INDIANAPOLIS — With a revamped offense and some key pieces, the Indianapolis Colts offense was under a microscope to start the season.
A new, veteran quarterback in Philip Rivers behind one of the league’s best offensive lines, and the first two picks of the 2020 NFL Draft being spent on offensive skill position players in Michael Pittman Jr. and Jonathan Taylor, fantasy football owners looked at the Colts as a team with must-have players.
The Colts (4-2) are on their bye week. How have those preseason fantasy expectations worked out to this point? Let’s take a look.
(Positional rankings from FantasyPros.com, based on Half-PPR scoring. Ranks as of Thursday of game week.)
QB Philip Rivers
— Per-game averages: 23.0-of-33.0 passing (69.7%), 266.3 passing yards, 1.2 TDs, 1.0 TOs, 1.07 carries, 0.0 rushing yards = 15.7 FP
— FantasyPros 2020 Position Rank: QB25
Fantasy owners haven’t quite got their money’s worth from the Colts passing game so far, but it’s still an upgrade from 2019.
Through six weeks, Rivers has been efficient, with a high completion percentage and yards per attempt average (8.1). However, it’s the lack of consistency that is turning fantasy owners away.
In Week 1, Rivers threw for 363 yards, but he didn’t hit the 300-yard mark again until Week 6. The latter was also his only multi-touchdown performance. There have also been a few bad interceptions.
Rivers’ most recent game was encouraging. The Colts were forced to pass after falling into a 21-0 hole against the Cincinnati Bengals, and Rivers came alive, resulting in his most productive day as a Colt.
In the post-bye section of the season, Rivers will be getting Pittman back from injury at some point. Wide receiver Parris Campbell had knee surgery and his status to return is an uncertainty. The Colts have tough matchups ahead, meaning if they get down big in any of them, Rivers will be chucking the ball quite a bit.
RBs Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines
— Per-game averages: Taylor — 14.8 carries. 61.2 rushing yards, 2.7 catches (2.8 targets), 27.0 receiving yards, 0.5 total TDs = 13.2 FP | Hines — 4.3 carries, 12.5 rushing yards, 3.8 catches (4.5 targets), 24.3 receiving yards, 0.3 total TDs = 7.7 FP
— FantasyPros 2020 Position Rank: Taylor RB15, Hines RB35
The Colts were put in a tough spot when their do-it-all running back Marlon Mack went down with a season-ending Achilles injury in the first half of the first game. Taylor has responded quite well. Instead of a “one-one punch” in the backfield, Taylor has had to mature faster and has shown progress.
The good news for fantasy owners is that Taylor is dominating the Colts’ backfield carries, accounting for 58.6% of all non-quarterback carries.
Although he does have one 100-yard rushing game, his true breakout seems like it could come at any time now. After only being able to carry the ball a total of 24 times over the last two weeks due to the Colts playing from behind, a heavy-workload game is expected.
The Colts have used Hines as the primary pass-catching back, averaging 8.2 touches per game, which was to be expected as a match for Rivers. It’s made Hines playable as a flex option just about every week. And although both Taylor and Jordan Wilkins are bigger and stronger, Hines still gets occasional action in the red zone as a ball-carrier.
— Per-game averages: 2.7-of-3.0 FG (88.9%), 2.5-of-2.5 XP (100%), 10.5 points
— FantasyPros 2020 Position Rank: K2
The rookie kicker is currently the NFL’s leading scorer with 63 points, so that’s enough to be said for his fantasy status.
The Colts have struggled in the red zone (27th, 52.2%), leading to more opportunities for field goals. He’s making almost 90% of his field goals, and nailing all of his extra points.
With the exception of last week against the Cincinnati Bengals, Blankenship has had at least three field goal attempts in each game.
Colts Defense/Special Teams
— Per-game averages: 288.0 yards allowed, 19.2 points allowed, 2.2 sacks, 1.7 takeaways, 2 total safeties, 3 total return TDs
— FantasyPros 2020 Position Rank: Tied-DST2
The Colts rank in the top three in the league defensively in total defense, passing, and rushing, and are sixth in scoring. In fantasy, all that does is keep them from losing points.
They create their own as well. The Colts are tied for 14th in sacks (13), and they’re the leaders in interceptions (10). They have two safeties, two interceptions returned for TDs, and a TD kickoff return.
WRs Zach Pascal, T.Y. Hilton, Marcus Johnson
— Per-game averages: Pascal — 2.7 catches (4.7 targets), 33.0 receiving yards, 2 total TDs = 6.6 FP | Hilton — 3.3 catches (6.2 targets), 40.3 receiving yards = 5.7 FP | Johnson — 3.0 catches (4.0 targets), 62.7 receiving yards = 7.8 FP
— FantasyPros 2020 Position Rank: Pascal WR59, Hilton WR71, Johnson WR94
The only thing keeping Hilton from being the Colts’ fantasy WR1 currently is the lack of TDs. He leads in targets (37), catches (20), and yards (242), but has no scores. He dropped a 44-yard TD pass after losing the ball in the sun, and had another score nullified by a penalty.
Pascal has taken position as the Colts’ top receiver because he does have those TDs. He’s also got at least two receptions in each game. Rivers has found Pascal in plenty of chain-moving situations, as 11 of his 16 catches have gone for a first down or TD.
At this current pace, Johnson would be far and away the Colts’ top fantasy receiver. He’s only been active for the last three games, but has had a catch of at least 25 yards in each. Johnson has been the Colts’ most consistent big-play receiver dating back to late last season, and may continue to have a role carved out when Pittman returns after the bye.
TEs Mo Alie-Cox, Trey Burton, Jack Doyle
— Per-game averages: Alie-Cox — 2.2 catches (2.8 targets), 38.8 receiving yards, 2 total TDs = 7.4 FP | Burton — 3.7 catches (5.3 targets), 35.7 receiving yards, 2 total TDs = 9.4 FP | Doyle — 1.4 catches (2.0 targets), 18.0 receiving yards, 1 total TD = 3.7 FP
— FantasyPros 2020 Position Rank: Alie-Cox TE18, Burton TE27, Doyle TE42
Alie-Cox was the talk of the town for the first several games. In his third season, his potential was finally starting to come to fruition, as he made big plays down the field and won some 50-50 ball situations. Rivers clearly likes throwing to Alie-Cox in potential big-play situations.
Like Johnson, Burton has also only been active for three weeks but has come on strong. Burton is being targeted more than five times per game, and last week he broke out with four catches for 58 yards and a TD to go with one wildcat carry on the goal line for a TD.
Doyle is having a very un-Jack-Doyle-like season. In four games, he’s had just two games where he’s been targeted more than twice, and he’s only reached at least 40 yards once. If not for a 14-yard TD reception last week, Doyle’s fantasy ranks would be even further down the ladder. Until further notice, it’s Burton and Alie-Cox making the plays at tight end.
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(Jake Arthur has covered the NFL and the Indianapolis Colts for nearly a decade and is a contributor for the team's official website, Colts.com. He’s on Twitter and Facebook @JakeArthurNFL, and his email is firstname.lastname@example.org.)