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.''
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (illness) said he has "full confidence" that he'll be ready to play in Week 5 against the Eagles after the team's Week 4 bye. Darnold missed Monday night's game with mononucleosis and will also sit out in Week 3 against the Patriots. Wide receivers Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder have little fantasy upside this weekend with third-stringer Luke Falk throwing them passes, but they should be back on the fantasy map when Darnold returns. A Week 5 matchup with Philadelphia is promising, but Darnold will be a QB2 until he shows otherwise.
After playing just two snaps in the opener, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Dante Pettis participated in 40 percent of offensive snaps in Week 2 but did not record a target. Through two games, the former breakout candidate has one catch for seven yards and shouldnt be in any fantasy lineups. Pettis has ceded looks to emerging rookie wideout Deebo Samuel and the criticism he absorbed during preseason was apparently not for show. While his nonexistence thus far is a low bar to overcome, Pettis will need to show consistency on the field before returning to relevance in fantasy or the Niners offense.
Oakland Raiders wide receiver J.J. Nelson got in a limited session at Wednesday's practice as he still recovers from an ankle injury. His ailment dates back to Week 2 of the preseason, which limited him to eight snaps in Week 1 and him not even dressing up for last week's game. Nelson has a shot to suit up for the team's matchup versus the Vikings this weekend, but he'll carry no fantasy value whatsoever. He'll be fourth in line for targets as Darren Waller and Tyrell Williams will remain dominating opportunities while Hunter Renfrow's role continues to grow as the slot man. Nelson has big-play ability but can't be relied upon even when he returns to full health.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (calf) was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday. Brady is often listed on the team's injury report but always winds up playing. He'll be fine for another great spot in Week 3 at home against the reeling Jets. The ageless wonder will keep a high ceiling as a QB1 as long as Antonio Brown remains on the team, and he could be facing a Jets Defense without top linebacker C.J. Mosley and rookie defensive lineman Quinnen Williams. Fire Brady up as a top-five fantasy quarterback this weekend.
San Francisco 49ers running back Matt Breida is a safe RB2 in Week 3 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The third-year back raced for 121 yards in Week 2 on just 12 carries and should again operate in a near-even split with Raheem Mostert. Behind one of the best offensive lines through two weeks, both Breida and Mostert rank top-15 in rushing DVOA and success rate. While the Niners will deploy bigger back Jeffery Wilson at the red-zone, Breida should have enough opportunities between the 20s to solidify his floor. Against unproven Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph, a lopsided time of possession in favor of San Francisco should benefit the entire Niners backfield.
Oakland Raiders running back Josh Jacobs got in a limited practice Wednesday after dealing with a groin issue following Sunday's loss to the Chiefs. The fact that the rookie participated early in the week is a good sign, and owners should be confident that he suits up for Week 3 barring any setbacks. Jacobs has dominated the Raiders backfield in carries through two weeks making him a solid RB2 for fantasy, but he's only seen one pass target which caps his upside. In a game where the team will likely be playing from behind against a stout Vikings Defense, Jacobs should be treated as a low-end RB2 for this week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (foot) practiced in full on Wednesday and will start in Week 3 against the Giants. Winston looked a little better last Thursday than he did in Week 1, but fantasy owners were still expecting more from him in Bruce Arians' offense. Against New York's porous defense this weekend, Winston should be able to have his best game yet, making him a low-end QB1/high-end QB2. He's not a bad streamer if you just lost Ben Roethlisberger (elbow) or Drew Brees (thumb).
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said that wide receiver David Moore (shoulder) has a "really good chance" to play in Week 3 against the Saints. If Moore makes his debut in Week 3, he'll likely be limited in three-wide sets with Tyler Lockett and rookie D.K. Metcalf, although Moore will likely be the third receiving option, at best. He's one to watch in deeper leagues, but he shouldn't be in any starting lineups if he gets cleared for Sunday's game. Jaron Brown, who hasn't caught a single pass in the first two games, will rightfully fall down the depth chart with Moore returning.
Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard (concussion) did not practice on Monday after being placed in the concussion protocol following the Week 2 game. Leonard had a team-high 10 tackles and a sack against the Titans, but he'll have to be cleared by an independent neurologist before he's allowed to play in Week 3 against the Falcons. The second-year player had a huge rookie season and is a top IDP linebacker when he's healthy, but you'll need to have other options ready in case he's not cleared by Sunday. Indy's defense/special teams is off the radar this week against Atlanta's high-octane offense.
