Fantasy Football Injury Reaction: Has Andrew Luck become a Draft Day bargain?

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On the night of August 1, 2017, I drafted Andrew Luck 97th overall in a 12-team PPR draft. 

I am not joking.

I did not draft with a bunch of grandmas. I did not draft with 11 really, really angry football fans from Houston. In fact, I drafted with fellow Fantasy Football analysts. Really smart people! Even Jamey Eisenberg was in it!

Andrew Luck QB / Indianapolis (2016 stats)
CMP%: 63.5 YDS: 4,240 TOTAL TD: 33 INT: 13

So am I the smartest of them all? The gutsiest of them all? Or ... the stupidest of them all?

Luck had shoulder surgery in January. About six months later, Colts owner Jim Irsay called it a "simple labrum repair" and claimed the team would not rush the quarterback in his rehab. He wasn't kidding -- Luck missed the Colts' entire offseason program and began training camp on the team's Physically Unable to Perform list. As of this writing he has yet to practice.

But people really started to freak out when CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported from Indianapolis that he had "heard plenty of rumblings about (Luck) starting the year on the physically unable to perform list" and added he "wouldn't bet against him missing time into September."

Yup. Scary.

Soon after La Canfora's report, however, the Indianapolis Star re-affirmed general manager Chris Ballard's belief that Luck would be ready for the start of the season. This Indianapolis Star reporter noted Luck had begun the throwing part of his rehab and still has six weeks until the Colts kick off the regular season at the L.A. Rams. And I noticed that the Colts had yet to sign another quarterback at any point this offseason, which is usually the tell-tale sign of trouble with an injured player.

So either the Colts truly believe Luck will be ready to go, or they're really bad at preparing for the football season. And bad at lying, too.

What this means is that until Luck returns to practice, he's going to slip in Fantasy drafts. People will be scared to draft him.

But you shouldn't be.

Luck's ability is unreal -- no one can say he doesn't have top-five potential. He's the star player in an aggressive downfield offense that should be in a bunch of high-scoring games this year. Getting a player like that at a discount in your Fantasy draft is the kind of stuff that will help you win your league.

He also happens to play a position rich with talent. Nothing's easier to do on Draft Day than get a backup option for Luck in case of emergency. Pick one from Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Carson Palmer, Dak Prescott, Andy Dalton, Matthew Stafford, Tyrod Taylor with a late pick and you're covered.

A healthy, incident-free Luck would get snagged before the end of Round 4 in every league. Assume that finding him at least one round later in non-PPR and two rounds later in PPR constitutes a bargain. Three-plus rounds later is grand larceny. Draft him, draft a second quarterback and draft yourself a diploma because you, my friend, will have just graduated with honors from Fantasy Dominator University.

This isn't a risky strategy. Drafting Luck in Round 4 (or earlier!) without a backup is a risky strategy. The later you get him, the less of a risk he is and the higher of a reward he'll offer. And if things go bad, at least you have a very serviceable quarterback ready to go.

Only time can ruin such a perfect plan. Forget about preseason games -- it's practice that matters. If Luck's still not practicing by Aug. 20 -- three weeks before the Colts' Week 1 game at the Rams -- then there's reason to believe he won't have enough time to get his arm into game shape and be on the same page with his teammates. And obviously if the Colts keep him on the PUP list by the Sept. 2 deadline, you can wave bye-bye to using him until at least Week 7 versus Jacksonville. That would hurt.

Short of that, Luck gives Fantasy owners a legitimate opportunity at an amazing bargain. It's not stupid, and it really doesn't take a lot of guts. It's just a smart way of taking advantage of a situation to turn your Fantasy team from competitive to dominant.

Senior Fantasy Writer

Dave Richard has spent nearly his entire career covering the National Football League. Beginning with NFL.com at the boom of the Internet, Richard was that site's first Fantasy Football writer before transitioning... Full Bio

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