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2024 Indianapolis Colts Fantasy Preview

Does Richardson need to change his play style?
Patrick Daugherty and Denny Carter evaluate Anthony Richardson's recent comments about his play style, questioning where the Colts quarterback stacks up in fantasy and if he needs to be more wary of injuries.

2023 Stats (Rank)

Points per game: 23.3 (10th)

Total yards per game: 336.8 (15th)

Plays per game: 64.4 (11th)

Pass Attempts + Sacks per game: 36.2 (15th)

Drop back EPA per play: 0.03 (18th)

Rush attempts per game: 28.2 (10th)

Rush EPA per play: -0.11 (16th)

Coaching Staff

Second-year head coach Shane Steichen brought significant improvement to the Colts in 2023 after the organization wasted away 2022 with a 4-12 record. Despite losing QB Anthony Richardson to a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 5, Indianapolis marched on and finished 9-8 with a chance at the division title in Week 18. With (mostly) Gardner Minshew (now a Raider) under center last season, the Colts finished with 215.6 passing yards per game (20th), 121.1 rushing yards per game (10th), and 1.3 turnovers per game (15th). Steichen’s offense will look and be run differently with Richardson leading the way, so naturally you should expect the team’s rushing numbers to rise and the turnovers to go down. The Colts made offensive additions to provide depth on the line and among their pass catchers in hopes of giving Richardson every chance to be successful. Steichen sees his team’s window of opportunity right now.

While Jim Bob Cooter is officially the offensive coordinator by name (a position he’s held since last season), it’ll once again be Steichen calling the plays. After throwing the ball 33.7 times per game in 2023, the Colts should be in more advantageous situations this year with the combination of Richardson and Jonathan Taylor. With the talent overall being more adept, look for the Colts’ offense to replicate similar success the 2022 Eagles enjoyed under Steichen (as their offensive coordinator). This offense will be fun and you should race to draft players in it.

Passing Game

QB: Anthony Richardson, Joe Flacco

WR: Michael Pittman, Ashton Dulin

WR: Josh Downs, Anthony Gould

WR: Adonai Mitchell, Alec Pierce

TE: Jelani Woods, Kylen Granson, Mo Alie-Cox

Richardson must be dying (not literally) to get back to playing football for the Colts. The second-year quarterback had mixed results in a small sample size as a rookie with some splash plays in between. There’s a ton of excitement about what he can potentially do in 2024 and for good reason. Remember, in his very first NFL game he was QB4 in fantasy for the week. For comparison, C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young’s first games ended with QB22 and QB23 finishes, respectively. In a game where Richardson completed only 11-of-25 passes (Week 4 vs. Rams), he still finished as QB2 for the week, totaling 29.6 fantasy points. The 22-year-old has shown early that he’s equally effective in both the pass and run games. Those attributes will have him in the conversation to be fantasy football’s top player outright. With new weapons and finally getting to play alongside Jonathan Taylor, Richardson is ready to explode onto the fantasy scene in 2024. Yes, him being QB4 on a points-per-game basis through Week 4 of last season isn’t much, but the reward for drafting Richardson could outweigh the risk by miles when it’s all said and done.

Besides Richardson’s skill alone, the wide receiver group he has to work with will help him a good deal. It’ll start with Michael Pittman, who turned in his best season in 2023, finishing with 109-1,152-4 on a career-high 156 targets. That was good enough for him to finish WR15 in fantasy PPG. After signing a new deal this offseason, he’s penciled in as the Colts’ WR1 once again and should be drafted as a top-12 to 18 fantasy WR. In the slot, expect Josh Downs to be more involved than most people think. He finished his rookie season with a respectable 68-771-2 despite only starting nine games. In 2023, Downs had four top-30 finishes in fantasy, including one top-five finish in Week 7. Adonai Mitchell’s ability to come on sooner rather than later will be a major wild card. The versatile rookie may not have the same effect as a Marvin Harrison-type out of the gate, but he’ll be a plus for Richardson with his ability to win at all three levels of the field. Mitchell was drafted mainly due to the ineffectiveness of Alec Pierce who (may or may not be) on borrowed time. Anthony Gould and Ashton Dulin will round out the receiver room with depth for a group that is better than people believe.

The tight ends will be tough to figure in fantasy since the Colts used several in Steichen’s first season at the helm. With Woods on injured reserve last season, the Colts turned to Granson (30-368-1), Alie-Cox (13-161-3) and Andrew Ogletree (9-147-2). None of these players were a huge part of the offense, but the team believes Woods can be their guy. He should get the first shot out of the gate, but we’d likely need to see some production from Woods (or any Colts’ tight end) before scooping one off the waiver wire.

Running Game

RB: Jonathan Taylor, Evan Hull, Trey Sermon, Tyler Goodson

OL (L-R): Bernhard Raimann/Matt Goncalves, Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, Will Fries/Tanor Bortolini, Braden Smith

Taylor will be out for blood in 2024 and it’s evidenced by the way he ended last season. After his contract dispute was settled followed by a slow start, Taylor was RB8 on a PPG basis from Week 8 until the end of the season. From Weeks 10-18, he was a top-five fantasy RB and scored at least one rushing touchdown in each of his final five games. Here’s the kicker, though. He finally gets to play alongside Anthony Richardson. The duo only played together for two snaps last year and will create big opportunities for each other. With Richardson a threat alongside him (and even without), Taylor undoubtedly is a top-five running back in real life and fantasy football. Sermon, Hull, and Goodson will compete to play behind Taylor. The Colts liked Hull last season when he served as the primary backup until he went down with a season-ending injury.

The offensive line play was solid in 2023 but had room for improvement. So, they drafted rookies Tanor Bortolini and Matt Goncalves to compete for playing time. With Ryan Kelly and All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson in the middle, the unit could return to the top of the NFL once again. They’ll be a busy unit, especially at the goal line with a quarterback like Richardson under center. The play at tackle will be a big determining factor in whether or not the Colts’ offensive line can reach its ceiling. The Colts will likely field a top-five rushing offense and the big boys up front will be the main reason for it.

Win Total

With the Colts’ O/U for wins set at 8.5, it raises the question, “How? After they just went 9-8 with Gardner Minshew?” I ask myself the same thing, especially with matchups against four teams (Bears, Vikings, Broncos and Patriots) who have rookie starting quarterbacks. They’ll have another three against the Giants (Daniel Jones) and Titans (Will Levis). While football is the ultimate team game, I like the quarterback matchup and the roster over all of those teams in favor of the Colts. Let us not forget that Indy split with Houston last season and the division came down to the wire. Based on last season and this offseason, I feel (or fear) the Colts have surpassed the Jaguars entirely. Other tough matchups for the Colts will include the Packers, Steelers, Lions, Jets, and Bills, which could all go either way. The Colts will ride to double-digit wins in 2024, make the playoffs, and even louder noise.

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