The second week of the NFL season was downright diabolical to fantasy owners who saw a wave of injuries and suspensions gut their rosters.
Adrian Peterson was deactivated, Jamal Charles went down on his second carry with an ankle injury, and A.J. Green exited the game with a foot injury without recording a single catch. Doug Martin and Carson Palmer were late scratches, and Ryan Matthews and Robert Griffin III were carted off the field with injuries that will cost them each several weeks. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery were hobbled to the point that it was pure guesswork by lineup deadlines as to whether they would play or be effective on Sunday night.
The injuries had fantasy owners desperately running triage to field any sort of replacements in their MASH-unit lineups. That meant pulling the trigger on no-name, waiver-wire pickups like Knile Davis, Matt Asiata, Jerick McKinnon and Bobby Rainey and praying they pan out. (And for what it’s worth, Davis and Rainey are must-owns if they happen to still be available in your leagues).
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But where to go from here?
It’s clear that the turmoil will not ease. The new normal in the NFL includes injuries, roster turnover and suspensions, so owners need to hold on for their dear lives and be more active – and proactive – on the waiver wire than ever.
The good news is that some of this can be foreseen. Warning signs existed in the cases of Charles, Martin and Green, and players like Matthews and Griffin have always been injury-prone. So as the next week approaches, here are some tips to help you get ahead of the curve during the next injury bug.
WEEK TWO LEFTOVERS: Lost in all the injuries to marquee players were the health issues suffered by Mark Ingram and Knowshon Moreno, who were off to hot starts for the Saints and Dolphins. Well, they are now out for at least a month each, meaning Khiry Robinson is a must-have for New Orleans. He played well during New Orleans’ playoff run last season, earning the praise of coaching legend Bill Parcells, who compared him to a young Curtis Martin. Mighty praise from the Big Tuna. The Moreno injury gives more opportunities to Lamar Miller, but buyer beware. Miller’s track record has been pretty poor over the last year.
ATLANTA WR SITUATION: Roddy White suffered a hamstring injury, and Julio Jones hobbled off the field at one point Sunday in their loss to the Bengals. White is a question mark Thursday night against Tampa, and Jones should be OK. But look at Harry Douglas if you want an insurance policy or a last-minute pickup. Remember, Douglas put up more than 1,000 yards receiving last year for the Falcons.
BEAST MODE TAMED? Marshawn Lynch left the game late in Seattle’s loss to San Diego, and coach Pete Carroll said his ”back was tightening up.” It’s too early to know if this is a cause of concern ahead of their Super Bowl rematch with the Broncos, but be ready to snatch Robert Turbin if it worsens. Turbin nearly outperformed Lynch from a fantasy standpoint on Sunday. Waiting in the wings is Christine Michael.
SAN DIEGO SITUATION: The loss of Ryan Matthews is a tricky one. Everyone’s instinct is to scoop up Donald Brown or Danny Woodhead, but the payoff for such a move remains questionable. The Chargers spread the ball around and seemed more inclined to pass in goal-line situations on Sunday, plus you’re not sure which back is going to get the goal-line touches. Brown seems to have the size to be the short-yardage guy, but it’s an iffy proposition.
CAGEY BENGALS: Cincinnati isn’t shedding much light on the foot/toe injury to A.J. Green, but they have a favorable matchup against Tennessee, followed by an off week and then a key matchup with the Patriots. Marvin Jones is also banged-up. Don’t be surprised to see Green get a rest, opening the door to an underrated Mohamed Sanu, who had 84 yards and a touchdown last week and showed flashes in 2013. He also had a nifty completion on a wide receiver pass that last week that nabbed him some passing points.
QB CAROUSEL: You could make the case that the unpredictability surrounding the wide receiver and running back spots has made a top-notch quarterback even more valuable this year. Griffin and Palmer are the only notable quarterback injuries so far, and they were hardly top-notch fantasy plays. But if you want to get ahead of the curve (and realistically this only pertains to two-QB leagues) keep an eye on the situations in Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, St. Louis and Minnesota. The Blake Bortles era will arrive at some point in Jacksonville, Mike Glennon is lurking in Tampa Bay after an 0-2 start, and who knows what will happen in St. Louis, although Austin Davis turned in a gutty performance. The boos for Cassel and calls for Teddy Bridgewater in Minnesota were ridiculous when you consider it was one bad game in a week where Peterson was suddenly out of the lineup, but the pressure will intensify if the Vikings keep losing.
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