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2015 Team Report: Indianapolis Colts
QuarterbacksStarter: Andrew Luck
Backup(s): Matt Hasselbeck, Bryan Bennett Starting QB: There is no denying the fact that Andrew Luck has quickly become one of the best quarterbacks in the game in three short years. In his first two years he led the Colts to back to back AFC South titles, but from a fantasy standpoint he only had 23 touchdown passes in each year. In his third year he nearly doubled that amount with 40 touchdowns with another three more in the postseason. Luck is also a rushing threat, totaling over 250 yards rushing in each of his first three years, with 12 rushing touchdowns overall. The Colts have a stacked wide receiver corps that includes T.Y. Hilton and newly signed veteran star, Andre Johnson. Luck finished with ten games of 300-yards passing or more in 2014, including a string of eight consecutive games accomplishing the feat. The addition of Johnson to the mix makes Luck even more attractive as your team's fantasy center piece. The pieces to the puzzle are there for the Colts to make a run at a Championship. Luck has evolved into an elite fantasy quarterback and should be one of the first two or three taken in redrafts this year. Backup QB: Andrew Luck has not missed a start in his three year career, which is good news for the Colts. Backup quarterback and journeyman Matt Hasselbeck appeared in four games last year and played well when called upon, totaling 301 yards passing on 30 of 44 passes with 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Hasselbeck . All appearances were in the second half and most occurred in the fourth quarter with the outcome of the game secure. Hasselbeck is entering his 17th 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 203 touchdown passes. He is not the same player he once was, but he has proven that he can play well if called into action. The third string quarterback is rookie free agent from Southeastern Louisiana, Bryan Bennett who should see plenty of action in the preseason.
Running BacksStarter: Frank Gore
Backup(s): Josh Robinson [R], Vick Ballard, Tyler Varga
Fullback(s): Starting RB: Veteran running back Frank Gore decided against playing for Philadelphia in the offseason and instead selected the high flying Colts. His presence gives Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis offense a missing piece at the running back position that they haven't had for several years. Trent Richardson has moved on to Oakland and Ahmad Bradshaw is currently unsigned. Gore is a durable, capable back with the ability to handle a 20+ carry game, if asked and he is a consistent threat to score when given the opportunity close to the goal line. Gore projects to see over 200 carries this season while sharing some duties with rookie Josh Robinson. Gore could see an increase in catches out of the backfield, especially after the Colts decided to cut Dan Herron. Backup RBs: The Colts have survived the Trent Richardson era with a plethora of backs. The 2015 season will feature Frank Gore as the main back with Josh Robinson and Vick Ballard as the team's back ups. Ballard is recovering from a devastating Achilles injury that kept him out for most of the 2013 season and all of the 2014 season. Rookie sixth round pick Josh Robinson from Mississippi State, will make up the rest of the depth chart. Robinson has earned the back up role after a strong training camp and preseason. Expect Robinson to be counted on as the primary replacement, if Gore misses time with an injury. Don't rule out a possible re-signing of Ahmad Bradshaw after Week 1. Bradshaw knows the offense and could serve as an immediate back up if called upon. Fullback: tyler Varga may be the closest player to a fullback on the Colts roster, now that Stanley Havili was signed to the Seahawks practice squad. The Colts don't use a typical fullback in their offense, but they could use Varga as an option out of the backfield on short, high accuracy passes.
Wide ReceiversStarters: Andre Johnson, T.Y. Hilton
Backups: Donte Moncrief, Phillip Dorsett [R], Griff Whalen, Tyler Rutenbeck Starting WRs: Every year, T.Y. Hilton is projected to see more action and be utilized in in different ways. Every year he not only meets expectations, he exceeds them. Hilton has outperformed his average draft position (ADP) in each of his three years he has been in the league. Andrew Luck has a lot to do with that, but Hilton deserves most of the credit for adapting his game and learning each receiving position and every aspect of the route tree. Hilton thrived with Reggie Wayne on the opposite side of the field and this year he will have Hall of Famer in the making, Andre Johnson lining up opposite him. Johnson's pedigree and proven success in the league with B-level quarterbacks in Houston makes him a hot commodity linking up with a high caliber quarterback in Andrew Luck. Johnson is coming off an 86-catch season, his 12th in the league. He has at least 85 catches in five of the last seven years and brings a great deal of talent, experience and desire to the 2015 Colts offense. Backup WRs: The Colts have a strong first wave of receiving expertise in T.Y. Hilton and Andre Johnson, but they also boast a solid mixture of experience and youth deeper down the depth chart. Donte Moncrief flashed some moments later in the 2014 season, but failed to capitalize on his opportunities down the stretch. Another year of experience along with his adequate size and speed combination could catapult him into fantasy consideration this season. Rookie speedster Phillip Dorsett can run like the wind with the specialty of getting behind defenses. Don't expect him to win many jump balls, but he will see action as a role receiver this year.
