Just when the Colts running back group was filled with proven contributors, the unit suffered a major blow Sunday.
Ahmad Bradshaw’s fourth-quarter wrist injury has sent the veteran running back to injured reserve for a third straight season.
Bradshaw played in six games this season for the Colts, once again establishing himself as a major red-zone weapon. He caught three touchdown passes in six games, while also serving as the team’s backup to Frank Gore, primarily as the team’s third-down back. Dan Herron could now seize that role. The Colts claimed Herron off waivers on Thanksgiving and he played in the final three offensive snaps of Sunday's game (all kneel downs). Herron also played 10 special teams snaps in his 2015 debut with Indy.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015, 6:15pm
Wednesday, October 14, 2015, 6:20pm
Through the first nine games of last season, Bradshaw was on pace for top 10 fantasy numbers in both PPR and standard formats. He averaged 13.0 touches for 79 yards and 0.89 TD, which included 3.8 catches per game and six receiving touchdowns. Of course, that was when he was splitting time with the ineffective Trent Richardson. Now he'll be sharing the backfield with the far more capable Frank Gore. He should hold more value in PPR formats and if anything happens to Gore, his value would get a big boost into fantasy RB2 territory. On the other hand, he's been injury-prone throughout his career, he's another year older, and the Colts aren't utilizing their running backs in the passing game like they did last season. The signing does negatively impact the value of Frank Gore, but we're expecting that the Indianapolis offense will improve as the season wears on, so the size of the proverbial pie should be larger, offsetting a potential decline in touches for Gore.
It turns out that 69 percent of Frank Gore's rushing attempts last year with the 49ers were made against a defense that had seven or fewer players in the box. Gore rushed for 833 yards and three touchdowns on 179 attempts when there were seven men in the box.
When it came to facing at least eight men in the box, Gore rushed 76 times for 273 yards and a touchdown last season. Gore's 833 yards against seven or fewer defenders in the box would have been enough to lead the Colts in total rushing in each of the past seven seasons.
The Colts didn't have much success rushing the ball when teams loaded the box against them. Richardson, Ahmad Bradshaw, Andrew Luck, Zurlon Tipton and Daniel “Boom” Herron combined to rush for 153 yards on 59 attempts, which is more than 100 yards less than what Gore rushed for.
The numbers don't lie.
The writer concludes that Gore should have plenty of success running the ball this season if the offensive line does its job, because the Colts have too many weapons on offense for defenses to load the box to try to slow Gore down. The hope for the Colts is Gore finally gives them a consistent rushing attack to go with Luck and give the team a bit of balance. Gore is listed 12th on our RB list making him a low-end RB1. Based on ADP, he falls right in that "next tier" of RBs - as the first 11 RBs on our list have ADPs in the first or early second rounds, while Gore's ADP is the early third round. He presents a nice value if you can land him in the third.
JOHN SCHMEELK: Regardless of Jennings’ injury history, the Giants are going to split carries because they have three very talented running backs that all deserve to touch the ball. I expect Jennings to be the bell cow with help from Williams, Vereen to be the third down back, and for Williams to get a lot of goal line and short yardage carries.
DAN SALOMONE: Regardless of any injuries, I think the running backs are all going to see a fair share of carries this season because they all bring something a little different to the table. Jennings is an all-around back, Andre Williams is a bruiser, and newly-signed Shane Vereen is a third-down threat out of the backfield.
LANCE MEDOW: The Giants will likely split carries at running back a little more this season but I think it has more to do with the depth in the backfield than Rashad Jennings’ injury issues in 2014. With Andre Williams coming off a productive rookie campaign and Shane Vereen adding some versatility and veteran experience, those two will take away some carries from Jennings just like Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw spread the wealth in 2008.
All three writers seem to feel the same way: Jennings should get a bulk of the early down work with Williams a change of pace and short yardage guy, and, Vereen seeing a lot of time on third down. We have Jennings ranked 26th which puts him in the flex/RB3 zone. Vereen is 38th overall but will likely be rated higher in PPR rankings. Both Jennings and Vereen present middle-of-the-draft value, but will come with risks week-to-week depending on matchups.
The biggest question with Frank Gore for fantasy football managers is whether he’ll return to PPR prominence in 2015. I believe he will. He’s seen plenty of action catching balls out of the backfield during the offseason program, even lining up out wide during the Colts’ open practice at Lucas Oil Stadium Wednesday. This was a huge part of the offense with Ahmad Bradshaw last year, especially in the red zone, and it looks like we may see the Frank Gore of old that averaged more than 50 receptions per season from 2006-2010. That would be a huge increase to his value in PPR leagues but shouldn’t be overlooked in standard leagues either. Yards are yards.
Gore is turning 32 this summer, but should be able to shore up the Colts' running game. Dan Herron and Vick Ballard are in the mix, but Gore is better than advertised in the passing game. Gore averaged 51.0 receptions from 2006-2010, but as soon as Greg Roman took over as offensive coordinator in 2011, his targets dropped precipitously. He averaged just 28.3 targets over the past four seasons, while the Colts' running backs accounted for 113 targets last season, so look for Gore's value to jump significantly in PPR formats. Due to his age, Gore typically goes later than he should in fantasy drafts, but he hasn't missed a game in three seasons and should be reinvigorated by a change of scenery. For more on Gore, be sure to check out Senior Editor John Paulsen's case for Gore in Indianapolis.
