Jun 11, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (81) during minicamp at the Indianapolis Colts Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Darrius Heyward-Bey 2013 Fantasy Football Preview

The Indianapolis Colts did a great job last year of snatching up a player who had bounced around the league with some teams in Donnie Avery who was loaded with speed and talent, but was not able to stay healthy or stick on a roster. Avery ended up having a really nice season for the Colts, but they let him go and now he’s running routes with the Kansas City Chiefs.

To replace Avery in the Colts’ offense, the team signed former Oakland Raiders top 10 pick Darrius Heyward-Bey, another player who has battled injuries, drops, and inconsistencies before he found himself let go from the team that drafted him.

Heyward-Bey has huge upside for the Indianapolis Colts in the 2013 fantasy football year. With Reggie Wayne projected to lead the team in targets, the competition for the #2 receiver job is open for competition at training camp this year, even though we expect T.Y. Hilton to be a breakout star for the Colts in 2013. The offense will have plenty of balls to go around, and odds are good that Heyward-Bey is going to be one of the team’s top vertical threats. Here are his career stats to this point:

Year Receiving Rushing Fumb. KO Ret Punt Ret
Year Team G Rec Yds Y/G Avg 100+ TD Rush Yds Y/G Avg 100+ TD Lost Yds TD Yds TD
2009 OAK 11 9 124 11.3 13.8 0 1 2 19 1.7 9.5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2010 OAK 15 26 366 24.4 14.1 1 1 4 48 3.2 12.0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
2011 OAK 15 64 975 65.0 15.2 3 4 0 0 .0 .0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
2012 OAK 15 41 606 40.4 14.8 0 5 2 16 1.1 8.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Though Heyward-Bey had a career high in touchdown receptions in 2012 with five, he had easily his best year as a pro in 2012, catching 64 passes for 975 yards and averaging over 15 yards per catch.

What do we know about Heyward-Bey to this point? Well, he struggled in his career with drops, but that seems to be a problem for a lot of Raiders’ receivers. We also know that he has never had consistency in two very key departments–coaching and quarterback. The guy throwing Heyward-Bey the ball has always been different/inconsistent/flat out bad, and the Raiders really put him in a tough spot when they drafted him as the first receiver ahead of Michael Crabtree in the 2009 NFL Draft.

Heyward-Bey flashed the ability to make big plays in Oakland, and that’s what the Colts want to see from him in 2013. He might emerge as the team’s number two receiver, but certainly with the depth the Colts have (not great, but solid) he should be able to contribute in three WR sets and push T.Y. Hilton in the slot, where the Colts can get all of their playmakers on the field at one time.

2013 Statistical Projections

53 receptions, 788 yards, 5 touchdowns

I am going a little conservative with my projections for Heyward-Bey. He could very well return to 2011 form here and push himself over 1,000 yards, but the odds are, he will be a guy who makes 2-4 big plays per game for the Colts, stretching the field and occasionally beating the coverage deep for a touchdown. His speed also increases the odds he could see carries out of the backfield, but there is a logjam at RB already, and T.Y. Hilton seems more suited for that role.

Bottom Line:

I think Heyward-Bey is a guy I would look into taking a late-round flier on in fantasy leagues, but more likely just wait until the season gets started and roles are defined so you can add him as a free agent.

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