The Fantasy Football Implications of Adonai Mitchell as an Indianapolis Colt

May 14, 2024
The Fantasy Implications of Adonai Mitchell as an Indianapolis Colt

With the 52nd selection of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts spent their second-round pick on wide receiver Adonai Mitchell. A perceived lack of refinement is likely why Mitchell dropped a little further than expected after he was consistently being mocked into the back of Round 1. The rookie will join Michael Pittman Jr. and Josh Downs at the top of the WR depth chart, with Alec Pierce and fellow rookie Anthony Gould working their way into the rotation as well. Below, we’ll take a look at Mitchell’s path to the Draft, as well as the impact he makes on the players around him.

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Adonai Mitchell’s Prospect Profile

Adonai Mitchell was a four-star recruit (No. 63 wide receiver in the 2021 recruiting class) as he headed into the Todd Monken offense of Georgia for his freshman season. He may have been even higher, but he made the unique decision to bypass 2020 enrollment to train after his final year of high school. The “year off” didn’t negatively impact his level of involvement in the offense, as he would run the second-most routes and received the second-highest amount of targets, behind only tight end Brock Bowers. He went 4-84-2 in Georgia’s two winning playoff games.

Mitchell was poised for another red-zone-heavy role in Year 2, but after his 4-65-1 Week 1 performance, he missed a huge chunk of the season with an ankle injury. After the Bulldogs won their second-straight National Championship, he transferred to Texas to be closer to his daughter, and the counting stats finally matched up to his athletic profile.

Adonai Mitchell College Career Statline
Year College Targets Receptions Yards Touchdowns YPRR aDOT
2021 Georgia 52 29 428 4 1.66 15.0
2022 Georgia 17 9 134 3 1.56 14.2
2023 Texas 86 55 845 11 1.72 16.0

Mitchell became a vertical threat in his one year at Texas, using his great combination of size and speed to cause defensive headaches with teammates Xavier Worthy and Ja'Tavion Sanders. While Worthy and Sanders were the beneficiaries of underneath and RPO targets, most of Mitchell’s damage came in the form of nine routes and in-breakers deep down the field. With that lack of “lay-up” targets, we can start to get an idea of why his statistical profile isn’t in the top echelon of this draft class.

Per Reception Perception’s Matt Harmon, “He ran far more routes downfield than the average college prospect, as his route percentage chart shows… I can’t tell you how many rough misses by Quinn Ewers are on his film when Mitchell comes crispy clean on out-breaking patterns. An NFL quarterback with great arm talent is going to love delivering sideline strikes to this type of player.”

When given the opportunity, Mitchell was able to break at the top of his routes, unlike some pure-X receivers who are only built to run fast in a straight line.

It would be easy to blame QB Quinn Ewers for Mitchell’s lack of yards-after-catch proclivity (3.2 YAC/rec., 52nd/57 qualifying wide receivers in this class), but he had an even worse number (2.5) during his time in Georgia. His splash games at the next level will likely come from touchdown scoring, as opposed to huge-yardage outputs, particularly if he goes somewhere he can’t earn a team-leading target share.

How Adonai Mitchell Fits with the Colts

The most likely outcome for Mitchell is that he will take over the “X” role from Alec Pierce, who logged 564 snaps (86.9% of his routes) from a wide alignment last season. But, even though the team hasn’t seen a ton out of Pierce to this point, they used practically the exact same draft capital (53rd overall in 2022) as they did on Mitchell, so there’s no guarantee they just bench the third-year player outright.

The rookie could begin the season as low as fourth on the depth chart, behind Michael Pittman Jr., Josh Downs (mostly out of the slot), and Pierce. But we shouldn’t expect that to last throughout the entire year, as the team surely knew what they were doing by drafting a guy with such a very similar —though far more explosive— skillset.

Mitchell’s end-of-year totals should eventually make him the No. 3 pass-catching option on the team, but it’s fair to wonder what that will look like in fantasy if it takes him until their Bye Week to lock himself into 3WR sets.

Projecting the Colts Offense in Fantasy Football

Though the Colts didn’t make any big splashes in the offseason, Anthony Richardson figures to be the biggest winner. Per The Athletic’s James Boyd, Richardson has seemingly made a full recovery from his AC joint surgery and has been gifted Mitchell (second round), OT Matt Goncalves (third round), and OG Tanor Bortolini (fourth round) to add some much-needed depth ahead of 2024.

With a below-average-to-bad group of skill position players last year, Richardson scored 22.8 fantasy points per game through his three full weeks. You can understand why he is right back in 4for4’s ranking as the QB6 after these additions.

With Mitchell in town, everyone else not named Michael Pittman Jr. or Jonathan Taylor should be severely downgraded, including Josh Downs and the tight end room. Pittman shouldn’t be negatively impacted if Mitchell explodes onto the scene right out of the gate, and he may even need to be upgraded if you have faith that his new teammate is better than advertised.

I’m a little pessimistic on that front, as I worry that the second-rounder might be squeezed off the field more often than we’d like at the beginning of the season. Mitchell forecasts as a great Dynasty rookie pick, where he’s dropping into the second round, but his outlook in typical redraft leagues is rough. Richardson is going to run the ball —a lot— and there are currently too many mouths to feed. Things can change if it looks like he locks in a role in 2WR sets prior to the kickoff of Week 1, but a wait-and-see approach is likely the correct tactic.

Bottom Line

  • Adonai Mitchell’s production profile isn’t typically one that we attack in fantasy, but his athletic profile hints that he could be an outlier.
  • Mitchell has been pigeonholed as an outside-only option, but he needs more refinement before he’s able to buck that perception.
  • The addition of another second-round wide receiver makes Josh Downs and Alec Pierce a difficult click for fantasy.
  • According to current Underdog ADP, Mitchell (WR45, 87.2 ADP) is a stay-away at the top of the eighth round. Rather, he improves Anthony Richardson’s fantasy floor, which makes the QB even more attractive in that second tier of quarterbacks.
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