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#23 Frank Gore (11, Miami FL)
The remainder of the RB depth chart is in no particular order because it’s going to be fuzzy.
#26 Vick Ballard (4, MS State)
#38 Tyler Varga (R, Yale)
#36 Dan Herron (3, Ohio State) [Waived/Injured in preseason]
#37 Zurlon Tipton (2, C. Michigan) [Waived]
- What does Frank Gore have left in the tank? A diminished Gore is probably better than any form of Trent Richardson, but can he stay healthy.
- Can Vick Ballard actually see game action this year? (Answer: Possibly not. See the update below.)
- Can Dan Herron continue to be a serviceable offensive player? Made some nice plays in 2014 (1st round playoff game vs. CIN in particular) (Answer: Evidently not, injured during the preseason and waived.)
- Can the Colts continue to lead the league in Players Named Zurlon? Only time will tell. (Answer: Evidently not, Tipton was waived in the final round of cuts for the 53-man roster.)
Fantasy Impact: With who they have at QB, the Colts will never be a run-first team. The best they can hope for is to have enough of a run game to loosen up the defense and destroy opponents over the top. While you can probably get some numbers out of Gore and possibly Herron, there’s a lot of uncertainty here and you might consider spending your RB picks elsewhere.
Vick Ballard did make the 53-man, but was probably the 52nd or 53rd man. He pulled a hamstring in the final preseason game and it’s unclear how he will be able to help the club this year. Even if he makes a full and fast recovery from this injury and rips off a couple of nice games, you can’t help but wonder if Ballard’s body is simply a ticking time bomb.
In short, if you want a running back off this club, it’s going to be Frank Gore. He’s going to have to shoulder the load for 17 weeks and beyond for this club, and one has to wonder how fresh he’ll be come week 10 or 11.
#13 T.Y. Hilton (4, FIU)
#81 Andre Johnson (11, Miami FL)
#10 Donte Moncrief (2, Mississippi)
#17 Griff Whalen (4, Stanford)
#9 Duron Carter (R, Montreal Alouettes) [Practice Squad]
#15 Phillip Dorsett (R, Miami FL)
Reggie Wayne had a hell of a run in Indianapolis, but the ACL tear and the years caught up to one of the most reliable receivers in recent memory. T.Y. Hilton has shown himself to be the up-and-coming star for the Colts, and the addition of Andre Johnson will have them on the other end of many Luck’s chucks this year.
Donte Moncrief and Griff Whalen picked up the bulk of the remaining catches for the Colts in 2014, and the 2015 version adds CFL wild card in Duron Carter. He spent the past 2 years up north amassing 124 catches for 1,773 meters (that’s 1,939 yards.) If he can adjust to the NFL in short order, the group at WR is very strong for this team.
Fantasy Impact: Lots of numbers to be had here, especially with the QB who will be throwing to them. Hilton is a solid bet. I’d take a declining Andre Johnson over a lot of guys. Moncrief could be a mid-to-late steal. Dorsett and Carter are wildcards due to lack of experience, but if you’ve got a pick left to burn then you could do worse. Whalen is likely the odd-man out unless he lights it up in the preseason.
Update: Whalen makes the club, Carter is relegated to practice squad. Top to bottom this is a group of guys who will put up numbers with Andrew Luck at the helm, and it would not be unreasonable to pick the best remaining WR off this club.
#83 Dwayne Allen (4, Clemson)
#80 Coby Fleener (4, Stanford)
#84 Jack Doyle (3, W. Kentucky)
Fleener ranked 8th in the NFL in receiving yards in 2014, and overall the Colts have a solid pair of TEs. Allen has had injuries in his career but if he can have a healthy season, will contribute to the Colts ability to scatter able receivers all around the field.
Jack Doyle… exists. He’s caught a few passes, scored a couple of touchdowns, he’s clearly the #3 TE on the squad and may not have much for you on the fantasy front.
Fantasy Impact: Solid and solid. Allen has succumbed to the injury bug in his career, but when he’s on the field he’s a force to be reckoned with. Fleener picked up where Dallas Clark left off and fails to disappoint.
#18 Andrew Luck (4, Stanford)
#12 Matt Hasselbeck (17, Boston College)
Hasselbeck will see snaps in the following two situations:
- The calendar says August.
- Andrew Luck gets into an accident involving a wood chipper, steamroller, flamethrower, or combination thereof.
With Tom Brady suspended for 4 games (Update: LOLJK.) who are you going to take ahead of Luck at QB? He’s surrounded by what may be one of the deepest receiving corps in the league and there’s little reason to believe he won’t light up the scoreboards again in 2015.
#4 Adam Vinatieri (20, South Dakota State)
#1 Pat McAfee (7, West Virginia)
Adam Vinatieri’s 19th season was one of his best, converting 30 of 31 field goals. McAfee is one of the better punters in the league (there are so many ways to try to quantify that) so overall, putting foot-to-ball should be another strong suit of the team this year.
