Andrew Luck Not Elite Yet, Only in Fantasy Football

There is no question that Andrew Luck is a franchise quarterback, and of course he is elite in Fantasy Football. Has the young quarterback been elite in 2014, in reality for the Indianapolis Colts?

Andrew Luck: The Good

  • 99.2 QB rating
  • Leads the league in passing yards
  • Leads the league in first downs, by a landslide
  • Most plays over 20 yards
  • Tied with predecessor, Peyton Manning, for a league-leading 22 touchdowns

Andrew Luck: The Questionable

  • Tied for third with nine interceptions
  • Completed less than 65% of his passes
  • Leads the league in passing attempts
  • Leads the league in completions

2014 Scoop

Andrew Luck is a gunslinger with the mobility to extend a play, and even run for first downs or touchdowns. The interesting thing to me is, that he only has three scrambles this season in comparison to throwing nine picks. I cannot buy into the passer-friendly league statistics, simply when you use the eye-test to further evaluate the young and promising quarterback. Luck is still growing. His college coach, Pep Hamilton, was brought on board to become the offensive coordinator. One thing is for certain, they are featuring their best player at the helm. This is a smart guy with the responsibility of changing calls at the line. He has strong pocket presence and a rocket arm. He hasn’t been the most accurate, and tries to thread the needle too much. Like any great quarterback, he has to drop back and throw a lot, so he will have some turnovers because they all believe they can make any throw in the slightest opening. I love the way he puts his head down on a sneak, or pulls the ball down and uses his legs to keep drives alive.

Supporting Cast

T.Y. Hilton starting to break out last season, and he has literally used his speed to run with Reggie Wayne’s torch. Hilton is the deep threat and the go-to guy. When healthy, Wayne has been a possession receiver that kicks into the slot in three-wide formations. Great to see him come back from the knee injury, but it is evident that the wear and tear has caught up. Dwayne Allen has returned from a hip injury to continue syncing with Luck. College teammate and blocking tight end, Coby Fleener, is simply that. The dual-threat of Ahmad Bradshaw, has been the x-factor in the passing attack. Often times, Bradshaw is the back they throw to out of the backfield, to beat linebackers to the egde for a first down, or touchdown near the goal line.

Offensive Line

They are a group that has worked in unison quite well, as they have allowed only 13 sacks so far this season. Last year they allowed 32 sacks, and 41 the year before. No, Trent Richardson hasn’t been the first round pick value that the Colts invested in him, but they are focused on making things work. Richardson has been outplayed by Bradshaw. The thing is, Bradshaw’s injury history has them content at keeping the timeshare going forward. I believe Bradshaw should be featured at only 28 years old, with Richardson only coming in to spell.

2014 Schedule & Recap

  • Indy lost by a touchdown to the Broncos on Sunday Night Football’s opening night. The reigning AFC champs took it to the aspiring Colts in the first half with  24-7 start. Luck scrambled for a nine yard score in the first half. Playing from behind, he threw 53 times, finishing with a pair of touchdowns and interceptions. Safety Rahim Moore picked him off twice. He completed 35 passes for 370 yards, rushed five times for 19 yards, and got sacked three times in the loss. They won the second half 17-7, but the comeback fell short. (0-1)
  • They flipped the script against the Eagles the following week on Monday Night Football. This time at home, they went up 17-6 at the half. Luck had tossed a couple short TD passes, with a field goal drive in between. The story at the time, was that Luck was 10-0 after a loss. They didn’t finish in the second half, as they got outscored 24-10, where Bradshaw caught a second touchdown pass. Luck went 20/34, contained to 172 yards, with three scores and a pick to safety Malcolm Jenkins. He was not sacked in this game, yet they lost by a field goal at the end 30-27. (0-2)

The first two games of the season were against playoff teams in 2013. Luck tossed five scores, ran one in, and got picked off by safeties all three times. His QB Rating was under 90 in both games, and he was sacked three times. They were on a two game losing streak.

  • The Colts went to Jacksonville and rolled them in the first half 30-0. Luck started hot with three touchdown passes in the first half, adding another in the third quarter. He torched them, going 31/39 for 370 yards, and connecting with four different receivers for four TDs. He rushed a few times for 15 yards as well. He finished with a rating of 140 in the first win of the season, a 44-17 blowout. (1-2)
  • Indy went up in the first half against the Titans, going up 20-10. Luck threw a touchdown, and actually threw a trio in the second half win. In this one he went 29/41 for 393 yards, with four more passing touchdowns and a pick to linebacker Wesley Woodyard. It was a mere hiccup in another blowout win 41-14.

