Dec. 2, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Indianapolis Colts tight end Coby Fleener (80) catches a pass for a touchdown in the second quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Going into the 2012 season, I expected Coby Fleener just to automatically adjust to life and speed in the NFL, and be a perfect #2 option in the passing game for Andrew Luck with the chemistry they had back at Stanford.
I was obviously wrong, and Fleener struggled as a rookie. In 12 games, Fleener had 26 receptions for 281 yards and two touchdowns. Those aren’t bad numbers for a rookie tight end, but the Colts basically used a first round pick (#34 overall) on Fleener and they had expectations of doing some serious damage with two-tight end sets last year.
Well, they had an active rookie TE alright, but it turned out to be former Clemson star tight end Dwayne Allen (whom we’re looking forward to profling) instead of the long and lean Fleener.
All that said, I expect Fleener to be a much bigger part of the Colts’ offense in 2013, this year more as a vertical threat. He has great length at 6’6″ and has slimmed down to 247 pounds (from 252) this offseason. Here is a quick look at Fleener’s rookie stats:
In 2013, head coach Chuck Pagano said he expect’s Fleener’s catch total to double. While that seems like a lofty projection, we really have no reason not to believe him. With Donnie Avery now on the Chiefs, the Colts are going to have to find a place to distribute his 124 targets. While many of those could go to Darrius Heyward-Bey and T.Y. Hilton, I think Fleener will obviously be more involved.
Projections: 45 receptions, 520 yards, 12 ypc, 5 TDs
By mid-season, we should have a good idea of what Fleener is going to offer as a fantasy TE. He is a guy capable of making big plays with his length and speed, but because Dwayne Allen has already proven to be more consistent, he could lose some targets there. I think Fleener has upside as a backup TE in most leagues, but you’ll probably be able to get him as a free agent in many leagues, especially after the year Dwayne Allen had last year.
I expect the Colts’ offense to be pretty explosive, so I would probably use a later round pick on Fleener over most other backup TEs in the league because he does have that high ceiling.