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Fantasy Players - Rookie Watch
By Mike Beacom

Rookie Watch – Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts

By Mike Beacom

It takes a big man to fill Peyton Manning’s shoes in Indianapolis. Fortunately, Luck stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 235 pounds.

Owner Jim Irsay’s decision to ditch Manning in favor of Luck was the biggest story of the offseason, but in many ways it was predictable. No one knows how long Manning will play, whereas Luck has been compared to his predecessor for the past two seasons. The former Stanford signal caller is the most pro ready quarterback of the past 15 years (since Manning) and showed rare poise and precision in his final two collegiate seasons.

The downside to this story is that Manning joined a team on the rise. It already possessed Marvin Harrison and Marshall Faulk, and within a few years was regularly winning 10 games a year. This Colts team could still be on the decline, and a 10-win season is nowhere in sight.

Dissecting the depth chart: Luck is the only name you need to remember. Last year the team got just 14 touchdown passes combined from Curtis Painter, Dan Orlovsky and Kerry Collins. None of the three are returning in 2012. That means Luck will see little competition for practice reps. Drew Stanton has seen action in 12 games in four years. Last year he didn’t attempt a single pass. His five career touchdowns and nine interceptions pretty well tells fantasy owners all they need to know about his future.

Just the stats: After a successful 2009 campaign (13 touchdowns, four interceptions) Luck’s stock took off the following year when he completed 70.7 percent of his passes for 3,338 yards. His touchdown-to-interception ratio was 4:1, and he led Stanford to a 12-1 mark under coach Jim Harbaugh. But where Luck cemented his status as the best player on the board came in 2011. He decided to stay in school, despite Harbaugh’s departure, and actually had better numbers (37 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 71.3 completion percentage). Stanford won 11 games, and even though they lost in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Luck was magnificent, completing 27 of 31 passes for 347 yards and a 196.0 QB Rating.

2012 Projection: 425 attempts, 2,750 passing yards, 17 TDs, 16 INTs.

2011 rookie comparison: Blaine Gabbert
Gabbert may not seem like a sexy comparison, but there are similarities. Like Luck, he was drafted by a team that had few weapons at the receiver position. And too much was placed on his shoulders. Gabbert saw action in 15 games, yet passed for more than 200 yards just three times and completed better than 60 percent of his passes in just two contests. Years from now, Luck may be miles ahead of his AFC South rival; for now, they’re in the same category of quarterback.

Interesting fact that won’t help you: His father, Oliver Luck, was the 44th pick in the 1982 NFL Draft. In four seasons with the Oilers he posted a 3-6 record with 13 touchdown passes and 21 interceptions.

What he’s worth: Don’t get caught up in the Manning talk. Few rookie quarterbacks perform, and Luck has less to work with than most. He’s a fringe No. 2 fantasy quarterback in traditional leagues, although chances are someone in your league will reach for him just for the pure thrill of owning the draft’s top prospect.

Mike Beacom is a contributing writer for
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