Fantasy owners know the roster of the Indiapolis Colts very well. From their elite quarterback to a top five wide receiver and arguably the best fantasy tight end in the game, the Colts are as popular on draft boards as they are in power rankings at this time of year.
There is depth on their roster, however, and some names that owners should be well aware of heading into 2010. With one of the most favorable schedules for fantasy owners down the stretch, this is a great year to own a Colts player on your roster.
Have you heard of Peyton Manning? He might be the best fantasy quarterback out there this year, and owners shouldn't be shy about taking him early in drafts. Last year, Manning threw for exactly 4,500 yards with 33 touchdowns and 16 interceptions, and there's no reason to believe this year will be any different. He is in the final season of his contract, but that doesn't figure to be much of a factor; the Colts will certainly take care of the best player in the history of the team in Indianapolis.
The team's leading rusher last year was Joseph Addai, but second-year man Donald Brown should emerge as the stronger fantasy play this year. Neither averaged more than 3.6 yards per carry last year, but Brown showed flashes of brilliance last year including a team-best 45-yard touchdown run.
Addai could be a solid RB2 option as the Colts will likely continue splitting carries, but Brown could be the back closer to 900 yards this season. While Addai led the team with 10 touchdowns last year, both backs could see the end zone more than six times this season. Because of the Colts' pass-oriented offense and splitting carries, both Addai and Brown should be viewed as RB2 options.
The most noise coming from Indianapolis this summer hasn't been about Manning's contract expiring, but about Reggie Waynewanting to have his deal extended. Whether or not this factors into his attendance at training camp might be a question, but his productivity is not in doubt. Wayne has emerged as a top-five receiver in the game and could be in for an even bigger season if he's playing for money. He tied for the team lead with 100 catches and 10 touchdowns last year, and was alone atop the team's stats with 1,264 yards.
Behind Wayne, fantasy owners fell in love with Pierre Garcon last year. He broke out with 47 catches for 765 yards and four touchdowns, and should be seen as a strong WR3 and possible WR2 play this year. Perhaps the biggest sleeper on the roster, however, is Austin Collie, who also had a stellar season a year ago. Collie quietly had more receptions (60) and touchdowns (seven) than Garcon, and added 676 yards as well. He should also be seen as a strong WR2 or WR3 play.
One player to keep an eye on is returning Anthony Gonzalez, who missed all of last year because of injury. If he returns and is a factor, he could be a nice steal late in a draft or off waivers. Keep an eye on Gonzalez as the season progresses.
Dallas Clark is the top tight end in the game right now, and could be considered a first round option in a deep league. How many tight ends put up numbers like Clark? With 100 receptions and 10 touchdowns, he would qualify as an elite wide receiver; he was only 158 yards behind Wayne for the team lead in every receiving category. Look for continued success from Clark.
As long as Manning is under center in Indianapolis, fantasy owners should feel comfortable investing picks in any of the pass-catching options on the Colts roster. Between Clark and Wayne, there are at two top tier options, but Collie and Garcon are also very impressive players that should be considered.
This unit isn't usually where Colts find a way onto fantasy rosters, but there is still a lot of value for IDP options on the Colts roster. Gary Brackett is the leader of the defense and his 99 tackles were probably low for his standards. He is a strong LB play in any league. Clint Sessions led the team in tackles last year, and could be an unheralded option that could be a strong sleeper at LB as well.
Safety Antoine Bethea should be considered a top secondary play in any league. He was third on the team with 96 tackles last year, and his numbers benefit from the Colts' offense turning many games into a shootout. He also four interceptions last year, and consistent cornerback play could land him a few more this year.
On the defensive line, it's tricky for fantasy owners to pass (bad pun?) on Dwight Freeney because of his history as an elite rush end. However, injuries have stolen a lot of Freeney's past couple seasons, and it's now time for fantasy owners to look at the other end, Robert Mathis, for fantasy impact. Mathis led the team with 9.5 sacks last year and should be viewed as the top option for sacks on the Colts roster this year.
2010 Regular Season Schedule (all times ET)
Seeing Jacksonville and Tennessee twice is nice, but the real concern for fantasy owners are between Weeks 14-16 (ie playoffs). The Colts have arguably the easiest fantasy schedule on the planet this year in playoff weeks, not only featuring three vulnerable defenses (TEN, JAX and OAK), but they get the luxury of ten days off between Week 14 and Week 15! The only concern for fantasy owners should be the OAK matchup during championship week, as Wayne willd draw a touch assignment against shut-down corner Nnamdi Asomugha. The only other week that should pop up for fantasy owners is Week 3 against DEN, where Champ Bailey will be all over Wayne.
Give Peyton the ball.
Let Peyton win games.
Give up fewer points than Peyton puts up.