Picking Up The Pieces

Death, taxes and injuries during the football season. If you play fantasy football then there’s simply no escaping the fact that, at some point, you will deal with an injury on your roster. It’s just unavoidable, like the grim specter of death that comes for us all. Here’s a quick parable on how not to deal with it when it happens to you (fantasy injuries… not death)

I have a habit of sending people in my league text updates when something occurs on their team. I merely think I’m being a good sport by keeping people abreast of breaking news concerning their players. My league mates, however, have a somewhat different view, referring to the texts less-than-affectionately as, “the piece of shit report”. One time during a matchup last season, I sent one of these to a friend who, unbeknownst to me at the time, was currently at a retreat for mindfulness and anxiety reduction. He left the retreat – no doubt feeling refreshed after a session of personal growth and relaxation – to find the message, “ah shit, looks like Allen Hurns is heading to the locker room” and proceeded to punch a brick wall. Now, you can’t avoid injuries throughout the season, but you CAN avoid punching a brick wall if you have an action plan when they occur. Let’s see if the BFG can help you out with that…

The Minnesota Vikings, or, It Was Fun While It Lasted

The Pain: Let’s start with the most tragic development of the weekend. Not only was Dalvin Cook headed for an all-time rookie season from a usage standpoint, he was starting to look like 2017’s Ezekiel Elliott in the process while doing it. All it took was one freak landing on a cut to end all of that, however. Cook’s furious start to the season seemed to derail almost as quickly as it picked up steam (RIP r/dalvincookhypetrain). While you may have planned for this calamity with roster depth or a trade, there’s simply no replacing what is the fantasy equivalent of found money if you drafted Cook in the 3rd round or later. Good luck getting 25+ carries and 5+ targets per week back into your lineup.

(And just so you don’t think I’m some callous asshole who only considers things from a fantasy perspective, I called this injury “tragic” for a reason. I was really enjoying watching Dalvin Cook this season and he was one of the best things about this young NFL season. Let’s hope he recovers well and comes back strong next year.)

The Plan: If you’re a Vikings fan, your move is to find something else to occupy your Sunday afternoons. In fantasy, though, you could drop a chunk of FAAB on Latavius Murray, but I would maybe caution to have some alligator arms while reaching for the wallet. Murray is certainly in line for the carries, but you should have your head examined if you think he’ll be on the field as often as Cook was. Throw in the fact that Murray himself claims that he’s not 100%, and by this point you should realize that you’re not getting this year’s Jay Ajayi or Jordan Howard. If you’ve got the space and the cash, then hey, throw that mastercard on the table. Just make sure you know what you’re buying.

Then there’s Jerrick McKinnon, who’s been waiting in the wings as the heir apparent for what feels like 11 seasons. Indeed, this isn’t his first rodeo when it comes to taking the reins, and each time he needs to be rescued by a rodeo clown when he falls off. He’ll be a factor, but from what I watch on tape, he just hasn’t taken the next step from a talent perspective. I don’t even think a Latavius injury would thrust him into fantasy savior conversation. He could give some decent flex returns as a pass catcher, however.

Starless in Seattle

The Pain: Much like Dalvin Cook, Seattle’s Chris Carson was a rookie back who was just starting to come into his own as a bellcow running back. And just like Cook, any hopes of him carrying the mail through to the playoffs were dashed with a resounding snap of his ankle on Sunday Night. What’s especially upsetting about the rookie’s untimely injury is that it easily could’ve been avoided. Pete Carroll senselessly played his workhorse running back deep into the 4th quarter despite a commanding lead, and now Seattle is back to drawing board just as the offense looked to be developing an identity. Someone will have to pick up the torch…

The Plan: Well, this one is more of a roulette spin until we see how the workload shakes out next week. The chief culprit for the lack of clarity is the fact that a cryptex is required to make sense of coach Pete Carroll’s comments about the running back rotation. He mentioned that Eddie Lacy is a guy that they’re excited to see get more carries, but then followed it up by claiming that Thomas Rawls will be “the guy” in Carson’s absence. He called rookie J.D Mckissic, fresh off of a two touchdown performance, a guy that they’re excited about using more. Oh, and there’s a chance that passing down specialist C.J. Prosise will return this week as well. Unless the Seahawks plan to start running the ball 78 times per game, then clearly only one of these guys will be sustainable for fantasy purposes.

