By Adam Harris-
(CBS) Injuries in the NFL are inevitable, but this year they come in bunches, ultimately exploding in Week 7 into a free fall for many general managers (see Phil Emery).
Like general managers, fantasy owners feel the effects of significant injuries, but the smart ones can ultimately improve their team because of the misfortune of another.
Fantasy is very cutthroat to many people, and I do not mean any disrespect to any of the injured NFL players I am about to talk about. This is simply a breakdown of the effects each major injury from Week 7 has on the fantasy world, both positive and negative.
DOUG MARTIN (RB-TB) - Doug Martin suffered a torn labrum (shoulder) last week, but the Buccaneers remain very positive, refusing to call it a season-ending injury. Martin even said Tuesday that his range of motion is better, but the bottom line is the Bucs play Thursday night, and Martin has yet to practice. I believe Martin's injury is not season-ending, but he will be out for a few weeks to build strength in that shoulder.
Last year Houston Rockets' center Dwight Howard tore his labrum and sat out a mere three games because of it. I realize basketball is extremely different from football, but I also know from personal experience that a torn labrum can be managed until off-season surgery.
In the meantime, Mike James (RB-TB) and even Brian Leonard (RB-TB) are worth a look, with the fantasy nod going to James. Do not, however, panic if you failed to grab one of these two backs. Martin couldn't do anything behind Tampa Bay's offensive line before his injury, so don't expect his backups to change that.
REGGIE WAYNE (WR-IND) - Reggie Wayne suffered a torn ACL during Sunday Night Football this past week, and is out for the year. Darrius Heyward-Bey (WR-IND) will see a jump in targets once the Colts come out of a bye this week. Heyward-Bey is worth a pick up this week despite the bye as the Colts proved they are the real deal, and will continue to pass based on Trent Richardson's (RB-IND) horrific performances. Heyward-Bey will take over the possession receiver roll, as compared to T.Y. Hilton (WR-IND), who poses more of a deep threat for Andrew Luck (QB-IND). I see so much opportunity and upside for Heyward-Bey moving forward, and think he will be a WR3 for fantasy teams the rest of the year.
JERMICHAEL FINLEY (TE-GB) - Jermichael Finley suffered one of the nastiest injuries you will see on the football field because it dealt with his head and well being for the rest of his life. Finley was taken to the hospital and admitted to the ICU after an extremely unfortunate helmet-to-helmet hit Sunday. Finley suffered a bruised spinal cord, and is expected to be released from the hospital in the next 24 hours, but is also expected to be placed on injured reserve sometime this week. Here's to wishing Finley a speedy and healthy recovery.
Jarrett Boykin (GB-WR) is the fantasy player that is most affected on the Packers by their various injuries. Randall Cobb (GB-WR) was placed on injured reserve last week because of a knee injury, James Jones (WR-GB) has been limping around and will not be 100% for a while, and as mentioned, Finley is most likely out the rest of the year. Eddie Lacy (RB-GB) will certainly see more time on the ground, but Aaron Rodgers (QB-GB) is not a game-manager, he's a gun-slinger. Rodgers has confidence in Boykin and I fully expect to see the production we saw last week from Boykin (8 receptions, 103 yards, 1 TD on 10 targets) continue for a while.
JAY CUTLER (QB-CHI) - Jay Cutler suffered a torn groin muscle, and is out a minimum of four weeks. I believe he will be out longer than that, but the Bears have said over and over and over and over that they expect Cutler to return this year. Until then, Matt Forte (RB-CHI) will see significantly more work as the Bears go against several weaker defenses the rest of the year. IF the Bears can establish the run, it will take pressure off starting quarter back Josh McCown (QB-CHI) and open up the passing game. If the Bears want to win, they will do it through Matt Forte.
Speaking of which, Josh McCown is not a bad fantasy option moving forward. I DO NOT think McCown should start on any fantasy teams right now, but as I illustrated a few weeks ago, the Bears fantasy schedule is a cakewalk for quarterbacks the rest of the year. McCown is a viable sub in deeper leagues or two QB leagues for byes.
SAM BRADFORD (QB-STL) - Sam Bradford tore his ACL and is out the year. This injury only brings bad news for ALL Rams offensive and defensive players. This team was already home to some of the least-ownable talent in fantasy football this year, and it only gets worse. SELL Zach Stacy (RB-STL) now because any momentum he had will be stopped by Kellen Clemens (STL-QB), or dare I say, Brady Quinn?! The ONLY benefactors in fantasy to Bradford's injury are all the future defenses set to play the Rams.
ARIAN FOSTER (RB-HOU) / BEN TATE (RB-HOU) - Foster reaggrivagted a hammy this past week, but is optimistic he will play in Week 9, as the Texans are on bye this week. However, I would not target him in trades moving forward. It is a hamstring injury on a worn down player. I have no doubt in my mind this is not the last we will see of Arian's hammy troubles this year. As for Ben Tate (RB-HOU), he suffered a serious injury of his own Sunday, with four broken ribs. Tate is a gamer as well, and plans to play after the team's Week 8 bye, but is another back I would not rely on. Even if I was an Arian owner, I would not trade for Tate at this point. He hasn't had a breakout game, and this injury could linger as well.
All of these injuries are sad, and unfortunate. While all fantasy owners wish a speedy recovery for all players involved, the show must go on, and decisions need to be made on who is a legit fill in, and who is an illusionist. Follow the guides above when considering pickups or trade offers and you will not be fooled by the magic curtain
Follow Adam Harris on Twitter @AHarris670 and ask him Fantasy Football questions. Also, listen to the Friday Fantasy Nerd Herd Hour on Friday nights/Saturday mornings with Joe Ostrowski.
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