The tag team of bye weeks and injuries is more formidable than The Road Warriors or the Wild Samoans ever were. Fantasy football owners are now scrambling like Michael Vick to find options at the skilled positions.
This past weekend did a number on many fantasy rosters’ depth charts. Two of the NFL’s best running backs went down with injuries that could ruin their seasons, and they were not the only ones who suffered serious blows to their fantasy values.
Here is the latest injury news for some of the top players in fantasy football and which teammates of theirs might be benefiting from their absences:
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars (RB)
This is what we know: Jones-Drew is not playing this week against the Green Bay Packers. What we don’t know is if that is the only game he will miss.
Jacksonville head coach Mike Mularkey, who has not exactly transformed the Jaguars’ offense into a thing of beauty like fantasy owners had hoped, said that Jones-Drew could miss “an extended period of time” after suffering a foot injury in the first quarter against the Oakland Raiders, according to ESPN.
While that does not narrow it down in terms of weeks or months, what it truly means is MJD owners are in worse shape than Wile E. Coyote after the Road Runner drops an anvil on his head.
More information on Jones-Drew should be coming later in the week. Fantasy owners can only pray that the dreaded word “Lisfranc” is not uttered, or else, fantasy football’s favorite bowling ball could be done rolling for the season.
Jones-Drew understudy Rashad Jennings is a must-pick on fantasy waiver wires. He is a solid back who can run between the tackles and make plays in the pass game. He will touch the ball as often now as Jones-Drew was. Jennings might not do as much with the carries and catches that Jones-Drew did, but he should be halfway decent and become the most popular pickup this week.
Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars (QB)
When it rains it hails. Not much later after Jones-Drew went down with his injury, Gabbert was sacked and injured his left shoulder. Luckily, it was his non-throwing shoulder, but the injury was severe enough to knock Gabbert out for the rest of the Oakland game and leave one of the worst offenses in football without its franchise running back and starting quarterback.
It is too early to tell if Gabbert will miss the Green Bay game this Sunday. Mularkey sounded optimistic when speaking on Monday but said there were still test results the Jags were waiting on.
Even though Gabbert has been at the bottom of the fantasy well again this season—he has not thrown for 200 yards in a game since Week 1— some fantasy squads may need him this week due to four teams being on bye.
Chad Henne has had ample opportunities over the years and has never been thought of as a Drew Brees-like fantasy performer. Heck, he arguably has never been the fantasy quarterback Gus Frerotte was. Yet, if you polled 100 fantasy owners and asked them which player they would rather see quarterback Jacksonville, I think 60 would choose Henne, if only for the fact it would probably make Justin Blackmon’s fantasy worth rise out of the negatives.
Keep monitoring the situation this week to find out what those tests say. Maybe, Maury Povich will release the results on his show. If Gabbert is OK, I do not think I would use him at Green Bay anyway. If Gabbert is going to miss a couple weeks, then Henne becomes a viable waiver pick.
One thing is for sure for fantasy owners: If you have a defense that is scheduled to face Jacksonville, use them!
Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns (RB)
The Alabama product might be a battering ram when he runs, but he seems to be battering his own body as much as he is battering defenders.
Richardson left Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts early due to the combination of his rib cartilage injury hindering him and the fact he was running like a slower Ron Dayne. His eight carries for eight yards against a hapless Indianapolis Colts defense must have made some of his fantasy owners break their HDTVs.
According to Cleveland head coach Pat Shurmur, Richardson’s status is “week-to-week,” according to Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer. That is just ducky. So every week, fantasy owners will have to wait until Sunday morning to find out whether Richardson is playing or not.
I think I speak for fantasy owners everywhere by saying we wish Cleveland would just rest Richardson until he can go full bore. In the meantime, Montario Hardesty, who sounds more like a member of Jodeci than the Browns, would fill in for Richardson.
Hardesty has done little in his brief career (3.2 yards per carry, one TD), and if he starts this weekend, it would be versus a San Diego Chargers defense that is ranked second against the run. But, he would be running behind a good offensive line and would be a better fantasy play than say LeGarrette Blount.
Fred Davis, Washington Redskins (TE)
Davis and Robert Griffin III did not mesh as well as chicken and waffles during the opening two weeks of the season, but they were just starting to click as Davis was emerging as RG3's top target. Unfortunately, they will have to wait until 2013 to.
Davis is out for the season after rupturing his Achilles tendon in the end zone against the New York Giants. It is ironic that the injury occurred there, considering he had not scored a touchdown yet this year.
So, Davis can be dropped in most fantasy formats unless you have him in a dynasty league and think he can be your tight end in 2013. Let’s just hope that, now that he has some downtime, he does not make another unfortunate choice with drugs and get himself banned for a year.
While Washington re-signed long-time tight end and fantasy friend Chris Cooley to fill the void, he should not be expected to limp in and start racking up Shannon Sharpe-like numbers. Cooley is going to need a couple weeks to get going, and nobody knows what he has left since his body was ravaged by injuries the past couple years.
Backup Logan Paulsen caught four passes for 76 yards against the Giants and could end up being a stopgap option for fantasy squads. He has only caught 18 passes in 2.5 seasons, but he should be good for three to five receptions per week as long as Cooley does not have a Comeback Player of the Year-type campaign.
Meanwhile, Griffin III is bad luck for receivers and tight ends. No. 1 WR Pierre Garcon has battled foot problems since Week 1, and now, Davis is done. Santana Moss should go into hiding.