Fantasy football: Injuries may tilt playoff balance
Rare is the fantasy owner who breezes through the season without having to overcome injuries. It’s a part of the game – real football, of course, and the fantasy game we love to play.
But some injuries hurt more than others. David Johnson’s broken wrist in Week 1 and Aaron Rodgers’ collarbone injury five weeks later leap to mind. (My buddy’s contention that Pierre Garcon’s Week 8 injury was a crushing blow to his roster just doesn’t hold water.)
But losing one or more of your studs at playoff time can prove fatal to your title chances.
Nobody knows that better than owners of Alvin Kamara, who went down with a concussion on the first drive of the Thursday nighter. The timing couldn’t have been worse, and it undoubtedly prevented countless fantasy teams from advancing to the next round as they otherwise would have.
Carson Wentz’s loss is different, but no less alarming. Wentz treated his owners to a 291-yard, 4-TD, 1-INT performance before going down for the season with a serious knee injury. The fantasy ramifications of that injury begin now.
Those who don’t already have a solid QB on their bench will be searching for emergency help on a waiver wire that has likely been picked clean over the course of the year. I’ve offered a couple of recommendations below; but unless Aaron Rodgers is still sitting there for some inexplicable reason, get ready for a significant downgrade at this crucial position.
By the way, if you find yourself facing Wentz’s owner in Week 15, or could face him or her in the championship round, consider making a preemptive claim on the best QB available. Keeping Rodgers, Blake Bortles or whomever from your opponent’s roster is not just a sneaky blocking move; it’s good strategy that could make the difference in your title run.
As they say, all’s fair in love and fantasy football.
CATCH ‘EM WHILE YOU CAN
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers: How is he still available in a third of all leagues? Surely my readers have not overlooked Rodgers, since I advised you to grab him last week. Come on, people … it’s Aaron Freaking Rodgers, and he’ll probably be the Packers’ starter next week!
Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars: Did Wentz strand you at the worst possible time? Bortles could come to the rescue. Benefiting from his stifling defense, a strong running game and the emergence of play-making wideout Marqise Lee (who’s also still widely available), Bortles posted his second consecutive multi-touchdown game without a turnover in the tough battle with Seattle. Next up: tasty matchups with the Texans and 49ers.
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers: Stewart is available in four out of six ESPN leagues, which is odd because he scored in each of the last two games before his 103-yard, 3-TD explosion against the top-ranked Vikings run defense. With Green Bay and Tampa Bay up next, Stewart could keep the TD streak going while grinding out decent (or better) yards.
DON’T BE FOOLED
Nick Foles, QB, Eagles: Foles had his moments in the fantasy spotlight, but those days are long gone. Though he has a great cast around him, and even a favorable matchup against the Giants next week, he’s just not the guy you want leading your team in the fantasy postseason. Unless you are truly desperate.
Rod Smith, RB, Cowboys: Smith has become the king of trash-time scoring, finding the end zone four times over the last three games – all in the fourth quarter. So if you think the Cowboys will continue to nurse big leads at the end of their next two games, go ahead and grab him. But that’s an awfully risky proposition. Don’t forget: Ezekiel Elliott returns in Week 16.
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).