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.
TE Eric Ebron
- Current ADP — 190
- Current Positional Rank — TE22
- Games missed last season (2017) — 0
- 2015 — 14 games, 47 receptions (70 targets), 537 receiving yards, 5 receiving touchdowns
- 2016 — 13 games, 61 receptions (85 targets), 711 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown, 1 rushing touchdown
- 2017 — 16 games, 53 receptions (86 targets), 574 receiving yards, 4 receiving touchdowns
- Total — 43 games, 161 receptions (241 targets), 1,822 receiving yards, 11 total touchdowns
- Average per game — 3.7 receptions (5.6 targets), 42.4 receiving yards, 0.3 total touchdowns
Ebron was drafted with the No. 10-overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft. At the time, with guys like Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham and Antonio Gates tearing up the league, Ebron was supposed to be the next elite tight end in the NFL.
Although he hasn't yet hit that level, Ebron has been a respectable fantasy tight end. As a rookie in 2014, he finished as TE25. That's to be expected, as tight end is one of the longest-developing positions in the league. However, in his three seasons since, Ebron has finished ranked as TE10, TE11 and TE12, respectively.
Those may not be elite fantasy levels, but they are starter levels.
Ebron especially turned on the jets in the second half of last year after the birth of his son, who was born during the Detroit Lions' Week 7 bye.
In the six weeks prior, Ebron averaged 2.2 catches (4.3 targets) (50 percent catch rate) for 17.0 yards and scored one touchdown. In the final 10 games, Ebron averaged 4.0 catches (6.0 targets) (67 percent catch rate) for 47.2 yards and scored three touchdowns.
Now with the Colts, Ebron's coaches can't wait to get started with him on the playing field. Likewise, Ebron is looking forward to the fresh start after working on his "mental focus" this offseason.
Ebron believes that the sky is the limit with quarterback Andrew Luck throwing to Ebron and his running mate, Jack Doyle.
Despite already having a Pro Bowl tight end on the roster in Doyle, that doesn't remove Ebron's fantasy value. Likewise for Doyle with Ebron's presence.
Two-tight end groupings can work. Just look at how the New England Patriots were able to utilize Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez for a period, and the Colts with Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen.
This is also a very tight-end friendly offense that head coach Frank Reich and offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni will run, led by a quarterback in Luck who loves utilizing the tight ends. In Doyle's fantasy preview, I broke down some examples:
"In the four seasons in which Luck has played all or most of the year, he targeted tight ends on 21.5 percent of his passes. That percentage has increased throughout his career, averaging 19.1 percent from 2012-13 and then 23.8 percent in 2014 and 2016.
It gets even better in the red zone when Luck needs a touchdown. In his career, he targets tight ends in the red zone approximately 21 times per season, which is about 29 percent of his red zone targets...
Reich's primary tight end with the Philadelphia Eagles, Zach Ertz, was the most targeted tight end in the NFL last year.
In the last two years (with Reich as the coordinator), Eagles tight ends were targeted an average of 27.5 times per year in the red zone, which was 33 percent. So, if anything, Doyle's fantasy value may even increase."
As you can see, there will be plenty of attention to the tight ends in this new offense, even if there are two on the field together frequently.
Ebron and Doyle will also likely have different roles, keeping opportunities open for both. Ebron will likely be used more like a chess piece, being moved around the offense to capitalize on certain matchups.
Doyle will likely carry the more traditional tight end role, although he too is capable of moving around formations.
Ebron's current rank as TE22 is likely a little low. People are probably waiting to see Luck back with their own eyes, but Ebron is capable of out-producing that rank.
This is a good time to get him if your league's are already starting.
Other Colts 2018 Fantasy Previews: