A couple of fantasy football’s premier players suffered injuries last Sunday that put their seasons in doubt, so the NFL Week 15 injury report is required reading for fantasy owners just like Twilight is for love-starved high-school students.
The timing of these injuries is dubious for fantasy owners needing full, healthy rosters as they plan for their playoff games. And it was not only big names that were bitten by the dreaded injury bug last week. A couple smaller-scale fantasy helpers were hurt, too.
Here is the latest on some superstars’ status for Week 15 and what impact their injuries will have on fantasy football:
Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins (QB)
Robert Griffin III took a nasty hit from Baltimore freight train Haloti Ngata last Sunday and suffered a sprained right knee, which was actually the best-case scenario considering many of Griffin’s fantasy owners probably had irregular heartbeats while watching the play unfold thinking he had torn his ACL.
Sprained knees sometimes sideline players for several weeks depending on the severity. Griffin practiced on Wednesday, though, albeit gingerly at times, according to the Washington Times. So he might indeed play this week against the Cleveland Browns and not miss a game, but we are not going to know until later in the week thanks to head coach and fantasy screwer-upper Mike Shanahan.
One sidebar—RG3 is starting to look like a sell-high candidate in keeper and dynasty leagues. The guy is amazing and very valuable, yet with the pounding he takes and the injuries he has already had, could he turn out to be the Grady Sizemore of fantasy football?
It is too early to tell whether or not Griffin will start on Sunday, but Griffin stepping on the practice field on Wednesday is definitely a solid sign pointing toward him playing. If Washington’s game did not have any bearing on the playoffs, I would think he would be rested.
With the game against Cleveland meaning so much, however, I would bet on Griffin suiting up. Just be advised that he might not physically be able to rack up the gaudy rushing yards he normally does because of his knee and whatever brace he might put on it for protection. .
Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys (WR)
Dez Bryant finally appeared to get his house in order, both off the field (no problems since his curfew has been put in place) and on the field (525 yards and seven touchdowns over past five games).
So it is too bad that Bryant fractured his left index finger during his game against the Cincinnati Bengals last Sunday. If he played another position it would be about as important finding a fantasy kicker on the waiver wire, but since he is a receiver, it is 1,000 times more important than usual.
Dallas and Bryant received a second opinion on his injured digit, according to ESPN.com, as the team and player are gathering information to help with their decision on whether or not Bryant can play this week or again this season. As of the writing of this column, Bryant’s status is as questionable as some of head coach Jason Garrett’s play calls.
If Bryant cannot play, that means more targets for Miles Austin and Jason Witten against a battered Pittsburgh Steelers secondary that seems to lose a different defensive back every week. And if Bryant can catch and can play, he might go for 150 yards and two TDs. So keep on eye out for Bryant news as the week progresses.
Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs (WR)
Fantasy pundits like myself thought 2012 would be a superb season for Dwayne Bowe. He should have been pumped to post huge numbers since he was entering free agency, and Matt Cassel was back throwing him the ball instead of Tyler Palko.
Instead, Bowe’s mediocre stat days have been as commonplace as Katt Williams' arrests. He has not had a 100-yard game or a touchdown since September 30, and now it is being reported by The Kansas City Star that he will miss this week's game and possibly the season due to broken ribs he suffered against the Cleveland Browns.
Bowe’s injury does not open the door for any other Chiefs receiver to become a worthy fantasy pickup. Jerry Rice during his glory days would not be a decent fantasy option if Brady Quinn was the one throwing to him. If you do not think the quarterback has anything to do with how well an All-Pro receiver fares fantasy-wise, just ask Larry Fitzgerald owners about that.
Bowe should not be kept in keeper leagues but definitely should be held onto in dynasty leagues. This is a man entering the prime of his career who has a 15-TD season to his credit. If he signs with the right team and plays with the right quarterback, he can be a top-15 or even a top-10 WR once again.
Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts (RB)
The oft-injured, unreliable Donald Brown has annoyed fantasy owners on and off all season long with his “will he or won’t he play” routine, which is as tiresome as Gallagher’s watermelon-slamming routine.
No need to worry about Brown anymore, though. He has been placed on injured reserve with an injured ankle and will no longer be a thorn in the sides of fantasy owners. He can be dropped in all fantasy formats since he will not head into 2013 as the starting tailback for Indianapolis or any other team.
Rookie Vick Ballard, who has rumbled for 135 rushing yards, 31 receiving yards and one touchdown over the past two games, will be Indianapolis’ No. 1 RB from here on out. And if Ballard fares well—which is no gimme since he has to face the Houston Texans twice—his fantasy stock will be on the upswing entering 2013.
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