Fantasy football draft season is fast approaching. Prep to win your league with SI.com's ongoing preview, including team-by-team breakdowns that examine each club's key fantasy storyline and much more.
Key fantasy storyline
As impressive as Andrew Luck was as an immediate impact rookie a year ago, he might be the most underrated talent in all of fantasy. Just look at everyone's rankings at the quarterback position.
Luck is an NFL MVP candidate, yet the likes of Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, Matthew Stafford and even Tony Romo are ranked ahead of him by most fantasy pundits. Luck looks like a bargain if his 4,500 yards and 25-plus TDs are going to be considered a "low end" fantasy starting quarterback.
Let's quickly break down some of the things working against him -- and debunk them:
1. Bruce Arians is now in Arizona: Luck is the once-in-a-generation player that dictates an offensive approach. This is still a wide-open, pass-first team.
2. Reggie Wayne is 34: Even if Wayne is banged up, T.Y. Hilton should be more involved and productive as a sophomore and Darrius Heyward-Bey is a quietly intriguing addition as a field-stretcher. Those sophomore tight ends are both just scratching the surface, too.
3. Schedule is tougher: Chalk that up as an ironic positive in fantasy terms. The Colts are going to engage in some classic shootouts. Fantasy totals should rack up nicely, especially with that defense.
4. He's overhyped: That might be the case. Young quarterbacks just aren't finished products right away, but with Newton, Kaepernick, RGIII and Wilson even more highly hyped in fantasy circles going into the year, Luck is somewhat allowed to lie under the radar.
All this might even make you plan your entire draft on the value you are going to get in the middle rounds at the quarterback position. Thank you, Mr. Luck.
We break down the Colts in their preseason fantasy outlook:
|Indianapolis Colts 2013 Schedule|
|Including a look at how the Colts' foes fared defensively in fantasy last season|
Stats via FFToday.com
This is not an overly favorable schedule for any of the primary fantasy positions, particularly the backs. The Colts face the top three teams against running backs a year ago and have five games against the top six. Save for a pair of matchups against the Texans defense, the second half of the season is far more favorable than the first. That means, if you miss out on the Colts' primary fantasy options on draft day, you have an opportunity to acquire them at a discount heading into their Week 8 bye. With their most difficult matchups and bye out of the way, come Week 9, your roster will be set up nicely for the stretch run. The postseason opponents will be the Bengals, Texans and Chiefs defenses, though.
QB: Andrew Luck, Matt Hasselbeck
RB: Ahmad Bradshaw (foot), Vick Ballard, Donald Brown, Delone Carter
WR: Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton, Darrius Heyward-Bey, LaVon Brazill
TE: Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener
K: Adam Vinatieri
Bradshaw might not participate in training camp until mid-August, so Ballard will still get a good look at keeping the starting job heading into the season. If you could guarantee Bradshaw's health, he would be the starter. He has never needed to be at 100 percent in his career and often plays hurt and misses full weeks of practice. Fleener should push Allen more in Year 2 with more work on his routes and receiving. Both tight ends are going to be featured frequently.
|Indianapolis Colts 2012 defensive rankings|
The Colts defense didn't do anything well last season and you cannot expect much improvement this year. A pass-happy, quarterback-led team generally plays up-tempo and it stresses the defense even more, too. If there is a strength of their unit it lies in safeties LaRon Landry and Antoine Bethea, who get solid value in IDP leagues because the front seven of their 3-4 defense is usually so porous. The Colts did draft a pass-rush outside linebacker in Round 1 (Bjoern Werner), but that should be considered a net-zero with the departure of veteran end Dwight Freeney, who signed with the Chargers. Don't bother with this unit in any fantasy leagues and consider the safeties in IDP formats only late. They are a function of the overall's unit's weakness than their true talent.