Evan Silva

Offseason Low Down

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Friday, June 22, 2018


Colts Offensive Profile Last Three Years

2015-2017 Pass Attempts Rank: 9th, 13th, 30th
2015-2017 Rush Attempts Rank: 21st, 23rd, 10th
2015-2017 Play Volume Rank: 12th, 12th, 23rd
2015-2017 Yards Per Play Rank: 32nd, 14th, 32nd
Unaccounted for Air Yards from 2017 (Rank): 1,164 (16th)
Unaccounted for Carries from 2017 (Rank): 268 (4th)

Projected Starting Lineup

QB: Andrew Luck
RB: Marlon Mack
WR: T.Y. Hilton
WR: Ryan Grant
TE: Jack Doyle
TE: Eric Ebron
LT: Anthony Castonzo
LG: Quenton Nelson
C: Ryan Kelly
RG: Braden Smith
RT: Joe Haeg

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Passing Game Outlook


Andrew Luck first tore the labrum in his throwing arm in Week 3 of the 2015 season. He played through the injury, only to suffer a year-ending kidney laceration in Week 9. Luck bypassed 2016 offseason surgery to set career highs in yards per attempt (7.8) and passer rating (96.4) in his third year. Luck finally underwent January 2017 surgery, after which owner Jim Irsay publicly promised Luck would be ready for Week 1. But Luck wasn’t ready, and the Colts placed him on PUP to start the season. Luck allegedly suffered a setback in October, costing him all of 2017. Neither the Colts nor their beat writers ever voiced outward concern. In 2018, the Colts and their beat writers are again optimistic. Indy’s pass-catcher corps is the weakest of Luck’s career, but the coaching should be his best with Frank Reich replacing Chuck Pagano after Reich oversaw Carson Wentz’s second-year breakout, then innovatively developed an offense potent enough for Nick Foles to win Super Bowl MVP. I have proactively avoided Luck in early best-ball drafts. He’s simply not worth the risk at fantasy’s most-replaceable position.

Even if Luck isn’t all systems go, among the Colts’ reasons for lasting optimism is 2017 trade acquisition Jacoby Brissett, whom GM Chris Ballard landed last September for Ryan Grigson first-round bust Phillip Dorsett. Brissett went on to start 15 games and respectably finish No. 18 in Pro Football Focus’ Adjusted QB Rating. Brissett also flashed plus running ability by ranking 12th among quarterbacks in rushing yards (260). Indianapolis’ offensive line failed him, but Brissett too frequently held onto the ball too long as the Colts allowed the NFL’s sixth-most quarterback hits (113) and a league-high 56 sacks. Brissett’s weaknesses and strengths are clear. He’ll be a dual-threat upside streamer if Luck misses further time.

T.Y. Hilton showed his floor last season on WR25 (PPR) and WR24 (non-PPR) finishes with Brissett, failing to eclipse 1,000 yards after leading the NFL in receiving yards (1,448) with Luck the year before. Even in a down season, Hilton’s Game Speed was elite in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Next Gen Stats research. Hilton’s size (5’10/183) prevents him from being discussed among the league’s best receivers, but Hilton has shown an ability to win at all areas of the field. Hilton should remain a viable-if-unsteady WR2/3 if Brissett is the Colts’ starter. T.Y. will offer WR1 upside if Luck gets right. Hilton averages 15.1 career PPR points per game when Luck plays versus 11.3 PPR points per game when Luck doesn’t. Another draw is Indy’s bereft receiver corps besides him, setting up Hilton for heavy volume.

 

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Behind Hilton, every Colts wideout spot should be wide open. Ex-Redskins coaches pet Ryan Grant is a 4.53/4.64 possession receiver coming off a career-best 45/573/12.7/4 stat line. Grant did flash reliability and some post-catch capability, finishing No. 18 in PFF’s catch rate (71.4%) and No. 22 among 118 qualifying receivers in yards after catch per reception (5.3). Chester Rogers’ Game Speed showed up even slower than Grant’s. Rogers is also short on size (5’11/185) and ran 60% of his 2017 routes outside, where his skill set simply isn’t going to win in the pros. Nevertheless, opportunity will matter above all else should Luck return and Grant or Rogers win full-time jobs. Fifth-round pick Daurice Fountain (Northern Iowa) and sixth-rounder Deon Cain (Clemson) also warrant extended preseason looks.

