INDIANAPOLIS — If you're an avid fantasy football player then you know the benefit that it's been to have shares of Indianapolis Colts players so far this season.
However, some unexpected role players on the team's offense have provided value as well, whether it's on a regular basis or some occasional flashes.
Here, we break down several Colts players into three categories based on what they've shown so far in 2018 (positional ranking heading into Week 9 in parenthesis).
- Fantasy Starters — These players have shown that they are worth starting in your lineups more often than not.
- Flex Streamers — These players don't necessarily put up numbers every single week, but they certainly have games where they are worthy of being a waiver-wire flex play.
- Dynasty Stashes — These players may not have roles that are conducive to fantasy success right now, but they are worth stashing on your rosters in dynasty leagues, where they can break out down the line.
*Based on half-point PPR scoring.
QB Andrew Luck (QB2)
- 225-of-342 passing (65.8%), 2,187 yards, 16 carries, 63 yards (3.9 avg), 23 total TD, 9 total TO
Remember when there were outside questions about Luck's ability to throw? Thankfully, we're waaay past that point now. At one point, he was even on pace to shatter the NFL single-season records for pass completions and attempts.
The Colts' offense has found a bit more balance lately, so it's not as reliant on Luck's throwing, but his fantasy stock hasn't been affected. What he lacks in yards during games where the Colts are running it, he makes up for in touchdowns. Although Luck is 10th in passing yards, he's second in passing touchdowns.
RB Marlon Mack (RB27)
- (4 games) 66 carries, 381 yards (5.8 avg), 6 receptions (11 targets), 56 yards (9.3 avg), 4 total TD, 1 2P
We are truly seeing the second-year development of Mack. After transitioning from a wide-spread, non-NFL-style offense in college at USF, Mack was Frank Gore's understudy in the Colts' backfield as a rookie in 2017.
This summer, he put on a few pounds, got stronger and focused on running between the tackles, and the fruits of that labor are now evident.
Mack struggled with various leg injuries in the early part of the season, but returned to the lineup in Week 6. Since then, he is averaging 20.3 touches for 133.7 yards from scrimmage per game and has scored four touchdowns.
WR T.Y. Hilton (WR37)
- (6 games) 26 receptions (47 targets), 353 yards (13.6 avg), 4 TD
Hilton missed about two and a half games recently due to chest and hamstring injuries, but he has been very valuable when on the field, even after returning.
In the first three games of the season when he was at his healthiest, he had over 10 targets per game. In his three games since, he has only been targeted 15 total times, but he had 115 yards in one of the games, and two touchdowns in another.
TE Eric Ebron (TE3) and Jack Doyle (TE32)
- Ebron: 36 receptions (62 targets), 394 yards (10.9 avg), 1 carry, -1 yards (-1.0 avg), 7 total TD
- Doyle: (3 games) 15 receptions (22 targets), 150 yards (10.0 avg), 1 TD
With Doyle in the lineup, it has an obvious effect on Ebron's playing time (when both are active, Doyle plays 87.9% compared to Ebron's 31.0%), but that hasn't stopped Ebron from leaving his mark. He still has a touchdown in all three games he's played with Doyle. Let's also not forget he leads all NFL tight ends in touchdowns.
Doyle is always a solid PPR option, as he is averaging 5.0 catches on 7.3 targets per game this year. Luck and Doyle have chemistry, and that will almost always result in numbers.
Overall, 52.2 percent of Luck's touchdown passes have gone to tight ends, so these two's value remains steady.
K Adam Vinatieri (K8)
- 14-of-16 FGA (87.5%) (2-of-3 from 50-plus), 21-of-23 XPA (91.3%), 63 points
Vinatieri is about as consistent as they come, going over 10 fantasy points in four of eight games and scoring at least seven points in six of eight.
He's also claimed the records for most field goals made as well as most points in NFL history this year, so there's that.
Looking ahead, Vinatieri has six indoor matchups out of the final eight games, meaning ideal kicking conditions.
RB Nyheim Hines (RB24)
- 52 carries, 238 yards (4.6 avg), 34 receptions (42 targets), 187 yards (5.5 avg), 3 total TD
Hines has been as effective as advertised on offense, averaging 10.8 touches per game for 53.1 yards. Perhaps even more impressive is the 5-9, 198-pound rookie is averaging well over four yards per carry.
