The Philadelphia Eagles have traded QB Carson Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts, and once again, the NFL landscape changes. How does the move for Carson Wentz impact the fantasy football needle of the Colts’ players in 2021?
Carson Wentz traded to the Indianapolis Colts
It was just a matter of time until this happened. While the Eagles can come out and say they want a “Matthew Stafford-type return,” that was never going to happen. When your willingness to move on is well-known, the price goes down. It’s like looking in the classified ads and seeing an incredible deal on a car and immediately thinking, “something must be wrong with it.”
If anyone is going to know if something is “wrong” with Carson Wentz, it is his former offensive coordinator and current head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, Frank Reich.
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The Colts needed a QB following a one-year relationship with Philip Rivers and his subsequent retirement. The Colts sent their 2021 third-round draft pick and a conditional 2022 second-round pick that could turn into a first-rounder to acquire Carson Wentz. Wentz needs to play at least 75% of the Colts’ offensive snaps for the 2022 conditional pick to become a first-rounder.
Carson Wentz sees a considerable boost in fantasy value by going to the Colts
Outside of Philadelphia, no other team knows more about Carson Wentz than Indianapolis. Trading for him and his contract is a massive vote of confidence in the former No. 2 overall pick.
The Colts are a team trying to win now and believe Wentz can help them in that push. For fantasy, we love the confidence. The less a QB or any player is looking over their shoulder, the better. It adds security to a draft pick or a player, knowing they won’t be pulled after initial struggles.
The biggest takeaway of this trade for Wentz is the upgrade at the offensive line.
Looking back on 2020, the Philadelphia Eagles’ offensive line had a league-high sack percentage of 9.8%. The Colts, however, even with a statue in the pocket, were third-best at 3.7%. Even with Anthony Castonzo’s retirement, Wentz will have more time in the pocket in a system he is familiar with already.
For fantasy, Carson Wentz going to the Colts moves him to borderline QB1 territory. It would not surprise me at all to see Carson Wentz and Jalen Hurts going back-to-back in fantasy drafts this year.
How does Carson Wentz going to the Colts affect the rest of their players for fantasy in 2021?
While it is still a long way away from draft season for fantasy football in 2021, that does not mean we should wait to start preparing. Let’s take a closer look at how Carson Wentz will impact the fantasy value of the Colts’ offense for 2021.
RB Jonathan Taylor
For me, this doesn’t really change anything for Jonathan Taylor. Once he was handed the keys and the Colts got out of his way, Taylor took off. From Weeks 13 through 17, Taylor was the RB1 in fantasy with 130.0 points with 651 rushing yards and 8 total touchdowns. He finished the season as the RB6, despite Indianapolis doing everything possible to use either Nyheim Hines or Jordan Wilkins.
Even if Carson Wentz plays like last year’s version of Wentz, we just saw him put together a season with poor QB play. Taylor is not an RB who relies on pass-catching work to find fantasy relevance like Miles Sanders or Nyheim Hines. Sure, like every other fantasy RB, they benefit from it, but his stability is set already.
Jonathan Taylor was my RB4 for fantasy football in 2021 before Carson Wentz came to the Colts, and he stays there after the trade.
RB Nyheim Hines
Hines’ role will stay the same as a change-of-pace RB with increased usage in the passing game. The downside is that Carson Wentz is not the same QB as Rivers. Where Rivers relied on his RBs and was accurate in those dump-offs, Wentz was not. Sanders and Boston Scott combined to catch 53 of their 88 targets for a 61.6% catch rate — far below the NFL average.
Hines takes a bit of a hit in fantasy, but it is not like he was selected higher in drafts anyway. He is a lower-end RB4/RB5 in 2021.
WR T.Y. Hilton
If Hilton is in Indianapolis for the 2021 season, I like this move for him in fantasy. Yes, he may have lost a step over time, but Hilton is still a threat whether as a possession player or on deeper routes.
It took some time, but we saw him put it together at the end of the season, where he was the WR11 from Week 12 to the end of the season. It’s almost a similar situation to Wentz and DeSean Jackson. A savvy veteran duo who, if they can connect, can be phenomenal for fantasy.
The issue is Hilton can hit free agency in 2021. We need to see if he would take a short-term deal to remain and likely retire with the Colts. If he does, this boosts Carson Wentz for fantasy.
WR Michael Pittman Jr.
Coming into 2021, Michael Pittman Jr. was already on my buy-low list. Any talented rookie who did not pop off in 2020 was lost in the mix. Players like Pittman and Jalen Reagor are prime fantasy candidates to snag at a discount.
Pittman showed some flashes of his skill set but never put it all together in 2020. His Wild Card performance was a sign, and you hope that carries him into the offseason.
At 6’4″, 223 pounds, Pittman has all the skills to be a significant red zone threat in the NFL. The Colts love him, and a second-year breakout could be in store for the former USC Trojan. He has top-36 WR fantasy upside with Carson Wentz under center.
WR Parris Campbell
You could drop in prime Joe Montana under center, and it would not matter for Parris Campbell. Injuries are his biggest enemy, not quarterback play.
The last time we saw Campbell on the field was in Week 2 when he suffered a gruesome knee injury. However, insert the Michael Scott GIF because I am ready to be hurt again. His speed and route tree out of the slot should get him squarely in the crosshairs of Carson Wentz.
Campbell will be practically free in fantasy drafts. I am not saying he will be a league-winner, but he could be a flex/WR4 in 2021.
TE Jack Doyle, Trey Burton, Mo Alie-Cox
One is one, two is none, and three is an absolute mess. I think that is how the phrase goes, and if not, it does now.
While we saw both Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert become fantasy stars with Wentz under center, don’t expect that for the Colts’ TEs. None of these players have truly separated themselves from each other, and more times than not, just frustrated fantasy managers.
Ertz and Goedert did so well due to the completely decimated receiver room in Philadelphia. That is not an issue in Indianapolis. I would personally stay away from this group and find other fantasy TE options.
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