“Off the Matt” Next Man Up (Key Preseason Injuries)
Fantasy Commandment VII: Thou shall not commission a fantasy league that holds its draft before the third week of preseason games.
Ideally, the league(s) that you participate in hold their draft after the preseason schedule has concluded. Situations arise that make that impossible. Believe it or not, there are actually people out there who are selfish enough to get married on the weekend before the start of the NFL season. Unbelievable. Anyways, hopefully your league at least holds off until the third week of preseason is over.
I get that injuries can happen at anytime, but I think we can agree that it makes it harder to accept when the season hasn’t even started yet. Don’t agree? Maybe we should ask the poor guy who plays in a league that runs their draft in early August.
Round 1: Arian Foster
Round 2: Jordy Nelson
Round 3: Kelvin Benjamin
I might have a similar reaction. I am sure somewhere out there in the fantasy world someone is living that nightmare. I would like to meet that person, give them a hug, and tell them they are going to get through this.
In the game of fantasy football, it is all about opportunity. It is unfortunate that these fine players sustained injuries. However, it means that someone will get the opportunity to step in and be a contributor to their team, as well as millions of fantasy teams.
Arian Foster’s injury is one of the murkiest situations I can recall. When there are reports that he could return as early as Week 3 or possibly after the Week 8 bye, it basically means no one knows what to expect. So, when is the right time to pull the trigger on him in redraft leagues? According to fantasy pros his ADP is 58, which equates to a late 4th round pick in a 12 team league. Personally, that is a bit rich for my blood, but if Foster would end up returning to action in late September, it could end up being the steal of the draft.
One can’t overlook how good Foster was last year when he was on the field. It only took him 13 games to finish as the fifth best back in 2014. Using ESPN scoring, he totaled nine or more fantasy points in 12 of 13 games. He exploded for 20+ fantasy points five times. In head to head leagues, the thought of having Foster for the stretch run is an appealing option. With no telling when or how he will bounce back from the groin injury, taking Foster anytime before the sixth round is too risky of a proposition.
What about a man named Blue? With a current ADP of 100, Alfred Blue is coming off the board in the eighth round. While there is certainly some intrigue in nailing-down a starting running back in the eight round for potentially half of the season, I would advise against it.
When considering Blue, many people will think of the good
times or I guess it would be just time. The time I am referring to is when he ran roughshod over the Browns to the tune of 36 carries (that is not a typo) for 156 yards. That was a fun day for Blue owners, but when evaluating him one must look at the other 15 games as well.
The other 15 games look like: 133/372/2 – – quick math: 2.8 yards per carry (that is not a typo). There isn’t much flash in Blue’s game. Over his final 59 carries of the season he failed to have a single rush of more than six yards. Let that sink in.
If round eight rolls around, and you are in desperate need of running back help (like “Naked and Afraid” need of protein desperate) then Blue is a warm body you can insert into your line up. However, don’t expect anything more than low-end flex production.
I hate seeing any player get hurt, especially a top tier player like Jordy Nelson. With his injury occurring after many drafts had already taken place, it sent many fantasy owners scurrying to the wire to see if Devante Adams was available. Adams is the biggest beneficiary of the Nelson injury and will also cost the most on draft day. If you want to land Adams on your roster, figure on spending a fifth round draft pick.
Last year, Adams showed some serious potential, posting games of 6/121/0, and in the playoff victory over the Cowboys he went off for 7/117/1. Sandwiched between those breakout games, was a four game stretch in which he posted 6 yards, 6 yards, 17 yards, and a goose-egg. Being thrust into a much more prominent role this season makes him an high-upside WR2.
If the 5th round price-tag that Adams carries is too expensive for you, there are other options. Fellow writer Mike Stromme did a nice job covering some cheaper options in the Packer passing attack. At the end of year, Rodgers is going to have thrown for 4000+ yards and 30+ touchdowns. You might as well try to get a piece of that action.
Another talented receiver who went down for the season was Kelvin Benjamin. The replacement for Benjamin isn’t as clear-cut as the Packer situation. Reports out of Carolina indicate that replacing Benjamin will be a committee effort. While that might be true to start the year, one has to believe it will only be a matter of time until Devin Funchess takes over Benjamin’s “X” position in the Panther’s offense.
Kelvin Benjamin: 6’5” / 240lbs / 4.61 40 yard dash / 32.5 vertical jump
Devin Funchess: 6’4” / 232lbs / 4.7 40 yard dash / 38.5 vertical jump
It makes sense right?
Benjamin was a target monster in 2014. He totaled 146 regular season targets, including seven games with double-digits. Assuming Funchess can catch on quick, there will be plenty of opportunities for him to make a splash in the fantasy pool. With Benjaman’s 2014 numbers as his upside, Funchess’s tenth round ADP makes him someone I am targeting on draft day.
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