Colts’ Carson Wentz Injury Boosts Jonathan Taylor Stock; Hurts Wide Receivers
Julio Aguilar/Getty Images. Pictured: Jonathan Taylor.
An already questionable Colts offense has just been dealt a devastating preseason blow.
Quarterback Carson Wentz will be out anywhere from five to 12 weeks after requiring surgery to repair an old foot injury he aggravated during training camp last week.
"Over time, the broken bone came loose and caused pain," The Athletic's Stephen Holder wrote on Twitter Monday. "The decision has been made to undergo surgery and remove it. 5-12 weeks."
This bombshell report comes despite initial optimism from NFL insiders that the injury was not serious and puts a timetable for return between Week 1 and Week 7.
The Colts have struggled to find their stride at quarterback since the Andrew Luck era abruptly came to an end during the 2019 preseason. The team signed veteran Philip Rivers as a one-year stopgap in 2020 with Jacoby Brissett and Jacob Eason as backups. Rivers retired at the end of the year and Brissett was signed by the Dolphins this offseason.
Indianapolis dealt a 2021 third-round pick and a 2022 conditional second-round pick to the Eagles in exchange for Wentz during NFL free agency. Wentz previously enjoyed a few years of success in Philadelphia, including one Super Bowl run in 2017. He was benched for Jalen Hurts last season in Week 13.
Wentz was not considered a fantasy-relevant player, except in two-quarterback/superflex leagues. His absence, however, does carry fantasy implications across all formats. Eason received first-team reps on Friday with Wentz sidelined and will be the presumed Week 1 starter short of acquiring another signal-caller via trade.
Eason was a fourth-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft out of Washington. He was the team's third-string QB behind Rivers and Brissett last year and did not see a single snap. The Colts also have 2021 sixth-rounder Sam Ehlinger and former Packers backup Brett Hundley, who was signed over the weekend, on their QB depth chart.
Eason is likely an even further downgrade from Wentz for Indianapolis' pass-catchers. Michael Pittman Jr., T.Y. Hilton and Parris Campbell were all consensus ranked below the top 50 receivers already, meaning they were bench capital at best. They will carry even less value with Eason under center and are only worthy considerations in deeper leagues.
With the Colts' passing game being held together with spit and glue at this point, the team may be forced to lean more heavily on the run game. This could boost second-year running back Jonathan Taylor's stock even higher — potentially into top five consideration. Taylor was already a projected first-round pick as the team's workhorse back and could see more touches while Wentz is out.
Pass-catching running back Nyheim Hines could be an interesting name to keep an eye on in deeper drafts, especially those in point-per-reception formats. If the Colts plan to deploy a more conservative passing game, it's possible we see more short dump-off passes to Hines, who reeled in 63 catches (third-most in the NFL among running backs) on 76 targets for 482 yards and four touchdowns in 2020.