The Colts are coming off of a 2020 season in which they finished 11-5. They tied the Tennessee Titans for the division lead but lost out on the tiebreaker. This resulted in a Wild Card berth and a tough road matchup against the Buffalo Bills. They went on to narrowly lose to the Bills 27-24.
The Colts have retained most of their offensive skill players during the offseason. The most noteworthy change is at the most important position; quarterback. Following the retirement announcement by 2020 starter Phillip Rivers, the Colts made a move to acquire former Eagles’ quarterback Carson Wentz. The compensation for Wentz was a 2021 third-round pick and a conditional pick that is either a first or second. The deal reunites head coach Frank Reich with his former quarterback from his days as offensive coordinator in Philadelphia.
The Colts’ new presumed starter will need to show that 2020 was just a worst-case scenario for him. He needs to prove it was ultimately just a dark spot on an otherwise impressive NFL resume. Wentz is coming off of the worst season of his career by a wide margin. He became available because the Eagles drafted the heir apparent in the second round (Jalen Hurts) and Wentz proceeded to struggle badly through his twelve starts. The team eventually decided to turn over the reins to Jalen Hurts. The season was already pretty much lost by the time that Hurts took over, but he played well enough to make Carson Wentz and his much bigger contract expendable.
Wentz will have to limit the number of negative plays that he takes after taking 50 sacks and throwing 15 interceptions (both career highs). It should help that the Colts boast a top-10 offensive line unit in the league. He will likely get better pass protection but he also needs to get rid of the ball quicker and fix mechanical issues in his delivery. Hopefully, his old mentor (Reich) has some solutions in mind to the issues that Wentz had in 2020. Luckily for his dynasty owners, while he was holding the ball too long, he was also scrambling more often than ever. The rushing stats saved his fantasy output while he was starting.
Sleeper Dynasty SF Startup ADP: 80.4 and QB #20
I recommend buying Carson Wentz in Superflex formats. He comes with injury and performance question marks. But as long as he’s starting, he is a better fantasy quarterback than he is an NFL quarterback.
After the trade for Wentz, Eason is the forgotten man in the QB room. A fourth-round pick in 2020, Eason is likely to start the season as the backup to Carson Wentz. There is an incentive to bench Wentz built into the trade that they made to acquire him. If Wentz plays over 75 % of the Colts’ snaps or 70% while making it to the playoffs, then the conditional second-round pick becomes a first. That doesn’t mean that the Colts will make the move if they are in a position to compete for a playoff spot. But it’s a least worth noting that if Wentz or the Colts as a whole struggle out of the gate. then Eason may be in line to see starts in 2021. That would make him worth rostering in any Superflex format. In single quarterback formats, he should be left on the waiver wire.
Sleeper Dynasty SF Startup ADP: 308.6 and QB # 50
Eason is a hold for me right now because he’s behind a quarterback coming off a bad season, with a history of injury. If you don’t roster him, now is probably not the time to buy him. If the Colts or specifically Wentz start out slow in 2021 then you should try to acquire him cheap. Then, ifhe starts at any point then you could flip him for a quick profit. It’s also a good idea to buy him if Wentz is a starter for you in Superflex and you don’t have a viable third QB.
Taylor is a dynasty darling right now and for good reason. He is a young, athletic stud running back behind one of the better offensive lines in the NFL. The main concern people had when Taylor came out of college a year ago was his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. Taylor expunged those concerns by catching 36 balls on 39 targets for a 92.3% catch rate. The target rate could be down with Captain Check-down (Rivers) out the door, but at least Taylor has the ability to give you those PPR points at times. The real value that Taylor gives you is that he’s going to get a ton of carry volume and be efficient with those touches. Taylor finished with five yards per carry, after struggling to adjust to the blocking scheme early on in his rookie season.
Sleeper Dynasty SF Startup ADP: 9.4 and RB #4
If you took Taylor in a rookie draft or startup last year, then now is the time to reap the rewards. You have a locked-in RB1 for the foreseeable future and that’s a great thing to have. The reason that I’m listing Taylor as a hold and not a buy is very simple: the price. There are just better values out there right now.
Hines is a good pass-catching running back – with 63, 44, and 63 receptions in his first three seasons. He has filled in as a starter when injuries hit the team, but he is not a rushing threat. Despite Taylor’s emergence, I expect him to continue to have a role in the offense. His fantasy value will come mostly in negative scripts, however, and on a team with a Vegas-projected win total of ten, he may not have very many usable weeks.
Sleeper Dynasty SF Startup ADP: 151.7 and RB #44
At RB44 value, Nyheim Hines might seem like a screaming buy coming off of a season where he finished as the RB15 in PPR leagues. The issue is that his value is connected to target volume. It may be drastically reduced after the quarterback change and the emergence of Taylor as a pass-catcher. His viability as a fantasy option will likely depend on your ability to project negative game scripts.
Hilton is approaching an age cliff at age 31, but he had a four-game stretch last year where he posted 348 yards and four TDs on 21 catches. Those are the kind of numbers that he used to post on a regular basis. His production was extremely disappointing outside of that stretch. Hilton is rostered on most teams because he was the Colts’ WR1 and a lot more production is expected. Instead, he finished the season as wide receiver #41 in PPR leagues. All the writing is on the wall, it may be close to the end of his career.
