Last week, TJ Hernandez of 4for4 Fantasy Football released a fantasy stock watch for all 32 teams, saying which players on each team’s stock is either up or down. For the Indianapolis Colts, the only player listed was second-year running back Marlon Mack, pointing his stock upward.
The Colts waiting until the fourth round to draft a running back doesn’t necessarily mean that they are content with Mack as the starter. Rather, I think they were looking for value and don’t necessarily view running back as a position that you have to take early. General manager Chris Ballard has said as much — before this draft, even.
While Nyheim Hines and Robert Turbin should have more defined situational roles in the offense, rookie Jordan Wilkins could very much be a threat to Mack’s status as the starter depending on how things shake-out in training camp and the preseason. The best man is going to win in every spot on this roster, period. But that’s for a different article, which we’ve already done.
The starting running back spot is Mack’s to lose, so if he recovers from offseason labrum surgery in a timely manner and does his part this summer, then it’s all systems go for his fantasy value. Like Hernandez mentions, the return of quarterback Andrew Luck would be huge for any Colts offensive player’s value. Adding Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith through the draft and Austin Howard and Matt Slauson in free agency to go with Anthony Castonzo, Ryan Kelly and Jack Mewhort isn’t a bad situation for a running back to play behind either.
In the team’s new offense under Frank Reich and Nick Sirianni, they will use their players like chess pieces and find ways to get the ball in their explosive players’ hands in motion and out in space. Mack is one of the most explosive players on this whole team, and he was criminally misused last season as a rookie under the old coaching staff.
Clearing the way for Mack to even be the starting running back is the Colts moving on from former starter Frank Gore, which they did in January. According to 4for4, that vacated 69% of the Colts’ backfield touches from last year. Those touches have to go somewhere. If Mack can prove to be an improved runner between the tackles and as a pass protector then it’s going to be hard to keep him off of the field. It is his goal to become an every-down back. Even if the Colts don’t think it’s necessary to have one, they can use him as such if Mack becomes one.
Anyone could see last year that if Mack was put into a real offense and given an opportunity then he could take off and be a consistent playmaker. His fantasy stock rightfully should be considered ‘up’ until further notice.