Dec 30, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw (44) runs the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second half at MetLife Stadium. New York Giants defeat the Philadelphia Eagles 42-7. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

Indianapolis Colts 2013 Fantasy Football Preview: RB Ahmad Bradshaw

The Indianapolis Colts had plenty of talented backs before they brought in Ahmad Bradshaw. Vick Ballard, Donald Brown, and Delone Carter had all been projected starters or starting at one point or another, so when the Colts passed on a running back in the draft, it was pretty widely assumed that they would be set to go for the season. Then, they made a great move by bringing in the former Super Bowl champion, who has some injury issues, but is a guy that I believe could be a huge difference maker for Andrew Luck and the Colts’ offense.

From pass protection to elusiveness, to the ability to hit a home run, I think Bradshaw gives the Colts another very valuable weapon offensively, and he’s worth picking up in all types of fantasy football leagues. Last year, Bradshaw finished with 1,015 yards and 72.5 yards per game, as well as six touchdowns in 14 games. If he is able to give the Colts a full season, I think he could not only help them reach the playoffs, but he could see some really nice numbers:

Projected Stats:  230 carries, 1,110 yards, 8 TD; 35 receptions, 350 yards, 1 TD

As you can see, I have pretty high hopes for Bradshaw this year. Unlike last year where he was looking over his shoulder at first round pick David Wilson, I think the Colts are going to use him more as the featured back. Vick Ballard, whom we will profile at a later date, has the ability to be a grinder and showed as a rookie that he is deserving of a good bit of playing time in year two, but there’s no denying the talent difference between he and Bradshaw.

Bradshaw has played in huge games in his career, and he has a chance to lead the Colts to doing the same. I think when you look at the Colts’ offense as a whole, the addition of Bradshaw changes pretty much everything because he is a reliable veteran that can be leaned upon in big situations. And get this–Bradshaw just turned 27 this year. He may have injuries in his history as an NFL player, but I don’t see any reason why Bradshaw can’t have more productive years in the NFL. After signing a pretty modest one year deal with the Colts, Bradshaw is looking to prove that he still has top notch NFL legs.

Bradshaw’s Downside

We’ve touched on it already, but the biggest downside with Bradshaw is the fact that he is oft injured. The only time he’s played all 16 games in a season was back in 2010 when he also had the best year of his career, not coincidentally. The other major downside to Bradshaw’s game is fumbling.

If Bradshaw can’t get his fumbling under control, he could start losing carries to Ballard and Brown, and his fantasy value would plummet. Last season, he had three fumbles and even in the best year of his career (2010) he had six. He has 10 fumbles over the last three seasons, so you can expect he will have a couple with the Colts unless he’s really gotten that under control.

Bottom Line

I bet you could get Bradshaw with a second round fantasy pick and be solid, even if you’re in a deeper league, but if you can, try and let him hang around for the third, maybe even the fourth round if you play your cards right. I think Bradshaw will be one of the overlooked backs come fantasy football draft day, even if you play with a bunch of smart dudes. The Colts have a lot of backs on their roster, which will cause him to be ranked lower on most sites/magazines. Try and sneak Bradshaw onto your roster and I think you’ll have a pretty reliable RB2 who can get you some 100 yard games as well as a lot of catches in a new West Coast offense.

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