At this time last year, no one in the fantasy world was remotely familiar with Pierre Garcon or Austin Collie. With a season-ending injury in Week 1 to Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez, opportunity knocked for both backup wideouts. When most No. 2 wide receivers are injured, there is rarely a scramble to pick up the next receiver in line on the depth chart. However, most quarterbacks are not as talented as Peyton Manning, who has thrown for over 4,000 yards 10 of out 11 seasons and averaged more than 30 touchdowns per season since entering the league. Wide receiver Reggie Wayne and tight end Dallas Clark took the lion’s share of Manning’s passes with more than 100 receptions and 1,100 yards each last season. However, Manning’s third and fourth targets were nearly as productive as a few other team’s leading receivers.
Although, he was a sixth-round draft pick from a small Division III college in 2008, Garcon had a breakthrough 2009 season. Following Gonzalez’s injury in Week 1, the Haitian wide receiver stepped up for Manning and served as a valuable waiver addition for many fantasy managers. Even with up-and-down numbers throughout the season, Garcon was able to top 100 yards against both
Collie loves playing the New York Jets. In Week 16, Collie caught six passes for 97 yards. Less than a month later, he followed Garcon’s lead with a clutch performance in a rematch during the AFC Championship game with seven catches, 123 yards, and a touchdown. As a rookie last season, Collie hauled in seven touchdowns and served as a consistent filler for the injured Gonzalez. Collie will earn playing time in 2010, but to what degree will Coach Jim Caldwell use him is a question mark.
With Manning at the helm, the Colts will assuredly demolish their opponent’s secondaries once again this season. Wayne and Clark will continue to serve as Manning’s chief targets and receive the most attention from opposing defenses. Who will be Manning’s third option? Will Gonzalez fully recover from his right knee injury and reclaim a starting role? Or, will it be Garcon or Collie that earns the right to be Manning’s third target? Whoever receives the bulk of the playing time may end up being a huge sleeper this season. Stay tuned and follow along as the Colts wide receiver roles are ironed out.