2022 Indianapolis Colts – Fantasy Football Deep Dive

The Desai Guys continue their #FantasyFootball deep dive. The Indianapolis Colts have seen some massive changes this offseason. Here is everything you need to know before your #FantasyDraft!

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Indianapolis Colts Quarterback Matt Ryan During Training Camp. Photo Credit: Indianapolis Colts | Colts.com
Indianapolis Colts Quarterback Matt Ryan During Training Camp. Photo Credit: Indianapolis Colts | Colts.com

The Indianapolis Colts were expected to be a playoff team in 2021. The reunion of Carson Wentz and head coach Frank Reich was supposed to make this Colts team a competitive team for years to come. Instead, the Colts went 9-8 and lost the final game of the season to fail to make the postseason for the fifth time in seven seasons.

The season wasn’t total despair for Colts fans as the emergence of Jonathan Taylor in the backfield and Michael Pittman Jr. in the passing offense gave fans of the Colts lots of optimism for the offense.

Looking towards the 2022 season as far as fantasy football is concerned, Taylor is a consensus #1 overall pick and there are lots of gems to find in the rest of the offense as well. Let’s break it all down and see how you can stock your fantasy roster to grab a league title with the help of some Colts players.

Leave Your Draft With This Player

Michael Pittman Jr., WR

The real answer here is Jonathan Taylor but since only a select few will have the first overall pick in their fantasy draft, this is a more realistic option for all fantasy managers. Pittman Jr. is entering his third season in the NFL and he’s ready to have a breakout season. He definitely showed flashes his rookie year, but a calf injury kept him from becoming a serious receiving threat that season.

Once healthy in his second season, he surpassed the 1,000-yard receiving mark and had over 85 receptions. The hope for all Indianapolis Colts fans, and of course fantasy players, is that Pittman Jr. can at least replicate those numbers if not increase them. He only scored six times last season, so that would be the biggest jump that fantasy managers are going to be hoping for.

Looking at this offense, the big news is the acquisition of Matt Ryan from the Atlanta Falcons. An experienced quarterback that can consistently make plays for the offense through the air will be exactly what Pittman Jr. will benefit from. Two seasons ago, Philip Rivers just didn’t meet the expectations people anticipated when he was a member of the San Diego and Los Angeles Chargers.

Last season the Indianapolis Colts put their stock in Carson Wentz and while he played well, which led to Pittman Jr. establishing himself as a serious receiving threat, Wentz ultimately was shipped off due to a conflicting personality. Ryan is going to be the perfect blend of both of those quarterbacks and will really look to make Pittman Jr. a focal part of the passing offense. Also with the exception of last season, Ryan has helped his primary receiver finish as a top-10 fantasy receiver four times in the past five seasons and three of those times were actually top-five finishes.

So when you’re in your fantasy draft, you definitely need to target Pittman Jr. to be one of your starting fantasy receivers. You can probably expect to see Pittman Jr. being drafted as early as the fourth round and it’s appropriate. He has the talent to be a WR1 in fantasy leagues and should be drafted as one as well. Playing with a veteran quarterback like Ryan will shoot his stock up pretty high and he can easily back up that optimism. If you can snag Pittman Jr. in your fantasy league, you have a very good shot at raising your trophy at the end of the season.

Rookie Difference Maker

Alec Pierce, WR

Pierce was a second-round pick out of the University of Cincinnati and he can earn some good playing time in his rookie season. He’s actually the first pick of the Indianapolis Colts 2022 NFL Draft class since they traded their first-round pick to the Eagles in the trade to acquire Wentz.

Looking at the receiver depth for the Colts, Pierce will certainly earn his fair share of targets in his first year. Veterans Parris Campbell and Keke Coutee will probably push for targets as well, but they aren’t serious threats.

Campbell has played in a total of 15 games out of 49 games in three total seasons in the NFL. The big thing Campbell needs to do is stay healthy first before he pushes anyone on the Colts roster for receiving targets. Coutee is a good option in the passing game, but he’s more of a home run threat. He’s never surpassed more than 40 targets or over 400 receiving yards in a season since entering the NFL in 2018.

Pierce had a great college career and he should be able to translate his skillset to the NFL level pretty easily. Playing in an offense with a veteran quarterback like Ryan will definitely help him transition quicker and make the right decisions when he’s running routes.

When it comes to fantasy, he most likely will take some time to become a relevant player worth rostering. Pierce will most assuredly go undrafted in most fantasy leagues, but his landing spot makes him an absolute add to your watchlist. If the transition process goes as smooth as most people are hoping, he could be an excellent waiver wire addition early in the season to give you good FLEX appeal and a possible streaming option. Keep an eye out on Pierce as he has the talent to carve out a role with the Indianapolis Colts passing offense quickly, making him a fantasy asset worth noting earlier rather than later.

