Forecasting the Indianapolis Colts Receivers for 2014 and Beyond

HiltonAfter the draft, I attempted to forecast the Green Bay Packers 2015 wide receivers. Today I attempt something even more Sisyphean.1 I am going to attempt the same feat for the Indianapolis Colts, but not just for 2015. No, I’m going to try to project even further than that. And I’m not just settling for WRs, I’m going to try to project their tight ends as well. I believe this is a futile endeavor, but I believe it to be an educational one as well.

Here is a list of all current Colt WRs and TEs, including the last year of their contract.

Position Receiver Final Year
WR Reggie Wayne 2014
WR Da’Rick Rogers 2014
WR Hakeem Nicks 2014
WR Griff Whalen 2014
TE Weslye Saunders 2014
WR T.Y. Hilton 2015
TE Coby Fleener 2015
TE Dwayne Allen 2015
WR LaVon Brazill 2015
WR Josh Lenz 2015
TE Jack Doyle 2015
WR Greg Moore 2016
WR Tony Washington 2016
WR Eric Thomas 2016
TE Erik Swoope 2016
WR Donte Moncrief 2017

Let’s start with the most obvious stuff and work from there. Donte Moncrief was a third-round pick, and the highest drafted WR of the Ryan Grigson/Andrew Luck era. He’ll almost certainly remain on the team for the entirety of his contract. In 2018, he’ll either have emerged as the freak he is or be playing for another team. Similarly, T.Y. Hilton has shown more chemistry with Luck than any other young receiver, and he managed to step up when Reggie Wayne went down last year. Look for him to be on the team for a long time.

Weslye Saunders, Josh Lenz, Jack Doyle, Greg Moore, and Tony Washington are all names you can immediately forget. They are unlikely to be on the team in any long-term capacity and even if they are they will have no relevance, fantasy or otherwise. Eric Thomas is the one undrafted free agent who might be interesting. He’s 6’1″, 216 lbs., ran a 4.53-second 40, and has a broad jump of 123 inches and a vertical jump of 37 inches. Those are all unofficially sourced pro-day numbers, so take them with a grain of salt. They are impressive however, and so is his College Career Graph.


Still, we’re talking about a very deep dynasty sleeper here. You don’t need to pick him up, just keep an eye on him if he ends up sticking around.

Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen are both locks to be with the team through 2015. After that, it gets a little trickier. If we assume Hilton gets a new contract around 2015, and Luck gets a new contract the year after, they are going to be spending a lot of money around that time. I expect they will re-up at least one of the WRs whose contract expires this year as well. I’m not saying they can’t re-sign both TEs, but they would have to both prove their worth for that to happen. Thus far, Fleener has not been an efficient target for Luck. Luck and Fleener’s Stanford ties aside, I think if general manager Ryan Grigson has to choose between the two TEs he’ll choose Allen, who has been a more efficient receiver, a better redzone target, and a better blocker.

Enter Erik Swoope. Swoope is, get this, a basketball player with no football experience trying to make it in the NFL. Crazy right? He’s apparently 6’5″ and 220 lbs., but I can’t seem to find any workout numbers on him, so I don’t know how excited we should be. Reportedly, the team is happy with his early progress. The team gets to see two years of him before they have to make a decision on Allen and Fleener. I think that makes him a hedge for the team in that if Fleener doesn’t improve, or Allen can’t stay healthy, they can see if Swoope is the next Julius Thomas. He’s worth a dynasty stash in leagues with deep rosters, and everyone should be keeping an eye on him.

I think the moment everyone officially became confused about the Colts WR depth chart is when they signed Hakeem Nicks. Looking at the table above, we can see that the situation should be much more clear after this upcoming season, but that doesn’t really help us now. Let’s shift focus to the WRs whose contracts end after this season.

