Injuries are a fact of life in our fantasy game. You can’t ever plan for them, but if you know what you’re dealing with, you can plan around them and keep your season afloat. Let’s take a look at the fantasy-relevant injuries that occurred in NFL Week 4, and discuss their impact on Week 5 and beyond.
Two different Jets players from two different angles drilled Locker on Sunday. He immediately clutched at his hip, and actually ended up in the hospital. Reports are that he could miss 4-8 weeks with an unknown-as-yet hip injury. Ryan Fitzpatrick takes over as QB for the Titans. This is probably a downgrade for all Titans skill players, but could lead to more touches overall to CJ2K. Mostly it just sucks for Locker because he was finally putting it all together while leading the Titans to a surprising 3-1 start.
Late in the week, it was widely reported that Pryor would start. He was scratched at the last minute in favor of Matt Flynn when he asked for a helmet visor because he still was extremely sensitive to the sun. Flynn got the start, was sacked 7 times, and was generally abysmal. Pryor will have to pass the NFL’s expansive concussion protocol again in order to play this coming week in order to face the Chargers at home.
Just as Morris looked like he was really gaining some traction and wearing down the Raider defense, he went to the locker room. This was obviously frustrating to owners, as Roy Helu, Jr. received the goal line carry and ultimately scored the TD. Morris eventually returned without pads, and sat out the rest of the game. Initial reports are of a rib injury that is not a fracture – Morris owners, you can exhale. He’ll rest up during the Skins bye week, and should be a full go for Week 6. Just a note here: Helu looked excellent in Morris’ stead, and should be owned virtually everywhere as the #1 Morris handcuff. He would explode if Morris had a multi-week absence.
McFadden has always been a frustrating player to own in fantasy, and this Sunday was more of the same. He looked powerful and decisive on his way to 29 yards on 5 early carries, but exited with a hamstring injury, and the next time we saw him, he was on the sidelines in street clothes. Basically, you had to start him this week in a dream matchup against the hapless Redskins, and he hosed you. Rashad Jennings looked more than useful in a backup role, running hard and catching check-down passes galore en route to more than 100 total yards of offense. There isn’t any news on the severity of McFadden’s injury as yet, so stay tuned – if he were to miss multiple weeks, Jennings is the clear handcuff to grab off waivers.
Why should you pick up Rashad Jennings this week? Here’s why: Marcel Reece, direct backup to Darren McFadden, also went down with a knee ailment in the first quarter, and did not re-emerge from the locker room. He’s had and MRI, which came back clean, but Head Coach Dennis Allen made it clear that there’s no timetable for his return. He’s safe to consider out for Week 5 at least. Again, grab Jennings off your waiver wire if you need a short term play at RB.
The nightmare continues for those who took Spiller with a first round pick. His Week 4 touches and yardage totals don’t look awful (23 carries for 77 yards) but he failed to catch a ball out of the backfield, and with a long run of 10 yards, he again failed to provide the big play ability we saw so much of on 2012. An ankle was at fault for his early exit this time, and he’s already admitted that it is unlikely he’ll be able to be at 100% for the Bills game against Cleveland on Thursday. The Browns have a legit run defense regardless, so Spiller is shaping up as more of a RB2 or lower for this coming week. Owners will just have to watch the news updates, gnash their teeth, and gut this thing out – I can’t recommend selling super low on Spiller after 4 weeks. Spiller’s direct backup in the Buffalo offense is…
…who left this game as well with an MCL sprain. Yes, that’s the same injury he suffered last year that caused him to miss multiple weeks. However, according to Jackson, “It’s something that we can manage, and I expect to play.” Take that as you will, and monitor the updates. Short weeks are bad for hurt players. This Thursday, that leaves us with a non-100% Spiller, an injured but determined-to-play Jackson, and somehow-still-in-the-league Tashard Choice as the RB options du jour. Personally, against the aforementioned stiff Browns run defense, I’m avoiding this situation completely.
Coming off a breakout 16-point fantasy week, Hill was a popular add this week as a potential breakout WR. He’ll be waiting another week for his breakout, as Hill left the game on the second play after getting drilled during an interception runback. The Jets don’t play again until next Monday in Atlanta, so Hill will have an extra day to be cleared for action. Note that reports are not calling this a concussion at this time but rather a head injury, although admittedly there aren’t many head injuries that wouldn’t involve concussion protocol testing. Hill owners should be in a holding pattern here, but hopefully you’re not depending on a rookie Jets wideout as your WR3 anyway…right?
More great new for the Jets. Holmes exited during the fourth quarter with a hamstring pull, and was spotted limping around after the game. It was already widely reported that he wasn’t 100% this week, and despite his explosion last week, I can only hope owners didn’t drink the Holmes Kool-Aid in Week 4 as he totaled only 23 yards on 4 receptions. Geno Smith, in other news, looks very much like a rookie QB, and is apparently on track to throw 32 interceptions and lose 12 fumbles. Mentioned that so I could mention this: Avoid the Jets passing game at all costs.
After a catch near the sidelines late in the Sunday night action, Jones was drilled in the knee / hip area, fumbled out of bounds, and left the game for a time. It was looking like he was done for the day until the Falcons miraculously pulled themselves back into the game (onside kick recovery, botched 4th down snap by Patriots center). Apparently instantly healed, Jones went on to make a ridiculous 49 yard circus catch, thus saving his fantasy day. Julio was questionable this week, and I expect that to extend into next Monday’s matchup with the Jets in Atlanta. He always seems to play and deliver the goods, however, so no need to panic here for Jones owners.
VJax was hobbled by a rib injury all week in practice, but remained active and played against Arizona. He only caught 2 passes for 27 yards, but looked pretty good overall and was targeted 11 times. The main issue was the inability of rookie QB Mike Glennon to put the ball on Jackson when he was open. Week 5 is a bye week for Tampa, so there should be plenty of time for Jackson’s rib to heal up. With Glennon now in at QB, I’d rate VJax as more of a WR2 than a WR1 until further notice.
Other Notable Injuries
Coach Bill Belichick has confirmed that Wilfork suffered a ‘serious injury.’ It has been widely reported that the injury is a torn Achilles tendon, which would definitely be a season ending injury. He’s safe to drop in IDP leagues if you owned him there, but this news is also a downgrade for the Patriots D/ST run defense, as Wilfork was a strong presence in the middle.
Freeney has reportedly suffered a torn quad muscle, and the Chargers are trying to decide whether to end his season, or simply put him on short-term IR. Either way, you can drop him in IDP formats, but the lack of pass rush Freeney was providing will definitely impact the Chargers D/ST scoring. His loss will also allow opposing QB’s more time to throw against an already-leaky San Diego secondary, so looking to stream in bye week QB options against SD may be a play worth considering.