Here we are. The fantasy football mother lode. The Colts have an offense that is nearly impossible to slow down. Their biggest concern is they are too good and shut it down early.

 

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:  Moderate
They take on the Titans on the road, the Jags at home, and the Raiders on the road. Though the week 16 match-up with Oakland appears favorable, you can’t count on the Colts’ starters to play the whole game.

 

Five Star Fantasy Options
Peyton Manning – Manning is consistently one of the top fantasy QBs. Everybody knows that.

 

Reggie Wayne – Though he has to share with the Colts’ plethora of other options, he still managed to average 1249 yards and 8.7 TDs over the past six years.

 

Dallas Clark – He’s so big and fast that it’s not fair he’s an excellent route runner with soft hands. He had 100 catches for 1106 yards and 10 TDs last year.

 

Four Star Fantasy Options
Joseph Addai – Everybody was ready to write him off because of Donald Brown’s arrival, but all Addai did was pick up 1164 total yards (828 rushing) and 13 TDs (10 rushing). He’s only 27 years old.

 

Three Star Fantasy Options
Donald Brown – Brown has big play ability and the Colts would like to give him a larger role in the offense assuming he can stay healthy. The Colts have the ability to have two fantasy relevant RBs at the same time.

 

Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie – I like Garcon more than Collie (or Anthony Gonzalez). He took his game to a new level in last year’s playoff fun. Don’t think Manning didn’t notice. Collie has to have the upper hand for the slot position thanks to Gonzalez’s injury.

 

Two Star Fantasy Options
Anthony Gonzalez – After last year I am putting Gonzalez on “double secret probation”. A ton of fantasy owners got burned not so much by his injury, but by the fact that they wasted a roster spot for him for so long in anticipation of his return.

 

Colts Defense/Special Teams – The Colts face the Texans twice, the Titans twice, the Giants, Eagles, Bengals, Patriots, Chargers, and Cowboys. Their easiest match-up is against the Raiders when they could be resting starters like Dwight Freeney in Week 16.

 

Click here for additional 2010 NFL Team Previews.

In the battle to see who will fill Anthony Gonzalez’s shoes for the Colts, Round 1 went to Pierre Garcon, who caught a 48-yard game-winning TD from Peyton Manning with 3:18 remaining.  Though Garco trumped Austin Collie 10.8 to 0.4, they both had just one reception.

This was not a typical game for the Colts as they were thoroughly dominated in time of possession by a 3:1 ratio.  It’s hard to get a good read on a situation when you only run 35 plays.

Garcon did earn Peyton’s trust by delivering in the clutch so he shouldn’t be afraid to call his number next week against Arizona.  Unfortunately with a limited workload it’s hard to endorse using Garcon next week.

Though Garcon outperformed Collie, the real winner in the Colts offense was Dallas Clark, who scored on a 80-yard TD in Indy’s first play en route to a seven catch, 183 yard performance.  Reggie Wayne was a letdown with just 3 catches for 37 yards.

The Chicago defense took a blow as LB Brian Urlacher was lost for the year with a wrist injury.  Not good news for a team that has to face Adrian Peterson twice.  They haven’t been the same defense for a while, but this is devastating news for the Bears.

The Eagles could be without Donovan McNabb, who cracked a rib, next week when they take on the New Orleans Saints.  If he’s unable to go, the Birds would turn to Kevin Kolb in what should be a shootout.  McNabb will try to tough it out.  Stay tuned to see how this turns out.

The Giants crowed WR corps got a little thinner as Rookie Hakeem Nicks will miss a couple games with a foot injury.  Look for Mario Manningham to benefit the most from Nicks’ injury.

The Colts will be without Anthony Gonzalez for 2 to 6 weeks because of a knee injury.  Rookie Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon’s will get extra snaps at WR, but neither are good fantasy plays.  Peyton will likely rely more on Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark while Gonzalez is out.

Anthony Gonzalez
Image courtesy of Icon SMI

Now that Marvin Harrison has moved on, Anthony Gonzalez takes over as the team’s #2 WR.  I believe the third-year WR out of Ohio State is ready to explode.  As a Rookie he had 37 receptions for 576 yards and 3 TDs.  Last year he had 57 receptions for 664 yards.  Not only do I think his reception total will increase again, I think his yards per catch will be closer to the 15.6 he averaged as a Rookie than the 11.6 he averaged last year.