Given an opportunity in Week 2, San Francisco running back Raheem Mostert broke out with 151 scrimmage yards and a touchdown. The fourth-year special teams veteran played well in limited opportunities last season (34 carries, 7.7 YPC) and should continue co-chairing the backfield with Matt Breida in Week 3 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. While the Steelers rush defense is no slouch, the Niners offensive line grades as fifth best in the run game through two contests. Both Mostert and Breida rank top-15 in rushing DVOA and success rate. Mosterts also showed his receiving chops with 10 grabs on 12 targets. Slated for a near-even split with Breida and clocking as one of footballs fastest players, Mostert is an upside RB3/flex with a steady floor.
Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack (calf) wasn't seen at practice on Wednesday. It doesn't mean that Mack won't play in Week 3 at home against the Falcons, but it's certainly something to monitor as the week progresses. Indy is tied for second in the NFL in rushing with 185 yards per game after two weeks, so Mack would be a low-end RB1/high-end RB2 if he plays. Atlanta ranks in the middle of the pack against the run (110.5 rushing yards allowed per game). If Mack is unable to suit up, Jordan Wilkins would see a big value boost on early downs, while third-down back Nyheim Hines would become more attractive in PPR leagues.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston (foot) appeared as a full participant on the injury report Wednesday, Sept. 18, but will start in Week 3 against the New York Giants.
Fantasy Spin: Winston would be a high-end QB2 under standard circumstances with a nice matchup in Week 3, but he could be the best available option for fantasy managers who've already lost a quarterback early in the season.
Los Angeles Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein was perfect during the teams 29-7 Week 2 victory over the New Orleans Saints with two field goals and three extra points. Zuerlein was able to show his range in Week 1 with a 56-yard kick against the Carolina Panthers, quieting any health concerns after the veteran had suffered a leg injury during the latter half of last year. Lock in Zuerlein as a top option in all leagues thanks to the explosiveness of the Rams offense.
Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (quad) was limited in practice Wednesday, Sept. 18.
Fantasy Spin: Hilton played 90% of snaps and caught four of six targets for 43 yards and a touchdown in Week 2. There isn't yet any concern this early in the week, and he should stay locked in as a WR1.
Indianapolis Colts QB Jacoby Brissett (knee) was listed as a full participant in practice Wednesday, Sept. 18.
Fantasy Spin: Brissett has been held below 200 yards passing in each of the first two games of the season. He has thrown five touchdowns against one interception. He's a low-end QB2.
Carolina Panthers S Rashaan Gaulden (groin), OT Brandon Greene (neck), LB Bruce Irvin (hamstring) and DT Kawann Short (shoulder) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Sept. 18.
Indianapolis Colts LB Darius Leonard (concussion) didn't practice Wednesday, Sept. 18. CB Pierre Desir (knee), DE Al-Quadin Muhammad (shoulder), DE Jabaal Sheard (knee), DE Kemoko Turay (neck) and RB Jonathan Williams (rib) were all limited.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp appears to be the WR1 in Los Angeles two weeks into the season thanks to his rapport with quarterback Jared Goff. Kupp enters Week 3 leading the team in receptions, yards and targets, an impressive feat considering he had torn his ACL just one year ago. In Week 3, Kupp will be matched up against the Cleveland Browns, a team with a young but talented defense that could apply heavy pressure on the Rams offensive line. If the O-line collapses, expect Goff to continue to look Kupps way when under pressure, as the wide receivers average depth of target has been just 5.9 yards (84th in the NFL). Lock Kupp in as a high-end WR2, as his chemistry with Goff will keep his floor stable and his ceiling sky-high.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods struggled in the teams Week 2 29-7 victory over the New Orleans Saints. After all, he only had two receptions on two targets for 33 yards. However, fantasy owners should treat Week 2 as an anomaly; Woods had multiple plays called back due to holding penalties and the game script aligned with a run-focused offensive scheme with the Rams leading for the majority of the contest. With a Week 3 matchup against the Cleveland Browns on the horizon, he should see a larger target share in what could end up being a high-scoring, offensive duel thanks to a potent Browns offense. Woods remains a mid-tier WR2 across all formats.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks rebounded in the teams Week 2 29-7 victory over the New Orleans Saints with three receptions on four targets for 74 yards and a TD. However, his five receptions through two games remains extremely concerning and indicates that the veteran could very well be the WR3 on the Rams depth chart. Still, Cooks should be a WR2, as he is the teams best deep threat and faces a Browns secondary that gave up chunk-yardage plays during Week 1 to rookie wideout A.J. Brown of the Tennessee Titans. Be wary, though, that Cooks could be behind both teammates Cooper Kupp and Robert Woodsin target share.