Rapid React: Colts add Gore, Johnson, on fast track to AFC superiority

In four weeks, Indianapolis will host the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four.

Come January, the Colts could again make an appearance in the NFL version.

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Indy’s rather young offense added considerable age and potency signing high-performing veterans Andre Johnson and Frank Gore, who spurned Philly.

For fantasy purposes, the impacts are far reaching. Gore’s arrival means Trent Richardson’s reign of fantasy suckage has mercifully come to an end. The ex-Niner totaled 255 carries, 1,103 yards and four scores on the Left Coast a season ago, netting a laudable 4.3 yards per carry. His dwindling yards after contact numbers – he gained a bland 53.1 percent of his yards after contact in ’14 – and 31-year-old body raise concern, but much like Ahmad Bradshaw before him, he should be a highly utilized rusher, particularly near the goal-line. Boom Herron will spell him on pass downs, but a 1,000-total yard, 6-8 TD season is definitely achievable. Andrew Luck’s ability to stretch the field and the Colts’ plus offensive line, a unit that ranked inside the top-half last fall in run-blocking per Pro Football Focus, should create exploitable holes. And, no, I’m not worried about Vick Ballard.

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As for Johnson, revenge is a dish best served cold. Staying in the AFC South he’ll be plenty motivated to perform, especially when facing his former employer. His per game numbers have declined in three consecutive seasons bottoming out at 7.4 fantasy points per contest (standard leagues) last year, but he’s a reliable possession receiver who should haul in 80-plus passes in an explosive offense. That’s useful production in PPR settings. Unfortunately, though, his contributions in traditional formats may again underwhelm. Recall Hakeem Nicks and Reggie Wayne combined for 21 targets inside the 20 and only three scores in 2014. Herron and tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen were Luck’s typical weapons of choice in those situations. With last year’s coaching staff intact, more of the same is expected. Consider him a high-end WR3 in non-PPR formats.

On the downside, Donte Moncrief dynasty owners are a bit peeved. Johnson is sure to slide into Reggie Wayne’s vacated role leaving the second-year receiver to fight for table scraps. T.Y. Hilton, after all, is the Colts’ best all-around receiver. Given the numerous options on roster, Moncrief may only net a modest increase in targets. Barring unforeseen injuries, it’s hard to imagine him surpassing a 45-650-5 line.

Specifically for Luck, he’ll be my No. 1 QB entering peak draft season, just ahead of Aaron Rodgers. Remember, he tallied 27.6 points per game output in traditional formats last year, outpacing A-Rod by a full two points per game. For those that don’t adhere to the waiting-on-a-QB strategy, he’s worth every penny at his current 9.90 ADP. The neck-beard alone is worth a first round pick. Another 5,000 combined yards with 40-plus touchdowns should be expected.

After its splashy moves, Indy is sure to be the AFC favorite come September.