Gonzalez showed some signs of what he could do in against Minnesota in Week 2 (9 catches for 137 yards), against the Patriots in Week 9 (2 TDs), and against San Diego in Week 12 (6, 95) and again in the playoffs (6, 97).  He’ll get more looks as the #2 and his numbers should increase dramatically.  I’m expecting 80 catches for 1100 yards and 6 TDs.  He is a decent WR2 and a great WR3.  He’s typically being drafted in the 5th round.

Marvin Harrison to be Cut

23 February 2009

marvin-harrison-td
Photo courtesy of Icon SMI

The Colts and Marvin Harrison came to a crossroads.  Marvin Harrison would either restructure his contract so he could retire as a Colt or he would be granted his release.  The team and their star receiver were just too far apart so after 13 years they will part ways.  He certainly left his mark in Indy with 1102 receptions (including a record 143 in 2002), 14580 yards, and 128 TDs.  He had a string of eight straight 10+ TD seasons and formed one of the NFL’s top QB-WR tandems with Peyton Manning.  He’s not the same receiver any more though as he managed just 80 receptions for 883 yards, and 6 TDs in 20 games over the past two years.

It’s going to be tough for Manning, the Colts, and their fans to adjust to life without #88, but the past two years have afforded them the opportunity to put a plan in place.  Anthony Gonzalez emerged as a solid WR who should hold his own opposite of Reggie Wayne.  Plus, Tight End Dallas Clark became the second option in the Colts’ passing attack last year with his 77 receptions for 848 yards.

As for Harrison, he’ll find a place to land.  There is plenty of speculation that he’ll end up as an Eagle.  He’s from Philly, played college ball at Syracuse with Donovan McNabb, and McNabb recently lobbied for help on Offense.  Even if he doesn’t land in Philly there will be plenty of suitors for the talented wideout.

After years of very little change the Colts will have to adjust to life after Dungy.  If anybody is capable of handling a new Coach, it’s Peyton Manning.  He’s still slinging the pigkin and the Offense won’t change drastically.  Joseph Addai will once again be the feature back.  Dominic Rhodes is an Unrestricted Free Agent, but I suspect he’ll be back.  Reggie Wayne, Anthony Gonzalez, and Dallas Clark will once again be at Peyton’s disposal.  Marvin Harrison may not.  Either way WR is probably a position that gets upgraded in the draft.  Jeff Saturday most likely won’t return either, but they should be covered as the team addressed that need in last year’s draft.

Kelvin Hayden is their key Defensive Free Agent.  He was their top CB last year, but could come with a steep price tag.  If they lose him, obviously that creates a hole to be filled.  LB Tyjuan Hagler is also a free agent that the Colts will look to bring back.
 
This is a championship caliber team that doesn’t need, nor will likely make, any major moves during the offseason.

** Update:  Kelvin Hayden signed five-year deal with Colts. **

KFFL Free Agent Tracker:

Pos Player Name FA Status Previous Team Current Team
RB Dominic Rhodes UFA Indianapolis Colts Free Agent
OT Dan Federkeil RFA Indianapolis Colts Free Agent
C Jeff Saturday UFA Indianapolis Colts Free Agent
LB Tyjuan Hagler UFA Indianapolis Colts Free Agent
CB Kelvin Hayden UFA Indianapolis Colts Free Agent

I’m going to preface this by stating that in this day and age there really are no “sleepers” since there is so much coverage that a fourth string WR can’t make a one-handed grab in practice without the world knowing about it.  That said, here is a list of WRs that I feel will exceed expectations this season.

Anthony Gonzalez – OK, he’s not a sleeper to most fantasy football fans, but I see Anthony Gonzalez leapfrogging a lot of WRs that will be picked in front of him.  With Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison, and Dallas Clark demanding attention, Gonzalez will be the posion most defenses will pick.

Nate Burleson – Nate had a rough start to his Seattle Seahawk career.  He turned it on down the stretch last year though grabbing five TDs in the last five weeks.  He meshed well with Hasselbeck, and should be his go-to-guy this year.

