Should I Draft Josh Downs? Colts WR’s Fantasy Outlook in 2023

Indianapolis Colts WR Josh Downs projects as an NFL-ready slot WR. Is this rookie Shane Steichen's secret weapon in the Colts' passing game in 2023?

The Indianapolis Colts drafted WR Josh Downs with hopes of giving this offense some juice with the departure of Parris Campbell. Will Downs make an immediate fantasy football impact at WR with a rookie QB under center?

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Josh Downs’ Fantasy Outlook for the 2023 NFL Season

Did you know Campbell led the league in slot snaps in 2022? He is now a member of the New York Giants.

Did you know the Colts selected a player in the 2023 NFL Draft who projects as a productive slot WR? If you are wondering who I am talking about, this is the part where I remind you this is a Downs article.

Now, it is worth noting the Colts signed Isaiah McKenzie — who spent plenty of time in the slot during his days in Buffalo — who was playing quite a bit in the second and third quarter of the Colts’ preseason finale, while Downs got plenty of run with starting QB Anthony Richardson.

The Colts’ passing game is likely to be a work in progress to start the season, but I could see a world where Downs benefits from winning quickly near the line of scrimmage and making himself a reliable option for Richardson.

New head coach Shane Steichen utilized a lot of RPOs and empty personnel — which is when the offense has no RBs in the backfield — to spread defenses out and create clear pre-snap mismatches to make life easier for QB Jalen Hurts last year.

Oftentimes, Steichen would line up WR DeVonta Smith — another undersized WR who can regularly win from the slot instantly — in the slot as the weakside No. 2 WR in empty personnel.

Not to mention, Downs played in a North Carolina Tar Heel offense that had plenty of RPO concepts, which the Eagles ran a plethora of in 2022.

When you look at Downs’ strength as a prospect and see some of the similarities between Steichen’s RPO concepts and how he utilized Smith in Philadelphia, it’s really not all that far-fetched to think Steichen has big plans for Downs in this offense.

Is Downs a Good Fantasy Pick?

While it is difficult to project what the passing production is going to be from this Colts offense, Downs appears to have already made a strong case to be the primary slot WR for this team in 2023.

MORE: Fantasy Football Preseason Takeaways

At his current price, past the 20th round, Downs comes with no risk and all upside in fantasy drafts. He is well worth the dart throw to see how he fits into this passing game in 2023.

  • PFN Consensus: 187th overall
  • ADP: 259th overall

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