Sun Aug 25 2:11pm ET
By MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck shakes hands with Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay after a news conference following the team's NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Indianapolis. The oft-injured star is retiring at age 29. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard, left, and owner Jim Irsay, second from left, listen as Colts quarterback Andrew Luck speaks during a news conference following the team's NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Indianapolis. The oft-injured star is retiring at age 29. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard speaks during a news conference after the team's NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Indianapolis. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck announced that he his retiring at age 29. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
The injured ankle of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is seen as he speaks during a news conference following the team's NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Indianapolis. The oft-injured star is retiring at age 29. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
Indianapolis Colts coach Frank Reich speaks as team owner Jim Irsay listens following a news conference after the Colts' NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Indianapolis. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck announced that he his retiring at age 29. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck speaks during a news conference following the team's NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Indianapolis. The oft-injured star is retiring at age 29. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Andrew Luck was unique.
He loved football. He loves life even more.
So when the 29-year-old Luck thought another long, laborious comeback journey jeopardized his future plans, he believed walking away from the sport and potentially hundreds of millions of dollars was the only logical choice.
''For the last four years or so, I've been in this cycle of injury, pain, rehab - injury, pain, rehab - and it's been unceasing, unrelenting, both in season and off season,'' Luck said following Saturday night's loss to the Chicago Bears. ''I felt stuck in it, and the only way I see out is to no longer play football. It's taken my joy of this game away.''
The announcement and the timing - two weeks before the Indianapolis Colts' season opener against the Los Angeles Chargers - shocked the football world.
But this was not a spur of the moment decision.
After three injury-plagued seasons, Luck returned last year with a new perspective about the physical pain, mental fatigue and emotional agony it took to keep fighting his way back. Late last summer, he described his state of mind throughout the continual rehab with words such as `sad,' `miserable' and `scared.'
Last month, as the lingering pain in his lower left leg forced him off the practice field yet again, Luck told reporters he promised himself after playing through the shoulder pain in 2016 and missing the entire 2017 season, he would be honest with himself, his coaches, teammates and the organization about how his body felt.
At the time, Luck said he thought even limited practices were detrimental to himself and the team.
While some fans booed Luck as he left the field Saturday night, other players supported him. They understand how dangerous and debilitating the sport can be, which is why some are quitting at earlier ages.
Luck just happens to be the biggest name yet on that expanding list.
''I think it takes an immense amount of courage, an immense amount of self-reflection and a lot of guts to do what he is doing,'' Houston defensive end J.J. Watt said. ''I am sure people have their ways of looking at it and their ways of trying to say what they would do in his shoes. But the truth is, no one is in his shoes. Nobody has to go through what he has had to go through. Nobody has been through the rehab and the injuries. ... I respect the hell out of it. I think it takes a whole lot to walk away from a ton of money like that.''
Colts owner Jim Irsay estimates Luck could have made as much as $500 million if he lasted as long as Brett Favre, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, Luck's predecessor.
But Luck was never in it for the money or the fame - like others who left the game on their terms and in their prime.
Barry Sanders retired at age 31 after winning four NFL rushing titles and within reach of breaking Walter Payton's career rushing record. At age 30, Calvin Johnson called it quits after his sixth straight Pro Bowl appearance. Jim Brown walked away at age 30 for a budding movie career, less than a year after winning his third and final MVP award.
They never came back, and Luck said he doesn't anticipate a return, either, though he's young enough to do it.
Many others, such as Hall of Famers Gale Sayers and Terrell Davis, were forced out by injuries or age.
Luck seems to be a combination of the two, largely the result of a porous offensive line that allowed the top overall draft pick in 2012 to take more hits than any quarterback in the league during his first five seasons.
He was good enough to lead the Colts to playoff appearances in each of his first three seasons, the 2014 AFC Championship game and orchestrate the second-largest comeback in playoff history. And when he returned healthy last season, he took the Colts back to the playoffs and was a runaway winner in the league's Comeback Player of the Year award balloting.
It just wasn't enough for Luck.
''We all expect we're going to play this game forever,'' Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson said. ''The reality is for most players, it's not very long. No matter how good we are, or whatever it may be, there's life after this game, too. I think that's a thing we always have to balance and always have to weigh.''
Luck is the sixth quarterback of the 11 selected in 2012 out of football.
Wilson and Nick Foles, both third-round picks that year, own Super Bowl rings. Kirk Cousins, a fourth-rounder, is the starter in Minnesota.