Update: This deal is finalized.
Gore reportedly backed out of a deal with Philadelphia. He's turning 32 this summer, but should be able to shore up the Colts' running game. Dan Herron and Vick Ballard are in the mix, and the team could also bring back the still-effective Ahmad Bradshaw. Gore is better than advertised in the passing game, so re-signing Bradshaw may not be necessary. Gore averaged 51.0 receptions from 2006-2010, but as soon as Greg Roman took over as offensive coordinator in 2011, Gore's targets dropped precipitously. He averaged just 28.3 targets over the past four seasons, while the Colts' running backs accounted for 113 targets last season, so look for Gore's value to jump in PPR formats. Due to his age, Gore typically goes later than he should in fantasy drafts, but he hasn't missed a game in three seasons and should be reinvigorated by a change of scenery.
It's possible that the Colts still may want to bring the highly-effective yet injury-prone Bradshaw back in 2015. Through the first nine weeks, Bradshaw was the #6 RB in standard formats (#5 in PPR). He averaged 79 total yards and 0.88 TD per game (including six receiving scores).
The first, and most obvious, is the Colts' considerable lack of depth at running back. Trent Richardson and Dan Herron are joined only by undrafted rookie Zurlon Tipton from Central Michigan, currently the third running back. The Colts, like most teams in today's NFL, prefer to play a rotation of running backs. With Ahmad Bradshaw on injured reserve, there aren't a lot of options.
Arguing for more carries for Herron is one thing – he's been more productive – but to suggest that he alone handle all the carries, when he has no history of being an every-down running back, is a stretch.
But there's a much bigger reason behind the Colts' rationale to stick with Richardson. And it has little to do with running the football. Richardson is the best pass-blocking running back the Colts have, a distinction that greatly increases his worth to the coaching staff.
You might not value this quality in your favorite team's running back, but quarterbacks do not share your opinion.
While it's just one opinion, it makes a lot of sense. Protecting one of the top QBs in the league is key to the Colts success and playoff future, and if Richardson has the best ability to keep Luck upright, he's going to be on the field. That could mean on the field in key third down situations, which obviously would limit Herron's pass-catching numbers. Both Herron and Richardson had two receptions last week.
Saturday, November 22, 2014, 9:28am
Herron’s drive of five carries for 37 yards ended in a field goal for the Colts and offered another glimpse of what the team’s third running back could provide the offense.
Now, with Ahmad Bradshaw placed on injured reserve, those mop-up carries could become much more meaningful.
“It’s time for Boom Herron to step up, which everybody on the team has full confidence in,” Reggie Waynesays.
The longest extended look Colts fans have gotten of Herron was at this year’s Training Camp in Anderson. With Bradshaw and Trent Richardson dealing with injuries, Herron got plenty of first team work throughout camp and the preseason.
“He’s done it in practice. He did it in the preseason. When he’s gotten his chances in the games this year, he’s done a heck of a job,” Andrew Luck says of his “110 percent” confidence in Herron.
In the preseason, Herron was the team’s leading rusher (22 carries for 112 yards) and leading receiver (11 catches for 55 yards). The hope his Herron slides right in as a result of learning the offense during the preseason and camp with all the injuries. Richardson hasn't been all that impressive, so it seems possible Herron has a decent chance to put up fantasy numbers, perhaps especially in the passing game. He's certainly worth grabbing, at least in a little deeper PPR leagues.
Friday, November 21, 2014, 6:26pm
Colts RB Trent Richardson (illness, probable) took full practice reps again Friday and is probable for Week 12. Richardson is in line for a big workload, though the team may elect to give most of Ahmad Bradshaw’s carries to Dan Herron. T-Rich is a fairly safe RB2 this week.
Thursday, November 20, 2014, 5:58pm
Colts RB Trent Richardson (illness) returned to full practice reps Thursday after missing Wednesday. Richardson should be fine to face the Jaguars. He’ll likely see a larger workload with Ahmad Bradshaw done for the year. Dan Herron should serve as his backup.
Beat writer Mike Wells on Trent Richardson's opportunity as the "workhorse" back for the Colts: It’s put-up-or-shut-up time for Richardson. He shared the workload with Bradshaw in the nine games they played together, but now he’ll be the workhorse in the backfield. That’s kind of a scary thought when you take into account that Richardson rushed for zero yards on seven carries against the Patriots last weekend. Richardson and general manager Ryan Grigson have a lot on the line, because there’s no excuse for Richardson not to be effective. He has been in the system for more than a year and no longer has to split carries. Produce and it will soften the blow of Richardson’s inconsistent play the past year. Struggle and the questions continue as to why Grigson gave up a first-round draft pick for a player who hasn’t been worth it so far.
Dan "Boom" Herron will move into a backup/complementary role behind Richardson. The split will depend on how each player performs. Given Richardson's recent history of low production, it wouldn't be surprising if Herron worked his way into a Ahmad Bradshaw-type role.
Wednesday, November 19, 2014, 6:11pm
Colts RB Trent Richardson (illness) did not practice Wednesday. Richardson should be fine to face the Jaguars. He’ll likely see a larger workload with Ahmad Bradshaw done for the year. Dan Herron should serve as his backup.
- Page 1