Jack Doyle led the 2017 Colts in catches (80) with Brissett under center but averaged an anemic 8.6 yards per reception and showed sluggish Game Speed. A crafty route runner, Doyle still ranked third among tight ends in average yards of separation at target (3.4). Doyle’s 2018 role is threatened by two-year, $15 million pickup Eric Ebron, a candidate to replace Doyle in pass-first, one-tight end 11 personnel. Reich went so far as to call Ebron an “elite tight end,” and Ebron expects to be used like Zach Ertz. “Get all the receivers on one side, get the back on the other side, and then just put the tight end back here and see what (the defense) does,” Reich told the Indianapolis Star. “You get a linebacker, you get a safety, and you get a tight end like Ebron, and even when they have a corner on him, you feel like it’s still a winning matchup because of his size and catch radius.” Doyle led Brissett’s Colts in red-zone targets (10) and targets inside the ten (6), and finished a close second (13, 6) to Hilton (14, 8) in both with Luck in 2016. Doyle’s scoring-position usage should stay intact, but his volume is at risk. Ebron has a low floor but underrated upside in a potentially Luck-quarterbacked passing game. He's going from a loaded Lions offense to one frothing with opportunity, missing the NFL’s 13th-most targets from last year’s team.

Running Game Outlook

2017 fourth-round pick Marlon Mack theoretically tops Indy’s running back depth chart after earning 114 change-up touches behind Frank Gore as a rookie. Mack’s boom-bust tendencies carried over from college; he tied for 11th in the NFL in 20-plus-yard runs but averaged just 3.85 yards per rush. Mack was buried at or behind the line of scrimmage on 33% of rushing attempts, second most in the league. He lost late-season snaps for costly pass-protection and ball-security errors. Mack missed all of OTAs and minicamp to rehab from shoulder surgery. Mack offers adequate size (5’11/213) and big-play chops, but the mistakes he made as a rookie will cost Mack snaps if they happen again. Without any pre-training camp work, Mack must make positive impressions on a new coaching staff. Warren Sharp did project the Colts’ 2018 run-defense schedule as softest in the league.

Pushing Mack are fourth- and fifth-round picks Nyheim Hines (N.C. State) and Jordan Wilkins (Ole Miss) after journeyman Robert Turbin was hit with a four-game PEDs ban. Reich’s Eagles used a three- to four-back system of Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount, Corey Clement, Darren Sproles, and Wendell Smallwood. Hines is undersized (5’8/198) with 4.38 sprinter jets and caught 89 passes in his Wolfpack career, dabbling at slot receiver as a junior. Hines offers exciting PPR upside if he carves out a big role. Wilkins sports plus size (6’1/216), excelled in pass protection as a Rebel, breaks tackles, and holds his own in the passing game. Wilkins arguably offers the highest bellcow upside in this group. Turbin is a proven pass blocker and could fill the “Blount Role” in Reich’s running game as a short-yardage bruiser. While interesting to debate because of its high-scoring potential should Luck’s throwing shoulder get right, I think this is a backfield to avoid because of its committee likelihood, low ceiling, and low floor.

2018 Vegas Win Total

The Colts’ Win Total opened at 6.5 with -130 odds on the under. It was alarmingly low considering Luck’s potential return, Indianapolis’ hard-luck 2017 record of 4-6 in one-score games, and GM Chris Ballard’s largely positive first year on the job. The total wasn’t set long after Josh McDaniels publicly spurned the Colts’ head-coaching offer, however, and Reich was viewed as a fallback option. Warren Sharp rated Indy’s schedule 11th softest, noting the Colts draw the fifth-easiest slate of defenses. The floor is scary if Luck suffers a setback, but I think this team would be in the mix for seven wins even with Brissett at QB.



Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva



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