Old Face In A New Place

Matt Ryan, QB

The 2016 NFL MVP is playing for a new team for the first time in 14 seasons. Ryan enters the 2022 NFL season as the new starting quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts as he puts his time in Atlanta now behind him. The Carson Wentz experiment didn’t quite work out the way the Colts front office was hoping it would and he was shipped out to the Washington Commanders. They bring in Ryan to lead the franchise and hopefully bring some good stability to this offense.

Ryan wasn’t brought into this offense to be a gun-slinging quarterback expected to make plays all the time. He’s more expected to be a game manager and use his veteran expertise to make the right plays more often than not. The Colts ranked sixth in most rushing attempts and this offense is going to funnel through Jonathan Taylor for sure.

On the other side of the offensive coin, the Colts had the sixth-fewest passing attempts in the NFL last season. Now bringing in Ryan will increase those passing numbers, but it’s still going to be a run-first offense. Still, don’t expect Ryan to air it out in this offense with the limited options in the passing offense and an absolute monster in the backfield in Taylor.

All that said, Ryan is not a quarterback worth drafting in your fantasy league unless you’re playing in a Superflex league or a two-quarterback league. Ryan’s fantasy stock is higher than when he was in Atlanta last season, but he’s not a guy that is worth considering until the BYE weeks start rolling in. Frank Reich is thankful to have a quarterback of Ryan’s caliber leading his offense, but this offense is not going to be very aggressive through the air.

For now, keep an eye out on Ryan to be a definite bye-week replacement, and depending on how the passing offense shakes out, he could be worth streaming beforehand if you grabbed your quarterback last in your league.

Potential Breakout Player

Jelani Woods, TE

Woods is a guy we talked about during The Desai Guys draft coverage as being one of the favorite day two selections. It’s already been mentioned that the Colts receiving options are kind of minimal behind Pittman Jr. and rookie receiver Pierce. Woods had a great final year of college when he suited up for the University of Virginia. He totaled 598 receiving yards and eight receiving touchdowns during his lone year at Virginia (transferred from Oklahoma State).

Woods is a big receiving threat at the tight end position and should be a physical mismatch at the NFL level. He fits the modern mold of the NFL tight end as he has a big build but can move very quickly and is a great pass-catcher. He’s the tallest pass-catcher on the roster at 6’7” and should be a good red zone threat with his size and speed (ran a 4.61 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine).

The Colts’ depth chart at tight end isn’t anything to worry about for Woods. He’s going to be featured in an offense that does like to use two tight ends a lot of the time, but he should emerge as the favorite pass-catching threat at the tight end position.

Mo Alie-Cox and Kylen Granson are the two tight ends ahead of Woods on the depth chart. Mox is a physical freak, but it hasn’t led to much production worth noting. Granson is entering his second year in the NFL, but he hasn’t led to much just yet as he’s still adjusting to being in the NFL.

Woods is not going to be drafted in any fantasy leagues, but his skill set makes him a very valuable option to add off the waiver wire. As mentioned already, this passing offense doesn’t have a lot of strong options and Woods can easily make himself one of the primary options in this passing offense. Behind Pittman Jr., Woods can become a solid option in the red zone and also be a great contributor in the passing offense in just his rookie season. He’s not going to put up eye-opening numbers, but he can become a consistent fantasy option for your roster if you’re willing to be patient.

Bold Prediction

Jelani Woods Will Finish As A Top-10 Fantasy Tight End

Every year we see a tight end come out of nowhere to turn in a fantastic season for the tight end position in fantasy football. This year, it could very well be Woods with the Colts. This is beginning to sound like a broken record, but the Colts’ offense lacks playmakers in the passing offense. Outside of Pittman Jr., the rest of the field has more potential than being proven playmakers. Woods is a physical freak playing the tight end position and he will be a monster in the red zone for Ryan. Taylor will get his fair share of attempts in the red zone, but the addition of Woods to this tight end group will open things up for Reich to make different calls once they’re in the red zone.

Besides being a large target in the red zone, expect Woods to break open some large gains with his speed and take advantage of soft coverage in the defense. Woods is going to easily move up the depth chart during training camp and preseason games and it’s to your advantage to keep him on your radar early in the season instead of being too late to the Woods party in Indianapolis.

Indianapolis Colts Quarterback Matt Ryan During Training Camp. Photo Credit: Indianapolis Colts | Colts.com
Indianapolis Colts Quarterback Matt Ryan During Training Camp. Photo Credit: Indianapolis Colts | Colts.com