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Indianapolis Colts – 2019 A Look Inside

Contributions from Joshua Hudson, Chris Tyler, & Joe Zollo

Colts GM Chris Ballard continues to run the draft with the best of them. He extracted great value in the 2nd round for the second year in a row, landing 1st round talents Rock Ya-Sin and Parris Campbell. The depth he continues to stockpile allows the team to hoard cap space and pay those that deserve second contracts. The Colts defense has made strides over the last couple of years. Adding Ya-Sin and a couple of safeties will help the secondary, and adding three outside linebackers and an inside linebacker helps the second level. The offense made major strides last year with great offensive line additions and the return of a healthy Andrew Luck, so this draft needed to be about defense. Now we wait and see if Ballard hits another home run, or grounds into a double play. – The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson

A healthy Andrew Luck is always a top 10 fantasy quarterback. Well, he was healthy last year and was QB4. With the strong offensive line play, led by two rookie linemen, the Colts may have found a new bellcow running back in Marlon Mack. He displayed pass catching ability in college, but Frank Reich seems to want to let Nyheim Hines handle that role, which keeps Mack out of the RB1 conversation. T.Y. Hilton is their number one receiver, and a consistent threat to finish in the top 10. The offseason addition of Devin Funchess, the return of Deon Cain, and the drafting of the speedy Parris Campbell gives Luck an array of weapons with which to work. Eric Ebron finally lived up to the billing as a former top 10 draft pick, but many feel it was due to Jack Doyle’s absence. With Doyle returning from injury this year, what kind of regression awaits Ebron? Here’s what we do know — Luck has a couple of devastating weapons to work the middle of the field from the TE position. – The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson

You probably don’t know this name unless you are a Colts fan or a Clemson fan. Injured throughout the entirety of his rookie season, Deon Cain was a 6th round draft pick in 2018. Leading up to the start of the 2018 season, Cain showed he could ball out in camp. Sadly, his season was over before it even began when he suffered a torn ACL. Don’t fret though — he will be good to go for Week 1 of 2019. This is a huge leap considering he has never played a down in the NFL, but here is why his upside is the best on the team.

His current ADP in PPR leagues is WR99. He is going undrafted in virtually every 10-team league and being drafted as a bench warmer in every other league with 12+ teams. If I am taking a late-round WR, I am not looking for someone to be a WR6, I am looking for someone to surprise the world and be a possible WR3 or even WR2. Cain’s main competition will be Devin Funchess and Parris Campbell. In my opinion, Campbell will be the WR2 come Week 4 and Funchess will be phased out due to Cain’s skill set. I believe Cain will be the third receiver on the depth chart, which will, of course, help maximize his value.

Many would argue that Funchess could be the Upside for the Colts but I honestly think he is being taken too early. Funchess is being taken around guys like Anthony Miller and Donte Moncrief, two players I believe will outscore Funchess by a long shot. Cain is being taken around guys like Jake Kumerow, Chris Hogan, and Josh Doctson — players he should no doubt outperform. The league knows little to nothing about Deon Cain but they sure will soon enough. – Joe Zollo

Any time you score double digit touchdowns in a season when the most you scored in a single season in your career up to that point was five, you’re bound to regress. In fact, when that total is more than twice the number of touchdowns you’ve scored in your career to date, you’re bound to regress. Such is the story of Eric Ebron in 2019. No one paid much attention when the Lions decided to move on from Ebron because he had been a disappointment for them after being a top 10 pick. Then he signed with Indianapolis, who already had Jack Doyle firmly entrenched as their starter. Ebron was firmly glossed over during draft season. What transpired in 2018 was a perfect storm for Ebron to vault him back into the conversation of one of the top tight ends in the league. And yet, people are still disrespecting him. I don’t want to, but while I think he’ll be a top 10 option at TE for fantasy owners in 2019, he won’t live up to his 2018 finish or his current ADP as TE7 (in the 7th round).

Ebron started the year as the second TE in the Colts offense. Doyle was the main guy after finishing 2017 with over 100 targets and a TE7 finish in Fantasy. Doyle missed Weeks 3 through 7 and Weeks 13 through 17. Let’s focus on Ebron’s production in games Doyle played to get an idea of what Ebron can be in 2019 with a healthy Doyle on the field. Ebron saw 5, 4, 3, 3, 0, and 7 targets in games that Doyle played, which led to 4, 3, 3, 3, 0, and 5 receptions. The most interesting part of this is that those 18 receptions led to 7 touchdowns. In that same time frame, Doyle had 32 targets, leading to 26 receptions and 2 touchdowns. In games that Doyle missed, Ebron played a bigger role in the offense (obviously), seeing 86 targets for 45 receptions and 6 touchdowns. Ebron become more involved, but less efficient (hardly shocking). Five of the seven touchdowns Ebron scored with Doyle on the field were in the red zone (a sixth was a two-yard rushing score). In games Doyle missed, when Ebron was more involved in the offense, he scored six touchdowns in the red zone. The biggest thing we can decipher from this data is that regardless of whether Doyle is on the field or not, Ebron will be a force in the red zone.

