The Colts finished 2019 ranked 16th in points scored on their way to a record of (7-9). In 2020 we can look to the Colts offense to being even more explosive then last season. All the added fire power at the skilled positions hints to this. Also we have to look at Frank Reich as play caller, as he is very good at basic thinking concepts, but he is also very good at expansive thinking. Last season the Colts ranked 5th in runs on first and second down. Reich will be able to tweak this offense in a way to get the most out of his talented players. This is why he wanted the veteran leadership under center who has an understanding of what he likes.
Phillip Rivers (QB) – finds himself in a very good spot entering 2020. At this stage in his career Rivers is more of a complimentary piece rather than the center piece of an offense. This was evident last year in LA where he finished the season with 20 interceptions and just seemed to be missing more throws then hitting. Frank Reich went out and targeted Rivers more or less when he hit free agency, as there is a familiarity with the two being together for three years in San Diego. Reich knew he had to improve under center as the Jacoby Brissett led passing attack was terrible last season, ranking 30th. At this stage in Rivers professional career there are two areas that are critical to making Rivers an effective ball distributer. The first critical area is protection, Phil needs protection where is doesn’t have to scramble out of the pocket. The second critical area is an effective run game that Phil will be able to play action off effectively. The Colts and this offense check off both these areas. The team has one of the best lines in the league entering 2020. The run game which we will discuss below is also one of the league’s best stables.
Fantasy Spin: Rivers finds himself in a great situation for 2020. Rivers can be viewed as a backend QB2 in redraft leagues. The Colts may want to go run heavy but the talent surrounding Rivers is enough to make him a good fantasy backup for our teams in 2020. We have Rivers ranked as our 24th quarterback entering 2020. In dynasty his age and likely end of career in the very near future makes him our 30th ranked quarterback in dynasty.
Jonathan Taylor/Marlon Mack/Nyheim Hines (RB) – the Colts already had two very capable backs on their roster but felt the need to get that true work horse type back and they did in this past April’s draft. They drafted Taylor with their second pick in the second round. Taylor was the best runner in this class and figures to fit this scheme very well. Looking at the tape it is easy to see why Taylor has drawn comparisons to Zeke Elliott in regards to a runner. If this offense truly runs as they want it Taylor could see in the neighborhood of 250 carries in year one. Marlon Mack is also going to see a lot of work in 2020; in fact we are likely going to see them on the field together at the same time. Mack is different than Taylor in the fact that he is more of an explosive perimeter back. This in a sense may be a better role for Mack as he profiles more as a complimentary back. Mack has shown over the last couple seasons that he wears down as the season goes on, because his play style welcomes a lot of contact. Mack has the makeup to be an explosive pass catching back that is better used in a limited fashion. To this point, in college Mack lined up as a wide receiver 30% of the time so could the Colts be looking to utilize this skillset more. The one thing we have to keep in mind is Reich hasn’t typically designed plays for the running back to be the primary target on passing plays. Then we have Hines who was already slotted into this complimentary pass catching role. Reich has said recently that Taylor and Mack will be the 1-2 punch at the position, but Hines will figure to be integrated into the attack as well on all downs when needed. Hines won’t get a lot of work, but Reich said the work he does get he feels he will be very productive in those opportunities. However, we wouldn’t be surprised if Mack inherited this role from Hines and he was essentially phased out, as Mack is a better talent.
Fantasy Spin: This backfield’s picture is already pretty clear. Reich has stated that both these guys will be the starting running back, a 1a and 1b situation. The way we see it Taylor is going to be the runner in this backfield, one who should see close to 250 carries this season. He is our 9th ranked running back in dynasty leagues, which puts him in RB1 territory. In redraft he is our 16th ranked running back so can be viewed as an RB2, with upside. Marlon Mack will figure to be the change of pace back, since his skillset are more skewed towards a pass catcher rather than a between the tackles runner. Mack can be viewed as an RB4 as he is our 40th ranked running back in redraft leagues. Hines has little upside as a fantasy option.