The best may still be yet to come for Hines in his debut season. We've seen him play well as a traditional running back who is heavily involved in the passing game, but we haven't seen much of his trademark long speed yet. If he gets more opportunities to get the ball in the open field, then we may see him add some more chunk plays or even long touchdowns to his résumé.
WR Chester Rogers (WR55), Ryan Grant (WR69) and Dontrelle Inman (WR139)
- Rogers: 32 receptions (47 targets), 295 yards (9.2 avg), 1 TD, 2 2P
- Grant: (6 games) 26 receptions (36 targets), 270 yards (10.4 avg), 1 TD
- Inman: (2 games) 6 receptions (7 targets), 52 yards (8.7 avg)
Zach Pascal included, we have seen a handful of complementary receivers rotate through the Colts offense, especially in Hilton's absence.
Rogers has been one constant, consistently getting his three or four receptions per game. He took a larger role with Hilton out of the lineup, catching eight passes each in Weeks 4 and 5. However, with Hilton back and the Colts running the ball well, Rogers' totals have come back down to his average in recent weeks.
Grant shares a relatively similar load in the passing game as Rogers, but has been out the last two games with an ankle injury. When in the lineup, Grant typically takes on the second receiver role on the outside, helping move the chains.
Inman has filled in for Grant the last two weeks, having a solid game against the Oakland Raiders last week with six catches on seven targets. It remains to be seen what Inman's role will be once Grant returns to the lineup.
Colts DST (DST17)
- 26.6 PPG, 371.4 YPG, 21 sacks, 16 takeaways
The Colts defense is very playable in good matchups, scoring over 10 fantasy points in three games, while getting at least seven in two others.
The unit is susceptible to giving up yards and points, but they rank top five in both sacks and takeaways. They've had multiple sacks in six of eight games and multiple takeaways in five of eight.
RB Jordan Wilkins (RB60)
- 52 carries, 235 yards (4.5 avg), 10 receptions (11 targets), 42 yards (4.2 avg), 1 fumble lost
Wilkins has been impressive this season, but it's a numbers game when it comes to the Colts backfield. When everyone is healthy, you've got Mack, Hines, Wilkins and Robert Turbin. Mack and Wilkins are the most prototypical lead back types, while Hines and Turbin have more defined roles. With Mack in the lineup, Wilkins sees less playing time. However, you never know how things can develop into next season.
WR Marcus Johnson (WR116)
- (5 games) 6 receptions (8 targets), 102 yards (17.0 avg), 1 carry, -2 yards (-2.0 avg), 1 total TD
Before suffering a season-ending ankle injury against the New York Jets in Week 6, it looked like Johnson was starting to blossom a bit. In that game specifically, he had a 34-yard touchdown, and Luck narrowly missed him for another play that would have gone for at least 40 yards if not another score.
When the Colts acquired Johnson earlier this year, Colts head coach Frank Reich — who was his offensive coordinator with the Philadelphia Eagles from 2016-17 — spoke very highly of the receiver.
"Yeah, I actually had Marcus the last two years and he was in camp the year before there. Really like Marcus. Marcus has really good traits," Reich told reporters.
"He's got good vertical speed, he's got good feet, he's got good size. I mean, really in a lot of ways Marcus is a prototypical receiver in the NFL. I like everything about Marcus, I just don't think Marcus has had the right opportunity and I think he has a chance of getting that here and we'll see what he does."
The Colts began to give Johnson that opportunity that Reich spoke of before he got hurt. Now, with a team that could use more depth at the receiver position, Johnson could get another shot next year in training camp.
TE Erik Swoope (TE28) and Mo Alie-Cox (TE49)
- Swoope: (5 games) 7 receptions (8 targets), 83 yards (11.9 avg), 3 TD
- Alie-Cox: (4 games) 4 receptions (6 targets), 84 yards (21.0 avg), 1 TD
It's not just Ebron and Doyle that have caught eyes this year among the Colts' tight end group. This young, former basketball-playing duo of Swoope and Alie-Cox have both been very impressive as well.
Swoope went on the hottest streak of his career, catching a touchdown three games in a row between Weeks 5-7. Last week, Alie-Cox made one of the highlight catches of the season when he jumped up and snagged a Luck pass with one hand for a 26-yard touchdown. Very Odell Beckham-esque.
Being a vertical threat at the tight end position who can also make contested catches are invaluable traits to have. The sky is the limit for these two.