2020 Indianapolis Colts Outlook
Over his first two seasons as a head coach, Reich went 17-15 with a playoff appearance in 2018. The loss of QB Andrew Luck before last season left the Indianapolis Colts in a weaker position offensively.
His path to Indy came after a successful 2017 as the offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles (Super Bowl win).
Reich started his NFL coaching career with the Colts in 2008 while having 12 seasons of coaching experience with four years coming as an offensive coordinator.
Nick Sirianni returns for his third season as the offensive coordinator for Indy after spending the four years as the quarterbacks and wide receivers coach for the Chargers. Sirianni has 11 years of experience coaching in the NFL. He is a fast riser in the NFL at age 37, and he was up to the task in his rookie season running Indy's offense.
In 2019, the Colts fell to 25th in offensive yards (7th in 2018) and 16th in points scored (361). They scored 72 fewer points than in 2018 (433 – 5th).
Sirianni has direct ties to Philip Rivers due to his coaching for the Chargers.
Matt Eberflus did an excellent job running the defense in 2018 after spending the previous seven seasons with the Cowboys as the linebackers coach. Indianapolis slipped to 16th in yards allowed and 18th in points allowed (373). Eberflus has 11 seasons of coaching experience in the NFL.
Indy signed Philip Rivers to take over at quarterback with the hopes of making another playoff push this year. Rivers didn't play well in 2019, but he has a long history in the NFL.
They lost TE Eric Ebron and WR Devin Funchess from their offense. Ebron was a vital part of the Colts' offense in 2018 with Andrew Luck behind center while Funchess was a non-factor last year due to injuries.
The Colts didn't re-sign DE Jabaal Sheard, S Clayton Geathers, or DT Margus Hunt. They also lost CB Pierre Desir to the Jets after playing poorly last year. Indy added CB Xavier Rhodes, DT Sheldon Day, and CB T.J. Carrie to their defense.
Rhodes is a former first-round draft pick (2013) who lost value in coverage over the past two years. Day projects as a rotation player off the bench. Carrie played well in 2017 for the Raiders, but his play regressed in back-to-back seasons for Cleveland.
The only other move of value was the loss of T Joe Haeg, who signed with Tampa.
Pittman runs excellent routes with the fight to win with his body when asked to get open in the middle of the field. Pittman is a hand's catcher that will have success in 50/50 jump ball opportunities. Defenses will struggle to cover him with one-on-one coverage on the outside.
For his size (6'4" and 225 lbs.), Pittman offers an excellent combination of speed (4.52 forty) and quickness. He does need to get stronger (13 reps in the bench press), which will help him vs. physical cornerbacks.
Taylor comes to the NFL with an edge in size (5'10" and 225 lbs.) and speed (4.39 forty yard dash). His game is built of running up the middle in tight quarters. I see a better version of Jordan Howard while needing to develop as a pass-catcher. Taylor has the vision and quickness to turn a relatively small run into a big gainer. His speed also allows him to make plays on the outside.
His one strike is his battle with fumbles in his career while fighting at the end of inside runs when facing early contact.
In the second round, the Colts invested S Julian Blackmon. Last year he made the transition from cornerback to safety. His best value should come in coverage based on his previous resume. Blackmon needs to add more bulk to handle his workload vs. the run while improving his vision and tackling. Blackmon lacks elite speed, which will hurt him when in a chaser mode in coverage.
Indy took a future shot at quarterback in the fourth round with Jacob Eason.
Eason is a slow-footed pocket passer with questionable upside when under duress. His ticket to success is his right arm while needing to improve his drop back, reads, and decision making.
Defenses will attack him with the blitz, which closes his edge with his big arm. If given time to throw, Eason will challenge defenses at the second and third levels. He has no value with his legs.
G Danny Pinter was the choice in the fifth round. He's a converted tight end with a developing skill set. His game projects well in run blocking while owning a foundation in athletic ability. Pinter needs to get stronger and develop in his pass blocking.
With four picks in the sixth round, Indy added DT Rob Windsor, CB Isaiah Rodgers, WR Dezmon Patmon, and LB Jordan Glasgow.
Windsor lacks the size (6'4" and 290 lbs.) and strength to anchor a defense inside vs. the run. His vision plays up while offering the quickness to make plays outside in his box. He'll disappear vs. power and lose his footing when asked to hold his ground.
Rodgers falls into the upside gamble category. He offers an edge in speed while showing playmaking skills. His shortfall comes with his size (5'10" and 170 lbs.). The Colts may use him in the return game, which invites durability concerns.
Patmon feels like a deep-speed wide receiver while having a power/size combination to his game. His hands and quickness have risk, but he does run better routes than expected. Patmon doesn't excel in the open field with the ball in his hand.
Glasgow plays hard with fight and vision, but he lacks the speed to overcome his below-par size (6'1" and 226 lbs.). His best hope comes against the run on early downs while trending toward a special teams player.
The Colts jumped to 7th in the NFL in rushing yards (2,130) with 17 TDs and 14 runs over 20 yards. Their ball carriers gained only 4.5 yards per rush.
Indy fell to 30th passing yards (3,314) with 22 TDs and 10 INTs. Their offensive line had tremendous growth in 2018, leading to only 18 sacks and 77 QB hits, but the drop from Luck to Brissett in 2019 led to 32 sacks and 78 QB hits. Indy had 38 completions over 20 yards, and 3 passes gained more than 40 yards.
LT Anthony Castonzo
Castonzo played at a top level for his position over the last seven seasons. He continues to be an edge in pass protection while showing some fade in run blocking. The Colts drafted him in the first round in 2011. He's played in 104 of the last 112 games.
