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The Colts backfield could offer draft-day value this season

Will Donald Brown affect Joseph Addai's fantasy value in 2010?

Okay, Indianapolis, now is the time to find out: What can Brown do for you? (Sorry, that was too easy.)

Bad twists on marketing slogans aside, the Colts must soon decide whether their primary running back of the future is the same as their current back (Addai), or a second-year player (Brown) who showed only occasional glimpses of his big-play ability during his rookie season.

That there's even a question is an indictment of Addai's fantasy value for 2010. The undisputed starting running back in a high-profile offense, the veteran is coming off a season in which he scored 13 touchdowns and caught a career-best 51 passes.

Those factors normally would scream "first-round pick" for 2010, except that they were accompanied by only 828 rushing yards and 1,164 total yards from scrimmage.

No back this side of Edgerrin James is going to put up huge numbers in the Colts' pass-first offense, but Addai's yardage totals were purely pedestrian even in a season in which he was generally healthy. Fantasy owners gave him a mulligan for a 2008 season in which he was banged up, but he started 15 games in 2009.

Most troubling is that Addai seems to have lost some of the burst that he displayed earlier in his career, and he has shown little big-play ability in an offense built for the big play. His longest run in 2009: 21 yards. His longest reception: 25 yards.

And that's where Brown comes in.

Though he gained only 450 yards from scrimmage as a rookie, Brown's 89 touches included a run of 45 yards and a catch of 72 yards. Brown was a big-play machine in college, and if he can pose a consistent big-play threat at the NFL level, it will take much of the heat off quarterback Peyton Manning and the passing game.

With Addai's contract up at the end of this season, expect the Colts to give Brown a chance to show that he can be the main man going forward.

Bottom line: The Colts need to see enough of Brown this season to know what he can do. That alone adversely affects Addai's fantasy value.

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