Kerry Collins or Curtis Painter — is either Colts quarterback a viable fantasy option?
By: Athlon Sports | 10/4/11, 2:19 PM EDT
Curtis Painter made his first career NFL start at quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts on Monday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And while he didn't lead the Colts to victory, he did play fairly well, completing 13-of-30 pass attempts for 281 yards and two touchdowns.
Painter got the start in place of Kerry Collins, who was inactive due to a concussion he suffered in Week 3 against Pittsburgh. And everyone knows that the only reason either of these two are starting is because Peyton Manning is out, most likely for the season, due to his continued recovery from his latest neck surgery.
So we know No. 18 isn't coming back any time soon and at 0-4 the Colts' season is pretty much already over as it relates to postseason hopes. Regardless, someone will need to be under center this Sunday when the Colts host the Kansas City Chiefs. The question is which one — Collins or Painter — and is either a viable option for fantasy owners.
For now, it seems no one, including Colts head coach Jim Caldwell, knows who is going to be the starting quarterback this Sunday. Even though Painter posted a 99.4 quarterback rating in his first career start, Caldwell wouldn't commit to him as this week's starter when asked after the game last night, according to a Indianapolis TV report.
That said, let's look at the two options and see how they have performed. Collins is the grizzled, 17-year veteran with 40,498 more passing yards and 202 more touchdowns than Painter has in his considerably shorter career. Collins also is 12 years older than Painter and has struggled to start the season.
Before going down with the concussion, Collins had completed 49 percent of his passes for 481 yards and two touchdowns. He has thrown one interception and lost three fumbles. Painter has completed 44 percent of his passes for 341 yards and two touchdowns. He has yet to throw an interception and has fumbled the ball away twice.
Collins has more than twice as many (98 to 41) attempts as Painter, which is understandable since he was the starter until he went down in Week 3. And while Painter's is a smaller sample size, his yards/attempt (8.3 to 4.9) and yards/completion (18.9 to 10.0) are considerably higher than Collins'.
On the surface, one could make the argument that Painter has the stronger arm (could it be the hair?) compared to Collins, which in turn should benefit the Colts' passing game and the opportunity for big plays.
In fact, Painter threw his first career touchdown pass last night, an 87-yard scoring strike to Pierre Garcon. Since the NFL/AFL merger, only two other quarterbacks had their first career touchdown pass go 87 yards or longer, according to Elias Sports Bureau. His second career touchdown pass also went to Garcon, this one a 59-yarder, making Painter the first quarterback to throw two touchdowns passes of at least 50 yards in his first career NFL start since the Cincinnati Bengals' Jeff Blake did it on October 30, 1994.
Even though Garcon scored both touchdowns, it wasn't like Painter ignored the other Colts receivers. Reggie Wayne and Garcon were each targeted a team-high eight times on Monday night, with Wayne leading the way with four receptions. Tight end Dallas Clark also got into the act with three receptions on four targets for 46 yards, while Austin Collie was targeted sevent times, finishing with two receptions for 16 yards.
But when it comes to the Colts' pass-catchers it hasn't really been a problem with opportunities; it's been an issue with accuracy. Wayne, Garcon, Collie and Clark have been targeted a collective 124 times and have a combined 55 receptions to show for it. That translates to 44 percent. Compare that to Manning, whose career completion rate is 65 percent.
Accuracy issues aside, the Colts have struggled offensively pretty much in all facets of the game. They currently rank 30th in the league in total offense (270 yards per game), are tied for 26th in passing (187 yards per game), are 28th in rushing (83 yards per game) and scoring with less than 16 points per game.
Injures along the offensive line certainly don't help matter, an issue that was on full display Monday night as Painter was under constant pressure. He was sacked four times and the pressure also resulted in hurried throws, which impacted his completion percentage. On the season, Collins and Painter have already been sacked a combined 10 times. Last season, Manning was sacked a total of 16 times the entire season.
So regardless of whether Caldwell decides to stick with Painter, the strong-armed young gun or go back to the veteran Collins, the fantasy outlook for either, or the Colts as a whole, doesn't appear to be too promising. One look at the Colts' offense on the field and fantasy owners can tell it isn't the productive, coveted unit they have come to know and love. It's just not the same without No. 18 out there.
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