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Second-Year Scouting Report: Alec Pierce

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Nick Makowitz

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June is underway, and we’re getting closer to the 2023 regular season. Best ball leagues have been drafting for months now and they are getting more popular now that we understand landing spots for veteran free agents and rookies.

 

Every year, rookie fever emerges and the previous class gets pushed aside by the shiny new NFL toys. This usually results in a rookie surge of ADP, which opens up pockets of value, especially with players from the previous class who may not be as established as some long-time veterans in the league. This happens even though most fantasy analysts (and players) understand the largest leap occurs from year 1 to year 2.

Throughout the summer, FTN will be releasing second-year scouting reports to keep these players fresh in fantasy managers’ minds. The series shifts today to Alec Pierce, the second-year wide receiver with the Indianapolis Colts. This article is a breakdown of Pierce’s first season and what fantasy managers can expect from him going forward in 2023 and beyond.

Alec Pierce, WR, Indianapolis Colts

Alec Pierce played four seasons at Cincinnati, where he accumulated over 100 career receptions and nearly 2,000 career receiving yards. During his senior year, he put up a stat line of 52 catches, 884 yards and eight touchdowns which impressed the Colts enough to draft him in the back half of the second round. 

In his rookie season with Indianapolis, he posted 41 receptions, 593 receiving yards and two touchdowns. It was an up-and-down season as Pierce dealt with multiple quarterback changes and struggled to find consistency playing as the third option behind Michael Pittman and Jonathan Taylor. Now, he’ll have another new QB – either Gardner Minshew or Anthony Richardson – and he’ll have to find a way to earn more targets in a similar offensive setup in Indy.

What Went Wrong

The biggest hindrance for Alec Pierce in year one may have been the Colts’ awful quarterback play. A lot was made about how much of an upgrade Matt Ryan was supposed to be over his predecessor Carson Wentz, but he was tough to watch all season. Aside from getting physically manhandled by opposing defenses, Ryan fell off a cliff as a passer and limited the Colts and their fantasy options as a result. Indy tried to give Sam Ehlinger and Nick Foles chances, but they were even worse, and the Colts’ quarterbacks combined for the 28th-ranked passing grade per PFF.

Alec Pierce Indianapolis Colts Fantasy Football Second-Year Scouting Report

Aside from poor quarterback play, Pierce was serving as the third option at best behind Michael Pittman and Jonathan Taylor. The offense was never going to be catered to him, but he also didn’t command as many targets as some would have hoped (16% target rate). His below average 1.3 yards per route run also suggests that Pierce had plenty of opportunity that he didn’t do a whole lot with. Overall, it wasn’t a great rookie for the Cincinnati product, but he did show some promise.

What Went Right

While Pierce didn’t command a huge target share, he did earn a 25% air yard share and 16% receiving yards share on just a 10% reception share. In other words, he was the Colts’ deep threat, which can bode well for fantasy. Combine his prowess for deep targets with a 71% route participation and it seems like Pierce just needs someone who can throw the deep ball accurately.

It wasn’t all “what if” though, as the beginning of his NFL career actually went pretty well. In Weeks 2-6, Pierce averaged 4.5 receptions and 68 receiving yards while hauling in one of his two touchdowns, giving him almost 13 fantasy points per game in that stretch. Interestingly enough, when Jonathan Taylor was out of the lineup, the Colts passed a few more times per game and Pierce saw about a 30% increase in his fantasy production, albeit only two points.

 

Prognosis Entering 2023

Entering 2023, Alec Pierce’s redraft status leaves a lot to be desired. With the Colts’ current quarterback situation, it’s unlikely that any receivers outside of Michael Pittman will produce enough to be fantasy relevant. The median outcome is probably something similar to what it was last season, with Pierce registering big plays and some big games but often providing managers with nothing more than a nice aDOT.

His WR65 ADP has that all built in, so he’s practically free at the end of drafts. If you’re a believer in Anthony Richardson or the Colts’ bounceback in general, it could be worthwhile to take Pierce and see how involved he is during the first week or two, but in all likelihood, he’ll be a bye-week streamer barring an injury to Pittman.

Dynasty Outlook

As has been the theme of this Alec Pierce evaluation, his dynasty outlook is tied largely to Anthony Richardson at this point. If the fourth overall pick shows that he can be a viable passer in the NFL, Pierce’s stock will increase significantly. If not, he’ll likely need an opportunity with a new team to provide fantasy value. However, Michael Pittman’s contract is up after 2023, so it’s worth holding onto Pierce in case he takes enough of a step forward to make the Colts trust him as their number one receiver moving forward. It’s obviously not a contract year for the second year wideout, but it might be make or break from a fantasy perspective. I’d be holding on to him until we know more about his role and Richardson’s capabilities. If you don’t have Pierce, he’s probably not worth giving anything up for.

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