April 13, 2024

Dynasty Dilemma: Michael Pittman Jr.

5 min read
Michael Pittman Jr. signed a new deal with the Indianapolis Colts . With that news and the ever shifting fantasy landscape what should dynasty managers do with the Colt's wide out?

In our latest Dynasty Dilemma, we focus on Michael Pittman Jr. It seems like the Indianapolis Colts are close to finding their established WR1. Since 2020, Pittman has always been a guessing game when drafting him and deciding when to start. His 2023 stats showcase the true potential he has as a WR in the NFL as he topped off his highest yards, receptions, and target share. However, we know Pittman stays a little inconsistent between years, and now with the uncertainty in QB, is he still reliable? 

Reasons to Buy

Talented QB Room

In the 2023 NFL draft, the Colts selected Anthony Richardson with the fourth overall pick. Unfortunately, Richardson suffered a season-ending injury during Week 5 against the Tennesee Titans, causing backup quarterback Gardner Minshew to step up. Minshew had 3,305 passing yards, 15 touchdowns, 100 rushing yards, and 3 rushing touchdowns. VEGAS, please welcome your NFL All-Star QB, GARDNER MINSHEW.

Minshew played an unexpected all-star of a season, leading the Colts to a 9-8 record, with Michael Pittman Jr. as his top target. Pittman had 28.2% of targets from his QB, putting him 11th in the NFL. However, it is important not to overlook the stats that Richardson has produced.

In the five games Richardson played, he threw for 577 yards and three touchdowns. However, his game is highlighted by his incredible ability to run. Richardson ran for 136 yards and two touchdowns on just 25 carries. With a capable quarterback in Richardson, the 26-year-old receiver is set for another high-pacing season. Pittman finished the 2023 season with 109 receptions (fifth in the league), 1,152 receiving yards (14th in the league), and only 4 touchdowns. 

Let’s project how Michael Pittman Jr. would do with ARich at QB for a full season. 

 

Limited Competition

The Colts are powered by QB Anthony Richardson. Along with Richardson, they have an A Tier running back in Jonathan Taylor, who was the rushing leader back in 2021. Apart from these guys, the Colts are left with options like Josh Downs (WR2), Alec Pierce (WR3), and Kylen Granson (TE). Compared to other elite teams stacked with a strong rushing core like the 49ers, Jaguars, Lions, and Rams, the Colts also are equipped with two strong receivers. 

  Teams

     Running Backs

Wide Receiver  1
(Receiving Yards)

Wide Receiver 2
(Receiving Yards)

Colts

Jonathan TaylorMichael Pittman Jr. (1,152)Alec Pierce (514)

49ers

Christian McCaffreyBrandon Aiyuk (1,342)Deebo Samuel (892)

Jaguars

Travis EtienneCalvin Ridley (1,016)Christian Kirk (767)

Bengals

Joe MixonJa’Marr Chase (1,216)Tee Higgins (656)

Rams

Kyren WilliamsPuka Nacua (1,486)Cooper Kupp (737)

 

Out of all these playoff-contending teams, the Colts have one of the stronger WR1 options in Pittman but have a worse WR2. Alec Pierce hauled in 514 yards in the air, putting him last among these WR2, illustrating the path that Pittman has to succeed. 

 

Projected Growth

Michael Pittman Jr. came into the league in 2020 with the Colts and managed to bring in 503 yards through the air with one touchdown on only 61 targets. Since 2021, he has been getting 125+ targets and close to 1,000 yards each season. 

2021: 1,082 yards                    2022: 925 yards                    2023: 1,152 yards

Pittman has proven that he working his way up and constantly improving. He signed a 4-year rookie contract, meaning that 2023 was meant to be his last season with the Colts. However, the Colts decided to use their only Franchise Tag on Pittman, ensuring he will remain with the Colts for the 2024 season. 

Not only has Pittman been efficient on the field, but behind the scenes, the coaching staff has high hopes. Recently, head coach Shane Steichen described Pittman as “the ultimate competitor,” praising him for what he does as an athlete. 

 

Reasons to Sell

Uncertainty at QB

Although a talented quarterback room surrounds Michael Pittman Jr., he has gone through several quarterbacks — he went through two alone last season! Being a star WR is difficult when your QB switches mid-way through the season. The concerning factor here is that Minshew has now become a free agent, making the backup quarterback spot open.

That being said, it is expected that Richardson will be ready for the season, putting Pittman in another difficult situation of having to build chemistry with another QB. Not only is this a concern, but Anthony Richardson has always been a mobile quarterback making him a “dual threat. This is good for the team as a whole, but how will this help to build chemistry with the rest of the team? It is important to monitor the status of this QB room and Anthony Richardson’s PT, as it could affect Pittman’s output. 

 

Running Volume

As I said, Anthony Richardson is a dual-threat QB and it is well known how much the Colts like to run the ball. Even when Jonathan Taylor was injured, RB Zack Moss put up good numbers, considering Indy gave him the torch late. Combined, JT and Zack Moss had 352 carries, 1,535 rushing yards, and 12 touchdowns.

It is clear that the Colts have a good offensive line, giving the RBs and QBs the green light to run the ball. When an offense is typically run-heavy, it will limit the amount of volume coming to the WRs, making Pittman’s share of the ball questionable. It is important to see how JT’s health, along with ARich’s training, goes on through this off-season. 

 

Contract and Draft Value

As mentioned in one of the reasons to buy, Pittman’s rookie contract ended during the 2023 season, leading the Colts to use their only Franchise Tag on him. However, this tag only holds Pittman for one year, meaning he will be a free agent next year. In a dynasty league, it is important to factor in the longevity of the player with their current team as well as the chance of trade. We are uncertain where Pittman could end up in 2025, which affects his output if he gets traded to a team that already has a strong WR core. 

Along with his franchise tag, Pittman is being valued as a very high-level WR. In most dynasty leagues, he is drafted and valued as a Top 15 WR with a draft value of 1.06/1.07. It is important to think about the idea that Pittman will return value on this high of a draft pick, depending on the draft. It is also important to value the amount of fantasy points the WR gets. Pittman only got four touchdowns, tying him at 54th in the league for TDs which is quite low for a receiver being considered Top 15 in the league. 

 

Verdict 

I think with Gardner Minshew or Anthony Richardson, Michael Pittman Jr. will succeed as the first option at receiver for the Colts. With a projected increase in volume and the trust of his coaching staff, Pittman is in line for another leap in his career. However, I think it is important to see what the team does in the off-season, whether it be naming a starter at QB or drafting some new talent. I would buy on Michael Pittman Jr., depending on what happens in the off-season. 

 


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