First Down: Spooktacular numbers upcoming for The Blair White Project

Brad Evans

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Forget Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers(notes), no monster has recently shaken Colts Nation more than the injury imp. Over the past 10 days, fantasy’s most diabolical creature has feasted on the flesh of several roster staples, leaving gaping holes in once formidable lineups.

The list of casualties reads like a Pro Bowl ballot.

Dallas Clark(notes), done for the season after undergoing wrist surgery. Austin Collie(notes), expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a hand injury. Joseph Addai(notes), out for at least the next four games with nerve damage in his shoulder. And Anthony Gonzalez(notes), who would likely shatter his tailbone jumping into a pool of plastic balls, sidelined indefinitely after reaggravating a high ankle sprain. (UPDATE: According to Fanhouse, Gonzalez says the reinjury reports that surfaced over the weekend are false. Though he's "optimistic" about seeing action in Week 8, he admits he's still "recovering" and is "day-to-day." White's short-term value will be dictated by Gonzalez's health. Stay tuned.)

Most teams would never recover from such a slaughter. However, none are blessed with the healing power of Peyton Manning(notes).

The four-time MVP can turn garbage into gold. Because of his extraordinary ability to command, deliver and teach, unheralded products are capable of transforming instantly into viable lineup cogs. Pierre Garcon’s(notes) marvelous play at the end of last season along with Collie’s rapid ascension this year are prime examples.

Rookie Blair White(notes), a member of the practice squad roughly a month ago, could become Peyton’s latest magical concoction.

Undrafted last April, the former Michigan State standout has shown potential during his brief stint in the league. Equipped with plus size (6-foot-2, 210-pounds), tremendous ball-tracking skills, considerable intelligence, tacky hands and route-running savvy, he’s an ideal underneath target similar in style and substance as Miami’s Davone Bess(notes).

Most importantly, White is absolutely fearless.

In his first ever professional game Week 3 at Denver, the unintimidated receiver told Manning he could beat his defender on “a slant and go.” Sure enough, the youngster soon basked in touchdown glory, quickly earning the respect of his quarterback.

Now expected to slide into Collie’s vacant spot, The Project could post supernatural numbers Halloween weekend and possibly beyond, especially in PPR leagues.

This week, the Colts will try to avenge their Week 1 loss to division rival Houston. Expect a pass-centered game-plan. As educated fanatics know, the Texans have struggled containing quarterbacks allowing 8.2 yards per attempt, the second-highest mark in the NFL. Unsurprisingly, wide receivers have also excelled against them, performing 19.7 percent above the league average.

Of course, Reggie Wayne(notes) and Garcon will be the primary vertical options, but with the running game in flux, Manning will be forced to work the middle of the field, an area of defensive vulnerability for Houston and a place where White could thrive. On a pass-first team which has turned to the air 62.5-percent of the time, he should attract roughly 7-9 targets Monday night. Newly anointed tight end starter Jacob Tamme(notes) could also be a factor, particularly between the hashmarks, but is a rawer receiver in comparison.

As Manning remarked four weeks ago, any player is an injury away from making an impact. White’s could be significant. Don't be frightened by the immediate schedule after Week 8.

In competitive formats where the Left Coast Mike Williams isn’t sipping margaritas in the free agent pool, the 98-percent available wideout is a low-budget commodity which could strike fear into the competition.

He might also calm a city under siege.

Fearless Forecast (Next five weeks): 27 receptions, 298 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns


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