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How Andrew Luck Can Be the Top Fantasy QB in 2014

andrewluck

Andrew Luck is currently being drafted somewhere around QB5 in early ADP, which means that he’s about 10X more expensive than the QB that I usually roll with on my teams. I won a mid-stakes league last year with a squad that had Terrelle Pryor as its best draft day QB. That’s not a humblebrag, that’s a brag brag. But I’m seriously kicking the tires on Andrew Luck this year even if he’s not the kind of “so cheap you can’t go wrong QB” that I usually draft.

My case for Luck at this point is pretty straightforward, even if it’s also somewhat half-baked. It is as follows:

  1. Receivers. Luck will get Dwayne Allen back in 2014. Luck has an AYA of 9.13 when throwing to Allen based on the 68 targets that they compiled in their rookie years. Luck will have 2nd year player Da’Rick Rogers, who will have put in a full offseason with the team. He’ll also have rookie Donte Moncrief, who might be a secret weapon. The Colts also signed Hakeem Nicks, who might help, or might be totally washed up – we’re not sure.  I haven’t even mentioned TY Hilton, Coby Fleener or Reggie Wayne. Hilton was Luck’s favorite target in 2013 and has an undeniable ability to be a big play receiver. Fleener is Fleener. There’s probably not that much to say about him really. Then there’s some chance that Reggie Wayne returns to productivity, although I wouldn’t probably bet on it. But there’s also an arbitrage play in the works here. I don’t know if I would want to own any of the Colts receivers in a re-draft league, and yet you can bet that one or more of them will have a pretty good season. Luck allows you to avoid the risk in picking the wrong receiver and instead get the potential upside of all of them. I also like that many of the IND pieces are complementary. Hilton and Moncrief should be able to stretch the field and create big plays; while Allen, Rogers and Nicks should in theory be more reliable in the red zone.
  2. Horrible run game. The Colts backfield seems to be somewhere between underwhelming, and overwhelmingly bad. The only thing that Trent Richardson actually seems to do well is catch passes, which fits right into my case for Luck. It’s also the case that if IND wants to prove that they weren’t wrong to give up a first for T-Rich, the best way to do that would be to let him score a bunch of easy short touchdowns and catch a bunch of passes. It’s not happening if they ask T-Rich to break a bunch of long touchdowns…
  3. Pep Hamilton isn’t as bad an offensive coordinator as you think he is. The Colts actually improved on a Points/Drive basis in 2013. They were 19th under Bruce Arians and 10th under Pep Hamilton. People worship Bruce Arians because his offense creates big plays while he DGAF about turnovers. I actually think Arians might be the most overrated offensive coach in football. I don’t know that Pep Hamilton is the most underrated, but I do think he’s at least slightly underrated.
  4. Bad defense. The Colts were 21st in points/drive last year and are losing Robert Mathis for four games. In fact, the Colts haven’t finished better than 21st in Points/Drive since 2009. They also haven’t spent any significant draft capital on their defense either. Since 2011, they’ve used 7 first through third round picks on just offensive skill position players (Luck, Trent Richardson, Delone Carter, Fleener, Allen, Moncrief and Hilton) while they’ve picked a total of two defensive players in the 1st-3rd rounds during that time. The Colts weren’t any good on defense last year and there’s little reason to suspect they’ll be good this year. Also, the Colts start the season against DEN and PHI, which will probably mean that right off the bat they’ll be made to understand that their defense isn’t going to win any games for them. If you play in a re-draft league that allows trades, you might even be able to sell Luck after likely shootouts with DEN and PHI.
  5. Rushing yards and touchdowns. Self-explanatory. Luck is a hoss.
  6. Schedule. This is more half-baked, but two of their division opponents just hired offensive head coaches, while the Jags are rumored to be favoring an up-tempo offense. Also, none of the Colts’ division rivals finished higher than 16th in defensive Points/Drive in 2013. Maybe HOU and JAX have ascending defenses, but they weren’t good last year.
  7. He’ll pass Peyton, Brady, Rodgers and Brees to get to the top spot. Ok, this point isn’t half-baked… it’s less baked than half-baked, whatever that is. All of the top line QBs are playing with likely improved defenses this year. They also saw Peyton Manning put up a top statistical season and then get destroyed in the Super Bowl. My theory1 is that they’ll all want to hold something back for the playoffs and not show everything they can do on offense during the regular season. That will mean grinding out leads on the ground when they can. The Saints are already rumored to be seeking more balance. Peyton Manning lost TD producer Eric Decker. Tom Brady is a 28 TD/12 INT type guy when he doesn’t have Gronk, and Gronk isn’t guaranteed to be available for the full season. That just leaves Aaron Rodgers… I’ll have to do some more thinking on whether Luck could pass Rodgers because it does seem like a tall order.

That’s my case for now. If you wanted the shorter version it would be: the Colts can’t win games with running or defense and they’ve added the horses to win by throwing it.

I think it’s a pretty good place to start and see if there are any things that I’ve overlooked. I plan to dig a little deeper on the issues of defense, and schedule to see if there are things that I might have overlooked (likely). Because Luck will cost something to draft, I do think I have to be almost sure that he has a chance to finish as the top QB in order to take him. But there’s definitely a good amount of potential there.

  1. read: wishful thinking that probably isn’t true  (back)

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