Touchdowns are fickle though. Once is a point on a line. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is a trend. Nothing in Ebron’s history suggest this should be consistent behavior moving forward. If Doyle plays a full slate of games, there’s a chance that Ebron comes out of 2019 with between 40-50 catches. Solid for the position, but not what you want from top 10 TEs in Fantasy. The touchdowns, however, aren’t as easy to predict when you factor in the addition of Devin Funchess (6’4”) and the increased usage of Marlon Mack (only 10 starts last year and 9 rushing touchdowns in the red zone). The Colts offense last year scored 52 touchdowns. If we assume they hit that total again in 2019, Mack should hit 12 (on the ground) over 16 games, leaving 40 on the table. Andrew Luck can run for 2, and Nyheim Hines gets 2 (same as last year). Now we’re down to 36. Hilton gets 6 (career average). Funchess gets 5. Doyle gets 4. Hines gets 2. Parris Campbell gets 3 in his rookie campaign. You’re left with 16 to distribute to Ebron and the rest of the receivers/tight ends/backs on the roster. Can he still get 10? Maybe, but 13 isn’t as likely. I’d say his ceiling this year is probably nine. Nine touchdowns with around 43 catches for around 500 yards is around 147 fantasy points. That would’ve put him as TE8 in 2018 with those numbers. He’s going around pick 73 right now, around the likes of Jarvis Landry, D.J. Moore, and Robby Anderson. With such a heavy reliance on TDs, the upside just isn’t there at his current value. You’re better off passing on Ebron in 2019 unless his price comes down. – The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson

In four out of his five healthy seasons, Andrew Luck has thrown for more than 4,000 yards. Over his last three healthy seasons, Luck has topped 30 passing touchdowns. Last year, Luck returned from a shoulder injury that sidelined him for the entire 2017 season. He then had to learn a new offense with Frank Reich calling the plays, fresh off a Super Bowl win with the Eagles in 2017. Luck subsequently had the highest completion percentage of his career (67.3%) and the lowest sack percentage of his career (2.7%). If you don’t think you can trust Andrew Luck going into 2019, I guess I need to try a little harder.

In Club Fantasy scoring (since 2015), Luck has finished as QB27 (only seven games played), QB4, N/A, and QB4. Over the first three seasons of his career, per Pro Football Reference, Luck finished as QB11, QB4, and QB2. If Luck is healthy, he’s a top 12 QB, at worst. At best, he’s no worse than QB4. Last season, Luck was a top 8 QB 60% of the time. In 2016, Luck was a top 8 QB in 50% of his games played. Look at that, he improved after surgery and with the arrival of Reich as head coach. Another fun fact, when targeting his number one receiver, T.Y. Hilton, 20 yards down the field, Luck was 16/26 for 602 yards and 2 touchdowns. More to the point, between the numbers and to the outside left beyond 20 yards, Luck had a perfect passer rating when targeting Hilton.

Luck is my number one QB this year. His current ADP on Sleeper is QB2. I rarely advocate for the selection of a QB in the early rounds, but Luck has a track record of delivering, making it a worthwhile investment. – The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson

Hey NFL defenses, want to know how to stop Parris Campbell? Make sure he doesn’t touch the ball! Not one of the most, but the most explosive rookie coming into the league, the Colts were lucky enough to snag him in the 2nd round. Campbell has a pretty average build, standing at 6 feet even and weighing 205 pounds, but it plays well with his electric speed. As a wide receiver, he’s dangerous in the open field because he can cause insane separation. He’s so fast that defenders have a difficult time getting good angles in their attempts to tackle him. At the Ohio State, he ran a full route tree and lined up as an interior and exterior receiver. The bulk of his production, however, came from the slot, where he was able to use his speed on underneath routes to beat linebackers and blow past the safeties. Campbell has great hands as well. He had 143 receptions during his college days with an average of 12.4 yards per catch. All in all, Campbell is a dangerous playmaker that will improve not only the Colts offense, but also your Fantasy teams. – Chris Tyler

I hate to repeat players but I truly believe Parris Campbell can be a WR2 by the end of the fantasy season. It’s not even so much his ability but more so the system he fell into. The Colts are a passing offense and they have been missing a true slot receiver with speed that can do a little bit of everything. They tried Chester Rogers in that role last season and Andrew Luck was targeting him but he just could not get the job done with his suspect hands. Campbell has the hands to be an incredible threat in this offense and pair nicely with Andrew Luck. His current ADP is WR51, which is far too late to be taking him but he is a rookie so it is understandable the hesitation. I am a big fan of Campbell and you should expect him to be a stud for your fantasy team. – Joe Zollo

If you watched any of the NFL last season, you would know that Darius Leonard was arguably the best rookie on the field, no matter who was playing. Nobody expected Leonard to be that dominant of a player, especially during his rookie season but that dominance translated into being the best Linebacker in the league in 2018 and it honestly was not even close. In fantasy football, Leonard finished LB1 with 308 points. His 308 points put him 53 points ahead of the second-best Linebacker in the league last season, fellow rookie Leighton Vander-Esch. Leonard’s 308 points had him finish 26th amongst all players. Yes. 26th. That is unbelievable for a Linebacker to do in such a high-powered, offensive driven league. Do not expect Leonard to repeat his same success as last year but he will definitely finish Top 10 without a doubt. – Joe Zollo