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Michael Pittman Jr.'s Colts Fantasy Outlook After 101-Yard Effort vs. Titans

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorNovember 13, 2020

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman (11) hangs onto a pass as he is defended by Tennessee Titans cornerback Breon Borders (39) in the first half of an NFL football game Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
Wade Payne/Associated Press

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. caught seven passes for 101 yards and added a 21-yard run in a 34-17 road win over the Tennessee Titans on Thursday.

The Checkdown @thecheckdown

Michael Pittman Jr. was making plays all over the field tonight 😎 @MikePitt_Jr @Colts https://t.co/vPnZ0wSEXc

Pittman, a rookie out of USC who the Colts drafted 34th overall, entered Thursday with just 14 receptions for 135 yards in an injury-shortened year that forced him to miss three games. He averaged just four targets per game during that stretch.

From a fantasy perspective, Pittman was unplayable aside from keeping him on the bench and hoping for better opportunities down the road.

Those chances may have appeared now that Pittman dominated in a huge game against a division rival, which put the Colts into the AFC South lead via tiebreaker over Tennessee.

There were encouraging signs last Sunday that Pittman could break through: He amassed seven targets for four catches and 56 receiving yards against a stout Baltimore Ravens defense while also playing 87 percent of snaps, per Pro Football Reference.

He was also second on the team in routes run, per Adam Levitan of Establish the Run:

Adam Levitan @adamlevitan

Colts WR routes run with TY Hilton, Ashton Dulin, Parris Campbell out. On 43 Phil Rivers dropbacks: * Marcus Johnson 41 * Michael Pittman 39 * Zach Pascal 30 * DeMichael Harris 13 * Daurice Fountain 9

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Granted, the Colts did not have T.Y. Hilton on the field, but Pittman was a focal point in the Colts' offense Thursday even after he returned. 

Given the usage, the opponent, the massive playoff-picture implications and Pittman's performance despite Hilton's return, it's fair to wonder whether his night foreshadows a big second half of the season, thereby making him a big-time fantasy asset.

Zak Keefer of The Athletic was impressed with his work:

Zak Keefer @zkeefer

Michael Pittman Jr looks like a player.

Joel A. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star was as well:

Joel A. Erickson @JoelAErickson

Michael Pittman's better in the open field than I realized.

Joel A. Erickson @JoelAErickson

Michael Pittman might be for real. But he pulled himself out after taking that shot.

Pittman ended up being fine, and after the game, he offered some encouraging words on his emerging chemistry with veteran quarterback Philip Rivers, per Jim Ayello of the Indianapolis Star:

Jim Ayello @jimayello

Michael Pittman says he feels like he's getting more in sync with Philip Rivers. Not having a preseason definitely didn't make things easy.

Rivers offered some kind words too:

Joel A. Erickson @JoelAErickson

Rivers said he felt Michael Pittman coming along right before the Jets game, and then he got hurt. So a game like this one has been coming for a long time.

That work was clearly evident Thursday, as Pittman made some huge plays, including this 40-yard reception:

NFL @NFL

The rookie Michael Pittman Jr goes 40 yards! @Colts inside the red zone. @MikePitt_Jr 📺: #INDvsTEN on NFLN/FOX/PRIME VIDEO 📱: https://t.co/W5bCPYgMfo https://t.co/ZSny7vPgOq

Ultimately, Pittman should be a popular waiver-wire addition before Week 11 and rightfully so. Perhaps most importantly, the Colts' schedule sets up for some big passing days. They play the Houston Texans, who have allowed 415.8 passing yards per game (30th in the NFL), in Weeks 13 and 15. A Week 14 date with the Las Vegas Raiders (385.6 passing yards, 23rd) looms, and so does a Week 12 meeting with these same Titans.

Pittman is now a must-add and strong flex option who could end up being a strong candidate to start as a second wide receiver for fantasy teams down the stretch. If Rivers treats Pittman like the team's de-facto No. 1 wideout in Weeks 11-17 as he did Thursday, then starting him is a no-brainer call.

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