This post comes from Justin Becker of FantasyFootballOverdose.com. You can follow him on Twitter @NBAandNFLInfo or on the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more NFL Fantasy Football Projections visit Fantasy Football Overdose.
The Indianapolis Colts weren’t amazing last week, but overall look to be ready for the 2014 NFL season. They still have one more chance to clean things up on both sides of the ball, though, as they head to Cincinnati to battle the Bengals in their fourth and final game of the 2014 preseason.
This game, like all preseason games, mostly means nothing, but it’d be nice to see the starting offense take the field for a bit to get a little more work in. After all, they need to be as good as possible when they head to Denver to take on the Broncos in the first week of the season.
There are some questions facing the Colts - specifically on offense - and this game could be worth tuning into just to see if we get any surprise answers. Other than that, we could still learn some things about certain roles and how that may translate to fantasy football in 2014.
With the preseason winding down and fantasy preparation in the back of many people’s minds, let’s preview Indy’s Thursday night game and see what we may want to be on the lookout for:
Can Trent Richardson Calm Our Fears?
It’s tough to say just how much of Richardson we will see on Thursday night, but it’d be nice to see him come out and give a second straight solid effort. Fantasy owners who have yet to draft obviously have to love Trent Richardson’s current round five ADP (Average Draft Position), but what we’ve seen so far in preseason (2.55 yards per carry) clearly hasn’t been encouraging.
T-Rich did come out strong against the New Orleans Saints last week, as he popped off runs of five and eight yards, seemingly running with more determination, if not even a chip on his shoulder. Whether it’s his leg drive, indecisiveness or his blocking, he just hasn’t lived up to the billing of a top-five overall pick like he was three years ago.
He seemingly does still have the talent and it certainly sounds like the Colts want to give him a mammoth role, so he appears to remain a guy worth taking a chance on in fantasy football drafts. While he hasn’t wowed us in any way this summer, he could be aided by Indy’s schematic changes on offense. If the Colts switch up their offense and pass to set up the run like they claim they’re going to, that could greatly help him in 2014. All of that being said, hopefully we get another look at him on Thursday night and he can show up a little better than he has been.
Will We See More Reggie Wayne?
Wayne is another guy we’d love to see more of, as he made his 2014 debut last week and caught zero passes on one target. He did look healthy and borderline spry despite the zero stats, but the Colts would be wise to get their 35-year old possession receiver a few more snaps before they throw him to the fire in week one.
He doesn’t need the experience really, but it’d be nice for fantasy owners taking the chance on Reggie Wayne to see more of him. Right now you’re only giving up a seventh round pick to get him in standard leagues, while you’re still not sacrificing much to land him in PPR (Points Per Reception) leagues, either.
Before going down last year with a torn ACL, Wayne was on pace for a second straight solid season with Andrew Luck throwing him passes. Provided he can simply stay healthy, Wayne figures to be a major steal in fantasy football this year.
All Eyes on Bjoern Werner’s Progress
Over to the defensive side, one guy worth monitoring as the preseason wraps up is second-year outside linebacker, Bjoern Werner. Robert Mathis will miss the first four games of the 2014 NFL season due to a suspension thanks to a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy.
Werner is projected to start opposite of Erik Walden on the outside of Indy’s 3-4 scheme. He was weak and inconsistent as a rookie last year, but he’s going to get thrown to the fire as a starter to get the new season going. He hasn’t been blowing the roof off so far this summer, but Thursday’s finale is one more chance to show what he’s taking into the 2014 season.
He’s probably not a long-term starter regardless, but if you need sacks in your IDP league, you might want to keep an eye on him. He had a high motor at Florida State and now that he’s stronger and in a bigger role, he could finally do some damage.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: While we don't know who will or won't play, there's a good chance that none of the aforementioned players will play on Thursday night. Regardless, Justin's take on all three of them in regards to fantasy is worth paying attention to, as it's not based on the fourth preseason game. And just so you know, it sounds like Justin thinks some of the starters should play, but again - not sure if that will actually happen. But don't dismiss his takes - they apply to much more than just this one game. - Josh]