Tuesday, June 30, 2015, 4:17pm
“He’s always had speed, but I think he really developed his hands, his ability to get in and out of breaks, change of direction. You’re getting a heck of a football player and even a better person in Indianapolis.”
He’s not the new wide receiver who many call the best player in Houston Texans franchise history. He’s not the dynamic weapon fresh off his first Pro Bowl appearance. He’s not the first-round draft pick with speed that rivals some of the NFL’s fastest players.
As a 21-year old rookie last season, Moncrief forced his way into the lineup and gave Colts coaches enough of a look to feel just fine in increasing expectations for No. 10.
“Moncrief has big play ability and we saw him do that,” Chuck Pagano said back at the League Meetings in March. “He’s going to have more opportunities going forward.
“He’s got such a high ceiling and room for improvement. The sky’s the limit for him.”
There's no question Moncrief has talent, but rookie Phillip Dorsett is getting a lot of press so far this offseason and he could battle Moncrief for the WR3 spot - assuming T.Y. Hilton and Andre Johnson are the top two. In a news article from earlier this month, we thought it was possible Johnson, Moncrief, Dorsett and TEs Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener rotate through the other three positions in one running back sets.
49ers writer Tyler Emerick said that RB Reggie Bush was the team's best free agent addition:
If you’ve followed our offseason coverage, you’ve heard Trent Baalke, Jim Tomsula, Tom Rathman, Geep Chryst and Kaepernick all express the same sentiment: Bush, at 30 years old, looks every bit as explosive as ever. The active leader in receptions by a running back with 466 career catches, Bush has urged the 49ers to get him the ball in space. This offseason, that translated not only into the 10th-year pro catching passes out of the backfield, but also getting carries on stretch plays and returning kicks and punts on special teams. Bush sounds like a man with something to prove, and if he can stay healthy, he’ll be a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses.
Bush is expected to fill a third-down role since it looks like Carlos Hyde is ready to carry most of the rushing load, though Jim Tomsula's comments (about Bush being “a runner...not a gadget guy”) indicate that Bush's presence should be a concern for Hyde owners who were initially excited about the young back's opportunity with Frank Gore gone. The 49ers don't typically use their running backs in the passing game, though longtime OC Greg Roman is gone and new OC Geep Chryst may have a different plan in mind.
"I feel really great about the playbook. I learned most of it," he said. "Everything that they installed at OTAs and minicamp I've learned. All the positions: X, F, Y, Z. I learned them all. I love football and studying football, so it hasn't been really that hard for me."
This versatility will help Dorsett find his way onto the field, though snaps are a major concern given all the talent the Colts have at the receiver position.
A quick canvas of the league revealed 10 No. 1-caliber receivers: Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones, Alshon Jeffrey, A.J. Green, Dez Bryant, DeMaryius Thomas, Jordy Nelson, T.Y. Hilton, Odell Beckham and Antonio Brown.
Robinson, the Jaguars’ second-year receiver, is below that level, but on this team at this moment, he’s the best.
Robinson averaged 5.2 catches for 61 yards and 0.22 TD from Week 2 to Week 10, which extrapolates to an 84-974-3.6 over the course of a full 16-game season. He posted fringe WR2-type numbers before suffering a stress fracture in his foot. The Jacksonville receiving corps should feature Robinson, Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns. If QB Blake Bortles can progress, this could be a dangerous passing game, and Robinson would be the primary beneficiary.
This offseason so far reminds me of the Texans offseasons when it was Andre Johnson and a buncha rando wide receivers competing to see who would be starters. No receiver targets in OTAs have been *oh-wow* type guys where you see a particularly positive future for him when they are in the offense longer.
When Colts QB Andrew Luck worked out of a three-receiver formation during Wednesday evening’s work at Lucas Oil Stadium, it primarily was T.Y. Hilton, Andre Johnson and Donte Moncrief. But rookie Phillip Dorsett is going to cut into somebody’s playing time this season. That might be Moncrief. And it might be either Coby Fleener or Dwayne Allen as Hamilton uses more three-wide alignments than two-tight end formations.