1/29: Phillip Dorsett, WR, Miami (FL)
3/65: D’Joun Smith, CB, Florida Atlantic
3/93: Henry Anderson, DE, Stanford
4/109: Clayton Geathers, SS, Central Florida
5/151: David Parry, NT, Stanford
6/205: Josh Robinson, RB, Mississippi State
6/207: Amarlo Herrera, LB, Georgia
7/255: Denzelle Good, OT, Mars Hill
Many were surprised that the Colts took a wideout in the first round, but the front office held the line on taking the best available player, regardless of position. Also worth noting however, they only took one more offensive skill position player and not until the 6th round.
Team defense will need to be shored up in 2015 for this club to make the Big Game, and the draft did provide several options to this end.
With the offseason additions of Frank Gore and Andre Johnson as experienced offensive weapons (health being the only concern on these guys with double-digit seasons in the league) and another year under the belts of T.Y. Hilton, Coby Fleener, and Luck, the Colts should be poised to be an offensive juggernaut in the AFC in 2015.
From a raw numbers point of view, these free agent signings replace the departed Reggie Wayne (779 yds, 2 TD) and Trent Richardson (748 yds, 3 TD) and on paper should be superior players. If they play inspired football in their new surroundings and with a top-shelf QB at the helm then both are poised for a solid 2015 season. Let’s face it, Colin Kaepernick isn’t bad, but he’s no Andrew Luck and who knows where Jim Harbaugh’s head was in 2014. The Houston Texans… well I don’t even know who their quarterback was in 2014. The Texans’ owner recently added some fuel to the fire saying Johnson had lost a step, so I’m sure he’ll be hungry to make Bob McNair eat his words.
With the draft upcoming we’ll see what parts Ryan Grigson is able to add to the team. The defense was not strong in 2014 and the wisest move may be to take the best defensive player available at any position, be it at end, linebacker, or secondary. For years Indy enjoyed the two-man wrecking crew of Mathis and Freeney who felled a quarterback a combined 218 times during their time in blue. The question may be whether to direct the efforts to shore up the defense at the line or in the open, as there may just be too many holes to fill on that side of the ball.
11-5, AFC South Champions, lost in AFC Championship Game to New England.
Andrew Luck’s third year at the helm resulted in a third straight 11-win season and third straight trip to the playoffs. Dissecting the wins and losses however paints a more grim picture. Weak performances against other division champions on the schedule (NE, PIT, DAL) showed this team hadn’t crossed from the very good to the elite yet.
The biggest weakness during the ’14 campaign was in the running game on both sides of the ball. No clear go-to running back was available throughout the season as the Trent Richardson trade finally showed its ugly side and he was cut at the end of the season. (Sidebar: The 1st round pick traded to CLE for Richardson was used on Johnny Manziel, so take that as you will.)
This team gets a little closer each year. As usual, the road to the Lombardi trophy goes through New England and as usual the Pats are on the regular season slate in prime time. After six straight defeats, Tom Brady is a swear word in the Circle City. A win in week 6 would solidify the Colts’ standing as a team set for a deep run in January. Another humiliating defeat would deflate the spirit of this proud sports town.
The Colts haven’t lost a division game since 2012, going 16-2 against the AFC South in that span. The 2015 division championship is theirs to lose, and another strong showing is likely. Getting over the hump of being able to go toe-to-toe with top-shelf clubs like New England, Denver, and Pittsburgh will show us what this team is made of.
Overall, the schedule is not strong, second only to Atlanta in that department. For those not in-the-know, an NFL schedule is constructed as follows:
- Home-and-away vs. each division opponent (6 games)
- Each team in one division in opposite league on a rotation (NFC South, 4 games)
- Each team in one division in same league on a rotation (AFC East, 4 games)
- Each team with the same division standing from previous season not already on the schedule (DEN and PIT)
There’s not much you can do about strength of schedule in the NFL, and since the AFC South drew the NFC South this year the opponents may not put up much resistance. The advantage here is that a strong showing against those teams might be enough to bump the Colts up to a playoff bye and a home game in the divisional round.
IMPORTANT NOTE ON THE 2015 SCHEDULE:
If Tom Brady’s suspension holds up, he will miss 4 games to begin 2015. The Pats’ bye comes in week 4, therefore Brady’s first game of the campaign stands to be… Week 6 in Indianapolis. Take that as you will.
Five primetime games on the docket this season. Also a subtle and probably irrelevant detail, Sun Life Stadium in Miami is under construction this season, so that venue will have reduced seating capacity for the Week 16 game there.
|Week 2||9/21 (MNF)||N.Y. Jets|
|Week 5||10/8 (TNF)||Houston|
|Week 6||10/18 (SNF)||New England|
|Week 7||10/25||New Orleans|
|Week 8||11/2 (MNF)||Carolina|
|Week 12||11/29||Tampa Bay|
|Week 13||12/6 (SNF)||Pittsburgh|