Indianapolis Backfield

Who:

Marlon Mack | Jordan Wilkins | Nyheim Hines | Christine Michael | Robert Turbin

What:

As Andrew Luck nears his fully healthy comeback to football, Fantasy managers interests were peaked about the ability to roster a starting running back on a Luck-lead offense. The issue here is the Colts now project to have a clown car at running back. In theory a named starter on a Luck squad should provide value, but new Head Coach Frank Reich comes from a coaching tree in Philadelphia that most recently won the Super Bowl while deploying a three and even sometimes four headed backfield. Given Reich’s background and the current construction of this running back corps Indy could very well follow the model that Philly provided last year.

Marlon Mack was believed to start this off-season as the starter and prior to him injuring his hamstring in the Colts first preseason game, he was showing flashes of the versatility that saw him accumulate 358 rushing yards and 225 receiving yards on limited snaps last year. But because of tweaking his hamstring, Mack has opened the door to his younger counterparts.

One of those younger counterparts is 2018 5th round pick out of Ole Miss Jordan Wilkins. The steady drum beat since late July has been that Wilkins is being considered for the starting role. He boasts a well rounded skill set that saw him rush 155 times for 1011 yards and 9 TDs in 2017 while adding 26 receptions for 241 yards and a score. Aside from maybe Mack, this rookie may have have the best shot to become a workhorse and should be considered in later rounds of your fantasy drafts. He did cough up a red zone fumble in the Colts preseason contest against the Ravens but due to Mack’s health, Hines’ own fumblitis, and the lack of true talent behind him Wilkins could take his opportunity and run with it. See what I did there?

If Mack and Wilkins are duking it out for the Blount/Ajayi roles in a Frank Reich offense, then the most likely candidate for the Corey Clement/Darren Sproles role would belong to 4th round rookie out of North Carolina State Nyheim Hines. His speed and elusivity were apparent in college and could translate well in the NFL, however he is undersized and as mentioned above he has already fumbled multiple times this preseason.

Like that one ex that keeps drunk texting you, Christine Michael will not go away. The perma-hyped Michael has been getting enough reps with the first team to keep an eye on. Will the Colts keep him on the roster come the start of the regular season? This most likely depends on Mack’s health, so watch closely.

The last piece to this puzzle is Colt’s veteran Robert Turbin, who will spend the first four games of this season serving a suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Turbin offers some excitement as he is just one year removed from scoring 8 TDs, however it is hard to put much stock in the 4th guy of a committee that can’t play for four weeks.  

Where:

Marlon Mack ADP: 7.05

Jordan Wilkins ADP: 13.04

Nyheim Hines ADP: 13.08

Christine Michael ADP: Undrafted

Robert Turbin ADP: Undrafted

When:

September 1st, 2018. This is when the regular season rosters are due. This date will be telling because it is unlikely that all these backs make the final cut. Additionally the third preseason game is one to watch as we try to get a glimpse of who will get the first crack at the starter role to begin the year.

Why:

The last four “healthy” seasons for Andrew Luck were 2012-2014 and 2016. He finished within the top 8 at the position and was 1st in 2014 and 4th in 2016. He also played 16 games in every year except 2016 where he played 15. How does this relate to the backfield you ask? Well in the 2012-2014 stretch we saw the likes of Vick Ballard, Donald Brown, and Ahmad Bradshaw finish as fringe top 25 Fantasy RBs and in 2016 Frank Gore was the 12th best fantasy running back. If one of these backs emerge there will be value in starting that guy while Luck is on the field.

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