Sidney Rice – I thought Rice was decent at times last year.  His numbers would have been even better if his QB (T-Jack) could have hit him when he was open.  With Bernard Berrian working the deep routes and Bobby Wade working the slot, Rice could find himself with plenty of opportunities.  I like his size (6’4″) in the red zone.

Bryant Johnson – Bryant is going from Third Fiddle to First Fiddle in San Francisco.  He’s also moving to a Mike Martz offense.  With Isaac Bruce taking some of the pressure off, he should have a solid year by the Bay.

Ted Ginn, Jr.  – If his small frame can avoid big hits, he could be a nice surprise for fantasy owners.  He’s super quick and has big game ability.  He just needs to stay focused.  He should be playing from behind quite a bit increasing his opportunties. 

Deeper Sleepers
James Hardy
– Dude is 6’7′.  He should be money in the goal line for the Bills.
Devin Hester – Is this the year he does better at WR than KR since he’ll be avoided at all costs in the return game?
Jacoby Jones – Has the build (6’2″, 210 lbs).  Does he have the game?
Troy Williamson – Will he finally produce or will he just produce more drops?
Devard Darling – Will the move from Baltimore pay off like Priest Holmes?  Ha.  Could be decent though.
Robert Meachem – Flopped as a Rookie.  Will he show strides in Year 2?
Chad Jackson – Big and fast and plays for Tom Brady.  Good combo.
DeSean Jackson – Rookie for Philly could have solid Freshman Year.
Limas Sweed – Big Red Zone target for Big Ben.
Devin Thomas/Malcolm Kelly – Washington’s Rookie Wideouts could be produce.  Kelly bigger red zone threat.

  
Before I get started I wanted to direct your attention to a great fantasy football contest that one of my friends is co-hosting.  RotoNation and The Big Lead have teamed up for the First Annual Best Fantasy Football Team Name contest.  How do you enter, you ask?  It’s quite simple.  All you have to do is enter your team name using your real e-mail at RotoNation.  Don’t worry your e-mail won’t be available to the public, they just need it to let the winner know about the prizes.  Fabulous prizes, you ask?  Yes, the top five team names will win a complimentary copy of the Draft Analyzyer to prep you for your fantasy draft.  The top vote getter will get to run on guest post on RotoNation.  So get your creative juices flowing.  Let your wit and humor go to work for you.  Bragging rights in your league are just a few keystrokes away!

Serviceable WRs
We’ve profiled the Big Dog WRs, Second Tier WRs, and Third Tier WRs, now it’s time to examine the next wave of wideouts.  These will likely either be your 3rd WR or make up your WR depth. 

Kevin Curtis/Reggie Brown - Curtis was decent last year for the Eagles.  He had a couple of huge games.  I’d like to see DeSean Jackson push for the starting job opposite of Reggie Brown, who should bounce back from his mediocre 780 yard 4 TD season, which would allow Curtis to got to the slot and utilize his speed like Wes Welker.  If that happens, all three could be viable plays.

Laveranues Coles – Coles had a decent season going before the wheels fell off in Week 8.  If he can produce like he did the first seven weeks (460 yards, 6 TDs), he’ll be worth an occasional start.

Joey Galloway – How long can Mr. Galloway keep it up?  Dude will turn 37 in November.  He’s registered three straight 1000+ yards seasons though.  One warning, he was very inconsistent last year. 

Santana Moss – Moss has barely matched his outstanding 2005 numbers when you combine the past two years.  However, he still has big-play ability.  He’s scary to own, and even scarier to start, but he can occasionally almost single-handedly win a matchup for you.

Javon Walker – Who knows how he’ll respond following last year’s lost season and butt-whoopin’ he took in Vegas.  When he’s healthy though, he can produce.  That hasn’t always been easy for him though.

Bernard Berrian – He’s a mystery heading into the year.  He produced in Chicago, but we’ll see how he does in Minnesota.    The Viking certainly have the running game to keep the DBs honest. I’m just leery of T-Jack’s accuracy.

Anthony Gonzalez – Here’s another guy I’d love to see end up on my team.  He gained valuable experience as a rooke, and if Marvin Harrison returns to form, he could be looking at some cupcake matchups.  He could be the poison that defenses pick, which is great news to his fantasy owners.

Previous Previews
Quarterbacks
Running Backs


Partner of USA TODAY Sports Digital Properties