The Yahoo Fantasy analysts will preview all 32 NFL teams between now and the end of July as training camps open. We’ll tackle pressing season-long fantasy questions, Best Ball tips (new on Yahoo for 2019) and team win totals. Next up, the Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts had a successful 2018 season, even though their playoff journey ended after they were completely outmatched by the Kansas City Chiefs. Indy finished the regular season 10-6, thanks to an improved offense and a very strong defense. Let’s not kid ourselves however — Andrew Luck’s resurgence (and health) helped this team get to the next level.
Luck finished as the fifth-best fantasy quarterback in standard Yahoo formats, and he has the chance to be even better with more time under head coach Frank Reich’s system.
BELIEVE or MAKE BELIEVE. Do you buy the following story on Andrew Luck?
As perilous battles surely near, our boys prepare feverishly to engage rebel forces with unmatched ferocity, a task for which I have taken on much responsibility. My humble superiors have promoted me to colonel. If I acquire enough notable victories, maybe someday I will rise to general, possibly even inside the Union command’s top-three. Maybe I could meet President Lincoln himself! The candied possum testicles and dried otter milk you sent were quite delightful. Kiss the cows for me.
Your doting son,
Liz: BELIEVE. Thanks to the restoration of his shoulder, a fortified offensive line (No. 2 in pass protection/18 sacks), and the up-tempo genius of Frank Reich (2.63 TT), Luck SLAYED last season. The fifth most productive fantasy player at the position, the Colts stud QB unleashed on the naysayers and posted top-five stats in the following categories: Passing attempts (QB2), red zone attempts (QB3), passing yards (QB5), air yards (QB2), passing TDs (QB2). Most impressively, he did all of that with a depthless receiving corps. Noting the 2019 additions of Devin Funchess, Parris Campbell, and (potentially) Deon Cain, Luck should continue to push the Colts offense forward.
Brad: BELIEVE. Indy’s captain is about to earn additional stripes. I was admittedly bearish on his return from shoulder surgery last year, but Luck gradually added ticks to his fastball and recaptured his pre-procedure form. He ranked No. 10 or better in ten different traditional and advanced categories, including total air yards, red-zone completion percentage, deep-ball completion percentage and on-target percentage.
If Luck’s modest 7.2 YPA returns to the 7.5-8.0 range, it’s plausible he sits on the position’s iron throne come year’s end. The arrival of Devin Funchess and DB-burning rookie Parris Campbell enhances that probability. So does Indy’s impenetrable offensive line. A season ago, Luck was kept clean on 70.5 percent of his dropbacks, the sixth-best mark in the league. Toss in a likely uptick in rushing production (148-0 in ‘18) and his final totals should approach 4,900 combined yards and 40-45 total TDs. Luck is precisely why investing in Patrick Mahomes some 30 picks earlier (Mahomes ADP: 39.8; Luck: 72.6) is a moronic move.
TRUE or FALSE
Marlon Mack, who took a step forward in 2018, finishes No. 15 or better among running backs in .5 PPR this season.
Liz: TRUE, just barely. There’s no denying the upside of Mack’s situation. He’s an integral part of a high-octane offense. But he’s also had durability issues and his efficiency waned considerably when Ryan Kelly was sidelined last season. Furthermore, he averaged just over 2 targets per game in 2018. In fact, Week 17 was the only contest in which he caught more than two balls (3) all year. Those may be small complaints, but they’re enough to keep him ranked behind Nick Chubb, Damien Williams, and Todd Gurley … and just outside of my top-twelve. He’s currently my RB15 heading into the fall.
Andy: If we weren’t PPRing, I’d give this an easy “true.” Mack was the No. 10 scorer at running back on a per-game basis in standard scoring leagues last season. But the half-PPR setting is definitely a complication for Mack. It’s enough for me to say FALSE. He caught only 17 balls last season on 26 targets. Nyheim Hines was clearly the preferred receiving option in Indy’s backfield (63-425-2), and there’s no reason that usage won’t continue in 2019.
Mack is obviously a terrific back coming off a 10-touchdown season, and he’s tied to an excellent offense. It wouldn’t be shocking if he finished as a solid RB1 in all formats. I reserve the right to draft him in multiple leagues, even if I sound like a hater here.
PLAYER PICK ‘EM
Which receiving Colt will turn the highest profit: T.Y. Hilton (26.7 ADP, WR11), Devin Funchess (120.3, WR50), Eric Ebron (63.9, TE6) or Jack Doyle (138.5, TE16)?
Andy: You can’t tempt me with those prices on Funchess and Doyle, sorry. Those guys reek of fantasy defeat. No thank you.
Ebron has almost no chance to repeat last year’s touchdown total, of course, but that doesn’t mean you need to stay away. At TE6, we’re not actually paying for a 14-TD season. Can he catch six? Seven? If he does, he can justify his price.
But he’s not my answer. I’m going with HILTON, because he’s essentially a lock for 1200-plus yards, assuming he and Luck stay healthy. Hilton has never really had a down season with Luck as his quarterback, and he’s finished as high as WR5. He’s also the only player involved in this question who I’m actively interested in drafting.
Liz: T.Y. HILTON. Give me the player who has posted five 1,000+ yard seasons in his last seven campaigns. Hilton’s consistency and after the catch ability (WR6) makes him the safest money on most boards. I’ll admit to being intrigued by Funchess’ presence, but I think he’s a better IRL addition to Indy than a fantasy acquisition. Frankly, all three of these players have overlap in their skill sets (don’t forget, Funchess was considered a “tweener” when he came to the NFL, having played TE at Ann Arbor) and figure to cannibalize each other to some degree. Hilton’s role is clearly defined and his status as the team’s longstanding No. 1 is deserved of a third-round selection in 12-team exercises. He’s presently my WR9 heading into 2019.
Best Ball Bargain Bin
Andy: Gimme NYHEIM HINES. He’s a volume receiver for this team with big-play ability. I’m not sure when his 9-catch, 2-TD game is gonna happen, but we know it’s coming. Best Ball is his format.
Brad: PARRIS CAMPBELL. La Foudre, who clocked a 4.31 40-yard dash, is pure electricity. His routes rarely ventured past 10 yards while at Ohio State, but the slot man regularly turned high-percentage short throws into chunk gains. Last season, 814 of his 1,071 yards were notched after the catch. Bank on him carving up zone coverage as a screen and quick-slant option. Mark him down for a 50-650-5 baseline with plenty of room to grow.
Mad Bets: Indianapolis 9.5 wins OVER (-120) or UNDER (+100)
Brad: OVER. Smack dab in the middle according to projected Vegas win totals, Indy features the 16th-hardest schedule. Given Luck’s upgraded arsenal and the club’s overall upward trend on defense, it should reach double-digit wins. Alongside Cleveland, it’s the biggest threat to unseat New England in the AFC.
Liz: OVER. The Colts managed a 10-6 record last year. They’ve made solid improvements this year. Sure, the schedule is tough, but this is a team on the rise. They should grab double-digit wins before Christmas.
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