The 2017 NFL regular season has concluded, so it’s time to briefly examine the state of each team’s skill positions for fantasy purposes with an eye towards next season. I will be reviewing each team in the reverse order of the 2017 NFL standings. The next team on the docket:
Indianapolis Colts (3-12)
Notably absent from the table above is Andrew Luck, the Colts franchise quarterback missed the entire 2017 season with a troublesome shoulder injury that had been bothering him since the 2015. The Colts maintain optimism Luck will be ready for the 2018 season, though with they way they’ve handled their star quarterback’s injury thus far, it will be difficult to take them at their word until we physically see Luck on the field for ourselves. Jacoby Brissett was brought in via trade last summer, and it took the Colts all of one half of their Week 1 loss to the Rams to install the former Patriot as their starting quarterback over Scott Tolzien, a job Brissett ended up keeping for the duration of 2017. Brissett performed admirably given the circumstances (though he took way too many sacks, leading the league in that category with 52) and should be considered the favorite for 2018 backup duties assuming Luck is ready to roll.
Frank Gore just would not go away, as he was able to start all 16 games for the Colts at the age of 34, en route to passing Jerome Bettis and LaDainian Tomlinson on the all-time rushing list (Gore now sits in fifth place) becoming just the fifth player in NFL history to compile at least 14,000 career rushing yards. Recent comments from Colts’ owner Jim Irsay have indicated he’d like to see the team spend a high draft pick on a running back, which would almost certainly signal the end of the line for Gore in Indianapolis. With nothing left to prove, it’s possible Gore simply retires. Otherwise, he should be able to latch on elsewhere as part of a committee, though in either case, Gore’s fantasy value heading into 2018 appears minimal-to-none. Fourth-round rookie Marlon Mack flashed the explosiveness Gore no longer has at this point in the veteran’s career, though Mack broke off few big plays, and it’s concerning the Colts held him to just an average of 8 touches-per-game in what was essentially a lost season anyway. Irsay’s comments mentioned above would seem to indicate the team doesn’t view Mack as a workhorse, so it’s likely he’ll be competing for touches when training camp comes around.
Fantasy owners who drafted any of the Colts’ receivers expecting Andrew Luck to return at some point during the season were hung out to dry, as Luck never played a snap in 2017. T.Y. Hilton was particularly disappointing considering he was typically drafted as a low-end WR1, and was essentially a lineup liability in all but five games (67 percent of Hilton’s receiving yards, 49 percent of his catches, and all of his touchdowns came in Weeks 2, 5, 9, 13, and 16). Additionally, Hilton’s receiving yard totals were his lowest since his rookie year, breaking a four year streak of at least 1,000 yards receiving, and he was held to 3-30 or worse in 8-of-16 games. Hilton is a potential buy-low candidate next year due to his depressed stats, but his fantasy utility hinges entirely on having Luck healthy and effective. Luck’s absence did Donte Moncrief no favors either, as the contract-year wideout caught more than three passes in just two of his 12 games played, and finished his season with a career-low two touchdown receptions. Moncrief was also bitten by the injury imp for the second year in a row and has now missed a total of 11 games over the past two seasons. The expectation is that Moncrief will not be back with the Colts next season, so it will be interesting to see where the talented yet injury prone wideout winds up in free agency, as Moncrief will turn just 25 years old this summer. Chester Rogers is a name to monitor this offseason, as the 23-year old former undrafted free agent would have the inside track for the Colts’ No. 2 wideout job going into his third year if/when Moncrief walks.
Jack Doyle was the Colts pass-catcher least affected by Andrew Luck’s season-long stint on the sidelines. Doyle posted career highs in both receptions and receiving yards as the Colts most consistent week-to-week producer in the passing game, catching at least five balls or scoring in 11-of-16 games played, with his 80 receptions ranking second to only Travis Kelce (83) among NFL tight ends. Under contract with the Colts through 2019, Doyle will be back next season as a key cog in the Colts’ receiving game and should be considered a low-end TE1 in fantasy drafts assuming Luck is on the field.