Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 5/9/12

Andrew Luck enters the NFL with the high expectations attached to being the No. 1 overall pick, as the Indianapolis Colts start a full-on rebuilding effort and Luck himself gets to succeed Peyton Manning, who was released this offseason.

With the league becoming more pass-happy in recent years, rookie quarterbacks can offer something to fantasy football owners, as Cam Newton, Andy Dalton and Sam Bradford have shown over the last couple years.

Let's break down what kind of impact fantasy owners can expect from Andrew Luck in 2012:

Luck himself seems to have the physical skills and intangibles to have some immediate success, and new Colts' offensive coordinator Bruce Arians has experience working with a elite level NFL quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger when he served as offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2007-2011. Arians also served as quarterbacks coach for Indianapolis from 1998-2000, which were Manning's first three NFL seasons. So the offensive structure is likely to be in place for Luck to make a quick adjustment to the pro level.

The Indianapolis offensive line should show improvement in 2012, as healthy seasons from 2011 draft picks Anthony Castanzo and Ben Ijalana will help that cause even with the free agent departure of center Jeff Saturday and the retirement of long-time right tackle Ryan Diem. So pass protection should not be a major issue for Luck, as long as everyone stays on the field.

The Pieces Around Luck

Veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne surprisingly re-signed with the Colts this offseason, and he provides a reliable veteran presence for Luck to throw to. Wayne's lackluster production in 2011, as he failed to top 1,000 yards for the first time since 2003, did not have 80 receptions for the first time since 2004 and had his lowest touchdown total (four) since 2002, can be chalked up at least partially to the bad quarterbacking the Colts had, so having Luck under center should benefit him.

The Colts added some young players at the skill positions, including TE Colby Fleener, Luck's college teammate at Stanford. The chemistry Luck and Fleener showed over the last couple seasons in college should carry over to the NFL virtually instantly, and help both players be productive as rookies.  Indianapolis added a second rookie tight end, Dwayne Allen, with their first third-round pick, and the fact he won the Mackey Award (given each year to college football's top tight end) in 2011 means he should have a place in the team's offense immediately.

Three more draft picks were used on offensive skill position players, as wide receivers T.Y. Hilton (3rd Round-#92 overall) and LaVon Brazill (6th Round-#206 overall) along with running back Vick Ballard (5th Round-#170 overall) were all added to an offense in need of an influx of young talent. Hilton and Ballard are the most likely to earn significant roles immediately at this point, though with an impressive preseason Brazill could put himself in the mix for playing time as well.

The other veteran wide receiver that fantasy football owners know, Austin Collie, had a down season in 2011 (54 receptions, 514 yards, one touchdown), but he appears to have shaken off the concussion issues that plagued him in 2010 and he had 15 touchdowns combined in 20009 and 2010. As with Wayne, having a competent quarterback at the helm should help Collie's production increase and he can be a reliable red zone target for Luck.

The Colts' running back rotation will get younger with the departure of veteran Joseph Addai, and former first-round pick Donald Brown looks likely to step in as the starter. He did show improvement in 2011, setting career-highs in carries (135), rushing yards (645) and touchdowns (5) while upping his yards per carry to 4.8, but Delone Carter is also likely to be in the mix for touches. Ballard is a back that could step right into goal line duty as a rookie, and get a bigger workload if Brown and Carter disappoint.

Analysis And Projection

Luck is certain to have a lot of ups and downs as a rookie, but overall his production should be solid as he may be forced to throw a lot with the Colts likely to be trailing in a majority of their games. There is enough talent around him, proven or otherwise at this stage, for Indianapolis to put together a productive offense in 2012 and Luck should reap the benefits of that.

As for a projection, I think Luck will have statistics similar to Bradford's 2010 rookie campaign (3,512 passing yards, 18 touchdowns, 15 interceptions), with the strong possibility of more touchdowns and interceptions depending on how balanced (or unbalanced, as it were, perhaps by necessity) the Colts offense will be. That would make him a solid QB2 in most fantasy leagues.
 



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