The other two still around - Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill - had promising careers derailed by injuries, too. Griffin, the No. 2 pick who played high school football in Texas like Luck and beat Luck out for the 2011 Heisman Trophy award, is fighting for a roster spot in Baltimore. Tannehill, the No. 8 pick, is the backup to Marcus Mariota in Tennessee.
Luck didn't want to spend more countless hours in the training room now that he's married and will soon become a father.
He'd rather travel the world, watch soccer, put his architectural degree from Stanford to use and suggest good reads for the Andrew Luck Book Club. Perhaps he will come back to football one day. Or maybe he'll choose a new career.
''To step back away from this thing, I honor him. I think a lot of his family, I think a lot of his father, I think a lot of what he's brought to football and wish him nothing but the very best.'' Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. ''I hope he becomes President of the United States.''
But after throwing 171 touchdown passes and for nearly 24,000 yards, Luck found football simply wasn't worth the cost.
''I'm exhausted - and quite tired,'' he said during an emotional farewell speech. ''The only way forward is to remove myself from this cycle.''
Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten caught three passes in a Week 3 win. His three catches gained 54 yards, as Witten rumbled for way more yardage than his usual "catch-and-fall" game. Many fantasy owners likely expected Witten to come down with a score against the Miami Dolphins "defense," but the Cowboys actually were only able to score 31 points in what was still ultimately a blow out. Witten will continue his role as quarterback Dak Prescott's safety valve, and will continue as a touchdown-dependent fantasy option.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Devin Smith caught two passes in Week 3, gaining 39 yards. Smith was expected to have an expanded role with Michael Gallup (knee) out, but with the Cowboys easily coasting against the Miami Dolphins, the passing game was mostly not needed. Smith should have a decent role next week, but will take a back seat as soon as Gallup returns.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver John Brown put up a ho-hum fantasy line on Sunday, catching 4-of-5 targets for 59 yards in a 21-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Brown did reel in a 27-yard catch from quarterback Josh Allen but saw his usage cut into by Cole Beasley (10 targets) and Dawson Knox, who caught 3-of-4 targets for 67 yards and a score. The Bills face off against the Patriots in Week 4 and while Brown is still Buffalo's clear No. 1 receiver, his owners have to worry about Knox's increasing role.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Randall Cobb caught just two passes in Week 3, gaining 23 yards. Cobb was thought to perhaps take on a larger role with the absence of Michael Gallup (knee), but the Cowboys passing game as a whole took a break as the team coasted to an easy win against the fish-out-of-water Miami Dolphins. Cobb will have some possible big games this season, but overall he's not a reliable fantasy option in weekly leagues.
Philadelphia Eagles rookie running back Miles Sanders had some ups and downs in Week 3. He ran the ball 13 times for 53 yards and added two catches for 73 yards, but fumbled twice, losing one. Sanders had real fumbling issues in college and they seem to have followed him to the NFL, but he showed his ability when he can keep the ball in his hands. It was a very rookie game for Sanders, who was schemed into several plays and should see more and more run going forward as long as he can keep the ball off the ground.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (quad) left the team's Week 3 game against the Atlanta Falcons with an injury, but it didn't matter. He got his work done early on, as he finished with eight catches for 65 yards and a touchdown. He lead the team by a mile with 10 targets on the day. The next closest was three players tied with four. As long as Hilton remains healthy, he has proven that you have to start him every week.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Jordan Howard found the end zone in Week 3. Howard ran the ball 11 times for just 37 yards, but ran in a one-yard goal line score in the first quarter. Howard didn't make an impact in the passing game. Rookie running back Miles Sanders saw 13 carries, so Howard was only two behind the lead for the team. He'll continue to have a role in the Eagles backfield, but his fantasy value will be very touchdown-dependent in this offensive scheme.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles recorded just two touches on offense in Week 3. He ran the ball twice, gaining just four yards. He was unable to come up with anything in the passing game. With Alshon Jeffery (calf) and DeSean Jackson (groin) out, some expected Sproles to take on an increased role, but he worked in a similar role as he did in Week 2. Sproles will only have real fantasy value if he takes the place of an injured back ahead of him on the depth chart.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper scored two touchdowns in Week 3. He caught six passes, gaining 88 yards. His first touchdown was on a first quarter five-yard pass from Dak Prescott, and his second came on a 19-yard strike in the third quarter. Cooper played well in a game against the useless Miami Dolphins Defense, and while most fantasy owners were likely expected a 100-yard game, the two touchdowns made up for the relatively modest yardage total.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett was one completion away from breaking former quarterback Peyton Manning's team record. On the day, he finished 28-of-37 for 310 yards and two touchdowns. Brissett takes care of the ball, and he makes low-risk throws. On a day where running back Marlon Mack was limited, those throws eventually added up. Brissett is unlikely to have nearly 30 completions every week, but he showed this week that he can have QB1 upside in the right circumstances.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was solid in Sunday's Week 3 loss, tossing two touchdowns. He completed 19 of his 36 passes for 259 yards. He added 33 yards on four carries as well. Wentz's touchdowns came on a 20-yard pass and a two-yard pass, both to wide receiver Nelson Agholor. Even without his top two wide receivers, Alshon Jeffery (calf) and DeSean Jackson (groin) in the game, Wentz was still able to move the offense for most of the game.
