2015 Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: Grab This Indianapolis Colt
You don’t often see 32-year-old RBs with 2,784 career touches associated with “upside.” But it’s hard to ignore the promise that the ageless Gore packs entering 2015.
The career-long 49er has tallied 9 straight seasons with 1,000+ total yards. He’s hit 1,000 rushing yards in 8 of the past 9 years, only seeing the streak broken by an injury-plagued 2010.
Good health is the biggest surprise with Gore. Despite a power rushing style, he’s played all 16 games for 4 straight seasons. Last year, minor knee and hip injuries landed him on the injury report, along with a late-season concussion. Yet he missed just 1 half of action over a full campaign (thanks to a Week 16 concussion).
Gore saw his carries limited a bit by coaches who didn't want to overwork him.
"We don’t want to just ride that stallion all day, every day," OC Greg Roman said. "There’s a point of diminishing returns at some point."
He wasn’t kidding. Gore received 35 carries over the first 3 weeks before that number jumped to 24 in Week 4. From there, though, it was a rollercoaster ride of fluctuating workloads. Some of it stemmed from unfavorable game flow. Some of it resulted from questionable decisions by the coaching staff.
Gore’s final line amounted to 255-1,106-4. He hadn’t seen that few carries since 2010. Gore’s mere 5 runs of 20+ yards were worrisome, as they marked the fewest he’s tallied since 2007. And they’re the fewest he’s ever posted relative to his workload. You can't blame San Francisco’s O-line, as they ranked 3rd in Pro Football Focus' run-blocking grades.
Now with the Colts, Gore’s likely to run behind a weaker O-line. It’s more of a finesse unit, headlined by LT Anthony Castonzo.
So Indianapolis might not be able to match the talent along the 49ers’ O-line. But at least Gore won’t have to face Seattle, Arizona and St. Louis twice (or even once) next year -- 3 teams that finished top-10 in fantasy points allowed to RBs. Gore’s supporting cast also looks much stronger.
That’s probably an understatement, as the Colts boast a collection of unique, dynamic talent all over the offense. Gore will be flanked by dangerous WRs T.Y. Hilton, Andre Johnson, Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett. TE Dwayne Allen is 1 of the league’s better run-blocking TEs. And of course, Andrew Luck enters year 4 already in the discussion of the NFL’s top QBs. His presence should not only help open up running lanes, but it should also boost Gore’s receiving totals. Luck fed 113 targets to his RBs last season, and it doesn’t sound like Gore will come off the field much in 2015.
“He’s a tough, hard-nosed, every-down back,” HC Chuck Pagano said. “He can play all three downs. He’s a great protector in pass-pro. He catches the ball out of the backfield. We all know what he can do as a runner on early downs.”
Gore enjoyed heavy use in the passing game before HC Jim Harbaugh arrived in San Francisco. He caught 43+ passes in each of his 1st 5 starting seasons. Then he grabbed just 17, 28, 16 and 11 balls in 4 seasons under Harbaugh and Roman.
Gore won’t see 300+ carries. But he should see a lot more pass targets and could enjoy some of the goal-line receiving work that boosted Ahmad Bradshaw's fantasy stock early last year. Backup Dan Herron and rookie Josh Robinson might spell Gore at times, but not enough to threaten his weekly fantasy value.
Draft Sharks Bottom Line:
Gore might seem risky based on age and career workload, but our friends at SportsInjuryPredictor.com have found that older backs are actually less likely to lose games to injury than their early-career counterparts. Gore's move from San Francisco to Indy also finds him in a much better scoring offense with at least as much chance to lead the backfield in touches. He carries top-12 upside at an RB2 price.