Why Luck Should be on Your Side in 2017

 

In just five seasons, Andrew Luck’s career has been a rollercoaster of emotion. Mr. Luck’s Wild Ride left the station at the 2012 NFL Draft. Coming out of college (click, click, click), the consensus was clear — Luck would be a star. In his first three seasons (click, click, click), he managed three straight 11–5 campaigns. Luck’s ride peaked in 2014 (click, click, pause) when he dragged a fairly talentless roster through the playoffs a la LeBron in ’07. That year, Luck finished as the #2 Fantasy QB averaging 21.9 PPG — less than 2/10s a point behind #1, the well-established Aaron Rodgers. Colt’s fans and fantasy owners alike were holding onto their seats, staring down the tracks at what they all knew was coming. As the 2015 Fantasy Draft approached, many fantasy owners contemplated drafting Luck in the 1st round.. and many of them did.

Incase you forgot how 2015 went for Andrew Luck’s owners, here’s a recap:

Luck suffered an injured throwing shoulder and torn cartilage in two ribs early in the season, only to bounce back from those injuries and lacerate his fucking kidney in a game against the eventual SB Champion Broncos. Oh, and by the way, he managed to finish that game, leading the Colts to a W going 5/7 for 64 Yards and a TD post-laceration. Luck’s injuries were severe enough to shut him down for the remainder of the season, but the Colts Front Office made sure to string his fantasy owners along for a few more weeks before making it official.

  Photo: Matt Kryger/The Star

Photo: Matt Kryger/The Star

Well, 2015 is a full season behind us now, and although Luck had a great bounce-back year in 2016, many are still weary — rightfully so. I, as one who was burned by the Beard, once again find myself intrigued.

I am a big believer in value driven by opportunity. Luck will not be the first QB drafted in 2017, or the 2nd, or the 3rd. That begs the question: could he end the season there? Basically, where does his actual value exceed his perceived risk. Welp, I’ll try to figure that out..


First, let’s take a look at his fantasy points and stats over the last 3 years:

  • The first thing that jumps out to me is 2015 was not as bad as memory serves, average-score-wise. What really killed Luck’s owners that year was not when he was in their starting lineups, it was when he was on their bench. There, he hogged an all important roster spot and hindered his owners’ ability to (1) trade for a better option at QB, or (2) manage their roster through other injuries and bye weeks. If the Colts had made the announcement that Luck would be shut down immediately following the Broncos game instead of dragging the news out for weeks, we could have cut bait and perhaps saved our seasons. Chalk that one up in “lessons learned” and move on.
  • Next up, Luck’s completion % was better last year than during his magical ride in 2014. Lower interceptions in 2016 than in 2014 is also a noticeable improvement. The combination of these two tidbits really shows Luck did improve his accuracy and decision making.
  • Not shown above, but it’s no secret the Colts offensive line is piss-poor. Last year they ranked 28th in Pass Protection and allowed 44 sacks. This was partly due to poor line play and also partly due to Luck’s tendency to drop back like he’s playing Madden 96. The good news for the Colts, when their starting 5 linemen were on the field, they were actually pretty good. If they can stay healthy, I expect a nice uptick for Mr. Luck.
  • Prior to the 8 games he missed in 2014, Luck was Cal Ripken Jr. Jr. (aka the Iron Man Jr., kids). He did not miss a start his first 3 years. While he did miss a game in 2016, I think recency bias is playing a role in his perceived injury concerns. Is Luck truly any more injury prone than another QB or were the freak injuries in 2015 just an aberration?

What it boils down to for me is simply this — Luck was living up to the hype until his disastrous 2015 season. If we can ignore 2015 — hard to do, I know — and view his career as if he followed up 2014 with his 2016 performance, what would we think then? Not terrible. We may have been disappointed, but Luck would not have cost anyone their season. His stock would have dropped a bit heading into this year, but I think it would be fair to consider him a top 3 QB. If he continues to improve as a passer, gets help from his o-line, and we factor in the addition of Aiken and a full season of Moncreif, I believe we will see what was expected in 2015 for a fraction of the price in 2017.

Join the conversation for this post at r/FantasyFootball on Reddit.

 

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