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AFC South

IN Colts: The Half-Way Point

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by Ian Hill

Remember that time, in the pre-season, when the Colts were supposed to be in the hunt for the Super Bowl? Yeah, me neither. We’re half way through the season and the Colts are, well, pretty bad. It seems like a distant memory that Andrew Luck was an elite quarterback on the verge of turning that corner of greatness. The fact of the matter is those days are quickly exiting, stage left. The Colts have been mediocre at best, only succeeding by beating the mighty Titans (1-6), Jacksonville Jaguars (2-5) and Houston Texans (3-5). These wins come by a total combined points of 12, beating the Titans by two, the Jags by 3 and the Texans by 7. Not really stellar numbers for an elite team.

Andrew Luck is in shambles. Suffice to say, he is having possibly his worst statistical season of his career. He has almost as many interceptions (12) as he did all of 2014 (16). He is attempting almost 43 passes per game, the highest of his career. It seems understandable that such trends would happen with what would ultimately end up being roughly 80 more attempts on the year. However, he only has 13 touchdown passes, dispelling the theory that all his stats would trend in the same direction. His quarterback rating is a career worst 71.6 (so far) and only in his rookie year did he have a lower completion percentage (54.9). I’m not saying that Luck was a three year spoof. He has shown what he can do on the football field. Every week I expect him to come out and show the old Luck and quite honestly, probably will continue to do so. He has all the tools. It’s not his line, as he is set up for his lowest sack total of his career (14). It’s him and he needs to get out of his own way. He will, but the ultimate question is when. I have Luck on a couple of my fantasy teams. I have backups on every team. I am, in fact, playing Tyrod Taylor over Luck this week because I don’t have a lot of faith that Luck will succeed against the Broncos’ second ranked secondary in the NFL. If you have a solid matchup somewhere else, take it until Luck proves himself by getting over this hump.

The Colts’ running game is not the greatest in the NFL, but it’s not the worst, either. Frank Gore is coming across as a bit of a bust, but looks can be deceiving. He’s actually on target to hit his career averages, which isn’t too bad. He has 516 rushing yards which is good for 12th in the league. However, the difference between 12th and 5th is 60 yards, making that a very close-knit group. Gore’s career average for rushing is 1,107 yards, 6.4 touchdowns and 4.6 YPC. His numbers currently sit at 516/3/4.3 which is right on queue for half way. Having a 1,000 yard rusher on your roster is always a good thing. It’s funny that we consider a “successful” game by a running back constituting 100+ yards on the day while to hit 1,000 yards on a season, which is the benchmark, a back only needs to average 62.5 yards a game. So while it may seem like Gore is not living up to expectations, he absolutely is. He was given a lot of credence in the preseason that he was going to come to the Colts and have a monster year (I admittedly was helping perpetuate that theory). My suggestion for Gore is to play him. He is a beast as he always have been. Age isn’t showing at all while he continues to be on his own par. I suggest only benching him in favor of a better matchup. I play him every week and so should you.

The receiving corps, however, is a mess. T.Y. Hilton didn’t have his first touchdown until Week Six, followed up by his best performance of 150 yards and two touchdowns in Week Seven, albeit on only four receptions. Hilton has only had more than six receptions twice and was held to a single reception in Week Eight by the Panthers. His average game numbers look as such: 4 receptions, 77 yards and less than half a touchdown per game. That’s 19 yards per catch for those playing at home. That’s not good when Andrew Luck’s completion percentage over ten yards is 33%, worst in football. Donte Moncrief is the surprise of the corps. Andre Johnson, who was supposed to have some reprieve playing second fiddle to Hilton has been a bust so far. Enter Moncrief. His stats are almost as good, if not better than Hilton’s: 5 RPG, 44 yards, nearly one touchdown. That’s an average of 7 points for Hilton and 10 for Moncrief in standard formats and 11 and 15 respectively in PPR formats. Keep in mind that we are, for now, looking at Moncrief’s ceiling and Hilton’s floor. I would certainly continue to use Moncrief, especially in PPR formats.

The biggest concern for the Colts and ultimately fantasy owners is that they are converting only 38.9% of their third down attempts, good for 12th in the league. They are being outplayed by the (2-5) Bears and (3-4) Redskins. I know that the Colts’ record of 3-5 is comparable, but it shouldn’t be considering the talent pool on the team. Moving forward, be cautiously optimistic. The only way this team can go is up and they certainly have the potential to do so. We’ve seen it. It’s time for them to step up and fulfill fantasy owner’s investments. Just keep in mind that winning in the AFC South is an easy task and don’t use that as a barometer of success. The reason? The Colts are in first place in the AFC South.

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