It’s after the Fourth of July, which means that it’s high time we turn our attention to fantasy football sleepers, breakouts, and busts for every NFL team. The ADP is per 4for4’s ADP data. We started with the AFC East, switched to the AFC North, and we now move onto the AFC South. Is Anthony Richardson the 18th-best quarterback in the NFL? Is Alec Pierce good? Will the tight ends split the targets in thirds, yet again? We answer none of those questions, and more, with the Indianapolis Colts’ sleeper, breakout, and bust!
Sleeper: Anthony Richardson, Quarterback (QB17, Pick 151 Overall)
We aren’t sure if Anthony Richardson is good yet. We do know, however, that he has a massive arm, is built like a linebacker, and loves to run the football. This applied to two other rookie quarterbacks in recent memory: Cam Newton and Josh Allen. Newton and Allen combined in their rookie seasons to average 20.6 fantasy points per game. Neither was particularly good as quarterbacks to start their career, either. They just ran the ball a ton, with Cam Newton averaging 8 carries for 44 yards per game, and Josh Allen kicking over 7.4 attempts for 52.6 yards per game. Cam Newton won an MVP, and Josh Allen is consistently on the verge of winning one. But, they were both once just rookies, just like Richardson, and they were rookies who helped carry you to a fantasy football title.
Breakout: Michael Pittman, Wide Receiver (WR50, 135 Overall)
It feels weird and icky to give Michael Pittman the breakout label, but also, he’s wide receiver freakin’ fifty on 4for4 ADP. That seemed strange, so I checked everywhere else I could: on Fantasy Football Calculator, he’s WR35 (pick 80) on FantasyPros, he’s also WR35, but pick 65. Fantasy Data has his most rational ADP, where he’s WR29 and pick 62 overall. If you prefer anecdotes over data, I drafted him at 7.03 in Scott Fish Bowl, as the WR25 off of the board. This feels… extremely strange, to me. Yes, he will have a rookie quarterback, but other than Jonathan Taylor, where is that rookie quarterback throwing? To Michael Pittman, most likely. Pittman was WR21 last season with a cavalcade of garbage at quarterback, but he was still top-twelve in targets, receptions, routes run, and snap share. He was always on the field, and he was never blocking (literally, never). Eleven wide receivers have between 250 and 290 targets in the last two seasons combined, and they are a cavalcade of players people are hyping: Cooper Kupp, D.J. Moore, CeeDee Lamb, D.K. Metcalf, Chris Godwin, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, Marquise Brown, A.J. Brown, Terry McLaurin… and Michael Pittman. Pittman is getting drafted last among this group. There are exactly zero reasons why Pittman should be going as late as he is.
Bust: Your Favorite Sleeper Tight End
The names change, the coaching scheme changes, the quarterback changes, but the cockamamie idea that we have to crown a Colts tight end a sleeper never changes. It started with Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen and evolved into Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron before reaching its current iteration: Jelani Woods, Mo Alie-Cox and Kylen Granson. The Colts are consistently middle-of-the-pack in terms of tight end targets, notching 108, 103, and 120 in the last three seasons, respectively. These are all firmly in the teens in terms of NFL ranking, which is nothing to slouch at. They aren’t dreadful.
Unfortunately, some wise guy (or a collection of wise guys) decides that one is better than the others every offseason, and gives him 80 targets. This is usually for no reason other than ~vibez~, and is definitely something I have been guilty of in the past. Unfortunately, the Colts love to whip the ball around the yard, and there have been six games over the last three seasons in which a particular Colts tight end had more than five targets. There’s also been one (1) game of a Colts’ tight end getting over 90 receiving yards in that time frame as well. The Colts love to sling the ball around to tight ends, and because they share the middling target volume, it lowers the ceilings of all of them.