• Inside the Locker Room
With Phil Wilson of the Indianapolis Star
How optimistic are the Colts about a better running game with a younger OL?
Everybody will rush to judgment that the Colts can now run the football. The Colts are, and always will be, a pass-first offense with Peyton Manning. But when they want to run, specifically when they need to gain the hard yards, they want to be able to do it on the ground. The playoff loss to the Jets underscored the importance of gaining only one yard on third down. The Colts failed to convert in four such situations. Don’t expect the Colts to be in the top 10 in rushing, but they don’t expect to be at the bottom anymore, either.
What’s Jacob Tamme’s role after being a solid fill-in for Dallas Clark in 2010?
Clark is one of the NFL’s best at spreading defenses out and capitalizing on mismatches. But he’s not getting any younger. He just turned 32. And he’s been getting up more slowly from hits the last couple of years, a sign that the damage is catching up. He can still put up monster numbers and make huge plays, but the Colts would be wise to work in Tamme to keep Clark fresh. It’s a key position, especially if slot receiver Austin Collie can’t stay healthy. The Colts need an inside presence among their pass-catchers.
Will the team use Collie differently to try and protect against more concussions?
One would think that’s the obvious plan, but probably not. The Colts run an offense. There are designed plays to take advantage of the defense. One of those is that deep slot pattern. The tight ends run it as much as the slot guys. Manning will call that play as part of the offense. He will expect receivers to make plays. It’s how he works.
• Fantasy Playoff Run — Weeks 14-16: @BAL, TEN, HOU
Get past the Ravens and it could be smooth sailing for Peyton and Co. The Colts get two home games during the playoffs, and they are against AFC South rivals, Tennessee and Houston, which both ranked in the bottom 10 in points allowed to QBs and WRs. Manning averaged 321 yards and combined for nine scores with no picks in the four meetings last year against Tennessee and Houston.
• Athlon Best Bets
Sleeper: Blair White, WR
Deep-Sleeper: Jacob Tamme, TE
Overvalued: Pierre Garcon, WR
Top Rookie: Delone Carter, RB
Bounce-Back: Dallas Clark, TE
Top IDP: Robert Mathis, DL
• Try to Avoid
Austin Collie, WR
When healthy, Collie has proven to be a fantastic fantasy option. Yet, his role is still working the middle of the field, and one more concussion could end his career. Select at your own risk.
WAIT UNTIL: 8th RD
• Draft Class Fantasy Impact
Despite some questionable offensive line play in recent years, Peyton Manning has remained one of the top fantasy quarterbacks. The Colts attempted to upgrade this unit in the draft, spending their first two picks on linemen. Anthony Castonzo and Ben Ijalana should have a chance to start right away, which should give Manning more protection and open up more rushing lanes. Carter adds power to the backfield, but barring an injury to Joseph Addai and Donald Brown, Carter will likely be the No. 3 option for one of the league’s worst rushing teams.