Well, it was a dark day for Fantasy Football fans (and Colts fans). Andrew Luck came out of left field and announced his retirement. Lamar Miller went down with what is likely to be diagnosed a torn ACL. Jacoby Brissett is the tentative starter and Duke Johnson will likely assume the RB1 duties. It’s of course possible for both teams to bring in somebody new. The Colts do seem to like Brissett a lot. The Texans should probably make a trade and get this backfield right. Houston will compete for a Super Bowl this year but they will only make it harder for themselves if Johnson is their RB1.
But let’s take a moment to break down each situation:
ANDREW LUCK RETIRES
It’s a pity that it’s come to this for him and the Colts organization. Luck cited his last four years being in between rehab and recovery, saying it was “unceasing… unrelenting.” He also added, “the only way I see out is to no longer play football. It’s taken my joy of this game away.” Luck paused after saying this, silent in his emotions, and I can appreciate how here he was speaking from the heart and not simply reading a prepared statement. It was tough to watch him during his press conference. I hope he finds peace in his decision.
You have to feel for the guy as he is mentally exhausted and said as much. Who knows, maybe after a year, he comes back? In life and in football, you never know. For now, Luck is retired at the tender age of 29.
Total gut punch is the only way to describe it. Realistically, this takes a good 25% of production out of the offense. Everybody’s production gets hit from the WRs and even the punter, this affects the entire team. Marlon Mack, T.Y. Hilton, Eric Ebron, Devin Funchess, Jack Doyle, the entire offense of course all have to move down everyone’s rankings. The Colts were going to push Houston and maybe compete for a first week bye in the playoffs against the big boys like Kansas City and New England this year. Now, the franchise may need a reset.
I’m really most disappointed on how this affects the Colts team and a franchise as a whole. I’m going to give Luck the benefit of the doubt that he really didn’t want to do this and the timing of it wasn’t lost on him. But these guys work so hard together and to have your best player and team leader bow out just days before the season, wow. Hopefully they play with some urgency and persevere. Hopefully they play with a chip on their shoulder because the critics and cynics will be out in full force saying this team is next-to-nothing without their QB. Luck really pulled the rug out from his teammates; however, we all have to do look out for ourselves in this world and make decisions that are best for us. That’s life and the game must go on.
In terms of salary cap, Indy takes on $18.4M in dead cap from the retirement, plus another $6.4M dead cap hit in 2020. The Colts, without a franchise QB salary on the books in the future, will have a lot of interesting choices in how to approach how they want to move forward and repair their roster.
For Fantasy owners who already drafted and have Luck, keep your head up. The season isn’t over. Hit that waiver wire hard the first few weeks and go after it. Do not quit!
For those who have yet to draft, you have to use your gut and feel out these values for the rest of the offense. Things like ADP go out the window in the short-term. That said, I’d feel most comfortable letting other owners sink draft picks on Colts playmakers rather than try to be the clever guy who feels like he got a great value. It’s personal taste in how much risk you want to take. We saw what this offense did two years ago without Luck and I’m not comfortable buying in on this offense.
Brissett is a low-end QB2 (ranked 24 to 26) and I don’t think there will be enough offense to support many Fantasy options here. Mack is barely a RB2 (outside the Top 25). Hilton certainly isn’t a WR1 and likely falls out of my Top 15 WRs. Eric Ebron falls out of my TE Top 10. Doyle isn’t worth a backup spot. Nyheim Hines probably has about the same value and maybe even a tiny bump with more dump-offs in h is future, but he’s a bench player. Devin Funchess loses what little appeal he had left. Like I said, I’m not feeling the options here.
LAMAR MILLER LIKELY TEARS ACL
It’s not yet official but Miller was carted off the field and the early speculation is a torn ACL. This news for Houston is just awful but I don’t feel it puts their season in any kind of jeopardy. I feel Houston has to bring in a back so I’m not willing to move Johnson (or Buddy Howell or anyone else) too far up or down on this one. Is Melvin Gordon an option? Probably not due to cap considerations, but that’d be exciting! Johnson is a middling RB3 (ranked 30 to 32) with a little more upside depending on who gets brought in. The Texans may really like Howell as I’ve often seen him as the team’s RB3 on depth charts before Miller’s injury. But Howell has no carries, no receptions to his name in his career. He was a special teams guy last year. It’s tough to anoint a mostly unknown player and draft him as anything more than a late-round flier without knowing if the Texans will opt to bring someone in.
Other names to monitor are Jay Ajayi, who is still a free agent. Alex Collins is available. Maybe the Texans go after LeSean McCoy or TJ Yeldon from the Bills since Buffalo has a stockpile of RBs. Or maybe Houston goes after Alfred Blue who spent many years with the team but now is in Jacksonville. Tough to say and it’s all speculation.
For now, we’ve ranked Howell just outside the Top 50 in our rankings. It all depends on what the team decides to do before our RB rankings can be fully fleshed out.