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Explaining my Andrew Luck love

By Cory J. Bonini

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is my No. 2-ranked fantasy passer entering the heart of draft season, leading many viewers to question why I am so high on him.

QB Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Ready to ascend

I will begin by saying my ranking of Luck is aggressive, and perhaps overly optimistic, stemming from a massive jump in forecasted completion percentage (64.5 percent), yards per attempt (7.7) and touchdowns thrown (36). All of these figures are reasonable improvements for a player who is poised to take a monumental step forward.

Too many fantasy owners are stuck in the rut of what has happened and not open to what could occur. Statistics are fun, and you want to base your projections in reality. However, stats can be twisted and turned in any fashion to make just about every point one is looking to convey.

Sometimes, it is just much more simplistic than that.

  • This will be Luck's third year, meaning the game is slowing down, and second in Pep Hamilton's system.
  • As a first-year offensive coordinator in 2013, Hamilton himself was still learning last year. You can be sure the detail-oriented Stanford man has finely tuned his play-calling process.
  • Luck regains safety blanket Reggie Wayne (knee) and tight end Dwayne Allen (hip).
  • The Colts welcome home run-hitting wideouts in Hakeem Nicks and rookie Donte Moncrief to receiving corps.
  • Luck has a very favorable schedule, with several pass-happy matchups on the docket.
  • Luck rushed four balls into the end zone last year, surpassed by only New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith and the San Francisco 49ers' Colin Kaepernick. The Stanford product scored five times on the ground as a rookie. Big bonus.
  • Luck threw only nine interceptions last year, which came at a clip of one per 63 attempts. He tossed a pick once every 34 throws as a rookie. Comparison: Peyton Manning threw a pick every 65 throws, and Drew Brees tossed one every 54 passes last year.
  • Indy's defense could be worse, particularly without pass-rushing extraordinaire Robert Mathis (suspension) for the first four weeks, which would put Luck into more passing situations.

My No. 1 reason for expecting a huge jump from Luck is based on an intangible: Destiny. It is his time to rise.

The Colts' offense runs through Luck's right arm. He has been billed as the next elite quarterback, and we have seen flashes of brilliance from him in his first two years. Great quarterbacks rise to the occasion, and Luck is aware that all eyes are on him.

We also have seen him look human, however. I don't overlook that. A certain No. 18 looked awfully average in a certain big game last year. You have to take the bad -- which may be inconsistency, in Luck's case -- with the good, but he did a great job of cutting out a lot of the bad in 2013. While his numbers understandably fell or were flat across the board, the potential for a major improvement is far greater than regression or even remaining level.

Fantasy takeaway

In an era in which we have been spoiled by such fantastic quarterback play and statistical explosions, it is easy to overlook at what Luck has done through two years. That would be a mistake. Historically speaking, his production through two years has been special.

Persuading people to draft Luck second among his passing peers isn't my intention. Draft the quarterback that you are most comfortable with. Do not write off a potential leap into the elite category on Luck's part, though. For fantasy purposes, said rarefied air includes Peyton, Aaron Rodgers and Brees. I don't think Luck can topple Manning as the fantasy QB1 to own, but battling Rodgers and Brees to be next in line is easily within reach.

I routinely preach relative value, and this case is no different. Don't draft him before the big three. You can, if you are concerned about regression from the others or just want to secure Luck, but that is not necessarily what I am recommending.

When others spend a pick in the first three rounds on Brees, Rodgers and Manning, you can have some Luck on your side in the fourth or fifth round of most drafts.



 


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