Undervalued Fantasy Asset: Colts Ryan Grant

Ryan Grant has emerged as the Colts No. 2 WR in an offense that should be rather pass-friendly.

T.Y. (Hilton) and Ryan Grant have really separated themselves,”coach Frank Reich told reporters on Sunday (via the team’s website).

Grant made headlines this offseason after the Ravens signed him to a four-year contract worth $29MM and the general consensus was that the wide receiver market had ballooned and Baltimore badly overpaid to add much-needed pass-catching help. The criticism seemed logically sound, as the Ravens were paying a premium for a player who topped 60 receiving yards in a game just three times during his four-year career in Washington. Baltimore voided the deal just days later after Grant failed his physical.

Players who land big deals and grab headlines in free agency tend to get the attention of fantasy football participants and can often be over-drafted as a result of media attention. With negative news, as was the case with Grant, the opposite can exist.

The Tulane product later found a home in Indianapolis, signing a one-year deal that didn’t gain nearly as much media attention as the voided Ravens deal. In reality, it likely should have gained more attention, as the Colts will likely provide him with a much better situation for pass catchers than the Ravens would have in 2018 and the Redskins have in the past.

The Colts played with the lead in only 32% of their snaps last season (per PFF) and that figure was heavily derived by the team’s defense, a unit that finished 29th in DVOA last season. The Ravens played with the lead on 46% of their snaps with 24% of them coming with at least a two-score lead (6th highest in the league), meaning Baltimore was in dire passing situations much less frequently than the Colts (the Skins were tied with the Cowboys for 14th in percentage of snaps with the lead).

With the Ravens expected to put out a top-5 defense and the Colts expected to be among the worst yet again, Grant appears to be in a better spot based on projected in-game situations.

In Washington, Grant was buried behind the likes of DeSean Jackson, Jordan Reed, Jamison Crowder, and Terrelle Pryor among others on Kirk Cousins’ pass-catching totem pole. Over his four seasons with the club, he only drew 141 total targets. He’ll have much more opportunity this season with the Colts, as he’s currently listed as the Colts’ No. 2 wide receiver.

Grant’s advanced stats are kind to him and imply that he’ll produce with greater opportunity. According to Football Outsiders, Grant is one of only five receivers to finish in the top 20 in both receiving plus-minus and YAC+, which estimates how many yards after the catch receivers gained compared to what would have been gained by an average receiver. Golden Tate, Keenan Allen, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Sterling Shepard are the other four players with that distinction.

The return of Andrew Luck adds even more potential-fuel to the opportunity-fire in Indy. Luck is averaging 37.9 passing attempts per game throughout his career, a figure that ranks second all-time behind only Matthew Stafford. The availability of the former No.1 overall pick will undoubtedly dictate the exact value of the pass-catchers around him, but there’s still an opportunity to be had regardless of who is under center for the Colts.

Grant is currently not being drafted in most leagues, according to CBS Sports data. However, he could easily be a nice matchup-dependent fantasy option this season and if Luck returns to form, he has the upside of a WR 2.

The chatter of him not being worth his contract in the voided Ravens deal may be the only major piece of information that casual fans have of Grant and it has negatively impacted the perception of his value. Sharp fantasy players can combine misleading perception with their data and intuition to find an edge and Grant’s roller coaster offseason provides fantasy owners with an opportunity to find a late-round steal.

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