Remember that time when you were in first place in your fantasy league? Going into Week 7, you were 6-0 and you were already counting the money and sharpening your trash-talking skills. Then your worst-case scenario unfolded: your top RB went down for the season. We’ve all been there. Losing a player and in turn losing a fantasy football season is a bad feeling. Other than taking a long walk on a beach with my mother-in-law, I can’t think of anything worse.

Predicting injuries is almost impossible. Truth be told, if your goal was to predict injuries before the season started, I would say that you were probably that kid who enjoyed burning ants with a magnifying glass. Nevertheless, injuries do need to be analyzed. Before this season even starts, key injuries already exist and here is my attempt to predict what impact this will have on the upcoming 2013 Fantasy Football season.

Running Backs

Trent Richardson CLE – injured – Expected to start Week 1

There isn’t much doubt that Richardson will be ready for Week 1. Fantasy impact? The Browns need Richardson to have 300+ carries this season. Given that he is the only offensive weapon the Brown have, he should still be a top pick on draft day.

Arian Foster HOU – injured – Expected to start Week 1

If there were any rules written in fantasy football, drafting Arian Foster with one of the first two picks would be one of them. The guy has been money by going over 1,200 yards and scoring double-digit touchdowns in 3 consecutive seasons. Before Week 1 arrives, he is dealing with a calf injury. Fantasy impact? With the Texans being in an easy division, I expect Fosters carries to decrease if Houston believes they can rest him. Ben Tate has showed that he can fill in for Foster on a weekly basis. Handcuff Foster early.

Wide Receivers

Jeremy Maclin PHI – Injured – Out for season

Chip Kelly loves speed. DeSean Jackson is fast. Jeremy Maclin is fast. This was going to all come together and give the Eagles a chance to turn the corner this season. That was what we thought until Maclin turned his ACL in the wrong direction. Fantasy impact? Maclin had that one good year in 2010. Since then is a mediocre #3 receiver. DeSean Jackson will once again take the spotlight in Philly.

Michael Crabtree SF – Injured – Return date is TBD

Last season, Crabtree proved that his days at Texas Tech were not a fluke. He earned the #1 WR spot in San Fran after finishing 2012 with 85 receptions and going over 1,000 yards. However, the excitement was short-lived. After tearing his Achilles back in May, there is a good chance we won’t see Crabtree catch a pass this season. Fantasy impact? Most would say this opens doors for Anquan Boldin but I beg to differ. Boldin hasn’t had a great season since his Arizona days and let’s not forget he was opposite Larry Fitzgerald. With Mario Manningham questionable to start for the 49ers, defenses will be locked on Boldin which will decrease his chances of repeating whatever success he had last season.

Percy Harvin SEA – Injured – Out until Thanksgiving

After finishing 27th in passing last year, Seattle wasted no time this offseason by acquiring WR Percy Harvin. The $67-million dollar contract plus Harvin and Sidney Rice being teammates again caused many to believe the Harvin was a reliable sleeper pick. This all changed when we found out Harvin would undergo surgery. Expect Harvin to give thanks if he can be back by Thanksgiving. Fantasy Impact? All eyes on are on Sidney Rice. I don’t see what weapons they have other than Rice to improve their passing offense. Expect Marshawn Lynch to see an increased workload.

Quarterbacks

Robert Griffin III WAS – Injured – Return date is TBD

RGIII found a way to silence those who believed he would be a victim of a sophomore slump when he earned the AP Rookie Offensive Player of the year last season. What he could not do was stay healthy. Many believe that he will be ready for Week 1 but will be he be 100%? Fantasy Impact? When healthy, RGIII a top 10 QB. Key words: when healthy. If he is anything but that, use caution on draft day.

Kevin Kolb BUF – Injured – Return date is TBD

Kevin Kolb slipped on a mat during practice and injured himself. This is a news update and only a news update. Fantasy Impact? None. Were you going to draft him?

Tight Ends

Dennis Pitta BAL – injured – Out for season

You know what Dennis Pitta and Anquan Boldin have in common? They helped the Baltimore Ravens win the Super Bowl last season. You know what else they have in common? Neither one of them will start for the Baltimore Ravens this season. Now to be fair, Boldin was traded. Pitta on the other hand dislocated his hip just three days into training camp. Fantasy impact? Pitta came off a career-high season in 2012 and with the deletion of Anquan Boldin, we all had high hopes for him. The Ravens seemed to lose that hope when they signed Visanthe Shiancoe the day after Pitta was ruled out for 2013. However, things changed this past weekend with the Ravens signed veteran TE Dallas Clark. If you are in a league that requires you to start a TE every week, Clark might be your guy. We all know what he is capable of.

Rob Gronkowski NE – injured – Return is TBD

You know what Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez have in common? All right. Fine. I won’t go there. Gronkowski has had multiples surgeries on his forearm in addition to back surgery this offseason, likely leaving him not ready to play by the start of the season. Fantasy impact? Gronkowski redefined the TE position. There was a time when picking a TE before the 3rd round was an invitation to ridicule your fantasy football skills. Gronkowski changed that. With 38 touchdowns in just three seasons, how could you not draft him in the first or second round? My initial answer to his injury problem would have been to handcuff him with Aaron Hernandez but you’re too late for that. See what I did there?

Aaron Hernandez NE – Incarcerated – Return to society not likely

He is being connected to multiple homicides. The evidence is mounting. He is in jail. Fantasy impact? You drafting him is nothing but a fantasy.

Defenses

Denver Broncos

I don’t recall a time when picking the right defense on draft day led to a fantasy football championship. However, the defense situation in Denver is not looking good. Von Miller, who has had double-digit sacks in his first 2 NFL seasons, is facing 4-game suspension for violating NFL policy. Rodgers-Cromartie was carted off the with a high ankle sprain. After seeing what the Ravens did to Champ Bailey last year, the Broncos do not have room for error in the CB position. Fantasy impact? Too early to tell but that high-powered offense in Denver has the weapons it needs with or without a defense.