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Michael Pittman: Next Man Up in Indianapolis (2020 Fantasy Football)

by Isaiah Sirois | @is_sirois | Featured Writer
Sep 22, 2020

We profiled Parris Campbell last week as a smart waiver-wire pickup last week. Unfortunately, Campbell suffered a PCL injury early in the Colts’ game with the Vikings, and he totaled just one carry for seven yards. Now his season is probably over.

To be clear, that result was utterly unpredictable. When we recommended Campbell, we followed good process — he earned a high number of air yards and targets for the Colts, so he was likely to see a fantasy-viable role. Any fantasy analyst would stand by that call.

So let’s follow that same process for Week 3. Without Campbell, Michael Pittman and Zach Pascal saw lots of volume, but Pittman saw more, so I’d pick him up before Pascal.

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Player Profile

The Colts drafted Pittman in the second round this year, seven picks before Jonathan Taylor, and it sounded like they had plans to start him at “X” receiver early on. He started the season listed behind Hilton, Campbell, and Pascal on the team’s official depth chart, but without Campbell, he should easily lock down a starting role.

Pittman combines a six-foot-four frame with 93rd percentile speed and an 89th percentile catch radius. That’s exactly what a player needs to succeed on the perimeter, and with T.Y. Hilton struggling early this season, he looks like Philip Rivers’ best option along the sidelines.

As his college tape reveals, Pittman has the sizes to make contested catches and the speed to bring them home.

Pittman wouldn’t have fallen into the second round in a thinner receiver class, and I’m excited about his upside now that he has less competition for targets.

State of the Offense

Since Campbell went down so early, we got a glimpse at the Colts’ target distribution without him involved. Rivers threw to Pittman on six of his 19 total passes, tying him with Mo Alie-Cox for second on the team. He totaled 37 yards, the second-most behind Alie-Cox’s 111.

Pittman had a sizeable advantage over the other two wide receivers, T.Y. Hilton and Zach Pascal. Hilton ended the day with five targets, three catches, and 28 yards; Pascal got four targets, three catches, 19 yards, and a score. So while Pascal led the team in fantasy points, he wouldn’t have done so without that touchdown.

The Colts didn’t attempt a ton of passes in Week 2, so we saw Pittman at his floor, as the Colts could ran out the clock against Minnesota. But as we saw in Week 1, when the Colts are down, they’ll trust Rivers to close the gap. He totaled 46 passing attempts in the loss.

Pittman’s Outlook

You should expect low-end WR3 numbers out of Pittman in future weeks. The Colts won’t always have a big lead to defend, so Rivers’ passing attempts will trend upward — but that might have to wait until Week 4 against the Bears. That’s because the Colts draw the New York Jets in Week 3. With all of New York’s injuries, the Colts might be able to grind out another win without attempting many passes, limiting Pittman’s upside.

If you want to add Pittman, don’t start him immediately, and don’t expect much out of him in Week 3. He should be a much better play in Week 4 (at Chicago), Week 5 (at Cleveland), and Week 6 (vs. Bengals).

Pittman makes more sense as a depth add than as a spot start. If you’re lucky enough to land him off waivers, don’t let yourself cut bait too quickly.

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Isaiah Sirois is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Isaiah, check out his archive and follow him @is_sirois.

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