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott ran the ball 19 times in Week 3, picking up 125 yards on the ground. He added two catches for 14 more yards. Elliott's 125 yards were clearly great, but his fantasy owners were likely expecting at least one touchdown against the sport's worst team, the Miami Dolphins. Elliott was on the sidelines when his backup, Tony Pollard, scored a touchdown late in the fourth quarter since the Cowboys were running down the clock in an obvious win. Elliott looked back to his usual workload, and should be an easy RB1 going forward.
Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack continues to be a consistent player for fantasy footballers. Despite being a questionable game-time decision coming into Sunday, he was able to suit up, and he had an effective day. He finished with 16 carries for 74 yards and one touchdown. He also added two catches for 14 yards on the day. Unless he sustains a more serious injury, Mack is proving to be a consistent starter on a weekly basis.
Dallas Cowboys rookie running back Tony Pollard had an excellent game in Week 3, running the ball 13 times for 103 yards and a touchdown while adding three catches for 25 more yards. Pollard scored on a fourth-quarter run from 16 yards out. In a game where the Cowboys had control all afternoon, Pollard got a bit more run than he would have in a closer contest. This game showed how much value Pollard could have if Ezekiel Elliott were forced to miss any time.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott had a productive Week 3, throwing two touchdowns and running one in as well. Prescott completed 19 of his 32 passes for 246 yards. His passing touchdowns both went to Amari Cooper, one for five yards and another for 19. His rushing touchdown was on an eight-yard run in the third quarter. Overall, it was a solid performance for Prescott, although his owners may have expected even more with him taking on the listless Miami Dolphins.
After leaving the game shortly before halftime with an ankle injury suffered against Tampa Bay, New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley returned to the sidelines with a protective boot on his right foot. While the results of his x-rays have not yet been released, Barkley was using crutches to get around on what appeared to be a severely sprained ankle. If this is the dreaded high-ankle sprain, Barkley could be in for an extended absence and his owners are in for an extended punch to the stomach. Backup Wayne Gallman needs to be added in all leagues until more is known about the severity of Barkley's injury.
Buffalo Bills running back Frank Gore saved his best production for last, plunging in for a late one-yard touchdown to put Buffalo up for good over the Cincinnati Bengals 21-17 on Sunday. With Devin Singletary declared inactive prior to the game, Gore rushed 14 times for 76 yards, outpacing T.J. Yeldon who rushed eight times for thirty yards - and who also had a costly second-half fumble. With the likely return of Singletary in Week 4 and facing a Patriots teams that will likely require a pass-heavy game script, Gore will be relegated to the fantasy doldrums.
The New York Jets Defense got shredded by Tom Brady and the Patriots but salvaged their fantasy day late. With the Patriots up 30-7 in the fourth quarter backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham came into the game. His third pass hit Jamal Adams right between the numbers and the star safety returned it 61-yards for a garbage-time touchdown. The Jets also scored a touchdown on special teams after Gunner Olszewski muffed a punt and Arthur Maulet fell on it to score the Jets first touchdown since Week 1. Despite the scores, the Jets defense only recorded one sack and looked like a defense that shouldn't be owned in fantasy, especially with a bye in Week 4 followed by a tough matchup at Philadelphia.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen completed 22-of-36 passes for 243 yards on Sunday, with one touchdown and an interception as the Bills held off the Cincinnati Bengals for a 21-17 victory. Allen also added 46 yards on nine rushes and a two-point conversion, with Buffalo moving to a surprising 3-0 on the season. Allen still has trouble with his decision-making at times but continues to have a high floor considering how often he's willing to run. Allen and the Bills will get their first real test of the year in Week 4 when the Patriots come into town for a showdown of the AFC East undefeated.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley is questionable to return after suffering an ankle injury against the Tampa Bay Bucs. He suffered a minor injury earlier in the game but returned. This one appears to be more severe and with the Giants already down 25-10, they may choose not to rush their star back. This would obviously be a massive hit to the entire Giants offense if it proves to be a multi-week injury.