Fantasy Football

Fantasy Football Colts Conundrums


As we approach free agency and those draft speculations begin warming up in our off-season spring, the one team most wrinkly coming into it is the Indianapolis Colts.

If you think the Colts situation has the fans baffled, think about how we feel in the fantasy arena of evaluation. Getting up to speed on the Colts and what we can expect to see and hope for is something that will linger all the way until August.

I thought it might be a good idea to get a jump on this because the Colts are a team with the potential to have both boom or bust players in every category in 2018.

Colts Conundrums

Coaching staff

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It all starts right here. Josh McDaniels of the Patriots apparently settled on terms for the head coaching job in early February, but literally within hours of the announcement, McDaniels balked the deal without a signature. McDaniels agent was aghast and dropped his own client. It created a minor earthquake at the time. The NFL is looking into preventing such blind sides in the future.

In an ironic twist, the Colts may yet have a better ending after naming former Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich to the job; fresh off a Super Bowl victory. Before the Super Bowl, Reich hadn’t much of a resume in his first coordinator coaching position with the (then) San Diego Chargers. The Eagles championship suddenly gave him a calling card.

But let’s not dampen the spirit with the old news, there’s a fresh and positive feeling to the change.

Reich, like Doug Pederson, came through the quarterback side of coaching. I tend to favor the defensive minds as head coaches, but with the Colts in some need of pulling through hard times on offense, Frank Reich probably fit the Colts’ needs better in this case.

This is not to say the Colts defense is just fine as part of  Reich’s inheritance. It is not. The Colts ranked near the bottom in almost all defensive categories in 2017. As many of you know, effectiveness on both sides of the ball has a direct bearing on consistent fantasy production for the skill players.


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The shoulder rehab setback Luck had last season remains one of the most notable fantasy boondoggles of 2017. Fans of the team and the fantasy pundits felt a sense of deception over it. RotoWorld didn’t pull a punch and basically called out the Colts front office as liars on the condition of Andrew Luck this past season.

It’s still not over yet. Luck continues in a bit of limbo over his readiness for 2018. We certainly expect him out there, per latest ramblings, but as loud as shouts are for the positive, we just won’t exactly know until late April where things stand when the Colts begin OTAs.

For now, we’ll assume the best outcome. Frank Reich and new OC Nick Sirianni want to work on an “up-tempo and aggressive” offense. Don’t they all? Well, hyperbole is part of the biz and the Colts are no different from the rest.

Whatever scheme these coaches have in mind, I feel Andrew Luck is more malleable to an offensive shakeup than Cam Newton was initially with the Panthers last year.

Nevertheless, we cannot be 100% certain about the character this new offense will have until we see what the surrounding cast looks like in July and August. At this stage, I’ll stay bullish on Andrew Luck especially if he has full participation in the off-season activities.

Running Backs

Of all the skill positions, the running back of the Colts will have intriguing interest this off-season. Life after Frank Gore would lead one to expect Marlon Mack sliding right in. But not so fast.

Marlon Mack showed reasonable promise and has a look of Gore durability, but I think the Colts with a fresh outlook are almost certain to weigh their options here.

We can excuse Mack for some rookie green and low usage. However, there never was a consistent “wow” of any sort and being a durable running back alone is just not enough in the NFL.

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Where this backfield ends up depends how high the Colts go in the draft for the position. The lower they go, the higher Mack rises and vice-versa. No matter what, the feature role could go several ways.  We cannot rule out a committee approach at this stage. I’m just as okay for Mack to win out, but should that happen, fantasy will have to give a nominal projection for a high RB2 at best on the Colts.

If the Colts, holding the third overall draft pick, land Saquon Barkley – that would really thicken the fantasy plot. Sony Michel of Georgia is another name being thrown out there. Also intriguing would be a PPR type third-down back with Mack remaining for early downs. So there’s a lot of ways how this plays out.

Watch the space closely to see how the new staff decide on the backfield. We’ll gain much insight into the new Colts depending what they go with. I just hope the Colts don’t follow the Eagles model as that could potentially lead to weaker RB fantasy upside and also too for the value of any receivers below T.Y. Hilton.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

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Although it doesn’t seem like it, Jack Doyle came second in total receptions among tight ends in 2017. If Luck returns at the level we expect, Doyle could rise further in the fantasy ranks at the position.  The problem is that Eric Swoope eats into the upside and we might be back to a similar Allen-Fleener type of tight end tandem the Colts had a couple of years ago. So we’ll have to watch that.

For the receivers, T.Y. Hilton should bounce back with better yardage and touchdowns with Luck returning. Hilton went under 1000 yards for the first time since his rookie season and the touchdowns suffered a severe reduction down to a mere four. That touchdown total is a career low. Numbers aside, I doubt 2017 hurt his fantasy stock – everyone knows he’ll rise again.

What about the second and third? Next up, receivers are very important in fantasy. One just has to look at Sterling Shepard, Devin Funchess or Marqise Lee to know that. With the Colts, that’s where things get a little problematic. Donte Moncrief was a complete bust in 2017. I’m not so keen on the bounce back prospects of Moncrief even with Luck back at the helm.

WR2s give a fantasy team strong backing. Donte Moncrief held an ADP rank well ahead of Nelson Agholor in most fantasy drafts in 2017, but that won’t happen in 2018. Moods can change, but right now I’m not even happy to take Moncrief as a flier like Agholor was. Personally, I’d rather the Colts bring along fresh ideas beyond Moncrief and Chester Rogers.

Kamar Aiken is gone. Practice squad player, K.J. Brent, is worth holding for now. Dres Anderson (son of Flipper Anderson) too might be worth giving an extra look for 2018, but all-in-all there’s gotta be a better No.2 out there to compliment Hilton worth scooping up in the NFL draft.


Apart from scheme adjustments, the Colts really need to bring this defense up. The new DC for Indy is Matt Eberflus. He’ll run a standard 4-3, so that moves Jabaal Sheard to the line from OLB – an easy transition.  Indications are that Eberflus will continue building the front first – with an eye perhaps on drafting DE Bradley Chubb of NC State.

The Colts need to seriously work on the secondary too, which held a league ranking of 28th vs opposing wide receivers in 2017. CB Nate Hairston had an impressive rookie season and may fit in well with the Seattle-style defense Eberflus admires and will attempt to emulate.

The weakest point to fill will obviously be the linebackers with Sheard moving to the line. The Colts are in a good space to try improving these things with a clean slate in post-Pagano, but the proof will show on the field.


Watching the Colts work their way through a somewhat sub level rebuild will ensure that keen fantasy eyes will be on this team. They aren’t throwing everything out and doing unnecessary major rewiring to the whole house. It’s a smart and careful transition. Just tightening the bolts, replacing a few worn out pieces and moving some furniture. In other words, phasing. The anchor to it all remains Andrew Luck and team fortunes in 2018 rest on his ability to establish his best career years during this new team phase.

Frankly, I like the unknowns we are facing with the Colts in 2018. It’s interesting with the potential for something exciting. Unlike the youngish Rams of 2017, these Colts are approaching middle age with sound experience behind them. Overall, they still want to trend toward a younger group. It’s a good thing Andrew Luck is on this team because he seems like the kind of team leader who will buy into almost any philosophy set before him and bring the rest along.

The Colts conundrums could have fantasy attractive solutions.

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About Richard Savill

Richard is an NFL Fantasy Football Writer and Editor of Fantasy Six Pack. Host of The Fantasy Edge Podcast. FantasyPros Contributor. Member of the FSWA. Richard is known for his "outside the box" insight into NFL fantasy football. Winner of the 16-Team 2015 FSWA challenge.

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