The next two games came against AFC South rivals. Luck was off the charts with QB Ratings of 123 and 140. He tossed eight scores to one interception, throwing for at least 370 yards in both games. He was sacked twice in this span. The kid was sensational against in these division games, steering both blowout victories where they scored at least 40 points. They were on a two game winning streak.

  • Luck led a gritty effort against the Ravens, holding on for a 20-13 win. After leading two field goal drives in the first half, Luck broke containment to reach the endzone twice. The Colts never trailed. He threw for a score and ran the other one in. He finished 32/49 for 312 yards. His two interceptions went to standout rookie linebacker, C.J. Mosley, and Pro Bowl nose tackle, Haloti Ngata. Luck had six rushes for 22 yards and was only sacked once. (3-2)
  • Then they got enough of a lead again, to hold on in Houston on Thursday Night Football. It was a great cat and mouse game between Luck and J.J. Watt, who single-handedly wrecked havoc and took a fumble to the house. Luck led four scoring drives in the first quarter, two in which he threw for scores. They looked great in prime time, unlike the previous two occasions at the beginning of the season. With a 24-0 lead, things cooled some by halftime 27-14. The roaring Texans comeback fell short despite holding the Colts to 10 points in the final three quarters, including zero in the fourth. Luck completing a mediocre 25/44 for 370 yards. His three touchdowns went to different receivers, while tossing a pick to linebacker Justin Tuggle and getting sacked three times (twice by Watt). He also ran seven times for 18 yards. (4-2)
  • The best win of the season came against the Bengals, when they surprisingly jumped all over them 27-0. In a dominating win, Luck was 27/42 for 344 yards and two touchdowns. The only blip was a lost fumble. He was the field general that put up points in every quarter. (5-2)
  • It’s always tough to swallow a loss after scoring 34 points. A week after shutting out an AFC North opponent, the Steelers strongly bounced back from their struggles to light up the scoreboard for 51 points. The Colts fell behind early on the road 17-3, but as they do, clawed back to trail 35-20 at the half. They scored more touchdowns in the second half than Pittsburgh, but were still edged out 16-14. Luck himself, threw two touchdown passes in the first half, and one more in the third quarter. They were blanked in the fourth quarter. Down eight points, pinned near their own goal line, Luck was under pressure when he threw the ball away. Luck was flagged for intentional grounding from the endzone, resulting in a safety.He completed just over half his passes, going 26/45 for 400 yards. He threw three scores and two picks to cornerbacks, one was a pick-six to William Gay. He rushed thrice for 26 yards, was sacked twice, and his fumble was recovered by Bradshaw. (5-3)

The last four games were against AFC opponents. He fumbled four times in these games, fortunate to only lose two of them. Twice, he completed under 60%. He was sacked eight times with six turnovers. Consequently, his scrambling doubled in comparison to the first four games. The only hope they had to stay in the game in Pittsburgh, was by passing the ball and scoring as quick as possible. That resulted in a season-high, 400 yard game on 45 attempts, in which he turned it over twice. He did find moving the chains challenging, completing only 58% of his passes. The Colts were hot with a streaking five-game winning streak, before getting outscored by the Steelers in a shootout.

Going Forward

Luck drops back to throw a lot, more than anyone this season. I think the play-calling is somewhat forced to accelerate the maturation process, another reason they reunited him with his college coach. You cannot doubt the results of a 5-3 start, after all, they are leading the AFC South. The down side, after an 11-5 season with a playoff appearance, they only lead the Texans by one game and are currently the fourth seed at the midway point. Granted, only two games behind the six-win Broncos and Patriots, and someone has to lose in that week nine showdown. The Colts meet the Giants before their week 10 bye, a game they will be favored to win, then get a crack at the Patriots in week 11.

The rest of their opponents: Jaguars, Redskins, Browns, Texans, Cowboys, and Titans. This is a very favorable schedule, one that Luck should continue to rack up the yardage against for the pass-happy Colts. I like Luck a lot, he is inching closer to elite status and breaking out statistically.

He still has some Matthew Stafford in him, with those questionable interceptions and inability to muster things up from time to time. Not like the Drew Brees type of struggles, where every defense gameplans for his passing attack, because the Colts do keep the offense balanced in first halves. Like the Cowboys of the past that used to drift away from the run, that is what Indy does and Luck is coming through for fantasy football owners. Kudos to him for taking care of business and going 3-0 against the division so far, especially since two of those wins were lob-sided. As for the MVP talk, from my perspective, he is not currently on the same level as Peyton Manning and DeMarco Murray. The franchise quarterback has to cut down on the mistakes and improve his accuracy to be an elite quarterback, and he needs a lot of attempts post Manning-esque numbers. Luck is definitely an upper echelon player on the rise and hovering the realm of greatness.