Fantasy Football

Michael Pittman Fantasy Preview

Michael Pittman

Michael Pittman Jr. was anticipated for stardom as the WR1 with the Colts following his second-year breakout. Unfortunately for fantasy league owners, despite garnering more targets in his third season he had also negatively regressed in his third year in the NFL in yards, yards per reception, and touchdowns. With rookie QB Anthony Richardson now in the fold, there is a fair amount of speculation about how Pittman will produce in his fourth season. Will he be able to produce in his contract year?

Latest Odds

Pittman currently has odds that are based on numbers currently lower than his numbers from the past two seasons (we’ll get into why later). As of this writing, Pittman is +100 to receive more than 800 yards versus -120 to receive less than that total. The same can be observed with his touchdown (+125 for over 4.5 vs. -145 for under 4.5) and reception totals (+110 for over 74.5 receptions vs. -130 for under 74.5). Even with the Jonathan Taylor trade rumors, the Colts’ offense this year is expected to be run-heavy and could Field a similar offense that was seen in Chicago a year ago. The Bears did not have a clear WR1 in the same way the Colts do, but given how raw of a prospect Anthony Richardson currently is and the expected growing pains he’ll have as a starting rookie quarterback, it would be hard to confidently recommend taking the over on any of these bets, with exception of potential touchdowns. 

Current ADP and Fantasy Value

Over at FantasyPros, Michael Pittman Jr. is currently ranked 77th overall in consensus expert rankings in average draft position. Wide receivers around his draft range include Jahan Dotson (79th), George Pickens (82nd), and Gabe Davis (85th). I would confidently fade Davis over Pittman; he’s a post-hype candidate that I still just can’t buy into, given that the passing offense flows through Stefon Diggs and my personal belief that Dalton Kincaid will be the other guy to own. Between Dotson and Pickens however, the discussion is more difficult. Both Dotson and Pickens are currently the #2 choices in their respective passing offenses, with both banking on second-year quarterbacks to take the next step in growth and advancing the offense, while there is no doubt to the fact that Pittman is the alpha in the Colts receiving corps. Despite that, I would take both Pickens and Dotson over Pittman at this time. Both receivers also are in the midst of their second year of developing chemistry with their current quarterbacks. Richardson will be given the reins right away to further his development and chemistry with his receiving corps, but there will be growing pains while he continues to grow in critical areas as a quarterback. 

Overall, how you feel about Michael Pittman and whether or not this is his correct range it will entirely depend on what you value for your fantasy team and what you look for in players and their current situation. Pittman is the unquestioned #1 receiver and is in the final year of his rookie contract, meaning he both has the talent and the incentive to perform for a lucrative second contract. Still, there is legitimate concern regarding if he’ll get enough volume to be an asset in terms of fantasy football

Fantasy Insight

So it’d only be fair to look contextually at why Pittman in part regressed in his third season. For starters, he had a revolving door of QBs that included the now-retired Matt Ryan, who played poorly in his final season in the NFL. Matt Ryan had struggled during his final year, but the two QBs Michael Pittman Jr. had played with were atrocious comparatively, especially for Colt’s WR1. Sam Ellinger started in three games, with totals of 573 yards, 3 Touchdowns, and 3 interceptions, while Nick Foles accumulated a paltry total of 224 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions for the season. Michael Pittman’s best statline between the two was 6 receptions for 41 yards and 1 touchdown in a game with Ellinger. Overall, The situation was not good and created a difficult environment to perform at a consistent level.

With that in mind, I want to stress that I believe in Pittman’s talent, but his situation can be seen just as volatile, if not more so, for 2023. Anthony Richardson is an enigma at the quarterback score position, Being the most athletic quarterback ever to play in the NFL, with the potential to change the Colts offense in ways that will keep opposing defenses guessing every single play. For now, Pittman might be a better fit for Bestball leagues, rather than being relied upon in standard fantasy formats. He would be tough to rely upon every single week. It’d be better start him based on the defensive matchup while keeping tabs on how Richardson developments throughout the season, or if Minshew, a pass friendly quarterback, ends up starting at some point this season.  

Dynasty Value

While it might be a rough year for a wide receiver, I still believe he’s a buy-low candidate in dynasty leagues. If I am correct in my assessment that the Colt passing game will struggle out of the gate, then a buy-low opportunity will present itself fairly early into the season. Capitalizing on the potential overreaction of dynasty managers would be a boon for your team. League values will vary depending on league settings and who you’re playing with, but any scenario where you’re able to buy a player of Pittman’s caliber for something like 2024 2nd and a lower-valued player (e.g. Jakobi Meyers) would be a smash. While it may be rough for the 2023 season, Pittman’s outlook for 2024 and beyond will weather the storm you may face this year. He would be a good WR2 to have on any dynasty team and an amazing asset as your WR3. 

Bold Prediction

I will give two bold predictions, one being positive with the other negative. I’ll start with the negative: I believe Pittman will have multiple games with zero receptions. I’d be curious to see if the Colts ease Richardson into the offense in the same way the Bears had with Fields. Justin Fields is a player who was much more refined in his game compared to where Richardson is currently at. However, even in his second year as a pro, he had several games with passing attempt totals in the teens or low 20s. The Colt’s emphasis on the run game– even if Jonathan Taylor is ultimately traded away– will bode poorly for Pittman throughout the season. However, I do believe that Pittman will be relied on heavily by the rookie quarterback as well, which will lead to boom or bust performances this year. Michael Pittman Jr. will have a career-high in touchdowns this year with 10.

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