INDIANAPOLIS — With Andrew Luck returning from shoulder surgery, a handful of new offensive players (including a shiny, new line) and a new, offensive-minded coaching staff, there is plenty to be optimistic about regarding the Indianapolis Colts' offense.
Today, we continue examining the fantasy football profiles of the primary fantasy-relevant Colts players.
Average draft position and positional rankings from FantasyPros. Projections are based on traditional lineups with PPR scoring.
RB Nyheim Hines
- Current ADP — 157
- Current Positional Rank — RB52
- 2015-17 (College, NC State) — 258 carries, 1,400 rush yards (5.4 avg), 13 rush touchdowns, 89 receptions, 933 receiving yards (10.5 avg), 1 receiving touchdown, 88 kickoff returns, 2,171 kickoff return yards (24.7 avg), 2 kickoff return touchdowns, 12 punt returns, 132 punt return yards (11.3 avg), 1 punt return touchdown
For starters, while we don't know if Hines will be the Colts' starting running back, it does make a lot of sense for him to see a large share of the backfield touches (carries and receptions) regardless. If you're in a fantasy league that also factors in return yardage as well, then I'll make things real simple: you want Hines.
He may be be a rookie fourth-round pick, but the Colts want to get Hines involved, and they want to move him around — running, receiving and returning. From the start of the first rookie minicamp in May, he was being featured in practice.
During rookie minicamp, Hines spoke about playing multiple roles, saying, "I look forward to doing that and I look forward to going out in the slot and being that mismatch guy like with Darren Sproles, Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey. Those are the players I am similar to so I am excited to have a chance to do that in Indianapolis."
Although we'll likely see Hines running, catching and returning, I don't think it's going to be so cut and dry. We could see head coach Frank Reich and offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni get exotic in the ways they get Hines the ball.
When he gets carries, they could come from normal singleback or I formations, shotgun, pistol or end-arounds.
Running routes? That could come from the backfield, slot, split out wide or while still in motion. Hines played wide receiver his first two years at NC State before switching to running back, so running routes from different alignments is nothing new to him.
He is also a candidate for the return game, as special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone has listed Hines as one of a handful of guys in the mix.
The fact that Hines is a willing pass protector should earn him some added equity on third downs as well. He makes up for his size (5-9, 198) by getting the initial jump on blitzers, and getting low when he needs to. Although Hines is willing in pass pro, he does still have to prove to be effective at the NFL level, however, so we'll see how practice goes.
Sirianni spoke in depth about Hines and his versatility during mandatory minicamp in June after he'd already been around him for a month and several practices:
"As far as Nyheim, he's just hard to understand defensively, in my mind, how you're going to play him. He kind of reminds me a little bit of a Dexter McCluster type. I was with him in Kansas City. Teams didn't know what he was. Is he playing running back this week? Is he playing wide receiver this week? What is he? How do I defend him? And now all of a sudden, you're on the offensive and they're on the defensive which is the way it's supposed to be. That's what's so intriguing about him and obviously his talent, his speed, his quickness. He's a really smart football player. Sometimes I think it's hard to move these guys around, especially because they're swimming in a new system so quick, but he hasn't missed a beat."
I've told you all of that to now make the point that Hines' current ADP of 157 and rank as RB52 makes him an absolute steal.
He is a player who should be heavily involved in his offense, being used in a multitude of ways. Hines will be used as a chess piece, being moved around to take advantage of certain matchups, which will spring big plays.
Hines' value in PPR formats — especially if you are also rewarded for any return game statistics — makes him a terrific late-round sleeper option.
It's easy to imagine him being a decent FLEX play most weeks in the way that Theo Riddick, Duke Johnson or Giovani Bernard have been, but with more upside.
Other Colts 2018 Fantasy Previews: