Today’s NFL’s headlines have seen a couple dramatic changes for teams in the AFC South. However, the spotlight is on Indianapolis. In what is the most ground-breaking news to start the NFL season, Andrew Luck has met with Colts owner Jim Irsay to confirm his retirement from the NFL. As a young quarterback, Andrew Luck was having a promising career aside from his multiple injuries that kept him out of half of the 2015 season and all of 2017. I feel for him and his family, as I could not imagine how hard of a decision that was. I wish him the best going forward.
With that said, this has thrown a curveball to many fantasy owners that have either drafted Andrew Luck or anyone else on the Colts already.
Let’s start with the man who will be replacing Andrew Luck as the starting QB of the Colts, Jacoby Brissett. For now, I do not see Jacoby as a draftable asset in 10 or 12 team leagues unless you are replacing Andrew Luck. If you are in a deeper league I would 100% throw in a waiver claim for him immediately. However, when Andrew Luck missed all the 2017 season, Jacoby, in his first year with the Colts, threw for a 58.8% completion percentage, 16:7 TD to INT ratio, and 16.1 fantasy points per game (31th overall). To put this into perspective, he finished as the 24th best QB which was behind that of Marcus Mariota and DeShone Kizer, who was playing for the Hugh Jackson lead Browns at the time. This is not to say that Brissett is a bad player. He has improved quite a bit since his first year with the Colts. He also has an improved offensive line, more weapons at receiver, and has spent another year learning the Colts system. However, my case for not being high on him is that I believe there are other quarterbacks out there that have higher upside with an equal amount of risk.
With Luck at the helm, there is never any doubt that T.Y Hilton will have a monster fantasy season. However, when Brissett took Luck’s place in 2017, the Colts ranked 30th in both pass attempts for the season and targets to receivers per game. The news of Luck retiring arguably hurts Hilton the most. He is currently the highest taken Colt with an ADP of 29th in PPR formats. When Luck missed half of the 2015 season, Hilton posted 8.9 FPPG which is the second lowest in his career. His worse FPPG of 7.4 came in 2017 when Luck missed the entire season, while Brissett started 15 games. As a fantasy player, I would rank T.Y. Hilton’s value closer to where Tyler Boyd is being taken now, which is an ADP of 54 and would make him my 23rd ranked receiver. Personally, even with Jacoby’s second full year in the Colts system I will not be drafting Hilton unless he is there around 54th overall. If you have already drafted him, do not panic. The best thing you can do is hold on to him and play by match up in the first two or three weeks. By then, we will have a better picture of the Brissett-Hilton connection.
Interestingly enough, in 2017 with Brissett starting, the Colts ranked 8th in rush attempts (full season) vs 17th in 2018 with Luck starting. I believe this bodes well for Marlon Mack considering it looks like when anyone aside from Luck is on the field, the Colts turn into a more run heavy offense. The Colts also have an improved offensive line since 2017 and this would be Marlon’s 3rd full offseason. However, I am not as high on Marlon Mack as many others. There will be all the opportunity in the world for Mack. However, I believe teams will consistently stack the box to contain one of the Colts best weapons. If that is so, I do not see Mack as that game changing back that will be able to handle a greater share of stacked boxes to carry the team. Also, Brissett is a mobile QB and will have his fair share of rushes. In terms of fantasy ADP, it’s hard to shift Marlon Mack’s position considering an increased workload but, be wary as he now presents a higher risk of playing below his ADP.
This is the one position that has stayed relatively consistent with or without Luck on the field. In 2017, the Colts were 6th in the NFL in targets to the tight end position, which improved in 2018 to 3rd. There’s no doubt the Colts love their tight ends and for Brissett’s first year in 2017, it was an easy safety valve for him. In terms of fantasy, Jack Doyle was the starting tight end under Brissett in 2017 and in that year, he was the 9th best fantasy tight end. With that said, Jack Doyle is nursing a hip injury which has kept him out in prior seasons. I am not sold on Jack Doyle, but I am picking up Eric Ebron. Tight end is one of the most volatile position groups in all of fantasy. So much so that when a player seems to have any intrinsic value they are picked up immediately. Although the Colts seem to throw less with Andrew Luck on the field, the stats clearly indicate the tight end position is their bread and butter. I do not expect Ebron to surpass his 2018 season, however with another Colts off-season under his belt, the trust of the higher ups, his connection with Brissett (as Doyle has been out), and his red-zone effectiveness, I would still want Ebron on my team. However, that is with the understanding that he plays a bigger risk now. His ADP is 109, however I believe there will be a slight slide considering his connection with Luck (especially in the red-zone) and if Jack Doyle returns 100% healthy.
As I have said before, no one can doubt the impact Andrew Luck has had on this team. It shows in the season he has been gone. But, with another off-season in the Colts program, it will be interesting to see how Jacoby Brissett and the rest of the Colts team fairs. A crazy start to a crazy game.
Featured Photo: SI.com