The No. 1 aspect of forecasting anything and everything to do with the passing game of the Indianapolis Colts is the health of quarterback Andrew Luck.
No. 12 has yet to throw and is the linchpin to this offense’s success. The offensive line has been improved, and two veteran receiving assets were added in free agency for freshman head coach Frank Reich. Luck is expected to resuming throwing near the end of June.
Detroit parted ways with the once-promising tight end. Ebron is only 25 years old, and while he has flashed several moments of brilliance, four years of Ebron failing to consistently meet expectations takes its toll on the patience of fantasy owners.
There is another snag in the way of living up to his potential: Jack Doyle. Indy’s leading tight end returns for another year and, presumably, will be ahead of Ebron on most progressions. The Colts will employ plenty of two-tight end sets, yet without a designed play, Ebron is the 1b to Doyle’s 1a.
Injuries also have been a major factor in Ebron’s struggle. There should be a learning curve for both he and the coaching staff. Just how many looks Ebron will see on a weekly basis is murky when you toss T.Y. Hilton, Chester Rogers, Ryan Grant and Nyheim Hines into the fold.
In best-case scenario, Luck returns as Luck, and Ebron is his best self for 16 games. This would translate to somewhere around 60-70 targets and no more than fringe lineup utility. With an average draft placement of 15:04, Ebron is barely worth selecting in conventional leagues. He could emerge as a waiver claim by way of another’s injury, and Ebron’s greatest use will come as a cheap DFS buy.
The former Washington Redskin flashed a few times early in his young career before a mini breakout in 2017. He finished with a 45-573-4 slash as Terrelle Pryor flopped and Grant filled the void.
Entering his age-28 season, Grant moves to Indy for a fresh start. The 6-foot, 204-pounder is built like a running back and moves accordingly in the open field. He’s a possession guy with a marginal ability to gain after the catch. Given a pair of similar tight ends in the passing game, and the selection of third-down back Nyheim Hines, Grant’s ceiling is rather low in terms of volume. His clearest path to fantasy utility comes in the red zone, where four of his six career receiving TDs have been scored.
Grant is not even a lock to appear among the top three receivers, let alone targets. T.Y. Hilton is expected to be joined by Chester Rogers in the starting lineup, leaving Grant to battle with rookies Deon Cain and Daurice Fountain for the third spot. Hilton lines up everywhere, spending 23.3 percent of his time in the slot last year. Grant was in the slot 18.8 percent of the time while in Washington.
The longer Luck is out of commission during the summer, the less time he and Grant have to build chemistry. Given all of the uncertainty, Grant going undrafted in traditional setups is perfectly understandable and justified. He’s merely a best-ball target at this point.