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August 25, 2019

Fantasy football injury (and retirement) news: Fallout from Andrew Luck's shocking decision, Lamar Miller's torn ACL

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Andrew-Luck-Jacoby-Brissett_082519_usat Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Luck talks to backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who will take over in Indianapolis following Luck's shocking retirement.

There's a reason you shouldn't hold your fantasy drafts until after the third week of the NFL preseason, and football fans around the country were given a reminder of why this weekend as a pair of big stories out of the AFC South sent shockwaves throughout the league. 

First, there was the season-ending knee injury suffered by Texans running back Lamar Miller. But that, however, was quickly overshadowed by the shocking announcement that 29-year-old Andrew Luck, the Colts' former No. 1 overall pick, was retiring from the NFL after just seven season. 

After the initial shock of the luck retirement wore off, people suddenly started frantically checking their fantasy rosters to see how many players this would impact and whether or not they had any on their teams.

Since we're right in the middle of fantasy draft season, we decided to take a look at Luck, Miller and some of the other players who will be impacted by them no longer playing this season.

ANDREW LUCK

On Saturday night, Andrew Luck shocked the football world by announcing his retirement from the NFL, citing both his mental and physical health after injuries have plagued him throughout his career. 

When it comes to the fantasy value of Luck, it's simple, he no longer has any and we apologize to anyone who drafted him as their fantasy team's starting quarterback — but this is just another reminder of why you shouldn't hold your draft until after the third week of the preseason. People who drafted luck now must look elsewhere for a new starting quarterback. You can try for a trade, but it's likely the others in your league, like many of the fans in Indy after Luck announced his retirement aren't going to be too sympathetic of your situation. 

If you head to the waiver wire, however, your options are likely to be slim to none. Recently, we took a look at a few sleeper quarterbacks who may still be available on your waiver wire, including Josh Allen, Derek Carr and more. There's also Mitchell Trubisky, who is owned in just over 50 percent of fantasy leagues.

As for the Colts, they'll likely be turning the reigns over to Jacoby Brissett, who actually has a full season of starting experience under his belt when he took over for an injured Luck back in 2017. 

JACOBY BRISSETT

After being traded from the Patriots just prior to the start of the 2017 season, Brissett has played well for the Colts when needed, including starting 15 games in 2017. And he didn't do too bad for himself. That experience, combined with the fact that he's been taking all the first-team reps at camp for nearly two weeks, could make Brissett a guy worth watching this season — and potentially a guy worth picking up for owners getting desperate after losing Luck.

Brissett is familiar with Indianapolis prior to this season, too. The 26-year-old played all of 2017 in Luck's place while he dealt with a shoulder injury. Brissett posted 3,098 yards, 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions that season. T.Y. Hilton led all receivers on the team at 966 yards and four touchdowns.

As the full-time starter in 2017, according to NFL.com, Brissett's 205.92 fantasy points ranked 20th among quarterbacks. Hilton was the 27th highest-scoring receiver at 175.60 points.  [bleacherreport.com]

While Brissett might not be rostered in every league — and, at least to start, will be started in even fewer — he will have a big impact on the fantasy world, as one of his wide receivers was entering the season with big expectations. 

T.Y. HILTON

ESPN has Hilton, the Colts' top receiver, ranked as the 20th wideout overall in their fantasy projections for this season, with an expected point total of 141 points in standard leagues. The question now, however, is whether or not Hilton can play up to that projection — 70 receptions, 1,106 yards and five touchdowns — without Luck as his quarterback. 

The good news for Hilton owners is that he and Brissett have previously developed a bit of a rapport and Hilton's numbers weren't far off from his projections during that 2017 season when Brissett was the Colts' starter. Hilton finished that season with 57 receptions on 104 targets for 966 yards and four touchdowns. 

More importantly, Hilton was far and away Brissett's favorite wide receiver target, as he and tight end Jack Doyle each received 23% of the targets, with the next closest wideout (Donte Moncrief) getting just 10% of the targets. 

If nothing else, Hilton should get plenty of targets this season. Will the passes result in the same kind of plays and yardage as they would have if Luck was still under center? Probably not, but Hilton is still worth rostering relatively early on. And his quarterback change probably won't hurt his production as much as you initially thought. If he was the 20th ranked receiver before Luck's retirement, he might be somewhere in the 25-30 range at this point. So if you haven't had your league's draft yet, pick accordingly...

LAMAR MILLER

Finally, we arrive at Lamar Miller, the Texans running back who was tore his ACL in Houston's 34-0 loss to the Cowboys. And while that's awful news for the Texans — and for those who drafted Miller — it's great news for those who drafted fellow University of Miami product Duke Johnson. 

Last week, we took a look at four sleeper running backs who can help you this season, and if you owned Miller in your fantasy league, now might be as good a time as any to check out that list.

DUKE JOHNSON

With Miller out for the season, Johnson, one of those sleepers we recently covered, is set to take over the lead role in the Texans backfield, something he hasn't really had the chance to do since being drafted by the Browns in 2015. Johnson has primarily been used as a pass-catching and third-down back in the NFL, something that has both given him fantasy value and simultaneously frustrated his owners due to inconsistent usage (and the inconsistent scoring that comes with it), especially since many believe that Johnson is talented enough to thrive in that role.

Well, it looks like Johnson will finally get that chance in Houston following the trade and subsequent injury to Miller. Currently, Johnson is rostered in just under 60% of fantasy leagues, although that's likely to be up into the 90s by then end of the weekend, so hurry up and make a move, whether you own Miller or not. 


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