Tight EndsStarters: Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener
Backups: Jack Doyle The Colts love to utilize the tight end position and they have two good ones in Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen. The duo combined for 16 touchdown catches last year and figure to be key contributors in Pep Hamilton's offense in 2015. Allen has been hampered with knee and ankle injuries in the past that could affect his 2015 season in he suffers a setback or re-injures himself. The presence of a deep wide receiver corps and improved running game could also have a negative effect on the production from both Fleener and Allen. Fleener showed that he can be a reliable option for Andrew Luck, especially if he is the showcased tight end. An injury to either would open the door for the other. As a result both Fleener and Allen are excellent targets after the first 10-12 tight ends are off the board in redraft leagues. Keep an eye on second year tight end Erik Swoope. He has a basketball background, which has shown to be a positive attribute in the tight end community. Antonio Gates, Jimmy Graham, Julius Thomas, et al thrived in the league as former basketball players. Their secure hands, catch radius and ability to shield defenders has given them an edge in the NFL. Swoope has a long way to go to see increased playing time, but the important characteristics are consistent with his style of play.
Place KickerAdam Vinatieri: The ageless wonder who once ran down Herschel Walker from behind on a kickoff return had maybe his best season of his legendary career in 2014. Vinatieri was 30 of 31 on field goal attempts and ended up #3 overall in total points. The Colts offense should be even better this year with improvements at running back and wide receiver. Vinatieri also had 139 points in 2013, only one less than his strong 2014, so he is worth every bit of his top 5 ADP among kickers. Ten indoor games only help the case for taking Vinatieri as one of the few kickers worth a pick before the last round of your draft.
Kick and Punt ReturnersKick Returners: Quan Bray, Griff Whalen, Donte Moncrief, Phillip Dorsett [R] The Colts return game was given a boost last season by the addition of aging return ace Josh Cribbs. A fumble in the playoffs seems to have cost Cribbs his job, and returned the kickoff return situation to an uncertain one. Receiver Donte Moncrief came out of camp as a possible returner, but other players quickly took over for him. Running back Tyler Varga was seeing many of the returns before being injured and placed on Injured Reserve. After using Griff Whalen briefly, the Colts have turned to Auburn rookie Quan Bray. Punt Returners: T.Y. Hilton, Griff Whalen, Phillip Dorsett [R],Donte Moncrief Given the team's depth at wide receiver, many people were surprised by the Colts using a first round draft pick on speedster Phillip Dorsett. Dorsett later stated in an interview that he knows for a fact he will be used as a punt returner. But through the first half of the season, Griff Whalen had handled most of the punts. As the Colts have struggled as a team, T.Y. Hilton has begun to see punt returns now as Indianapolis looks to their starters to provide a spark.
Offensive LineProjected Starters: LT Anthony Castonzo, LG Jack Mewhort, C Jonatthan Harrison, RG Todd Herremans, RT Gosder Cherilus
Key Backups: T Joe Reitz, G Donald Thomas, C Khaled Holmes, G Hugh Thornton, T Denzelle Good [R], T John Ulrick, G Lance Louis Left tackle Anthony Castonzo has been a star for the Colts' offensive line. Over eleven hundred snaps he played last season rank highest in the league for all offensive linemen. One of those snaps, a touchdown reception on a tackle-eligible play, complete with hilarious celebration dance, was especially memorable. Castonzo grades out as a borderline Pro Bowl player, despite having never received the honor. However the rest of the line is not quite at that level of quality.Right tackle Gosder Cherilus is a solid player, better in run blocking than in pass protection. Going into his second year, left guard Jack Mewhort has a similar profile. Right guard will likely be manned by free agent acquisition Todd Herremmans, who is a solid but not outstanding player at this point in his career. Center Khaled Holmes was injured for most of the early part of 2014, allowing undrafted free agent Jonotthan Harrison to start ten games. Harrison had an extremely rough campaign last year in Holmes' place and most onlookers expect Holmes to win that job back in preseason this year. Notable depth names include Joe Reitz and Hugh Thornton. Overall, this line can climb up the rankings if the center position solidifies.
Team DefenseThe Colts defense is far from being worldbeaters, but they have the benefit of the one of the best offenses on the other side of the ball, not to mention a weak divisional schedule and four games against the NFC South. They added Trent Cole in free agency to bolster the pass rush, and Robert Mathis will be back at some point this year, but his status and quality are still unknown coming off of a torn achilles. If they can get something from 2013 first-rounder Bjoern Werner or overpaid free agent signing from the same year, Erik Walden, they could be in position to take advantage more often of their high-scoring offense. They still finished in the top 10 in some scoring formats, but they were also prone to landmine games in points/yards allowed scoring leagues when they faced top opposition. The Colts D/ST could take a step forward this year, but proceed with caution.
