INDIANAPOLIS — When scanning the list of tight ends for NFL fantasy drafts, the Indianapolis Colts’ Jack Doyle merits mid-round consideration.
While he’s had only one season with monster numbers — he caught a career-high 80 passes for 690 yards and four TDs in 2017 — the two-time Pro Bowl performer has been solid the past four seasons except for when he was injured and missed 10 games in 2018. He’s coming off his second Pro Bowl season after catching 43 passes for 448 yards and four TDs.
In the last six seasons, Doyle has caught 18 TD passes. That’s a stat that always resonates with fantasy owners. His career-high TD total is five in 2016.
The Colts signed Trey Burton in free agency to help fill the void of 2018 Pro Bowl tight end Eric Ebron, who became a free agent and signed with Pittsburgh. Burton is reunited with Colts head coach Frank Reich — they won a Super Bowl ring together in Philadelphia — and is coming off a 2019 season reduced by injuries to eight games with the Chicago Bears.
Burton had his best season in 2018 after signing with the Bears. He caught a career-high 54 passes for 569 yards and six TDs.
The question fantasy owners are asking is how much could Burton subtract from Doyle’s numbers.
While the initial inclination is to suggest that Doyle will fall off, Sports Illustrated fantasy analyst Frank Taddeo thinks the opposite. As he points out in the video above, Doyle and Burton should be able to co-exist and be productive because Ebron is gone.
And now the Colts have quarterback Philip Rivers, who has always liked throwing to tight ends. Long-time All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates was a favorite Chargers target for much of Rivers’ 16 years with that organization.
So fantasy owners are encouraged to not sleep on Doyle just because Burton is his teammate. Doyle should still be considered a solid mid-round option, and perhaps an excellent sleeper pick that goes slightly higher than expected because of the possibility he flourishes with Rivers.
The Colts also have tight ends Mo Alie-Cox and fifth-year pro Xavier Grimble on the roster, but make no mistake, Doyle will get most of the snaps and Burton will be called upon for his pass-catching ability.
Fantasy owners don’t care about Doyle being an excellent blocker, but he’s far better than Burton in this area. That translates to more snaps on the field. And more snaps typically means better production.
(Phillip B. Wilson has covered the Indianapolis Colts for more than two decades and authored the 2013 book 100 Things Colts Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die. He’s on Twitter @pwilson24, on Facebook at @allcoltswithphilb and @100thingscoltsfans, and his email is email@example.com.)