea finished 2012 with 75-25 tackles and 2 sacks. A fourth pick by the Arizona Cardinals in 2009, cornerback Greg Toler had 82-8 tackles in 2010. After a torn ACL forced him to miss the entire 2011 season, and hamstring issues limited him in 2012, the Cardinals traded him to the Colts in the offseason. He's expected to jump immediately into the starting lineup. Toler is excellent in coverage and hits hard. A return to 100% health also makes him a good shot at CB2 in IDP leagues. The other corner is cornerback Vontae Davis. Davis also had injury problems last year, but ended the season strong with 31 solo tackles, 3 interceptions and a sack in the last 5 games. It's very doubtful that kind of production can be sustained over the course of an entire season, but don't completely disregard Davis in your IDP leagues either.

Backup DBs: When healthy, safety John Boyett showed plenty of promise in college, but his history with injuries is a little too similar to what the team has seen in the past. Cassius Vaughn played plenty last year and had 58-8 tackles. cornerback Darius Butler is a veteran who can be relied on in a supporting role. cornerback Josh Gordy and safety Joe Lefeged will not see much playing time unless there are injuries.

Last modified: 2014-05-15 21:58:05