When the news broke on Wednesday that Andrew Luck wasn’t throwing in practice, fantasy owners got a little nervous, but the reports out of Indianapolis were that the Colts weren’t that concerned about the injury. He didn’t throw in Thursday’s practice, and the early reports from Friday’s practice are not promising. Add in that the Colts just signed Josh Johnson as a backup quarterback, and fantasy owners should start getting nervous. It appears that Luck will earn a questionable tag and be a game-time decision for the Week 4 game against Jacksonville.
So what is a fantasy owner to do? For starters, be sure you have a backup quarterback. After the Ben Roethlisberger owners picked over the waiver wire, be sure you are prepared. We looked at five quarterback replacements for Roethlisberger owners earlier this week. If you missed out on those guys, below is a list of five replacement options that may be available at short notice for Sunday.
Also, please note that Luck not playing is a huge downgrade to T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief. Frank Gore’s value (RB2) stays about the same if not increases, as the Colts are going to try to beat Jacksonville on the ground. If you have Hilton or Moncrief, look for better options if possible.
And now for five quarterbacks to try to save your Sunday.
Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders (49.3 percent owned in ESPN.com leagues)
The Raiders play the Bears on Sunday, which is a great matchup. I did recommend Carr after Ben Roethlisberger went down, and if he is still available, grab him not just for this week but for future weeks as well. Sure, he’ll struggle, but over the past two weeks, he’s put up two 300-yard games and five touchdowns, with just one interception. Chicago is sending off its players (see: Jared Allen) and while the stats show that their rush defense is worse than its pass defense, this is primarily the result of other teams getting the lead and then killing the clock. Trust Carr this week.
Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City (24.9 percent owned)
Yes, Smith is a game manager, but he's a game manager who throws short passes to Jamaal Charles, which count as fantasy points. He did score his points in Week 3 in garbage time, but garbage time counts too. The bottom line with Smith is that he's not a great start, but he's not going to get you a zero. He'll throw for about 200 yards and probably a touchdown and maybe an interception. He's not going to win your week, but he's not going to lose it for you either (assuming you're desperate).
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, New York Jets (12.2 percent owned)
The problem with Fitzpatrick this week isn’t the matchup (he should be fine against Miami), but the time. The Jets play the Dolphins in London, but the game time is 9:30 a.m. ET. If Luck truly is a game-time decision, you would have to decide on Fitzpatrick before knowing if Luck is out. Fitzpatrick has two touchdowns in each of the three games so far this season (and five interceptions). He was without Eric Decker last week, who may or may not play this week. He's not a great start, but he'll put up solid QB2 numbers if you want to gamble on Luck being out.
Brandon Weeden, QB, Dallas Cowboys (4.4 percent owned)
For fantasy owners looking for a one-week fill-in for Luck, Weeden has a great matchup against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday night. The Saints are one of only three defenses that have not had an interception this season. They've allowed six passing touchdowns through three games and are in the bottom third of the league in terms of passing yards allowed. While Weeden isn't going to light up the stat sheet, he will continue to be the check-down king, finding Jason Witten and Lance Dunbar on short passes. Look for Terrance Williams to become more involved this week as well. While Weeden is just managing the Cowboys' offense, he has proven that he is capable of leading the team while Romo is out. If he can fill in for the Cowboys, he can fill in for Luck if needed.
Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Indianapolis Colts (0.1 percent owned)
Hasselbeck is an option for the truly desperate. This is the backup for Luck, and the safest option if you are in a two-quarterback league or your waiver wire is truly picked over. He's not going to be Luck, far from it, and he's going to do a lot of handing off to Frank Gore. But he will throw the ball, and he will be the starting quarterback for the Colts assuming Luck is out. If that's all you are looking for, Hasselbeck is your guy.
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.