Fantasy Football: Don’t be scared to play Andrew Luck vs. Denver

(Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire)

Andrew Luck’s fantasy football owners were undoubtedly pleased with what they got from their quarterback in Week 1. Luck threw for 385 yards and four scores in his return to play, good enough for 35 points in ESPN standard scoring formats.

In the process, Luck put to bed any notion that he’d struggle coming off a disappointing, injury-shortened 2015. Luck’s big day may not have been enough for the Colts to win, but it surely led many of his fantasy owners to victory.

After such a monstrous outing, those who invested in Luck are probably feeling pretty good about their fantasy prowess. And well they should, Luck appears poised to be a top-five signal-caller this year.

If there were ever a week that he wouldn’t finish in the top 10, though, it’s this one.

Awaiting Luck is a matchup with the Denver Broncos. Denver, of course, returns the majority of a ferocious, championship-winning defense. Denver’s stop unit was absolutely smothering en route to a Super Bowl victory and, based off its opener, that doesn’t appear to have changed.

The Broncos punished Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers all game long in Week 1, sacking the reigning MVP three times and limiting him to 194 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception. Denver held a Carolina offense that led the league in 2015 with 31.2 points per game to 20 and all of three in the second half.

Now, Newton was able to salvage his fantasy day with a rushing score, and that’s part of his appeal, but those passing totals are unquestionably on the low side for fantasy’s consensus top quarterback. And, while Luck can pick up yardage on the run, he’s no Newton. How many fantasy points he scores against Denver will depend almost exclusively on his right arm.

Hesitation to start Luck, if you’ve got a solid alternative at least, is understandable and perhaps even warranted. However, there are several reasons to start him with confidence in what may well be the toughest matchup he sees all season.

For one, Luck has a history of success against this Denver defense. In four career meetings with the Broncos (playoffs included), he’s completed 61 percent of his passes for 1,115 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions.

Granted, Denver’s defense wasn’t a strength in 2013, but it’s been a top-10 unit for three of Luck’s four encounters with it. And it was at its strongest last season when the Stanford product, in what would wind up being his final game of the year, went for an efficient 252 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers.

Luck has been somewhat mistake-prone throughout his career and, given the attacking nature of the Denver defense, may not play a turnover-free game this time around. That said, the expected nature of this game means he’s very likely to be throwing a ton and, in the process, racking up fantasy points.

The Colts couldn’t muster much of a run game against Detroit, so their odds at doing so against the Broncos are virtually nonexistent. On the other side, their defense got gashed both on the ground and through the air.

Trevor Siemian certainly isn’t the reincarnation of John Elway, but he was respectable in his pro debut. Against a miserable defense, and with a rejuvenated C.J. Anderson, Siemian should be able to put some points on the board. And, much like against, Detroit, Luck will be Indianapolis’ only hope to keep pace.

August 20, 2016: Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) during the NFL preseason week 2 game between the Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN.  (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire)

(Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire)

The Colts don’t figure to be contenders for anything more than the AFC South this season. And even that will depend almost entirely on Luck. Indianapolis has some talented receivers, but, outside of that, this is one of the league’s weaker overall rosters.

The only thing keeping the Colts afloat this year is Luck and, in this league, that isn’t enough to get them where they want to go.

It does, however, come with the promise of plenty of volume and plenty of offensive fireworks for Luck and co. That makes him a viable fantasy starter each and every week.

Yes, even against Denver.

Fantasy Football: Don’t be scared to play Andrew Luck vs. Denver

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