By Connor Rigg
Andrew Luck surprised the NFL community and fantasy football players when he suddenly announced his retirement last off-season. I was stunned when the notification came across my phone. I was doing an online football draft with my buddies, and a round or two before he announced, someone in the league drafted him.
The news crushed my friend, along with many other football and Colts fans.
Luck’s retirement forced the Colts to start Jacoby Brissett, and the Colts went from 10-6 the previous season to 7-9 and 3rd in the division. The Colts signed Philip Rivers to improve their offense, but can they support multiple fantasy options without Andrew Luck? Can they rebound from their disappointing season? Let’s find out.
QB: Philip Rivers, Jacoby Brissett, Jacob Eason
Rivers had a poor season last year with the Chargers finishing as the QB18, which was his lowest finish since 2012, where he finished QB21. The team had a 5-11 record, and Rivers was 3rd in the NFL in interceptions with 20. He did have 23 touchdowns to go along with 4,615 yards and a 66.0% completion percentage. Rivers signed a two-year deal with the Colts during the off-season and is looking for a rebound. With a chip on his shoulder, I look for Rivers to be an excellent streaming option this year but not somebody that you should look for as your QB1.
Brissett was a game manager last season for the Colts. While he didn’t produce elite stats, he did his job limiting his turnovers, throwing for 18 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions to go along with 2,942 yards and a 60.9% completion percentage. He’s Rivers’ backup and not worth drafting unless Rivers goes down with an injury.
Eason was the Colts’ 4th round pick and is the heir apparent to Philip Rivers. He has a strong arm but is inconsistent. If he can work on limiting turnovers, he can be a starter in this league.
RB: Jonathan Taylor, Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines
Jonathan Taylor was a beast in college. Taylor has over 2,000 rushing yards in back to back seasons in college. His last season in college, he managed to get more involved in the passing game, catching 26 passes for 252 yards. Taylor has higher draft capital and is a better overall player. However, I believe the Colts still plan on deploying a two-headed monster this upcoming season. At the beginning of the season, Taylor may receive 12-15 carries with Mack rotating in. By midway of the season, I expect Taylor’s workload to increase to 16-20 carries and completely take over the backfield. He’s an elite runner, and the Colts have a terrific offensive line. He’s an excellent RB2 for your fantasy teams and an elite dynasty asset.
Mack had an outstanding season for the Colts going over 1,000 yards and scoring eight touchdowns. His biggest issue was staying healthy. He missed four games in 2018 and two in 2019. He also doesn’t contribute in the passing game, shown a career total of 52 receptions for 410 yards. Mack will have to settle for a 5-8 carry role in this offense as Taylor’s backup. However, Mack is a bench stash, and depending on how many carries he gets behind this o-line, he could have standalone value.
Hines has been the pass-catching back for the Colts, catching 107 passes in his first two seasons, and he looks to improve in that department this season with Rivers who loves to check down to his RB. You can look no further than Austin Ekeler last year, where he gained roughly 70% of his fantasy points through the air. Hines is a skilled receiver out of the backfield, and he should receive 60-70 targets this season with upside for more. We look for late-round players who offer upside in PPR leagues. Hines is a perfect target for those who need RB depth.
WR: TY. Hilton, Michael Pittman Jr, Parris Campbell, Zach Pascal
Hilton’s 2019 season was one to forget. He only appeared in 10 games and had his lowest targets (68), receptions (45), and yardage (501) since his rookie season. Average QB play was partially to blame, but Hilton was undoubtedly slowed down by injuries. Hilton is ready to bounce back with Rivers. He has always produced reliable reception and yardage totals in his career. His only blemish is his touchdown totals, and he’s never had more than seven in a season before. With that, banking on a career-high in touchdowns isn’t likely. He should be around his career averages this season if Rivers bounces back. He’s a fine WR2, and he certainly can have WR1 games this season.
The Colts drafted Pittman Jr in the 2nd round. He’s a big-bodied receiver who figures to line up across from Hilton this season. In his last season at USC, he went for over 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns. He will be a possession receiver at the NFL level, and his size will allow him to bully cornerbacks. I think he will end up right behind Hilton in targets, and if Hilton misses any time, he has massive upside. Pittman’s a great target in redraft and dynasty leagues.
Campbell only appeared in 7 games last year with 18 receptions for 127 yards and 1 touchdown. It was a disappointing rookie season for Campbell, but he looks to turn it around. Campbell has solid profile attributes but needs to stay healthy to tap his potential. He may be the 3rd or 4th option on this Colts team. His 2020 outlook may look iffy, but his dynasty appeal is appetizing with Hilton getting older and being a UFA in 2021.
Pascal had a solid season last year catching 41 passes for 607 yards and 5 touchdowns but is now battling Campbell for playing time. Pascal may have a leg up on Campbell, but I believe Campbell is the better talent. This is something to monitor during the off-season and training camps. Pascal or Campbell has WR3 upside in this offense if anything happens to Hilton or Pittman.
TE: Jack Doyle, Trey Burton
Doyle was always in a timeshare with Eric Ebron and has produced when given the opportunity. Ebron is now with the Steelers, and Doyle has sneaky upside. Rivers loves throwing to his tight ends (Gates/Henry). Doyle had an average season last year catching 43 passes for 448 yards and 4 touchdowns. If healthy, he will surpass all of those numbers and have one of his best seasons with Rivers throwing him the ball. Doyle is a top 15 TE option and could crack the top 12 by the end of the year.
Burton comes to the Colts after an injury-riddled season with the Bears. He has shown solid upside with the Bears in 2018 (54-569-6), but he will be splitting playing time with Doyle. Doyle has the leg up since Burton hasn’t been able to get a full off-season with the team due to the pandemic. He is mainly a bench stash at this point and is viable if something were to happen to Doyle.
Connor Riggs – Dynasty/Redraft
Ride or Dynasty