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Dynasty Player Profile: Michael Pittman Jr. (2022 Fantasy Football)

Dynasty Player Profile: Michael Pittman Jr. (2022 Fantasy Football)

Career Contextualization

Michael Pittman Jr. was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft out of USC, but a severe calf injury almost derailed his rookie season. However, it wasn't enough to stop him from showcasing his big-play ability in Year 1. 

He caught seven balls for 101 yards in Week 10 of the 2020 season and commanded a season-high nine targets in the Colts' lone playoff game, hauling in five for 90 yards. Pittman was a fiend with the ball in his hands, ranking third best among wide receivers in yards after the catch per reception (7.4).

Pittman's path to alpha status was set, with a clean bill of health and little competition around him for targets in the Colts offense entering Year 2. 

He got the true WR1 treatment from the Colts coaching staff, running a route on 96% of offensive dropbacks - third to only Cooper Kupp (WR1) and Ja'Marr Chase (WR4) through 17 weeks. He also finished the season tied for the league's eighth-highest target share (24%), which was 11 percentage points higher than the next closest Colt, Zach Pascal, at 13%.

He also made 18 highlight-reel contested catches - fourth most in the NFL. And his 31% target share from Weeks 13-18 cemented his place in Indy's WR1 chair heading into 2022. 

The only reason he didn't finish higher than WR15 in half-point scoring was that the Colts ranked 29th in pass-play rate and 27th in pass attempts.

Current Situation

But there's a chance that Indy throws more with a trustworthy quarterback - a strong possibility with Matt Ryan under center - Pittman has the volume potential to be a top-12 fantasy option. Ryan has a history of fueling top-end fantasy WRs like Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, making a top-five finish not all that crazy for Big Mike in 2022. 

Don't forget that last season, Ridley as the Falcons' No. 1 receiver owned the sixth-highest target rate per route run and ranked second among all wide receivers in expected fantasy points per game (16.5).

Ryan's ability to throw downfield - 11th in PFF passing grade on throws of 20-plus air yards - should also gel well with Pittman as a vertical threat. The Colts wide receiver finished 19th in air yards share (29%) in 2021. 

General Prediction for 2022 and Rest of Career

And similar to last season, there are zero threats on the Colts' roster who could realistically challenge Pittman's top-eight projected target share. Zach Pascal is an Eagle, T.Y. Hilton is 32 years old, and Parris Campbell can't stay healthy. 

Pittman's got a chance to put together a solid outing in 2022, skyrocketing his dynasty value. Finishing top 20 seems like his absolute floor. 

His quarterback is only 37 years old and under contract for two seasons, so there's a strong probability that Pittman remains his No. 1 target until they both become free agents in 2024.

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