Fantasy Focus: Colts Receivers

With so many talented targets, it will be difficult to figure out which Colt to draft. Who should you take and when? Brad Keller breaks it down.

Reggie Wayne:

Wayne is ranked between 15th and 18th overall on most cheat sheets.  The only receivers ahead of him are Andre Johnson, Randy Moss, and Larry Fitzgerald.  That ranking seems about right.  He has proven himself to be a top-five fantasy receiver the past two seasons, he is the favorite target of a very talented quarterback, and he plays in a very potent, pass-oriented offense.

When it's your turn to pick in round two, don't get cute.  Take Wayne.  I had a choice between Wayne and Greg Jennings in last year's draft in the second round, I took Jennings, and I have not forgiven myself.

Dallas Clark:

Clark is ranked between 39th and 45th overall and is generally regarded as the top tight end in fantasy football.  He could again be the league's most productive player at his position and he certainly garnered a lot of well-deserved attention in 2009.

Collie could be a very valuable late-round pick in your fantasy draft
AP Photo/Wade Payne

The issue is that, in my mind, there is no reason to take a tight end in the third or fourth round.  You only start one and there are plenty of suitable substitutes out there.  The tight end is becoming a more important position in the passing game with teams throwing the ball more and faster players at the position creating favorable match-ups.

If you instead draft quality starters in round three and four at receiver and running back — or even quarterback — you should still be fine with John Carlson, Jason Witten, or Vernon Davis as your starter.  If you need to draft a tight end that early, though, Clark is a better option than Antonio Gates.

Pierre Garcon:

The battle at flanker still needs to shake out, but Garcon is currently ranked higher than Anthony Gonzalez on most boards and is a consensus fifth- or sixth-round pick, with Gonzalez currently in the ranks of the undrafted.

If a starter is named prior to your draft — unlikely, but possible — then that's a good round to take a player with the production potential of that position, a viable option and important part of a pass-oriented, potent offense with a very talented quarterback.

But, judging by recent historical trends, neither Gonzalez nor Garcon has had a season as productive as the one enjoyed by Austin Collie in 2009.  Collie had more catches (60) and more touchdowns (seven) last season than the season highs of Garcon or Gonzalez for their respective careers.

It's true that Garcon will benefit from a full season under his belt with Manning and Gonzalez spent some time with Manning in Tennessee this offseason, but both of those factors also work in Collie's favor.

Austin Collie:

As the odds-on favorite to win the slot receiver job for the Colts, Collie's rankings are fairly consistently in the 130s or 140s.  In a 12-team league, that puts him in the tenth or 11th rounds in most drafts, which is a tremendous value pick no matter how you look at it.  Typically, receivers drafted in these rounds are second receivers on poor passing teams, third receivers on excellent passing teams, or unknown primary targets on restructuring teams. 

To select a player with Collie's 2009 numbers that late in the draft is a gift to any fantasy owner.  He's the best value pick on the list and should be available somewhere between the tenth and 12th rounds.  If he's there when you're looking, take him.

Anthony Gonzalez:

Though many believe — myself included — that Gonzalez will win the flanker job, he'll be too much of a risk for most fantasy owners.  After all, that's what the waiver wire is for before the season starts.  If you draft Peyton Manning, however, you should draft one of his receivers so that the offense they create adds to your point total each week.  If Gonzalez is still there in the round before you take your kicker and your defense and you haven't taken any of the other players on this list, take a shot on Gonzalez.

You could wait until a decision is made at the position and try the waiver wire, but the waiver wire is not a sure-fire place to count on for talent.  Most players taken that late don't finish the season on your roster, so it's worth it to burn a pick on Gonzalez late and hope that the Colts make a decision that favors your team.

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