Can Andrew Luck keep rolling without Reggie Wayne?
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck transitioned beautifully from the college game to the NFL. He has adjusted to losing Vick Ballard and having Trent Richardson added to the mix. Now he has a new transition...life after Reggie Wayne.
Will he take it in stride like everything else or will Luck suffer?
As a rookie, Luck relied heavily on Wayne, targeting him 12.1 times a game. Only Calvin Johnson (205) was targeted more. Wayne caught 6.6 of those targets for 84.7 yards per game. Thirty percent of Luck's pass attempts went to Wayne. Megatron received 27.7 percent of the Detroit Lions' targets.
This year has been a different story. Wayne was never targeted 12 times in a game this year. He still leads the team (for now) with 58 targets, but that is only 8.3 per game. Wayne has seen almost four fewer passes per game from Luck.
The veteran wide receiver received 25.9 percent of Luck's looks. He averaged 5.4 catches for 71.9 yards. Clearly there is a big void to fill, but Luck has done a better job of spreading the wealth.
Wayne's leadership could actually be missed even more than is presence on the field.
Fortunately for Luck, there are pieces in place to pick up the slack. T.Y. Hilton is averaging 58.9 yards per game. Hilton is second on the team with 54 targets, which is good for 7.7 per game and 24.1 percent of Luck's attempts. He has the skills to take on a larger role in this offense.
Darrius Heyward-Bey scored his first touchdowns last week. He's only been thrown to 34 times this year, but that number should increase significantly. Look for DHB to hold a more prominent role in the offense going forward.
Tight end Coby Fleener could also absorb some of Wayne's targets. Fleener has had just 33 throws come his way. He has hauled in 22 of them for 235 yards and a team-high three touchdowns. Luck will likely look to the 6'6" Fleener on third downs. He had previously relied quite a bit on Wayne for that role.
Luck will definitely miss Reggie Wayne, but just expect him to adjust and continue to show why he's one of the best young quarterbacks in the game.
Also check out Lester's Legends Week 8 Fantasy Football Rankings.