In case you aren’t aware, Wayne is really old. I mean older than dirt. He’s at least as old as dirt’s mom. Wayne turns 36 this November, which means that if the team re-signs him it will almost certainly be a one-year contract. He also happens to be coming off an ACL tear, which is bad news even for non-geriatric WRs. He was already in decline last year. Below, you will see his 2012 stat line as well as a pro-rated line for 2013.

Year Receptions Yards TDs
2012 106 1355 5
2013 87 1150 5

Of course, prorating is not a very accurate method, but even if you spotted him 10 more receptions for 100 more yards he would come well short of 2012. Given his age and health, I’m not even sure that prorated 2013 line is repeatable. I don’t own any shares of him currently in redraft, but I’ll probably draft him a couple of times just to get some exposure. I think the most likely scenarios are that he retires after this season or that he comes back in a late-career Donald Driver role where he barely plays. In dynasty, I would try to sell him while he still has some value to a team that wants to win now.

If you assume that Wayne, Hilton, Moncrief, and Nicks are all locks to make the team this season, then it becomes clear that Da’Rick Rogers isn’t. LaVon Brazill and Griff Whalen hold no fantasy relevance on their own, but they are relevant in that they could prevent Rogers from making the team. Here are the three’s 2013 stat lines.

WR Games Receptions Yards TDs
Rogers 5 14 192 2
Brazill 10 12 161 2
Whalen 9 24 259 2

Just going off production from last year, Rogers seemed to make the most of his opportunities. Brazill and Whalen are smaller guys while Rogers is comparable to Jordy Nelsonwho happens to be an elite fantasy WR. Utilizing the AYA App I can see that Luck has thrown for 7.95 adjusted yards per attempt when targeting Rogers, compared to 7.67 and 7.47 for Whalen and Brazill respectively. For our purposes, it’s fortunate that Rogers seems likely to beat out the other two.

While Brazill and Whalen may be Rogers’ competition for a 2014 roster spot, Nicks seems to be his competition for a 2015 roster spot. We know that Hilton and Wayne will be starters this season, so it seems likely that Nicks, Rogers, and Moncrief will be competing for snaps in three WR sets. Moncrief is raw, even for a rookie, so he doesn’t figure to be much of a factor in 2013. Fade him in redraft. That leaves Nicks and Rogers. The team has more invested in Nicks, and he has the higher draft pedigree, so he will likely be given every chance to succeed. Of course, that doesn’t mean he will. Here’s how I view the choice of investing in Nicks or Rogers.

Nicks Wins Rogers Wins
Draft Nicks You Win Substantial Loss
Draft Rogers Minimal Loss You Win

The difference between the negative outcomes is completely based on price. According to current MFL ADP, Nicks is WR46 and Rogers is WR83. That suggests that if you draft Nicks, you should either be extremely confident that his career is about to experience a resurgence or that you should handcuff him with Rogers. There’s also the fact that if Nicks isn’t with the Colts in 2015 it’s likely his career is essentially over. My suggestion is the same as it was for Wayne: Sell him in dynasty now while you know he still has some value. Of course, stashing him isn’t a bad strategy either if you’re OK with the potential loss of value.

I think the Colts receiver situation will be a fantasy goldmine when it’s all said and done, the waters are just muddy now. Fortunately for us, mud is cheaper than gold. It’s possible that the receivers that Luck will make truly fantasy relevant in the future aren’t on the team yet, but there’s enough cumulative talent currently that I suspect the best is yet to come. Here are my overall thoughts on the relevant players for both dynasty and redraft.

Receiver Redraft Dynasty
Wayne Avoid Sell
Hilton Draft Buy
Nicks Avoid/Handcuff Sell/Hold
Rogers Draft Buy
Moncrief Avoid Buy
Allen Draft Buy
Fleener Avoid Sell/Hold
Swoope Avoid Stash

Here is an update in wake of LaVon Brazill’s suspension.

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  1. Read: Stupid.  (back)
By Justin Winn | @TheHumanHuman | Archive

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