By Chet Gresham - @ChetGresham
Well, this was a pretty quiet weekend in the NFL. Maybe I'll link you to some baby animals
and call it a day. What's that? Who retired? Nah, you must mean Andrew Lloyd Weber; that guy retired at some point probably. Luck? Huh? Whoa, maybe I should check this rumor out.
Welp, that annoying voice in my head was correct. Andrew Luck
did retire! How about that! There's no need to go into the whys and hows of his retirement here, as they don't pertain to fantasy football, but there is, of course, major fallout to his teammates and their fantasy value moving forward.
First off is Luck's replacement, Jacoby Brissett. Brissett is a capable backup who finished as QB20 during Luck's shoulder-injury season of 2017. Last year, Brissett saw some kneel-downs in blowouts, but that was it. A season as the starter and then a season backing up Luck in an offense that is much better than the one Brissett had in '17. Brissett took a league-leading 52 sacks in 2017, and Luck took the fewest last season with 18. A lot of things have changed since Brissett started last, and Frank Reich taking over as head coach is the biggest change. Reich's offense and personnel set up well for Brissett. Of course, Brissett isn't Luck by a big margin, but Reich and Brissett aren't going to let the team go down in a heap. The upgrades in offensive philosophy, offensive line and drop backs will keep some fantasy numbers afloat. Brissett will be hard to rely on for fantasy, but he's firmly in the QB2 discussion, and he shouldn't destroy the Colts' skill players' fantasy value.
T.Y. Hilton does get a fairly steep drop in upside, but he's still a good enough player on an improved offensive scheme to likely put up better numbers than he did in 2017, when he caught 57 passes for 966 yards and four touchdowns, which landed him around WR24 in fantasy. I've moved him from WR9 to WR16.
Running back Marlon Mack likely takes the biggest tumble in fantasy value, as his red-zone touches should take a big hit. Last season, he had 39 red-zone touches over 12 games. That was more per game than Ezekiel Elliott. Those touches will likely take a hit, and if the Colts are behind more often, we could also see more Nyheim Hines on the field over Mack. Again, I don't see this team being as bad as the 2017 team, but I do believe we have to meet somewhere in the middle. I did have Mack at RB19 and moved him to RB28.
Eric Ebron already had fantasy trouble coming his way due to Jack Doyle likely being healthy, and now Ebron takes a hit because his red-zone targets should take a big hit with Luck out of the picture. He'll still be a big target in the end zone, but he was already expected to see a hit in touchdowns. I had Ebron as TE14, and he still can reach that if he can continue to beat expectations for touchdowns, but I'm going to move him down to TE19.
Jack Doyle was one of the few Colts players to have fantasy value in 2017, as he caught 80 passes for 690 yards and four touchdowns. If you could ever call a receiver a security blanket for the quarterback, he was the guy. Things have changed, but Brissett knows how consistent Doyle is and will likely throw to him when the heat is on. I already had Doyle pretty low with Ebron, Devin Funchess and Parris Campbell there to take away shorter looks, but I think Brissett props him back up, which keeps him as my TE19 this season.
Nyheim Hines is my RB55, which is in the realm of flex and bye-week fillers, and I don't see any reason to drop him. If Indianapolis is trailing more, his targets should get a slight boost, and his PPR fringe value should remain intact.
Devin Funchess or Parris Campbell will have a tough time making a fantasy impact now. With Hilton and Doyle likely leading in targets and Ebron seeing a nice chunk of work around the end zone, Funchess and Campbell will need Brissett to be much more efficient this season by taking a big step up. I do believe there is a chance Brissett surprises people, but rushing work is what would likely end up boosting him into a top-12 fantasy finish instead of 30-plus touchdown passes.
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