Fantasy football roundtable: Talent, schedule make Luck early surprise
Andrew Luck has proven to be a reliable fantasy starter when playing in Indy
In 16 of his last 17 games, Cam Newton has thrown for fewer than 300 yards
Rashard Mendenhall averaged a robust 5.8 yards per carry against the Eagles
The NFL fantasy season is full of decisions. Join SI's roundtable of fantasy experts each week to help sort through the lineup choices, injuries and waiver-wire options that can make or break a season. Each week, we'll also feature a question from our readers, which you are free to submit each Sunday of the season at the @SInow Twitter feed.
1. Andrew Luck has improved every week of the season. Has he become an every-week starter or should owners still be cautious?
Mike Beacom: He's a fringe starter at this point. Sure, he ranks third in passing yards, but his completion percentage and touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio leave a lot to be desired. He ranks 24th in yards per attempt (i.e. big-play factor) and eight quarterbacks have more passing touchdowns per start. Fantasy owners will like the fact that Luck and the Colts pass the ball because they need to, not necessarily because they choose to, but in terms of fantasy production he'll be hit-or-miss for much of the season.
Will Carroll: Luck is good. No, really good. On an emotional day, he had a great half in Week 5. Part of it was Reggie Wayne, but he should have Wayne the rest of his games this year as well. My question is how much was emotion? The Colts have some talent, but that was inspired football. I like Luck, but no one was asking if he was an every-down guy when they were losing against the Jags. Luck is still a rookie, will still have growing pains and will still be a must-own in keeper leagues.
Eric Mack: He is an every-week starter at home right now, but the jury is out when he plays on the road. You might not want him as your fantasy starter in fantasy Week 15 at Houston. But the fact the rookie is already one of the top-12 fantasy quarterbacks regardless of the matchup makes it possible for you to trade the quarterback you drafted as your starter. Luck has already had his bye and you can turn your previous No. 1 signal-caller into help at another position now.
David Sabino: Until Week 15 there is not a single team on the Colts schedule that would make me shy away from using Luck, who has thrown for 300 yards in three of his four games so far. So unless I have someone like Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady, and so long as his receiving corps, namely Reggie Wayne, stays healthy, yes, I'd use Luck on a weekly basis with maybe that one exception against the Texans.
2. C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson have seen their early-season promise falter the last few weeks. Is this a function of a tough schedule or a harbinger for the rest of the season?
Beacom: Both are banged up, the Bills are facing one good defense after another and the team seems content splitting carries. Group Buffalo's backs with New England and Carolina as complicated situations fantasy owners may want to stay away from.
Carroll: Spiller has the bigger upside since he can break off the big play at any given time. Having shown it to the world, he's going to get more attention. He and the offense will need to adjust and he'll have to exploit mistakes and show that he can create big plays rather than wait for them to happen. That's the reality of Spiller and why he wasn't talked about as a top-tier back. Think back a couple weeks to the expectations there. He wasn't drafted at all in nearly half of leagues and there's a reason for that. Jackson's down a bit on injuries, but he's also not an elite back. I think they may be a victim of unrealistic expectations more than them failing to meet them.
Mack: The Bills had some success at home throwing the ball around in blowouts. They realized they need to get back to what their strengths are: Running Jackson and Spiller early and often, and throwing to them out of the backfield when they are not merely handing it to them. The schedule will be tough in Week 6 (at Arizona), Week 8 (bye), Week 9 (at Houston), Week 11 (vs. Miami), Week 15 (vs. Seattle) and Week 16 (at Miami), though. That rough track and the fact both backs are going to take a chunk out of each other might make it a time to sell on them.
Sabino: They've been put in a tough position as both are deserving of being a lead back, however neither stood much of a chance against the 49ers this past week and neither was fully healthy the week before. Their individual performances rely largely on each other's health. The only way one separates himself is if the other goes back down. But with the Cardinals, Texans and Dolphins in three of the next five games, there won't be much week-to-week consistency for either.
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