The hopefully, but not likely temporary retirement of Andrew Luck has hit me pretty hard in the dynasty compartment of my fantasy brain. While luckily, I am not a Colts fan, I drafted Luck in his rookie year in my first ever dynasty startup draft. I have moved on from every single original player left from that team except for the one constant through all the years; Andrew Luck.
As many dynasty owners understand, there is something special about drafting a transcendent player as a rookie. There is an attachment, even a bond. Other Luck owners must feel this pain. We have watched this happy-go-lucky guy congratulate angry behemoth’s for tossing him around like a rag doll. We’ve seen year after year this player lead his team to second half victories while filling the stat sheet in games they should have had no chance of coming back in.
As Luck owners, we always knew there would be a day when all the pieces would fall into place. Finally, the team brought in a new general manager and a good head coach in Frank Reich. They were putting together an offensive line, a defense, and some good skill position players. The injuries were okay because we were so close. He was going to mend at the perfect moment when everything would come together and Andrew Luck was going to lead our dynasty teams to years of consistent glory.
Nevertheless, all that has changed now. Our luck has run out. While we putter around, thinking about what could’ve been, we have to remember that this early retirement did not only affect us. Andrew Luck, like many great players made other players better around him. The aftermath of this event will have a ripple effect through the fantasy football landscape affecting many other dynasty owners throughout.
LUCK OWNERS FIRST
What to do now? Do you drop him, do you keep him? Personally, the news is so sudden, I would not drop him unless you absolutely have to. This is a terrible situation to be in, because what if he takes a year off and realizes that he made a huge mistake. Most likely, someone else will draft him next year or you lose out on a draft pick to get him back. My advice is to hold onto him as long as you can. He will get picked up if you drop him now. Wait until the smoke has cleared and you either know for sure that he is done, or until you just can’t use up that roster spot anymore.
Brissett was a surprise third round pick of the New England Patriots in 2016. Bill Parcells mentored Brissett in high school, while former Patriot’s offensive coordinator Charlie Weiss coached him for one year in Florida before Brissett transferred to NC State. Their high praise is probably what led Belichick to draft him so early with Jimmy Garoppolo already entrenched as the backup in New England.
Brissett started two games going 1-1, throwing for 400 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions. After injuring his thumb and being placed on IR, he was traded to the Colts for wide receiver Phillip Dorsett the following year. When Luck did not return for the 2017 season, Brissett worked his way up to become the starter and the Colts finished with a 4-12 record.
Jacoby returned as the backup last year under new coach, Frank Reich. He was set to be the same this year, but now he will be the full-time starter with Andrew Luck’s abrupt retirement. Jacoby Brissett is pretty much the only player in fantasy leagues or in the real NFL that has not taken a significant blow from the historic decision. While we all know that Brissett will not produce the statistics put up by Luck, there are a few things in his favor. For one, he is working under the same coaching staff as last year, so he does not need to learn a whole new system. And while Brissett is more of a game manager, the Colts have put together some nice pieces around him. He also has little competition on the roster, even if they add another quarterback. The upside for Jacoby Brissett is not great, but nevertheless, he is a starter in the NFL now. My guess is that he is around the top 15-18 range in quarterback scoring this year.
If Jacoby Brissett has any competition at the quarterback position, it would be from hall of famer Jim Kelly’s nephew, Chad Kelly. Kelly was Mr. Irrelevant in the 2017 draft, picked in the seventh round by the Denver Broncos. While seemingly fearless with his play, he also has a history of being reckless off the field. First, he was dismissed by Clemson for conduct detrimental to the team, and then last year, even after looking good in the preseason, was released by the Broncos due to more conduct off the field.
In college, Kelly resurfaced with Ole Miss. He had some really big performances against top collegiate competition. He finished his junior season with a 10-3 record, 31 passing touchdowns, 10 rushing touchdowns, and 13 interceptions in thirteen games. He became the first Ole Miss quarterback to beat Alabama, Auburn, and LSU in the same season. If Kelly can get himself right, he may have a chance in the NFL. He is an exciting player to watch, but he may only have one strike left before he is out. He will start the season serving a two-game suspension stemming from the incident that got him cut from the Broncos.
Mack is a decent running back that still has value in the absence of Andrew Luck. The fact that the Colts did not address the running back position in the offseason is actually what helps Mack more so than the Luck factor hurts him. While some people may think that Mack’s value could be immune or even better since the Colts may have to rely more on the run game, I disagree. Like almost every skill position on the Colts, Mack’s production was better because of Luck. Teams are going to key in on the running game much more now than before. Also, Luck was naturally good at everything at the quarterback position. For example, check downs, short pass accuracy, and eye placement, all things that help out in the screen game and when plays break down. Mack should still be a productive running back in 2019, but don’t look for him to have a better season than last year. He’s probably more likely to match that production, or fall a little bit short.
Hynes was the Colts fourth round pick last year. He is a third down running back with tremendous speed and good pass catching ability. He started slow last year, but down the stretch, he carved himself out a larger role in the offense. I did like him as a deep sleeper, but now without Luck, his value is only really suited to deeper PPR leagues.