Despite the proclamation of Rawls being “the guy”, I’m not inclined to blow the stack on him this week (if he’s even available). He was a healthy scratch only two weeks ago, and he has a herky jerky running motion that just doesn’t scream “athlete” to me at first glance. It’s too early to say, but my proclamation about Eddie Lacy becoming the lead back by midseason is still in the mix (albeit in a roundabout fashion). I don’t know if it’s the lack of quality “China Food” in the Seattle area or if there’s simply a blowtorch lit under Lacy’s ass, but he looked quicker than usual against the Colts last week. You know that it’s a long shot, but it likely won’t cost you more than a few shekels to potentially have the Seattle #1 RB. Eddie is worth the stash in my opinion.

Hamstrung – The Tennessee Titans

The Pain: I was in Nashville this past weekend for a bachelor party, and what struck me most (or at least the only thing I can remember vividly after mainlining bourbon and gravy for two days) was the prevalence of Titan flags with the slogan “Titan Up”. With the myriad of soft tissue injuries plaguing the team throughout September, the fanbase might want to send the coaching staff a message by switching the slogan to “Vitamin D Up” or possibly “Magnesium Up”. The latest casualty is Marcus Mariota, who is #1 on the list of players that this inconsistent offense can’t afford to lose. Coach Mike Mularkey likened it to a Demarco Murray situation, who has since played effectively, but sitting your star quarterback out of precaution never bodes well for the following week.

The Plan: If Mariota is indeed sidelined, then you need to find alternatives in your lineup if you have Titans players. The offense was touch and go even with a healthy Marcus, but outside of Demarco Murray, there really aren’t any players you can trust with Matt Cassel taking the reins. I don’t know if you got a chance to see any of Cassell’s snaps during the 57-14 shellacking by the Texans last week, but here’s some of the highlights in case you missed it.

There is no plan here. As a season long owner, I would hope that the Titans rest Mariota if there’s even a slight chance of aggravation. The Bills learned this the hard way last season with Lesean McCoy (coincidentally, also against Miami) when they rushed him back when he clearly wasn’t 100%. Hamstrings are nothing to mess with, especially for a quarterback whose value is tied to his rushing ability.

Spinal Crap – The Oakland Raiders

The Pain: Marcus Mariota and Derek Carr have the opposite of a symbiotic relationship. Instead of a partnership that’s mutually beneficial, the young franchise quarterbacks seem to be locked into a deadly pact of mutually assured destruction. For the 2nd year in a row, the Oakland signal caller managed to get injured on the same day as Mariota, although at least this time it wasn’t season ending. That said, the prognosis wasn’t all sunshine either, with the initial word being that Carr is dealing with a back injury that could sideline him for 2-6 weeks. If it’s the latter, it could be a death knell for a Raiders team that has struggled to look competent against anyone other than the JV Jets and the frustrating Titans.

The Plan: Hey, hey, come on now… don’t everyone jump at once to pick up E.J. Manuel off of waivers. In all seriousness, though, Manuel looked fairly competent in Carr’s stead, even giving the Raiders a chance to win late against Denver. He could provide reasonable numbers in a very deep league, but obviously this offense is going to struggle without #4 taking snaps. That goes double for Amari Cooper, whose slide into mediocrity is nothing short of astonishing. They say that people need to hit rock bottom before they can improve, but Cooper owners are about to find out what the center of the Earth looks like. If possible, avoid this entire damn offense against the Ravens next week. Depending on your league’s QB scarcity on the wire, I might even give Mitchell Trubisky a shot over Manuel, despite the tough matchup against the Vikings.

Assorted Bad News

In the blood sport that is the NFL, there are always a few extra injuries that round out the headlines from the day…

  • Jordan Matthews is apparently going to miss a month with a thumb injury, which should change absolutely nothing for a team that barely features wide receivers as it is. With his strong aversion to options outside the hash marks, Tyrod Taylor might as well scrub up and put on a hazmat suit every time he targets a receiver, Outbreak-style. You could give Zay Jones another shot, but don’t expect Matthews’ absence to change a damn thing for the rookie.

 

  • Mohammed Sanu could be out 2-3 with what’s been described as a hamstring injury, and Julio Jones thankfully (for now) is expected to be back after the team’s bye next week. Talk about a week off coming at the right time.

 

  • In the words of Crazy Horse bouncer Ben McAdoo, Odell Beckham Jr. is “dealing with a few things.” I don’t think fingers are supposed to bend like that, Odell. Despite discovering he was double jointed and aggravating his injured ankle twice, though, Odell is allegedly the portrait of health. Constantly banged up and playing on an 0-4 team, I’m starting to feel like you’re in for a frustrating season if you spent that first pick on OBJ. Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram would benefit the most if he happened to miss more time.

 

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