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Fantasy Football Breakouts, Busts, and Locks - Indianapolis Colts 2022 Outlook

michael pittman jr. fantasy football rankings NFL DFS lineup picks

Welcome to our fantasy football Breakouts, Busts, and Locks, a series on RotoBaller where our writers look at three key players on each NFL team. Today, we're talking about the Indianapolis Colts.

Indianapolis heads into 2022 with some high expectations after trading for Matt Ryan. With a reliable quarterback in tow, this offense could be really, really good. But when it comes to fantasy, how good can they/will they be?

Below, you'll find a fantasy football breakout candidate, a fantasy football bust candidate, and a safe fantasy football pick for the Colts based on early ADP for fantasy football drafts in 2022.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers won two writing awards and received 12 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. A big congrats to our very own Byron Lindeque (Golf) and Jordan McAbee (NASCAR) for both winning Writer Of The Year awards! Be sure to follow RotoBaller's analysis and advice all year long, and win more. Win More With RotoBaller!

 

Fantasy Football Breakout: Michael Pittman Jr.

Pittman had 1,082 yards and six touchdowns last season while being targeted 129 times, so it's hard to necessarily call him a "breakout" when he already broke out. But Pittman should break out even more this year.

One key reason is that the Colts have added Matt Ryan. No offense to Carson Wentz in 2021, but Ryan is the best Colts QB since Andrew Luck.

Matt Ryan has finished in the top-five in the NFL in passing yards eight times. Meanwhile, last year's Colts ranked 26th in passing yards. The 2020 Colts were 11th in passing yards in the Philip Rivers year when Pittman finished third on the team in receptions and yards. That, though, was a very different Colts team, which had more guys to spread the ball out to. Pittman is now the clear No. 1 receiver on this team.

Per AddMoreFunds, Pittman led the Colts with 32.06% of the air yards and 25.75% of the targets. Let's just do some basic math here, even though I know the NFL doesn't work this way.

If Pittman had received 25.75% of Ryan's targets last year, he ends up with 144 targets, a slight upgrade over what he had last year. But last year was also the fewest passes Ryan had thrown since 2017. If he's back to 600-plus targets, there's a lot of room for Pittman to grow his numbers from last year and to finish as a fantasy WR1 this year. 25% of 600 targets would be 150 targets. That's 102 catches at last year's catch rate and 1,254 yards. That would have ranked seventh in the NFL last season. And that's not factoring in accuracy: per PlayerProfiler, Ryan was eighth in accuracy rating last year, while Wentz was 29th.

 

Fantasy Football Bust: Parris Campbell

Looking at ADPs, there's not an obvious bust in Indy. Matt Ryan is being drafted like a low-end QB2 and he'll at least return that value. Jonathan Taylor, who I'll have more on later in this piece, is a safe first-round pick unless he gets hurt.

So, for my "bust" pick, I'm going with Parris Campbell. Not because I necessarily think he won't provide value at his ADP (he's being drafted like a WR6/7, so he's basically free), but because I think if a Colts receiver other than Pittman breaks out this season, it won't be Campbell.

Heading into the fourth year of his career, Campbell has played in just 15 games, with 34 career receptions for 360 yards. Injuries have severely limited him so far, with the former second-round pick losing time as a rookie due to various injuries, then suffering a knee injury the next year, and then a broken foot last year.

At this point, Campbell is damaged goods. The Colts used a second-round pick this year on Alec Pierce, an athletic receiver out of Cincinnati who has a lot of good things going on with his game. His size and speed should make him a favorite target for Matt Ryan.

And the whole "Matt Ryan is now the QB" thing plays into this as well. A new quarterback comes in without "favorite" players. He's not going to be targeting a veteran over a rookie just because he threw to that same veteran last year. Campbell will have to prove he should be targeted over Pierce, and over all the other guys on the roster at receiver, which has been a pretty tough position to trust under Frank Reich. It seems like every week there's been different guys on the field for the Colts.

So, that's our bust. If he's healthy, he probably produces like the WR6 he's being drafted as, but I just don't see him having a breakout campaign at this point.

 

Fantasy Football Lock: Jonathan Taylor

Yeah, yeah, picking the consensus 1.01 in redraft leagues as my fantasy football lock is boring. Sometimes I'm boring!

Taylor led the NFL in carries and yards last year, but his production goes beyond just those raw numbers. Per PlayerProfiler, Taylor led all running backs in evaded tackles, juke rate, and breakaway runs. He was third in yards created per touch, seventh in true yards per carry, and third in yards per touch. It wasn't just that he was seeing a huge volume—he was also producing better than most backs on a per touch basis as well.

Taylor proved he could scale up his production and keep delivering. Now, heading into 2022, he's the consensus 1.01 pick.

I did see this, which initially concerned me:

But while workload contributes to injuries and players drafted early in fantasy are more likely to have a high workload, I think it's tough to just say "well, the top overall pick is likely to miss games." One player's injury doesn't predict another player's injury, especially when this player is Taylor, who was healthy all of last season. The Colts had a whole article about how Taylor was spending so much time working on keeping his body healthy.

Sure, there's a chance that Taylor gets hurt. There's a chance anyone gets hurt though, and unless there's an actual recent track record of injuries, I'm not going to let that concern filter into my thoughts on a player.

Taylor is the 1.01 in redraft for a reason. He's the easy pick to be the safe pick for the Colts.



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