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Indianapolis Colts 2019 season preview: Jacoby Brissett takes reins

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Berry makes a case to draft Brissett (1:29)

Matthew Berry makes a bold prediction that Jacoby Brissett will be impactful on your fantasy roster and makes a case for drafting him. (1:29)

The Indianapolis Colts are ranked No. 21 in ESPN's preseason Football Power Index. Here's everything you need to know about the Colts heading into the 2019 NFL season:


The big question: Can Jacoby Brissett lead Colts back to playoffs?

QB Andrew Luck retired and Brissett -- like many of his teammates -- is in his second season in coach Frank Reich's offense. The easy way to look at Brissett is by his 4-11 record as a starter in 2017. However, circumstances are completely different from two years ago when he was acquired just before the regular season from the Patriots. Brissett, who struggled at times in training camp, is set up to potentially have an effective season because the Colts have a better overall roster. -- Mike Wells

Offseason in a nutshell

Luck's surprising retirement is the headliner. Aside from that, general manager Chris Ballard said the Colts would be judicious when it came to free agency despite having an NFL-high of more than $100 million in cap space. Ballard wants to continue to build through the draft, and that's exactly what the Colts did. Pass-rusher Justin Houston and receiver Devin Funchess were the only significant free-agent signings and the Colts had 10 draft picks, with seven coming on the defensive side of the ball, as they work to add core pieces to a defense that finished 11th overall in 2018. -- Wells

Inside the Colts schedule

Most important game: Oct. 20 vs. Houston. It's an AFC South game in what could be a wide-open division because of Luck's retirement and the season-ending torn ACL by Texans running back Lamar Miller. Houston has won three of the past four meetings against the Colts in Indianapolis. Brissett went 2-0 against the Texans in 2017, with both victories happening after Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson was lost for the season because of a knee injury.

Toughest stretch: Back-to-back road games to open the season at the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 1 and at Tennessee in Week 2. Brissett made his debut for the Colts two years ago in Los Angeles against the Rams. This time he'll be doing it with all eyes on him, which will start the evaluation of whether he can hold on to the starting quarterback job. (Brissett agreed to a two-year, $30 million extension on Monday.)

Over or under 7.3 wins? Under. The Colts went from possibly being good enough to make a run in the AFC with Luck to now not even being looked at as the favorites to win the AFC South. They have five games against teams that made the playoffs last season, with four of them on the road. Three of those games -- all on the road -- are against teams that advanced as far or further than the Colts did in the postseason last season, including a Week 1 game against the Chargers. The Colts also go on the road to play both teams that lost in the AFC and NFC Championship Games, Kansas City and New Orleans, in prime time. -- Wells

Schedule ranking: No. 9

Indianapolis played the easiest schedule of 2018 by average DVOA of opponent, so this is going to be a distinct change for them. But while the Colts have hard games, they don't really have hard stretches. For example, their trip to Pittsburgh in Week 9 is sandwiched between home games against Denver and Miami. A Week 15 trip to New Orleans follows a trip to Tampa Bay. They did get a tough draw facing both the Chargers and Chiefs on the road, but perhaps they should look at that the other way: getting Oakland and Denver at home makes a sweep of those easier opponents more likely. -- Football Outsiders | See the full 1-32 ranking

Breakout fantasy star: WR Parris Campbell

The wide-receiver-needy Colts selected Campbell in the second round of April's draft, and the Ohio State product is expected to immediately step in as the team's primary slot receiver. Campbell is incredibly fast (receiver-best 4.31 40-yard dash at the 2019 combine) and does a lot of damage in the short area (he posted a prospect-low 4.6 average depth of target and prospect-high 83% catch rate last season). Expect him to be used in a variety of ways in the Colts' high scoring offense, including as a rusher, receiver and returner.. -- Mike Clay | More fantasy coverage

The view from Vegas

Super Bowl odds: 45-1 (opened 15-1)
Over/under: 7 (O -150/U +130)
Playoff odds: Yes +240, No -280

Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook as of Sept. 2.

Most interesting player prop

Over/under 1,021.5 rushing yards for Marlon Mack:

  • Wells: Over. Mack was 92 yards shy of rushing for 1,000 yards despite missing four games last season. Mack will be running behind the same starting offensive line from last season and the Colts might end up leaning on him to help lighten Brissett's workload. Reich says he believes the Colts can have a top-five rushing team this season. Mack will have to lead the way in order to do that.

Bold prediction: Colts will still be a top-10 offense

The Colts will finish in the top 10 offensively. Brissett will have everything at his disposal when it comes to the offense. He'll have same starting offensive line that gave up an NFL-low 18 sacks last season? He'll have receiver T.Y. Hilton, tight ends Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle. He'll have running back Mack, who was 92 yards shy of rushing for 1,000 yards despite missing four games. -- Wells

Where the Colts landed in NFLRank

Speed reads before the opener