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Fantasy Players - Rookie Watch
By Mike Beacom

Rookie Watch – Coby Fleener, TE, Indianapolis Colts

By Mike Beacom

It was one of the 2012 NFL Draft’s most touching moments – all-world quarterback (Andrew Luck) reunited with his former college tight end (Fleener). It was also a potential franchise-building moment. The Colts, in desperate need of a youth infusion, plucked two players to build the offense around for the next decade.

At Stanford, Luck-to-Fleener was a winning combo in big games, first for former coach Jim Harbaugh and again last season under the guidance of David Shaw. Now the two hope to rip up the AFC South for the rebuilding Colts. It will take time. How much time is all fantasy owners care about …

Dissecting the depth chart: The Colts lost both of their top two tight ends this offseason – Dallas Clark found a home in Tampa Bay and Jacob Tamme joined Peyton Manning in Denver – so Fleener can walk to the front of the line. In fact, no Colts tight end has a catch on his resume. It’s a wide open field, but Fleener’s ability, and the more than $5 million the team invested in him, all but guarantee he’ll be the guy.

Just the stats: Nothing is going to knock your socks off here. As a senior, Fleener caught a career-best 34 balls for 667 yards. He did score a combined 17 touchdowns over his final two seasons at Stanford, but even that number warrants a mild response. The most interesting stat is Fleener’s career yards per catch (16.07). Last year he hauled in a pass of 20 or more yards in six games. His best collegiate game was the 2011 Orange Bowl win over Virginia Tech (six catches for 173 yards and three touchdowns).

2012 Projection: 40 receptions, 525 yards, 5 TDs.

2011 rookie comparison: None
Last year ranked as one of the worst in league history, in terms of rookie tight end production. Kyle Rudolph was a popular pick on all-rookie teams even though he averaged less than two catches per game. Lance Kendricks had better catch and yardage totals but didn’t score a single touchdown.

Interesting fact that won’t help you: According to his mother, Michelle, Coby’s first name was thought up during a Redskins game when she saw the name ‘Jacoby’ on the back of a jersey (Joe Jacoby).

What he’s worth: Consider Fleener a No. 2 tight end in most leagues. He’s one of the Colts top weapons, and he obviously has an already established rapport with Luck, but limited opportunities will keep his fantasy value in check in year one.

Mike Beacom is a contributing writer for Follow him on Twitter @mikebeacom
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