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It is always a risk entrusting your fantasy squad to a young and unproven quarterback. No matter how much hype a player has or how many scouts and analysts dub them as “can’t miss”, there is a real possibility that things can go south. Just ask any fantasy owner who drafted Akili Smith, Ryan Leaf, or JaMarcus Russell.
Jake Locker and Andrew Luck, however, seem slightly more polished and more ready to make a significant contribution. Even still, it is probably wise to use both as backups for now when it comes to your team, unless you are playing in an outrageously deep league. Both players have the benefit of playing in the AFC South, which could be the worst division this year in the NFL when it’s all said and done. Other than that, let’s look at both players outlook for the 2012 season.
Locker has the slight advantage of being a second year pro and getting into five games last season. Even so, he was used sparingly and completed just over 50% of his passes for just four scores. So it was hard to get a good read on the production he is capable of.
The quarterback from the University of Washington also may benefit from having slightly better talent around him. Chris Johnson seemed focused and poised for a bounce-back season, and if Kenny Britt can stay healthy and out of trouble, he is one of the most explosive players at the wide receiver position.
Locker is also a bit more of a scrambler than Luck is. He ran for nearly 2,000 yards in his college career and rushing yards from the quarterback position can really make a big difference in fantasy. Luck is much more of a pure pocket passer and the majority of his production will have to come through the air.
The one negative Locker has is the capable and reliable Matt Hasselbeck as a backup. If the Titans are somehow – keyword being somehow - in contention again for a playoff spot like they were in 2011, the Titans could turn to Hasselbeck should Locker struggle.
Luck on the other hand is looking at Drew Stanton and Chandler Harnish behind him. So it’s pretty safe to say as long as he can stand, he’s going to be starting. Although Luck may be the more inexperienced of the two, he does have a solid veteran presence around him. Receivers Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie, along with running back Donald Brown have been playing together for years.
The Stanford alum also played in a very pro style in college and will have the benefit of playing with tight end Coby Fleener again with the Colts. Having someone like Fleener who he already has built a rapport with in college, could really help his transition to the NFL game.
One factor that could be seen as both a negative and a positive for Luck is how bad the Colts will be on the field. Coming off a terrible 2-14 campaign, it is clear the team has a lot of holes. The good thing is that Indianapolis will most likely be playing from behind often, so Luck is going to be throwing the ball quite a bit. The negative, however, is that having to drop back in the pocket all the time can lead to hits and turnovers, especially late in games.
Overall the slightly better of the two options looks to be Luck at the moment. Having Chris Johnson in the backfield is going to really cut down on Locker’s throws and production. Tennessee I think also really overachieved last year and are no where near as strong as their record indicated. Luck is going to throw the ball quite a bit and his veteran receivers, along with Fleener, should make him a lot more comfortable as a rookie.
Neither would be looked at as an ideal option as a starter, but in deeper leagues you could be looking at a couple of sleepers at QB.