Every year injuries play a key role in the fortunes or failures of NFL teams. Those teams that avoid a high rate of attrition stand a better change of standing tall come time for the playoffs. A few key losses can devastate even Super Bowl contenders.
Similarly, fantasy owners who suffer major injuries to multiple players have a more difficult time fielding a winning unit. This worry causes some owners to handcuff lots of players, and is a fact of fantasy football that every owner will have to handle eventually.
In a season that seems to be yielding a strong infestation of injuries to superstars, and putting lots of fantasy starters and backups out of business for at least a few weeks, it is more important than ever for owners to be capable of replacing their stars. That can mean stockpiling backups ahead of time, making deft waiver wire transactions on a weekly basis, or acquiring players through trades.
The players below have all had fantasy value at some point this year. Let’s look at this litany of hurting heroes, and discover how owners may save their season with some new considerations after getting bitten by the injury bug.
Javon Walker – Walker was dealt the dreaded anterior cruciate ligament injury in a week one loss to the Lions. As a higher draft pick, his pain was a definite detriment to fantasy owners.
Solution: If you haven’t truly solved this by now, take a chance on a player like Michael Clayton of Tampa Bay, who should come cheap, but has a chance to do more with a new QB throwing and a coach who claims he’ll be more involved.
Deuce McAllister – McAllister was a mid-first-round selection in most leagues, so his ACL injury to his right knee was a major blow for his owners. Just as he was warming up his season was put on ice.
Solution: Perhaps you quickly grabbed Antowain Smith, Aaron Stecker, or both. If either is still available in your league, it is a smart move to get them. If not, combine a few players in a multi-player deal, and try to trade for an underappreciated fantasy back, such as Warrick Dunn or Curtis Martin.
Brian Griese – Two torn ligaments in his left knee, the ACL and MCL, will keep Griese out for the season. The rapport he had developed with Joey Galloway is gone.
Solution: Chris Simms is an option, but if you want better production, trade for Josh McCown, or Ben Roethlisberger, who has a fine touchdown to interception ratio (9-1).
Torry Holt – Holt won’t be out for too long with his strained posterior cruciate ligament, but just the same, it’s like dealing with his bye week every week he’s missing.
Solution: Trade him for a slightly lesser stud and get the points now to earn wins and make the playoffs.
Nate Burleson – Nate nixed three games with his sprained knee ligament. Hopefully you used Travis Taylor, Troy Williamson or Marcus Robinson in his absence.
Brandon Jones – A sprained knee will slow down Jones’s rookie season.
Solution: Add one of the other rookie wide receivers on this team – Courtney Roby or Roydell Williams.
Correll Buckhalter – Bucky Ball bounced on the season before it even started, with a torn patella tendon in his right knee.
Solution: If you are still looking to replace his depth, try tabbing Ryan Moats, who might start to get some looks since Brian Westbrook is not effective as a runner for Philly.
Duce Staley – If you missed out on Willie Parker earlier this year, you missed out on a lot. Staley will soon be fully healthy, back from his torn lateral meniscus, but he likely won’t have a job waiting for him.
Solution: Seek out someone such as Frank Gore in San Francisco, who should replace Kevan Barlow sooner rather than later.
Robert Ferguson – Just as Ferguson was beginning to show promise as a fantasy player after years of unfulfilled “promise”, he tore a lateral collateral ligament in his left knee. This is par for the course.
Solution: Add Antonio Chatman
Darrell Jackson – Jackson was living up to his draft position before a knee injury setback. Who knows when he’ll be back?
Solution: Get Joe Jurvicius if you can. If not, trade for someone’s third starting WR.
T.J. Duckett – Duckett never seems able to do enough to take away carries from Dunn. His high ankle sprain is a real problem because he is a big back, which puts a lot of weight on the injury.
Solution: Add Brandon Jacobs, a similar type of back who may be available on the waiver wire.