LG Quenton Nelson
Nelson was indeed a significant improvement on the offensive line after being selected sixth in the 2018 draft. He's a power player with high upside as a run blocker, which wasn't the case in his rookie season. Last year Nelson blossomed into one of the best players in the league in the run game. His value in pass blocking ranks highly as well.
C Ryan Kelly
Kelly ended up being a great find in the 2016 draft after the Colts drafted him in the first round. Last year Kelly showed growth as a run blocker thanks to reliable technique and understanding of his position. He's allowed multiple sacks in his career while trending upward in his overall success.
RG Mark Glowinski
Over the last four seasons, Glowinski made all 16 starts in two seasons (2016 and 2019). He has job loss risk due to his failure in pass protection. Glowinski has a chance to be a league-average blocker in the run game. Incoming rookie, Danny Pinter looks like his top threat for playing time.
RT Braden Smith
Smith moved into the starting lineup in Week 5 in 2019, where he helped Indy solidify their offensive line. He allows too much pressure with some risk in sacks. Smith is the future at right tackle after Indy added him in the second round. Smith has a mechanical feel to his game while lacking the vision to anticipate a defender's plan in the pass rush. His best value comes in a power run game.
Offensive Line Outlook
This offensive line could be the best one Rivers has ever played behind, which points to a rebound in his game. Overall, Indy has three studs and one player that ranks above the league average. The run game should push forward in 2020 with a rebound in passing yards as well.
QB Jacoby Brissett, CLE - Low Potential
In his two seasons as a starter for Indy, Brissett went 11-19 while tossing 31 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. Over this span, he averaged only 195 passing yards per game. Last year he passed for 300 yards in three games (310/2, 326/4, and 319/1) with each contest being played at home. Part of his value comes on the ground (56/228/4). Only has value if Philip Rivers is injured.
QB Jacob Eason, SEA - Dynasty Only
After a mediocre rookie campaign at Georgia (2,430 passing yards and 16 TDs over 13 games), Eason missed 2017 with a left injury in Week 1. He transferred to Washington in 2018, leading to a lost season.
In his first and only year behind center for Washington, he passed for 3,132 yards and 23 TDs. The Colts won't need him for a year or two, which makes Eason a developmental player.
QB Philip Rivers, --- - Over the Hill (decreased production)
Over the last nine seasons, Rivers ranked poorly in interceptions in four different years (20, 18, 21, and 20). He passed for over 4,000 yards in 11 of his previous 12 seasons. Rivers finished with his lowest TD production (23) since 2007 (21).
The move to Indy leaves him with a decline in the receiving game at RB, WR, and TE while trying to improve on the empty QB stats (3,279 passing yards and 22 TDs).
T.Y. Hilton is a top wide receiving option, and he should be rewarded with a few more chances downfield this year. The Colts invested a second-round pick in WR Parris Campbell in 2019 and WR Michael Pittman this year.
It is tough to believe in Rivers offering starting fantasy value based on his team's expected game plan and the overall receiving structure.
I have him projected for 3,583 yards with 25 TDs and 13 Ints. Possible matchup value with his success tied to the growth of his two young wide receivers.
RB Jonathan Taylor, IND - Sleeper (undervalued)
Over three seasons at Wisconsin, he gained 6,174 rushing yards with 555 touchdowns and 42 catches on 968 touches. Taylor had success each year on the ground (2017 – 299/1977/13, 2018 – 307/2194/16, and 2019 – 320/2003/21) while flashing at times in the passing game (26/252/5) last season.
His speed also allows him to make plays on the outside. I was surprised to see the Colts add Taylor, who has a similar skill set as Marlon Mack. Indy looks on a path to rotate three RBs in 2020. For Taylor to gain momentum, he needs to work his way into more chances in the passing game. His ceiling is higher than Mack.
In my initial set of projections, I have Taylor on a path for 1,264 combined yards with ten TDs and 22 catches. Torn here, but some positive coach-speak over the summer could push me more in his camp.
RB Nyheim Hines, IND - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
The drop-down to Jacoby Brissett at QB led to a regression in chances for Hines in 2019. Andrew Luck looked his way 81 times in 2018, leading to 148 overall touches. His opportunity in the passing game dropped by about 30 percent last year.
QB Philip Rivers likes to feature the RB position in the passing game (2018 – 107/1050/7 and 2019 – 148/1357/8) based on the previous two seasons with the Chargers, which should be a win for Hines this year.
An outside chance at 70+ catches with 700 combined yards and about five TDs, but he'll struggle to get on the field on early downs. My conservative projection came to 618 yards with four TDs and 61 catches, which is about ten percent below his possible ceiling.
RB Marlon Mack, HOU - Quality Backup
Mack improves every year, but he still hasn't played a full season of games in his career. Last year he set career highs in rushing attempts (247) and rushing yards (1091) while regressing in the passing game.
The Colts gave him 21.6 touches per game over the first five weeks, which led to two strong showings (25/174/1 and 29/132). Over his final five starts, Mack slipped to 14.2 touches per game despite averaging 4.9 yards per rush. He had only three targets and two catches over this stretch.
The change to Philip Rivers at QB invites more catches to the RB position, but Mack doesn't look positioned to take advantage of the expected uptick.
A hard runner with the ability to have big games. With Jonathan Taylor added to the roster, Mack takes a big hit in value. I lowered his projects to 651 combined yards with five TDs and 11 catches. Overpriced based on the risk of newcomer Jonathan Taylor.