For the first time since the 1998 NFL season, when Fantasy Football was still considered a "Geek" entity, the Indianapolis Colts will open their season without Peyton Manning under contract. Like Gordie Howe and Steve Yzerman were to the Red Wings in the NHL, Johnny Unitis and Peyton Manning were to the Colts in the NFL. It's a new era as the Colts, who fittingly hail from the "Crossroads of America," now must proceed without Peyton. Let's head to the Hoosier State to see if fantasy owners can get "Lucky" with the 2012 edition of the Colts.
Indianapolis Colts Quarterback Fantasy Options
Manning's Mile High move has been discussed. Suffice to say, both did what they had to do. Moving on! Getting lucky is a good thing on so many levels. Whether the Colts can catch lightening in a bottle with their 2012 first overall NFL Draft selection Andrew Luck remains to be seen. That draft day move worked out pretty good for them in the 1998 NFL Draft. Luck joins Matthew Stafford, Sam Bradford, and Cam Newton as the fourth straight QB to be selected first overall during the ruckus at Radio City Music Hall.
After an outstanding NCAA college football career under center for the Pac 10 Stanford Cardinal team, Luck would step in and produce immediately if a team like the Green Bay Packers had drafted him - and they played in a dome. While he has the physical and mental skills needed under center on the big NFL stage, the supporting cast Luck will be leading is certainly not one of the best. After a quick cup of coffee in New York, the Jets shipped former Detroit Lions backup QB Drew Stanton to Indy. Stanton will hold a clipboard in Indianapolis for the Colts (who we are positive will thrust Luck into the starters spotlight).
Colts QB Analysis: Scanning the talent on the Colts' current roster, fantasy owners who are looking at Luck should look to Sam Bradford and the St. Louis Rams for inspiration. Should things change supporting cast wise, the Colts are known for being able to reload quickly; you may be able to change your inspirational focus to Matthew Stafford when it comes to getting lucky on Draft Day 2014.
Indianapolis Colts Running Back Fantasy Options
We first noticed things starting to go a little sideways after the 2009 NFL Draft, which was a "who drafted the bigger running back bust" draft. After the Broncos took Knowshon Moreno (12th OA), Indianapolis was left to decide between RB Donald Brown and Chris "Beanie" Wells when their 27th overall selection was up on the clock. Indy took Brown and the Arizona Cardinals bagged Beanie – all three have been colossal busts through their first three seasons.
Brown has shown flashes of brilliance, but will most likely be facing a RBBC situation with fumble prone Delone Carter also in the mix. The Colts also added Deji Karim, formerly of the Jacksonville Jaguars, off the waiver wire.
Colts RB Analysis: If either Brown or Carter can establish himself as the clear-cut workhorse (they won't), we would have some mild interest in the Indy backfield. At this point however, this is a classic "steer clear" scenario. If they both go bust, Karim may finally get his chance to shine – how brightly is very debatable.
Indianapolis Colts Wide Receiver Fantasy Options
After enjoying seven straight seasons of near stud status (176.13 FP average per year), Reggie Wayne slumped without his main man during the 2011 NFL season. While it could have been much worse, Wayne had 960 receiving yards (4 TD) while dealing with the likes of Curtis Painter, Dan Orlovsky, and Kerry Collins under center – Yikes! Wayne just signed a new three-year deal, meaning he will most likely start and end his career as a Colt.
Pierre Garcon has moved onto Washington where he'll deal with Redskins rookie QB Robert Griffin III. That leaves Austin Collie as the starter opposite Wayne. A former BYU Cougar, Collie is in the fourth and final year of his rookie contract. After decent success over the 2009 and 2010 seasons (15 TD catches), Collie slumped along with the rest of the Colts last season as he hit pay dirt just once.
Colts WR Analysis: Check the tread on Wayne's tires, but you should consider that he might want to show the world that remaining on the sinking Colt's ship was a wise decision. He may also want to prove that his career success wasn't all about Manning. If Luck lives up to his hype, Collie comes with nice sleeper value. Injury prone, high risk/reward surrounds WR Donnie Avery came over from the Rams to fill Garcon's cleats.
Indianapolis Colts Tight End Fantasy Options
Walk the plank and abandon ship was the mantra for a mainstay and a potential star tight end from the Colts during the off-season. After nine seasons, TE Dallas Clark is a free agent and won't be on the Colts' opening day roster as he was released in the off-season. Free agent rising star Jacob Tamme jumped ship and will be reunited with Manning in Denver after he signed a three-year deal back in March.
To address the void, the Colts used their next two picks (after Luck) to draft two of the better tight ends in the 2012 NFL Draft crop. Coby Fleener (34 OA), who caught 34 passes - ten for a TD, from Luck in his senior season at Stanford, is the "next one" after the "next one" in Indy. Dewayne Allen (64 OA) a former Clemson Tiger, will be the second half of the two-tight end set Colts coach Chuck Pagano plans to employ in 2012.
Colts TE Analysis: With the focus on Fantasy Football intensifying on an annual basis (and because of its popularity explosion on the Internet), "sleeper" picks on Draft Day are going the way of the Dodo bird. That said, Fleener could fly under the radar as an immediate comfort blanket for Luck. There's a ton of talent at the TE position in the pass happy NFL these days but, Fleener does peak my interest as a later round backup Fantasy TE selection.
Indianapolis Colts Fantasy Bottom Line: As Luck goes, so will the rest of the Colts' offensive stars. We are very eager to see the new savior in "game action" during the preseason. Until then though, all bets are off for us when it comes to the Colts' 2012 Fantasy bottom line.