Fantasy Football: Andrew Luck No Longer Must Start QB?
Andrew Luck was the 7th highest scoring quarterback in fantasy football heading into Week 13, and most experts and analysts had anointed him a must-start, top-10 quarterback (you have to go all the way back to Week 5 on ESPN.com to find a week where their analysts didn’t have Luck inside their top 10). Most fantasy leagues begin their playoffs in Week 14, and I believe that heading into them we need to reassess our evaluation of the second-year quarterback out of Stanford.
Andrew Luck has scored 54 fantasy points over his last four games after scoring 53 fantasy points in just two games prior. When you watch Andrew Luck play there is absolutely no denying that he is a special, transcendent talent who is going to be one of the NFL‘s best quarterbacks for the next decade and then some. There is also no denying that the offensive pieces around him are really, really struggling.
Let’s start with the offensive line. According to Pro Football Focus, the Indianapolis Colts are the fourth worst team in terms of pass protection — only the New York Giants, Chicago Bears and Arizona Cardinals have graded worse through 13 weeks. The Colts offensive line has given up a total of 186 pressures this year (sacks, hits and hurries combined) which is the third most in the NFL, and they have allowed opposing pass rushers to hit their quarterback 51 times this season (the Cleveland Browns have allowed the second most quarterback hits with 38). Luck has been under pressure on 40 percent of his drop-backs through 13 weeks. To put that into perspective, Peyton Manning has been pressured on just over 22 percent of his drop-backs. For the season, Luck has a 65.3 percent completion rate when he’s not under pressure compared to just a 44.4 percent when he is under pressure. If the Colts had even a league average line things would be significantly easier for Luck.
Next let’s examine who’s catching the ball. Luck started off the year with two excellent options in Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton, but Wayne went down in Week 7 with a season ending injury, and with the exception of one half in Week 9 against the Houston Texans, Luck and his receivers have really struggled.
Last but not least let’s look at the Colts’ upcoming schedule. The Colts’ next three games are against teams that are in the top 10 in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks. Next week the Colts face the Cincinnati Bengals who have held quarterbacks to eight fantasy points or fewer in three of their past five games and no quarterback scored over 14 fantasy points in that stretch. In Week 15 the Colts face the Texans who shut down Luck completely for a half before allowing him and T.Y. Hilton to hook up for three touchdowns in the second half of Week 11. The Texans are allowing just 14 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks and are third in the NFL, allowing just 188 passing yards per game. In Week 16 Luck has to face the Kansas City Chiefs who, with Justin Houston likely back, have one of the most dominant pass rushes in football.
Andrew Luck is a special talent and Colts fans are blessed that he is the heir to what was once Peyton Manning’s throne, but due to the dearth of offensive talent surrounding him, he is not somebody I would want to rely on this week in the fantasy playoffs. Alex Smith (20+ fantasy points in three straight games, at the Washington Redskins next week), Nick Foles (20+ fantasy points in four straight games, home against the Detroit Lions) and Josh McCown if he gets another start (18+ fantasy points in his last two games, home against the Dallas Cowboys) are all guys I like more than Luck in week 14.