Fantasy football: Injuries shift landscape
In both of my leagues, and many more I’ve heard about anecdotally, the owner who selected David Johnson with the first overall pick also swung for the fences and took Zeke Elliott with their second or third selection. It was a bold move at the time, as Elliott’s six-game suspension was still in force.
Fast forward a few days, when Elliott was granted his injunction, and it appeared that those of us who weren’t armed with the Johnson/Elliott duo were destined to play for second place.
Funny how quickly things change. Johnson’s Week 1 injury leveled the playing field overnight. Then yesterday in Denver, Elliott might as well have been serving his suspension. Last year’s leading rusher wasn’t injured; he was just bottled up by a ferocious defense. Suddenly, my owner envy shifted to owner pity.
Bless their hearts.
But while Johnson’s near-season-ending injury was all the rage after opening weekend, Sunday’s assorted breaks, pulls and strains have thrown even more fantasy owners into a tizzy.
Greg Olsen’s broken foot leaves a huge hole in countless fantasy rosters. Olsen is renowned for his toughness and durability, and he won’t be easily replaced for the next six to eight weeks. Not by his owners, and certainly not by his quarterback. Cam Newton’s stock takes a hit, too.
Rob Gronkowski strained his groin, but declared himself to be “good” after the game. We’ll see about that. Jordan Reed left Sunday’s contest with a chest injury of unknown severity, but his owners should already have a backup plan in place, given Reed’s lengthy injury history. Jimmy Graham (ankle), Jesse James (ankle) and Tyler Eifert (back, knee) also got nicked up this weekend.
That’s a lot of blows to the already-thin tight end ranks.
Meanwhile, Jordy Nelson’s owners are wondering if Sunday night’s goose egg is a one-week thing, or if their top wideout will be lost for an extended period. In the most helpful of ways, those of us who own Davante Adams and Randall Cobb think the Packers should err on the side of caution and make certain Nelson’s quad is 100% before he returns to the field.
Few fantasy owners hitched their team’s hopes to Sam Bradford in the QB slot, but those banking on consistent production from Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are surely rooting for the rapid healing of Bradford’s bum knee.
It’s not clear if Jordan Howard’s shoulder injury is the problem, or if Howard is the problem. What seems clear is that Tarik Cohen is the solution in Chicago.
A similar shift may be unfolding in Tennessee, where DeMarco Murray is struggling with a tender hammy. Is the younger, more-decisive Derrick Henry about to seize the workhorse role?
If you’ve dodged the injury bullet so far with your fantasy team, consider yourself lucky.
CATCH ‘EM WHILE YOU CAN
Javorius “Buck” Allen, RB, Ravens: Allen made a name for himself in the second half of his rookie season two years ago, then he disappeared in 2016. Now he’s back, leading the Ravens in touches and combining for 101 yards and a TD against the Browns. Allen has stepped into the role planned for Danny Woodhead – another Week 1 casualty. Consider him as solid depth and a decent flex start in the right matchups, especially if Terrance West (leg) is sidelined.
Chris Carson, RB, Seahawks: Seattle’s backfield (and its offense in general) is in low gear at the moment, but the rookie has emerged as its most viable rushing weapon. With 20 carries against the 49ers, versus just five for Thomas Rawls, and with Eddie Lacy a healthy scratch this week, Carson is currently the only Seahawk RB worth owning.
Samaje Perine, RB, Redskins: If Rob Kelley’s rib injury keeps him sidelined for a game or more, Perine’s ascendance to the lead RB gig will accelerate. Chris Thompson has a lock on the change-of-pace role, and he should already be on someone’s roster. But Perine is most likely to take on the bulk of the rushing workload should the starting job be vacated.
Benjamin Watson, TE, Ravens: Given the depletion of the tight end position, healthy options will be in high demand on the waiver wire. After seeing just one target in Week 1, Watson was the busiest receiver on the field against the Browns. Though there’s no guarantee that will continue, given Baltimore’s three-headed TE committee, he’s worth consideration by desperate owners. The Colts’ Jack Doyle is another decent option, if available.
DON’T BE FOOLED
Chris Johnson, RB, Cardinals: It was good to see The RB Formerly Known as CJ2K back on the field Sunday, but it’s clear this Johnson is nothing like the one he replaced. Arizona was a terrible rushing team before David Johnson arrived, and it appears they will be so again.
Brandon Coleman, WR, Saints: When you play catch with Drew Brees, you’re bound to have the occasional good game. But unless you’re one of his favorites, those performances can be fleeting. With Carolina on deck, the Saints’ passing game mostly out of sync and Willie Snead set to return from suspension in Week 4, it’s best to leave Coleman on the wire.
Ladd Biro is a two-time winner and five-time finalist of the Football Writer of the Year Award by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. Follow all his advice daily at the Fantasy Fools blog (fantasy-fools.blogspot.com), on Facebook and via Twitter (@ladd_biro).