Najeh Davenport – Davenport came in for one game when Ahman Green was hurt, and injured himself, after scoring two touchdowns. There is no solution for this. Simply drop him and move on.
Julius Jones – His high ankle sprain has left fantasy owners without a player they were counting on for high production. Hope he wasn’t your top back.
Solution: Get hold of Marion Barber III or one of the other Jones backups (Tyson Thompson and Anthony Thomas) and hope you hit correctly.
Patrick Crayton – Crayton is out with an ankle injury of his own. Grab someone similar like Samie Parker coming back from his own injury about now for Kansas City.
Kevin Johnson – Johnson had a chance to shine with both Roy Williams and Charles Rogers on the sidelines. He ruptured his right Achilles tendon instead.
Solution: Pick up a different Detroit stopgap wideout for bye weeks, such as Troy Edwards.
Vinny Testaverde – Ancient one injures Achilles.
Solution: Kick him to the curb. There are better backups available.
Ronald Curry – Curry has been promising as a young player, but has also had to deal with Achilles injuries, such as the one that ended his season this year.
Solution: Select Oakland wide receiver Doug Gabriel as a starter if you can, though he is likely already added in most leagues.
Joe Horn – Horn has been out with his hamstring injury longer than most owners thought he would be. His absence puts a dent in starting lineups.
Solution: See if Az-Zahir Hakim is still a viable option – he is putting up some stats.
Carnell Williams – After running for an NFL record in his first few games, Williams has been out with a foot arch and also a hamstring injury. It seems like the astronomical number of carries he received early on has caused this Cadillac to break down.
Solution: If you don’t have Pittman, someone else is using him. So, try trading for another rookie. J.J. Arrington may be on the cusp of earning more carries in Arizona.
Chad Pennington – right shoulder
Jay Fiedler – He’s out with a right shoulder injury but you shouldn’t have been using him anyway.
Marc Bulger – He might just be out for a game or so with the sprained AC joint of his throwing shoulder.
Solution: Start another QB or add Jamie Martin for a game.
Ahman Green – Green wasn’t doing enough behind the Packers line before severely injuring himself with a torn thigh tendon. You can probably pick up his production elsewhere though since it was so pathetic to begin with.
Solution: Add Tony Fisher
Drew Bennett – Bennett injured his hand and had been holding his own before that.
Solution: Get back on the Tyrone Calico bandwagon.
Lee Suggs – His thumb injury caused owners to move on to Reuben Droughns.
Solution: Hold on to him. Let’s see what he can do when he gets back.
Roy Williams – Roy, like his Lions teammates, has been disappointing this year, and has himself been out with a strained left quadriceps recently.
Solution: Add Mike Williams if you still can after his nice showing last Sunday, or take a risk by adding Charles Rogers, who will be motivated coming off his suspension.
David Akers – Even top kickers get hurt. Look at the stats and add another kicker who is performing well.
John Hall – He has missed five games with a quadriceps injury. Get another kicker.
Foot or Toe
Isaac Bruce – Bruce has been out with turf toe for most of the season.
Solution: If you whiffed on getting Kevin Curtis, then take someone like Reggie Brown.
Kyle Boller – Out with a toe injury. Another QB you shouldn’t have been using.
Kurt Warner – It’s McCown’s time now, move on.
Andre Johnson – Johnson has done absolutely nothing this year, and now his knee hurts.
Solution: Add Jabar Gaffney if possible, or take a chance on a big game from Corey Bradford.
Rex Grossman – With Grossman’s broken left fibula went the Bears’ passing game. Hopefully you haven’t added Kyle Orton. Nearly any other starting QB will do.
Hire Joe Levit for corporate or client appreciation events at fantasyfootballspeaker.com. His fantasy football columns appear on SI.com and thehuddle.com. Joe, a PFWA and FSWA member, writes about the NFL for patriotsinsider.com and is a fantasy football analyst on radio. He is the creator of the Sleeper League and FF Hold ‘em League concepts.