NFL Fantasy Week 1: Is Andrew Luck a must-start?
Two years ago, no NFL Fantasy owner would dare ask if Andrew Luck should start on their team. Luck was a perennial top-five passer before a shoulder injury kept him off the field for all of 2017.
Details of that rehab, plus the shaky condition of the team around him under first-year coach Frank Reich have a good percentage of teams with Luck on their bench. With a deep quarterback pool and the eternal optimism of opening day, there are plenty of streaming options available.
But… it’s Andrew Luck! How can anyone question his starting status? Like this:
What does Luck bring to the table?
Andrew Luck is Andrew Luck, albeit with a rehabilitated shoulder. He did not suddenly become a bad quarterback during his year away from the game. In Luck’s past three full seasons, he finished as the QB-3, 2, and 4 with over 4,000 passing yards.
In the preseason, the veteran showed no signs of lost mobility, always a big part of his game. That was largely out of necessity as Indianapolis never seemed interested in providing much of an offensive line.
More importantly, Luck got up after a couple of preseason hits and tackles no worse for wear. In fact, he was smiling as he understood the importance of surviving contact.
His passes don’t seem slower or less accurate than when we last saw him. All in all, he brings a Pro Bowl caliber leader to the Colts.
What does Indianapolis offer him?
Indianapolis finally made some attempts to rebuild the offensive line that allowed Luck to be pummeled mercilessly for years. It is concerning, however, that the team still can’t seem to name the starting five.
Some of that is because of injury. Left tackle Anthony Costanzo will be listed as questionable for Sunday’s season opener as he recovers from an early-August hamstring injury. Costanzo just returned to the practice field this week.
Receiving targets could be an issue, too. Frank Reich says he will use a lot of two-tight end sets in 2018 with Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron. It’s hard to decide if that is intended to help the line or provide a third target for Luck.
Doyle and TY Hilton are the only familiar faces Luck will find among the starters. Chester Rogers is slated to work in the slot. Indianapolis hopes former Redskin Ryan Grant can continue his development and distract some defenders from Hilton.
Most importantly, Frank Gore is no longer in a position to pick off blitzers for Luck. Marlon Mack is the lead back, but he is questionable with a hamstring, too. The running game could be in the hands of a pair of rookies ahead of Christine Michael.
In limited preseason action, Andrew Luck appears to be healed and muscle memory kicked in as he makes the throws he always made.
There is a concern that the first vicious pass rush- like what the Bengals front seven provides- will spark some painful memories for Luck and prompt him to rush passes or throw balls away. During his rehab, there was some concern about Luck’s mental block about throwing.
The Colts rolled the dice for years with Luck’s health and probably took years off his career with the sieve they put in front of him. Until we see that unit get it together, we will always fear injury for anyone behind them.
Indianapolis has a plan, which includes a more up-tempo offense that might help offset the continued problems on their offensive line.
So, we’re saying…
We did a little bit of memory search and sure enough, we seem to remember that the last time Andrew Luck had a Pro Bowl season he also did not have a good offensive line or a feared second wide receiver.
He also only had one tight end. We are still a bit worried if the young running backs will effectively pick up pass rushers who break through.
In other words, the situation for Luck is about the same as the one he faced when he consistently turned into top NFL Fantasy performances.
There is no reason to wait and see if Andrew Luck is okay, even against the tough pass rush of Cincinnati. Throw in a possible play-from-behind scenario, and you absolutely must start Andrew Luck.