Defensive LineStarters: Starters: DE Kendall Langford, NT David Parry [R], DT Arthur Jones
Backups: DE Henry Anderson [R], DT Kelcy Quarles, NT Zach Kerr Starting DL: With Cory Redding and Ricky Jean Francois moving on, it will be up to a mixture of young players off the bench and draft picks to emerge and fill the void. Free agency acquisition Kendall Langford is a player in a similar mold as Redding and seems to have been signed expressly to take his place on the line. Indianapolis took another Stanford product in David Parry. Like Anderson, Parry is also a bit undersized, but the team is hopeful that he can add more bulk to his frame. After the release of Josh Chapman, the Colts will have no choice but to turn to him as the starter. News broke in early September that Arthur Jones would need surgery to repair torn ligaments after an ankle injury plagued him all last season. The Colts defense should once again struggle to stop the run in his absence. After cutting starter Josh Chapman and backup Montori Hughes on cut day, look for the Colts to bring in some veteran help on the defensive line. Backup DL: Stanford's Henry Anderson is the standout of this group, having been drafted in the third round this year. While he is a bit of a project, the Colts hope he can bulk up and improve his pass rush technique to ultimately become a starter at the NFL level. Colts GM Ryan Grigson made comments at the Annual League Meetings to suggest he expects his backups Zach Kerr, and Kelcy Quarles to have expanded roles this year.
LinebackersStarters: ILB Jerrell Freeman, ILB D'Qwell Jackson, OLB Trent Cole, OLB Robert Mathis
Backups: ILB Nate Irving, OLB Bjoern Werner, OLB Jonathan Newsome, OLB Erik Walden, OLB Sio Moore OLB Bjoern Werner, ILB Kelvin Sheppard, ILB Mario Harvey, OLB Andy Studebaker Starting LBs: The Colts made some interesting moves to improve this group in the off-season, the most notable being the signing of Trent Cole. Cole will undoubtedly add some pass rush punch to a unit that was forced to blitz in order to generate sufficient pressure in 2014. Jerrell Freeman struggled with a nagging hamstring injury for the better part of last season. The Colts brought him back with a second round tender, so he appears to still be an integral part of their plans. Robert Mathis stated in the early offseason that he was eyeing a return from injury by training camp, but Jim Irsay speculated on August the 6th that an early October date was much more likely. Jonathan Newsome will likely be the player who will fill in in Mathis' absence. D'Qwell Jackson's play was declining anyway, but an assault arrest in February could bring league discipline upon the aging veteran. Backup LBs: Nate Irving was signed to a relatively cheap (roughly three million a year) three-year deal and will probably make his appearance in the lineup in run-defending packages. Don't be surprised if he cracks the starting unit before the year is out, however. Werner continues to disappoint, and Cole's signing is a big indication that the Colts aren't happy with his production. Additionally, the outstanding play of 2014, fifth-round rookie selection Jonathan Newsome has forced the team to engage in some internal discussion about moving Werner to the strong side. Erik Walden bounced back last year, but Werner's move would presumably block his depth chart ascension. Sio Moore was acquired by the team in early September for a sixth round pick. Whether he'll remain a backup or work his way into the starting lineup remains to be seen.
Defensive BacksStarters: CB Vontae Davis, CB Greg Toler, FS Dwight Lowery, SS Mike Adams
Backups: CB Darius Butler, D'Joun Smith [R], CB Jalil Brown, SS Clayton Geathers [R], SS Colt Anderson Starting DBs: Vontae Davis continued his career renaissance with the Colts, earning his first Pro Bowl appearance. He posted 35 solo tackles and 4 interceptions in 2014. Toler proved a liability in coverage for most of last season. Despite this, he remains in the starting role, at least for one more season. After a suspension and injury-ladened 2014 campaign, Laron Landry exited in free agency. Dwight Lowery was signed to a one-year deal this offseason and is projected to start alongside the aging Mike Adams. Backup DBs: Darius Butler continued to play the slot corner role well. The Colts rewarded him with a contract extension that will keep him with the team through 2017. The team really needed additional depth at CB. The Colts received it with the acquisition of D'Joun Smith in the third round of the 2015 draft. Pagano made comments at the team's rookie mini-camp to suggest that Smith will see the field this year in outside, nickle, and even safety coverage. When talented UDFA Loucheiz Purifoy was cut due to off-field problems in November of 2014, the team also re-signed Jalil Brown for the third time, a player who also spent some time with the Dolphins and Chiefs. Clayton Geathers was taken in the fourth round of this year's draft and projects to be the box safety that will eventually replace Adams. Colt Anderson's value seems to be solely as a special teams player. Last modified: 2015-11-03 12:11:59