Andrew Luck’s abrupt retirement sends ripple effects through fantasy football

Shades of Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson before him, Andrew Luck, one of the most recognizable figures and beloved beards in the NFL, has abruptly decided to retire according to an Adam Schefter report, citing mental exhaustion.

In terms of insanity, the jarring development is almost incomprehensible. Luck hasn’t turned 30 and would’ve been at the controls of a team many sportsbooks in New Jersey and Nevada pegged 10/1 to win the Super Bowl. He was blessed with a top-five offensive line, upgraded supporting cast and above average defense. The Colts were set up beautifully to push New England and Kansas City for superiority in the AFC. And now, in what will surely go down in league history as one of the most shocking developments ever, Jacoby Brissett ascends into the QB job.

For fantasy purposes, the tentacles of Luck’s sudden departure extend far. T.Y. Hilton (WR11 to WR15 in my ranks), Eric Ebron (TE8 to TE11), Jack Doyle, Devin Funchess and Parris Campbell all receive significant value hits. A full-round market correction for each should be anticipated. Brissett isn’t Nate Peterman inept, but he’s a measurable downgrade from Luck. The last time the backup commanded the Colts offense, in 2017, he averaged a meager 193.6 passing yards per game over 16 starts. His 58.8 completion percentage, 1.8 TD:INT ratio and 6.6 yards per attempt all ranked No. 19 or lower at the position. To be fair, circumstances two seasons ago were different. Brissett, placed under duress on 40.1 percent of his drop backs that fall, was a victim of his surroundings. In a much healthier environment and given the genius of scoring architect Frank Reich, he should prove more serviceable.

If there is a silver lining in this entire situation, it’s the likely increased reliance on Marlon Mack. A popular Round 3 selection in 12-team leagues, he’s sure to be the straw who stirs the drink. He’s a bullish downhill runner who should build off last year’s breakthrough season. Weekly 20-plus touch workloads could become routine. Stacked boxes will be more common, but it’s hard denying Mack’s volume potential. Through that alone his odds of cracking the position’s top-10 is attainable.

The suddenness of Saturday’s news will have the fantasy community shaking their heads for some time, but with the peak draft season here, we have to accept reality and adjust.

O Captain! My Captain! How the virtual game will miss you.

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