Hilton’s value may have taken the biggest hit of all the Colts players. He will turn 30 this season and now will be catching passes from Jacoby Brissett instead of Andrew Luck. He was looking good this offseason, as usual, and quite possibly was in line for another strong season. It is still possible that he has a big year, but his trade value is shot. Before Luck’s retirement, dynasty team owner’s may have been able to get some nice assets for Hilton, but now it looks like they will have to wait until mid-season, or the trade deadline to get something of value in return. There is a glimmer of hope though. I could see the Colts, a trade happy team, reassessing the 2019 season and trading Hilton to another team. So, he could be a savvy buy now while his value is low.
Oh no, my guy Parris. This to me was the biggest hit of all. I had Campbell ranked as the number two rookie wide receiver from this year’s draft. I love the talent, but the landing spot for me was the kicker. I thought Parris was a steal for the Colts and also dynasty owners in rookie drafts getting him after Metcalf, Hardman, and A.J. Brown. I was looking forward to him eventually taking over for T.Y. Hilton as Andrew Luck’s number one receiver to own for years to come. Only time will tell what happens to Parris Campbell in the NFL, but owners don’t panic yet. Watch him play first before sending him away to the that guy in your league who plays the game like a stock broker. You know, someone like me.
Funchess was a second round pick by the Panthers in 2015. He had a good season in 2017 recording 63 receptions for 840 yards and 8 touchdowns, but disappointed last year. The Panthers struggled last season as a unit and decided not to resign Funchess. The Colts signed him to a one year, prove yourself contract, and a lot of rankers dubbed him as the next player to get the Andrew Luck production bump, especially in the redzone. Personally, Funchess and tight end Eric Ebron were already players I was not too interested in because in many ways I felt they would hurt each other’s production. Now, I’m definitely all set with any shares of Devin Funchess except for deep formats as a fourth or fifth wide receiver.
Deon Cain to me, was your prototypical diamond in the rough. For the few of you out there who don’t know, Cain was a sixth round pick last year out of Clemson. He was the talk out of Colts camp, suffered a torn ACL, and boom, just like that out for the year. Naturally, people who do well in dynasty were interested in what would come of Deon Cain in 2019. Well, he didn’t disappoint. Cain was one of the most productive and flashiest wide receivers in the preseason. It looked like the injury issues from last year were a thing of the past.
What to do now? He already had T.Y., Campbell, and Funchess in front of him. My opinion is to hold onto him or scoop him up. His value is down because of Luck, but he is still an unknown commodity that has a chance to be a really good player. Look, before Luck retired, there were thirty one teams that didn’t have Andrew Luck as a quarterback. This guy has potential and if you liked him before then you should still like him now.
The NFL story of Ebron goes like this. He was drafted tenth overall out of North Carolina by the Detroit Lions in 2014 to be the star tight end for young quarterback Matthew Stafford. Well, that didn’t happen. The Lions struggled to get him the ball for four long years and he became an afterthought in the fantasy community. After Ebron’s release last year, he signed with the Colts. With Andrew Luck behind center, Ebron finished as a top tight end amassing 66 receptions for 750 yards and 13 touchdowns. His statistics last year were very touchdown dependent and a lot of experts had him taking a step back in production this year. Now with Luck out and Jack Doyle healthy, I would be hesitant to go after Ebron in a trade, or in a redraft draft. He could still potentially put up decent numbers, but already with an expected decline, Ebron’s value has taken a big hit for 2019 and beyond.
Doyle is an average tight end that like many receivers, benefitted from playing with Andrew Luck. With Ebron sharing the load at the tight end position, Doyle is most likely now an irrelevant fantasy player except for in the deepest of dynasty formats. The retirement of Andrew Luck has made Jack Doyle go from backup spot start to free agent spot start in the blink of an eye.
Mo Alie-Cox is not very well known, but this was supposed to be the year for him to become at least on the radar for more mainstream fantasy football players. Alie-Cox was a college basketball player that hadn’t played football since his freshman year in high school. He signed as a free agent in 2017 and has shown progress each year at the position. His chances at becoming a breakout candidate this year have probably gone out the window, but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t keep an eye on him as a developmental player with upside.
MY FINAL GOODBYE
Dear Andrew Luck,
The news of your surprise retirement is disappointing to the fantasy team owners who had you as their starting quarterback, to the owners that rostered many of the Colt’s players, and of course to the fans of the Indianapolis Colts. The real loss though, is for all of the people that love the game of football. Your career was great for the NFL and for the NFL fans. You had a tough road with your injuries suffered and the predicament you were drafted into. With that being said, you never complained and your love for the game was obvious. This is a depressing moment for us as fans because the idea of never watching you, Andrew Luck, play in an NFL game again is almost unfathomable. I know that this is not something that you will ever read for many obvious reasons, but as a football fan (even as a Patriots fan), I would like to thank you for playing and loving the game of football the way it is supposed to played and loved. I appreciate the man and the player you seem to be and I respect the decision you have made for your life.
Thank you Andrew Luck!