Michael Pittman Jr/TY Hilton/Parris Campbell (WR) – Hilton is now in the backside of his career, as he has reached that 30 year old mark, and has shown over the last few seasons that he is breaking down. The organization loves the toughness Hilton shows in dealing with injuries, but it’s clear they are becoming more and more difficult to overcome. Like Taylor above the Colts felt the need to solidify the receiving group and did so by drafting Michael Pittman Jr with their first second round pick. Pittman is a big athletic receiver who is going to be the Colts X receiver. Pittman has drawn comparisons to Michael Thomas in the way he moves and catches the ball. Pittman has a bright future in this league. Parris Campbell is also a player to get excited about. The Colts had big plans to use him inside and outside last season, but injuries derailed those plans. At his time at Ohio State Campbell proved to be arguably more productive then Terry McLaurin. Campbell has speed and size which will work well off the play action for him as an outside receiver. Campbell is also very good on shallow cross routes making him very versatile as a deep threat as well as a threat in the screen game.
Fantasy Spin: TY Hilton has been a declining fantasy asset over the last couple seasons. We see this potentially continuing into 2020 as well. TY can be viewed as a backend WR2 if he remains healthy, but the injury concern should be heavily considered before taking him. TY makes for a good best ball receiver. We have Parris Campbell ranked as our 71st wide receiver in redraft and 57th ranked in dynasty. Michael Pittman makes for an intriguing prospect in 2020. We have him ranked as our 36th wide receiver in redraft. In dynasty We have Pittman higher as he is our WR32.
Jack Doyle/Trey Burton (TE) – Trey Burton was brought to be a detached tight end, which fits his skillset well. Burton is a receiving tight end who has seam ability, which the team will look to create through the play action game. The knock on Burton is health. Over the last few seasons Burton has been dealing with many different types, the recent coming last season when he suffered a sports hernia. The Bears let him go because they felt he wasn’t going to be healthy enough to play in 2020. If this is the case Jack Doyle is primed for a great season. Doyle is tough and has been reliable for the Colts as a pass catcher. The one thing we can say about Rivers is he likes his tight ends. All but one season Rivers supported a tight end one in fantasy, which likely will be Doyle in 2020.
Fantasy Spin: Rivers loves his tight end it’s plain and simple. Rivers over the last 11 seasons has produced a fantasy TE1 in all but one of those seasons. We don’t see that changing in 2020. Doyle is the tight end to own in Indy as we view him as a back end TE2 with upside. Doyle is a bit of a sleeper in 2020. He is our 23rd ranked tight end entering 2020. In dynasty he ranks as our 30th tight end.
Defense – This defense last season was a middle of the road unit in most categories. The Colts were ranked 17th in average points allowed per game (21.7). The unit was top seven in interceptions last season with 15, which is promising. The pass rush lacked last season which could be why the team felt the need to trade for ex-49er Deforest Buckner. Buckner will be utilized to create that inside pressure. Ideally the Colts would like to rush four and then play coverage. The backend wasn’t scary last year and it won’t be in 2020 either because they lack that dominant cover corner. The Colts were forced to play a lot of zone coverage in 2019 because of this, and likely will be similar in that aspect again in 2020. The one player who looks good in that secondary is Kenny Moore II, who is one of the league’s top slot corners.
Fantasy Spin: This defense is going to have some upside in 2020 in terms of a streaming option. Last year we suggested using this defense a few times to great success, the beat down of Carolina late in the season being the best streaming recommendation all season. We have this unit ranked as our 17th defense for 2020.
Strength of Schedule
The Colts wide receiver corps will face the 16th easiest schedule this fantasy regular season. Their playoff schedule they face will also be the 16th easiest during weeks 14-16. The Running backs will be looking at the 7th easiest schedule during the fantasy regular season. The backs will then have the 5th toughest schedule during the fantasy playoffs. Rivers will face the 13th easiest schedule during the fantasy regular season, and the 6th toughest during weeks 14-16. Jack Doyle will face the 13th easiest fantasy regular season schedule, and will face the 15th easiest playoff schedule from weeks 14-16.