Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Now that the Indianapolis Colts have made it clear that Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck and not Baylor's Robert Griffin III will be their quarterback of the present and the future, we can begin to evaluate his fantasy value for 2012 and beyond.
Since the majority of the leagues are single season in nature, we will concentrate on Luck's September-January 2012 value.
Lets begin by looking at Luck's college career. He started 38 games at Stanford over three seasons and threw for 9,430 yards and 82 touchdowns against 22 interceptions. That translates to 248 yards passing, 2.2 TDs and .58 INTs per game. Very nice work from the 6'4", 235 lb, Houston, TX native.
But that was against college defenders.
He'll be drafted No. 1 by the Colts, who last selected a quarterback No. 1 overall in 1998. That one worked out pretty well for Indianapolis. Peyton Manning had a career 141-67 record in 13 seasons, throwing for 54,828 yards and 399 touchdowns. He was an 11 Pro-Bowl quarterback and four-time MVP.
In Manning's first season with the Colts, the team went 3-13. Manning threw a league-high 575 times for 3,739 yards, 26 touchdowns and unfortunately 28 interceptions - also a league high. His fantasy value was equal to 172 points or about the same as 18th-ranked Alex Smith produced in 2011.
Can we expect similar numbers from Luck?
The 1998 Colts receiving corps consisted of a young Marvin Harrison along with journeymen Jerome Pathon and Torrance Small at wideout and a couple of mediocre tight ends in Ken Dilger and Marcus Pollard.
The 2012 Colts have an aging Reggie Wayne, a solid receiver when healthy in Austin Collie and relative unknowns in Donnie Avery and Quan Cosby at the receiver position. The tight end position is a complete question mark with Jacob Tamme signing to play in Denver and Dallas Clark an unrestricted free agent.
Wayne, who caught 75 balls for 947 yards and four touchdowns in 2011, and Collie (54-514-1) will almost certainly be the starters and provide Luck with his best receiving options.
In 1998, the Colts had one of the best receiving backs in the history of the NFL in Marshall Faulk. He caught 86 balls for 908 yards and four scores that season. Currently on the Indianapolis roster are Donald Brown and Delone Carter. Neither could ever be mistaken for Faulk.
Of course they could pick up additional offensive talent in the draft, besides Luck, but they have so many needs on defense that other than a tight end it seems unlikely. Under new head coach Chuck Pagano, a former defensive coordinator with the Baltimore Ravens, the Colts figure to concentrate their efforts on the defensive side of the ball where they are switching to a 3-4 defense.
So what do we think Luck can realistically produce in 2012?
In 2011 the combination of Curtis Painter, Dan Orlovsky and Kerry Collins threw for 3,223 yards, 14 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Luck has more talent than those three journeymen, but his receiving corp will be less talented. We're expecting 3,600 yards, 21 touchdowns and 18 interceptions worth 151 fantasy points.
That total is certainly not worthy of fantasy starter status in 2012, but a nice beginning to what should be a long and fruitful career as a top-10 fantasy quarterback in years to come.