Sleeper Dynasty SF Startup ADP: 186.1 and WR #82
I’m listing Hilton as both a buy and a sell because it depends entirely on your situation. If you’re competing and need wide receiver depth. you can possibly get WR3 production out of him for another year and he can be had very cheap. If you’re not competing you should be looking to unload him for pretty much whatever you can get.
Michael Pittman Jr.
Pittman had a pretty disappointing rookie season, posting 40 receptions for 503 yards and one TD in 13 games played. Part of that can be explained away by his profiling as more of a vertical threat, while Rivers toward the end of his career has been much better on short to intermediate throws. Pittman scored pretty well on Matt Harmon’s reception perception with a 75th percentile rate of separation vs. man coverage. If Carson Wentz can utilize Pittman down the field more, then he should be able to improve upon his numbers and become a WR3/flex option for dynasty owners.
Sleeper Dynasty SF Startup ADP: 105.5 and WR #49
Pittman is a hold for me because I expect him to perform better with Wentz than Rivers. He is in a prime opportunity to boost his stock in 2021. I don’t love his long-term outlook, however, so I’m hesitant to buy him at his current price.
A once-promising wide receiver prospect, Campbell’s career has been marred with injuries in his first two seasons. Campbell had a good start to 2020 with six catches on nine targets for 71 yards in week 1. In week 2, he suffered a knee injury in the first quarter and was done for the season. He has played a total of nine games with six starts in his first two seasons. The good news is he may still have a starting role in the offense as the Colts did not make any significant additions in the offseason. Zach Pascal filled in admirably in the slot with Campbell on IR, but Campbell has 4.3 speed and second-round capital invested in him. He will likely be given the first crack at the role if he’s healthy.
Sleeper Dynasty SF Startup ADP: 171.9 and WR #92
I’m buying Campbell because the injuries have depressed his cost to the point where you’re getting a shot at upside for very cheap. If his injuries completely derail his career, you didn’t invest much in him. He has the opportunity to seize a valuable role in this offense and possesses elite athleticism.
Pascal is being treated as an afterthought in the Colts’ offense. While it’s easy to understand why (as he stepped into a full-time slot role in the absence of Parris Campbell), Pascal was the Colts’ second-most productive receiver in 2020. While Pittman Jr. and Campbell have the backing of draft capital, Pascal is a proven producer and led the wide receiver group in yards/target in 2020.
Sleeper Dynasty SF Startup ADP: 363.5 and WR #165
While Pascal might have less 2021 value than Hilton. as well as less future upside than the two young guns, his ADP reflects an expectation that he is only a backup. While it’s hard to slot him in ahead of any of the three aforementioned wide receivers, it wouldn’t be shocking if Pascal were put back into the slot role. The other three could end up on a rotation on the outside, or one of them could end up on the outside looking in. Two of them also come with major injury question marks.
Doyle is old reliable for the Colts. A top-tier run-blocker and an underwhelming but steady option in the passing game. Doyle had fantasy relevance once upon a time, but his 39.2% per playerprofiler.com is abysmal and his involvement as a blocker in the passing game appears to have killed his fantasy value outside of 2TE formats. He finished with only 33 receptions in 12 games in 2020 (2.75/game). He is also 31 years old. I wouldn’t recommend rostering him in any single TE format.
Sleeper Dynasty SF Startup ADP: 332.9 and TE #52
If you can get anything of value for Jack Doyle at this point, then sell him. If you can’t, then you can safely cut him for someone with more upside. Perhaps our next tight end?
Alie-Cox is the more intriguing asset for fantasy purposes from this TE group. He will show up on the depth chart in the second spot, but he’s likely the first in line for targets. While Doyle was utilized heavily as a blocker, Alie-Cox was called upon in the absence of Trey Burton to be the primary pass-catching tight end. Burton is now a free agent. Don’t get too excited though, as Alie-Cox was replaced by Burton as soon as he was back in the lineup. And he still wasn’t targeted as much as Doyle when he was in the lineup.
Sleeper Dynasty SF Startup ADP: 281.3 and TE44
I’m not high enough on Alie-Cox and his potential to be actively buying him at his price. However, there is an opportunity for targets in this offense and he’s definitely worth holding to see if he can take more snaps and targets.
The Colts used their fourth-round pick on Granson out of SMU. He’s undersized for a tight end at 6’1″ and 241 lbs., but has a pretty intriguing athletic profile and an elite breakout age. The best-case scenario for him is likely a big slot, but the slot snaps seem to be highly competitive on this roster.
Sleeper Dynasty SF Startup ADP: 277.7 and TE #42
I’m not buying Granson at his ADP but like Alie-Cox. he is definitely worth holding to see if he can seize the target opportunity in this offense. He probably has the most upside of the three TEs that are projected to make the roster. But at 6’1″, it’s hard to believe that he can make it in the NFL as a tight end. Other than Delanie Walker, there aren’t many comps that have been successful fantasy options at that height.
Thanks so much for reading, and if you have any questions or comments, you can find me on Twitter @Jamiehfantasy.
Best of luck with your startups and rookie drafts. Let’s dominate the 2021 season together!
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