The Colts are loaded with talent, but they can't play everyone all the time. We would expect T.Y. Hilton to play a ton, but Andre Johnson, Donte Moncrief, Dorsett and the two tight ends, Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener, could rotate through the other three positions in typical one-running back sets.
"Yeah, if you're asking if we're going to throw some swing passes, yes," Bush said, laughing. "I think that'd be an understatement."
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.
Colts RB Frank Gore is still dangerous in the open field, and the Colts' deep passing game could create opportunities for a number of check-down passes to Gore (something that's been seen frequently in recent practices).
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 detail about Gore, be sure to check out Senior Editor John Paulsen's case for Gore in Indianapolis.
Colts WR Andre Johnson's late-career change of address has reinvigorated his passion for the game. His mom hears it in his voice. His uncle sees it in his body language. HC Chuck Pagano senses it on the practice field.
For Andre Johnson, football is fun again.
Johnson will likely start opposite T.Y. Hilton. It’s a big upgrade from a quality-of-quarterback standpoint, as he has never played with one as good as Andrew Luck. His targets are likely to take a hit, however. He averaged 9.7 T/G in 2014, while Hilton and Reggie Wayne led the Colts with 8.7 and 7.7 T/G, respectively. So this looks like a case of the targets dropping but the quality of those targets increasing. After finishing in the top 10 (in PPR) in five of his previous six seasons, Johnson finished #28 in 2014. He’s turning 34 this offseason, so it may be foolhardy to expect a huge bounceback season, but low-end WR2 numbers in PPR formats seem reasonable.
McCoy is still a fantasy RB1, though he carries more risk since the Buffalo offense could struggle to score points. OC Greg Roman didn't use Frank Gore much in the passing game while in San Francisco, but Gore recently said that was more about Colin Kaepernick and what he was seeing than it was about Roman's offense. It remains to be seen how much McCoy will be used as a receiver, but given Roman's history, we're betting that he's an afterthought in the passing game.
As Donte Moncrief pointed out last season, young Colts receivers are at a slight disadvantage compared to other rookies because they must learn the X, Z, slot and the inside (F) spot in Pep Hamilton's offense rather than concentrating on one position.
"I've been all over the place," Phillip Dorsett said. "Basically, playing receiver here, you can't just learn one position. You've got to learn them all."
So far, so good. Dorsett believes he's picking up Hamilton's scheme quickly.
After dialing up a few deep throws to his new weapon, Andrew Luck noted that "it's definitely not too big for him. ... He fits in very, very well."
Long-term, Dorsett is in a good situation, but he’s going to have a tough time getting on the field as a rookie with T.Y. Hilton and Andre Johnson locked in as the team's top two receivers. Dorsett will have to compete with Moncrief for snaps at WR3. It sounds like he's off to a good start, so the Dorsett/Moncrief competition will be one to watch this summer.
While Bills running backs coach Anthony Lynn would like to see LeSean McCoy’s workload stay the same, he’d prefer if Fred Jackson’s was scaled back. Jackson played 548 snaps last season, a number Lynn said he’d like to see cut in half.
“I think he wore down a little bit at the end of the season,” Lynn said. “If we could take half of that off his plate, I think you’re going to see a fresher Fred Jackson and a more explosive Fred Jackson.”
We currently have Jackson projected to touch the ball 114 times after he racked up 207 touches in 14 games last season, so Lynn's expectations mostly jibe with our projections. As for McCoy, he's going to have a tough time matching the 340 touches he had in 2014 due to the potency and pace of the Philadelphia offense compared to the Buffalo offense. We do have McCoy projected to see 329 touches since OC Greg Roman and HC Rex Ryan both love to run the ball. Just don't expect McCoy's receptions to increase; Roman barely used the very capable Frank Gore in a pass-catching role while calling plays in San Francisco the last few seasons.
General manager Ryan Grigson isn't making any promises to a healthy Ballard.
"Two years is a long time not to play football, there's no doubt about it," Grigson said. "The only thing he needs to do is get a devil-may-care mindset. Because if you think about getting hurt, or you're concerned about getting hurt again, then you probably will."
Ballard realizes training camp could be his final shot at a roster spot in Indianapolis.
This further underlines Gore's value as the team's feature back. Dan Herron will get some work in a backup capacity, but Ballard is just fighting for a roster spot at this point.