Fantasy Football Focus: Indianapolis Colts

Russell IvanacSenior Analyst IAugust 7, 2008

The Colts have sat atop of the AFC South for quite a few years now, and some of their players have reaped the fantasy benefits. Quarterback Peyton Manning has been considered one of the best quarterbacks (if not the best) over the last decade.

Running backs Edgerrin James (now with Arizona) and Joseph Addai have enjoyed stellar years. Wide receivers Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne have been solid fantasy producers for years now as well.

By now, you should get the point: The Colts' offense produces fantasy studs.

So it should come as no surprise that many Colts will be flying off of the board in this year's fantasy drafts. Let's take a closer look at each of them.


Peyton Manning

Consistency is something that is very valuable in fantasy football, and Manning has it. Only once in the last nine years has he passed for less than 4,000 yards. He has also never thrown less than 26 touchdowns in a season. So you know what you are getting with Manning, a top-tier quarterback.

Despite having one of the league's best offensive lines, a very solid receiving corps, and the ability to pick apart any defense thrown at him, I still have a concern about him.

In July, he had knee surgery to remove an infected bursa sac. It shouldn't be serious, but until he is seen practicing, I can't say that I am sure he will be 100 percent. However, I can say that even if he only gets to 90 percent, it will be still be better than most quarterbacks' 100 percent.

I am probably overreacting to his injury, but the way the Colts are treating Jim Sorgi like a starter and not revealing anything about Manning makes me think there might be more to it than them just being careful. Regardless, he is still a top-three fantasy quarterback. 


Joseph Addai/Mike Hart

With defenses focusing on the passing game, Addai has been able to run towards the top of the fantasy world. He has a nose for the end zone and scored in 10 out of the 14 games that he saw significant playing time in.

What was I saying about consistency? Oh yeah, it's valuable, and so is Addai. He is a top-five fantasy running back and will only get better from here.

The only thing that limits Addai's potential is the fact that Indianapolis loves to use their running backs in a platoon fashion. So who will be riding shotgun to Addai this year? My guess is rookie Mike Hart. He is a hard worker with great blocking ability. Is he fast? No, and he has never been accused of such. His horrible 40-yard dash at the NFL combine was a testament to that.

However, he is a shifty runner with good hands, who will probably end up seeing time as a third-down back. He may never become a top-notch running back, but he will be a decent backup. He doesn't hold much fantasy value at the time though, but if he does emerge as Addai's lead backup, that might change.


Reggie Wayne/Marvin Harrison/Anthony Gonzalez/Dallas Clark

Yes, I did just list four receivers (well, three and a tight end), and each of them deserves to be on a fantasy roster this season. With Peyton Manning as their quarterback, any player that can catch the ball becomes a instant scoring threat.

Now, if the one catching the ball has a good amount of skill, he becomes deadly. This is what happened with Harrison, is happening with Wayne, and could happen with Gonzalez.

Wayne is undoubtedly one of the top-three fantasy receivers. He led the league in receiving yards last year with 1,510 yards, and should be around that number this year as well. He won't reach that number again, but he should come close to it, especially if Harrison can't return to form.

Harrison scares me. His offseason legal issues and knee injury from last year aren't the things that make for a productive season. In Harrison's defense, this is really his first issue with injuries or the law.

On the other hand, he is turning 36-years old and it won't be easy to come back from arthroscopic surgery this late in his career.

Head coach Tony Dungy is confident he will be fine, but I have my doubts. The Colts' medical staff is below average and had the worst injury record last year. If you are a gambler, he could be a No. 3 fantasy receiver.

Gonzalez would get a huge fantasy-value boost if Harrison can't return to form, but he will at least be a solid slot receiver. He proved last year that he could be productive, starting opposite Wayne when Harrison got injured.

He is a young and fast receiver with plenty of upside, making him a No. 3 or No. 4 fantasy receiver now.

Clark emerged as Peyton's main red-zone target last season and that should continue this year. In the Colts' offensive game plan, Clark is treated like another talented receiver. He lines up as a slot receiver often and can catch the ball anywhere on the field.

With Utecht gone, Clark may get even more attention. If Manning gets into trouble, he loves to dump the ball off to Clark, giving this top-five fantasy tight end even more value.


Adam Vinatieri

Oh how the mighty have fallen. Vinatieri was once known for nailing clutch game-winning field goals in the playoffs. His most recent achievement? Missing his only three field-goal attempts beyond 39 yards. The only thing keeping his fantasy value above water is the fact that he plays for the Colts. He is a No. 2 fantasy kicker in my eyes and could be nearing the end of his career.


The Colts' defense is built to keep a lead. They have defensive backs with good range, which fits their Cover-Two system, and a defensive line that puts consistent pressure on the quarterback.

They only have two, big-name playmakers, but they have plenty of role players that know how to do their job.

SS Bob Sanders makes this defense work, and it is no secret that without him, the defense doesn't do nearly as well. He is a vicious hitter that is great in run support and has the anticipation and range to compensate for some of his less-talented counterparts. He is one of the best safeties in the league.

DE Dwight Freeney leads a defensive line that pass-rushes well, but is average at best against the run. He is returning from a foot injury and should be back to his dominant self. Luckily, the defensive line won't have to go against the run too often, as the opposing offense will most likely be playing catch-up most of the game.

Special teams are the Colts' weak point. Their best return man is T.J. Rushing, who is an average punt returner at best and had little success returning kickoffs.

Their special-teams defense is even worse and should lead to opposing teams enjoying good field position and an extra six points. That doesn't stop this unit from being a No. 1 fantasy option, however.

Top Five Indianapolis Colts Fantasy Players

1. Joseph Addai

2. Reggie Wayne

3. Peyton Manning

4. Marvin Harrison

5. Anthony Gonzalez

Bye Week: 4


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