Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief Post-Week 2 Fantasy Advice

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistSeptember 22, 2015

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, center, talks with receiver T.Y. Hilton, left, and Donte Moncrief before an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans in Indianapolis, Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Darron Cummings/Associated Press

Don’t panic.

Those two words are much easier said than done in the NFL, but experienced fantasy football owners know not to put too much stock in a small sample size if a track record has been established. Such is the case with Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts passing attack after another lackluster performance in a 20-7 loss to the New York Jets on Monday night.

Luck has not been the automatic fantasy star many assumed for 2015, and his team sits at a disappointing 0-2. What’s more, star wide receiver T.Y. Hilton has yet to find the end zone. At least fantasy owners can point to Donte Moncrief as the silver lining and a potential breakout star.

Here is a look at Monday’s performances from Luck and two of his main targets:

Andrew Luck: Week 2 Stats
CompletionsPassing YardsTouchdownsInterceptionsRushing YardsFumbles LostFantasy Points
21 of 37250132418.4
NFL.com standard scoring
Colts Wide Receivers: Week 2 Stats
PlayerCatchesReceiving YardsTouchdownsTargetsFantasy Points
T.Y. Hilton445074.5
Donte Moncrief71221818.2
NFL.com standard scoring

There is no way around it: Luck has looked pedestrian at best during the first two weeks of the season, and it is no accident that the Colts are 0-2. He has three touchdowns and five interceptions in the early going, and ESPN pointed out how bad it was in Week 2 for the former Stanford star:

To be fair, the Jets defense looks downright nasty in 2015, thanks largely to the addition of cornerback Darrelle Revis.

Revis intercepted a Luck pass and recovered two fumbles, while the Jets as a whole forced five turnovers for the second straight week. New York held the Cleveland Browns to a mere 10 points in the season opener and forced Johnny Manziel and Co. into five game-changing turnovers as well.

Luck will not be the last quarterback to post dismal fantasy numbers against the Jets in 2015. 

Former player and current NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger pointed out how important it is to avoid overreacting to September games with the vast majority of the season ahead, especially when it comes to quality playmakers like Luck:

Luck and his fantasy owners have his track record to fall back on when assessing his overall value. His numbers were through the roof in 2014, with 4,761 passing yards and an NFL-best 40 touchdown tosses. It was only his third season in the league, and he already broached the 4,000-yard barrier for the second time (the 3,822 yards he posted in 2013 were his career-low output).

He is also a running threat, with 925 career rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground coming into Monday’s loss.

Luck was a popular MVP pick before the 2015 season because of those numbers. It hasn’t been an ideal start, but don’t think about abandoning ship with your fantasy team just because he struggled in the first two games against quality defenses.

The fact that the Jets are loaded on defense and forced Luck into mistakes is why fantasy owners who grabbed Moncrief from the waiver wire before this game as Hilton dealt with a nagging knee injury should be excited. If Moncrief can do that against New York, imagine what he will do against easier opponents.

Moncrief caught a touchdown against the Bills in Week 1 as well and looks like he will surpass the 444 receiving yards and three touchdowns he tallied in his rookie campaign in 2014. He is a 6’2” target with solid speed and should be a red-zone threat throughout the year as someone who can go up and grabs jump balls or create separation downfield.

Moncrief has been the most productive pass-catcher in the early going on a team loaded with options, including Hilton, Andre Johnson, Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen and Phillip Dorsett.

Luck also appears to be comfortable throwing the ball Moncrief’s way, given his impressive 19 targets thus far, and the former Ole Miss star could emerge as a No. 2 option in an offense that should put up plenty of points this year. If Hilton draws double-teams throughout the season, Moncrief will be a direct beneficiary.

Still, just like fantasy owners cannot overreact to Luck’s poor performance, you cannot expect 122 yards and a touchdown every week from Moncrief.

Hilton was swallowed up by Revis Island for large stretches of Monday’s game and is dealing with a knee injury. His production will improve, as will Johnson’s as a future Hall of Famer who is still settling into a new offense.

Fantasy owners need to know the targets will continue to come Moncrief’s way moving forward before he is a guaranteed fantasy starter, but he is worth a flex spot at the least, given his early production.

As for Hilton, his narrative is largely the same as Luck’s at this point. Revis and the Jets secondary cut into his fantasy value, as did a knee injury that left him questionable to even play Monday.

That won’t be the case when the Colts face the Tennessee Titans (15th against the pass last year and couldn’t contain Manziel in critical moments Sunday) and the Jacksonville Jaguars (22nd against pass in 2014) in their next two games.

Hilton has had two straight seasons of more than 1,000 receiving yards as Luck’s main target and is only 25 years old. The production will come once he is healthy against weaker opposition.

Much to the delight of fantasy owners, Hilton and Luck will look like their typical selves for most of the season. But they may have an extra target in Moncrief along for the ride.

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