32 for 32 : What can we expect from Andrew Luck in 2018?

32 for 32 : What can we expect from Andrew Luck in 2018?

Editor’s Note: This is a part of our 32 for 32 QB Profiles series.


There are few players with more question marks surrounding them heading into the 2018 season than Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. Will he return to the type of form that saw him exceed Peyton Manning’s franchise record for single-season passing yards in 2014? What type of offense will he be running in 2018, after the Colts appointed Frank Reich as their head coach? Who will be the main weapons in the Colts offense, after the team re-tools through the draft and free agency? But perhaps the most important question of all: Will Andrew Luck even play in 2018?

FANTASY ASSET

There is little doubt that Luck, when healthy, has been one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, especially from a fantasy standpoint. The table below shows the top five QBs in terms of fantasy points per game from 2012, the year Luck came into the league, to the end of 2016. Luck is keeping company with some of the best names around.

PlayerGames PlayedFantasy Points (PPR)Fantasy Points per Game
Aaron Rodgers731549.421.21
Drew Brees791643.820.79
Cam Newton771513.419.66
Peyton Manning581127.019.43
Andrew Luck701359.319.42

Luck’s 2016 season was one of the best of his career. This is all the more remarkable considering it’s highly likely he played with a shoulder injury for much of the campaign. His 63.5 percent completion rate was the best of his career. Luck threw 31 touchdowns, the second-most of his career, and he scored on 5.7 percent of his pass attempts, while also sporting an interception rate of 2.4 percent. Like his touchdown tally, he managed better marks in just one season.

An entire season has passed since then, however. Luck did not participate in the team’s 2017 offseason program, and despite team owner Jim Irsay’s confidence he’d be healthy for Week 1, Luck landed on injured reserve and missed the entire campaign.

The good news for Luck is that further surgery has been ruled out. He continues to rehab his shoulder, however, but the Colts are confident he’ll be ready for the start of the season…and by that, I mean this season.

THE NEW BOSS

But this brings us to the matter of not knowing exactly what type of offense he’ll be asked to run. Rob Chudzinski was calling plays the last time Luck took a regular season snap. But Chud and head coach Chuck Pagano were fired at the end of the 2017 season. After a messy courtship of Josh McDaniels, the team hired former Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich to replace Pagano.

Reich was with the Eagles for two years, after two years with the Chargers. Given the different quarterbacks he has worked with, from the statuesque Philip Rivers to the athletic Carson Wentz, (and Nick Foles, of course. Can’t forget a QB who caught a touchdown in the Super Bowl, can we?) we could be forgiven for wondering what Reich wants to do.

The Indy Star reported Reich, describing the system he wants to run with the Colts, as saying :

“We will have a multiple up-tempo offense. We will be aggressive…change things up. What I mean by multiple is we’ll use multiple personnel groups and multiple formations. Being able to run the same things over and over again and disguise it so other teams don’t know what we’re doing. We’ll keep them off balance with run and pass. We’ll change the tempo. There will be a strong element of the no-huddle offense.”

NO NEED TO HUDDLE

Who’d have thought that a man who once backed up Jim Kelly would be a fan of the no-huddle offense, eh?

Let’s try and be positive for a moment, and assume Luck will return and play this season. Making a greater commitment to the no-huddle offense should come as good news for Luck. In his entire career, just 9.2 percent of Luck’s pass attempts have come in the no-huddle (274-of-2,651). By comparison, Aaron Rodgers’ no-huddle passing percentage is 15.8 percent, while Carson Wentz and Peyton Manning both have 12 percent rates. Luck has a 63 percent completion rate out of the no-huddle and averages 8.2 yards per attempt. His overall career marks are 59.2 percent and 7.2 yards per attempt. Reich’s philosophy could be just what Luck needs.

LOADING UP

Sticking with the positive vibe… when Andrew Luck returns, his supporting cast of receiving weapons should look quite different to his last one. Two of his all-time favorite targets should still be around, namely T.Y Hilton and Jack Doyle. But outside of these two? It’s something of a mystery.

The Colts are positively flush with cap space. They have the third-most in the entire NFL as per OverTheCap.com. They should certainly be looking to bring in some fresh blood, with names like Dion Lewis and Paul Richardson among players being linked to the Colts. Giving a quarterback, any quarterback, some more toys to play with is always going to make that player happy.

WORST CASE SCENARIO

What happens though, if all my positive energy is for naught, and Andrew Luck doesn’t return? Given their new offense, and a reshaped offensive unit, could the Colts QB in place of Luck be a viable fantasy option?

In 2017, that man was Jacoby Brissett. The former Patriots QB played all 16 games, starting the last 15. He wasn’t dreadful. In the least case, he wasn’t the worst thing about the Colts offense last season. Brissett managed at least 200 yards passing in nine games. He had two games in which he eclipsed 300. He had a run of three consecutive games with multiple touchdowns and threw just seven interceptions. Brissett was able to establish some solid connections with his pass-catchers, as he averaged at least 7.0 AYA with four players.

He also offered the Colts something on the ground, with 260 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Brissett finished as the QB20 in PPR scoring last season.

However, he was far from spectacular. Excluding Week 1, he was held to less than 200 yards passing in five games. This included four of his last six games. Brissett failed to throw a single touchdown in six games. He took 52 sacks, with three or more takedowns in 10 games. His completion percentage jumped from 59 percent to 70.8 percent when operating the no-huddle. But his yards per attempt was just 6.3. I think the Colts could sign Allen Robinson, Le’Veon Bell, and Sammy Watkins this offseason, and Brissett would still fail to be more than functional.

ANDREW LUCK’S 2018 FANTASY OUTLOOK

As I think I’ve made clear, the Colts offense will become somewhat fantasy relevant when, and if, Andrew Luck is able to take the field. Do I expect him to be a superstar right from Week 1? No, but assuming he is somewhere approaching full health, his past pedigree has shown that Luck is someone who can be trusted to perform well above any streaming options.

Mock drafters seem to be hedging their bets at present, with regards Luck. He is the 10th QB being selected in mocks over at Fantasy Football Calculator. He is behind Jared Goff and ahead of Wentz. Luck has an ADP in the mid-eighth round. If he is able to start throwing soon, and by throwing, I mean a football and not a medicine ball, I would not be stunned if his ADP began to drop. He is Andrew Luck, after all. But until I see him throwing, I’m looking elsewhere. TwoQBs co-founder Greg Smith is a little more bullish than I: He has Luck firmly in his top tier when it comes to 2018 redraft.

Neil Dutton

Neil Dutton has played fantasy football since 2005, when a dialup modem error led to him drafting Donovan McNabb and Chad Pennington back to back at the 3/4 turn. He began writing in 2013 for the now defunct UKEndzone.com. Since then he has written for Gridiron Experts, Fantasy Pros, RotoViz, numberFire, Player Profiler, and TwoQBs. He co-hosts the “Waxing Lyrical with Mainz and Dutts” podcast.

Neil resides near Liverpool in England. He lives with his fiancé and their two daughters, as well as a guinea pig named Piggle.


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