Andrew Luck's 2016 Fantasy Football Outlook
A Disappointing 2015
Luck deserves a mulligan for a 2015 season in which hardly anything went right.
The trouble started prior to Week 4, when Luck popped up on the injury report with a shoulder. He ended up missing the next 2 games with what was reported as a partially separated throwing shoulder.
Luck made it through the next 3 games, but we learned prior to Week 8 that he’d been playing with fractured ribs. We never found out exactly when the rib or shoulder injuries occurred.
Then in Week 9, Luck went down with a kidney laceration and a partial tear of an abdominal muscle. Those injuries ended his 2015 campaign.
So Luck played just 7 games in his 4th NFL season. And his numbers were way down from the first 3. His 55.3% completion rate was his worst mark since his rookie year and over 3 percentage points below his average from 2012 to 2014. Luck’s 6.4 yards per attempt was a career low and more than .7 short of his tally coming into the season. And he tossed an INT on 4.1% of his attempts after being under 3% in each of his first 3 years.
Fantasy wise, Luck posted the 2nd best per-game average of his career and finished 7th among QBs. That was largely due to a career high 41.9 attempts per game and partly due to a solid 2.1 TDs per game — his 2nd best mark. Luck tossed multiple TDs in 6 of 7 outings.
The fact that he still put up solid fantasy numbers in an injury-riddled season is promising for his outlook going forward. But that doesn’t mean we can completely write off what happened in 2015.
Durability stands as the biggest concern for Luck. He played all 48 games across his first 3 seasons but took a beating. The 100 sacks Luck took from 2012 to 2014 were the 11th most league-wide. And he absorbed plenty more hits on his 189 carries during that stretch. This past season, Luck was sacked 15 times in his 7 outings — a 16-game pace of 34 that would have been 12th most. He also scrambled another 33 times.
The Colts want Luck to do a better job protecting himself outside of the pocket going forward.
“He plays the position like a linebacker, with a linebacker’s mentality,” HC Chuck Pagano said in April. “He can’t do that all the time. We love how he can extend plays, but he’s got to be smart and know it’s OK to slide. You don’t have to take some of those hits.”
That’s a start, but Luck also needs better protection inside the pocket. The Colts ranked a mediocre 17th in sacks allowed and 16th in adjusted sack rate last year. They didn’t make any upgrades in free agency. But they spent their 1st-round pick on C Ryan Kelly, who should be a Week 1 starter, and also added OT Le’Raven Clark in the 3rd, who will compete at RT.
Another, more minor concern for Luck is the loss of TE Coby Fleener. He offered next to nothing as a blocker. But he was Luck’s college teammate and racked up 183 catches, 2,154 yards and 17 TDs over the last 4 years in Indianapolis. Those marks rank 3rd, 3rd and 2nd, respectively, among Colts during that span.
Luck still has plenty of weapons at his disposal, though. Fleener’s departure will mean a bigger pass-catching role for Dwayne Allen. He was actually more efficient than Fleener over the past 4 seasons, posting a higher catch rate and more yards per target. Allen is also an excellent red-zone threat, with a 14.3% TD rate that ranks 5th among 55 TEs with 50+ grabs over the last 4 years.
It’s addition by subtraction at WR with the release of Andre Johnson. The 34-year-old caught just 53.9% of his targets and averaged 12.3 yards per catch last season. His departure will open up more playing time for 2nd-year WR Phillip Dorsett. He tallied just 18 catches for 225 yards and 1 score in limited action as a rookie. But his 4.3 speed should provide big-play pop to this passing game in 2016.
T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief return as Indy’s top 2 WRs. The former has posted 3 straight 1,000-yard seasons while averaging 15.2 yards per catch. The latter boasts an elite size/athleticism combination and has 3rd-year breakout potential.
Draft Sharks Bottom Line:
Luck was a massive fantasy disappointment last year, especially considering he was often selected in the 2nd or 3rd round of drafts. That presents a potential buying opportunity in 2016 if we can get Luck several rounds later.
He remains a top-notch talent smack dab in his prime. Even with the loss of TE Coby Fleener, Luck has plenty to work with in T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, Phillip Dorsett and Dwayne Allen. With an aging RB in Frank Gore and a questionable defense, Luck should continue to have volume on his side. And he provides added value with his legs.
A healthy Luck is a strong bet for top 5 QB production with the upside to finish #1.