By Ryan Mayer
With the NFL season just a little over a week away now, fantasy football draft season is in full swing. For those of you that had your drafts earlier in the month, you may already be scrambling for contingency plans following the rash of significant injuries in recent weeks. For those that haven’t, your draft/strategy may have changed somewhat. So, in addition to the video above, let’s take a look at some of the key injuries and what they mean for draft strategy.
Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys – Fractured Vertebrae (6-10 Weeks)
Romo suffered this injury last week during the Cowboys’ preseason game against the Seahawks. According to the Cowboys, they won’t officially commit to the 6-10 week timetable, but most medical experts agree that’s what Romo is looking at. That places his return between Week 4 and Week 8 of the regular season. Now, because of that, Romo’s average draft position (ADP) on CBSSports.com has dropped to 113, which works out to about the 9th round for a standard 12-team league. That’s not a bad spot to get Romo, but, after two years now of poor health it’s fair to wonder if he’ll ever return to 100 percent. Matt Stafford, Kirk Cousins, Andy Dalton and Tyrod Taylor are all being taken around the same range and you’d be much better off with a full season of one of those guys than a half season of Prescott/Romo.
Lorenzo Taliaferro/Kenneth Dixon, RB, Baltimore Ravens – Foot, PUP/Reserve List (6 weeks) & MCL Tear (4 weeks)
The reason that these injuries are significant is it clears up the muddy Ravens backfield picture a little bit. Dixon was pushing for time with his preseason performance and Taliaferro saw some time each of the last two seasons. With those two out at least the first four/six weeks respectively, that leaves Justin Forsett, Terrance West and Javorius Allen fighting for the majority of carries. For reference, in the Ravens’ last game, West got seven carries, Allen had eight and Forsett had just two (but he did add two receptions). Right now, Forsett is the highest pick among fantasy owners with an ADP of 112, followed by Allen (160), and West (undrafted).
Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Detroit Lions – Knee, PUP/Reserve List (6 weeks)
Pettigrew is still recovering from a knee injury and due to his status on the PUP list, he will miss the first six weeks of the year. That means the primary tight end duties were expected to fall to former first round pick Eric Ebron. However, Ebron’s currently battling an ankle injury that may keep him out for Week 1. Ebron’s ADP of 151 means you can get him in the 12th round, which is pretty good for a guy who may see more targets now that the Lions no longer have Calvin Johnson. However, Charles Clay (150) and Kyle Rudolph (156) are both currently healthy and based on past performances are better picks than Ebron right now.
Ladarius Green, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers – Ankle, PUP/Reserve List (6 weeks)
Green was pegged by many as a potential breakout candidate due to his explosive athleticism and the Steelers’ penchant for using tight ends effectively in their scheme. However, Green will now miss the first six weeks of the year due to a lingering ankle injury. Drafting him is a risk because of that, but if you can get him in the later rounds – 12-16 – he might be worth a pick if you’ve already taken a tight end who’s healthy. If not, those same options listed above are relevant here.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB Minnesota Vikings – Dislocated Knee/Torn ACL (Out for year)
Bridgewater’s potential breakout year is over before it even started following his injury during yesterday’s practice. From a fantasy perspective, however, Bridgewater had been a pretty good value pick as the fourth-lowest drafted QB with an ADP of 148 (12th round). If you were hoping to grab him as your potential backup, or if you’re in a two-QB league, you’ll have to now look elsewhere.
Dion Lewis, RB, New England Patriots- Knee, PUP/Reserve List (6 weeks)
Lewis was a revelation for Pats fans last year prior to tearing his ACL. He had a setback in camp and has undergone a “clean-up” procedure on that same knee that puts him out for at least the first six weeks. That leaves LeGarrette Blount and James White as the two options in the Pats backfield. The ADP of both is between the late seventh (Blount) and mid-ninth (White) rounds. However, there are multiple backup running backs ahead of both guys. Either is a good bench option and White is probably more valuable in PPR leagues (33 of 40 receptions following Lewis’ injury), but neither should be relied upon as a RB1 or RB2 option as Lewis might have been prior to the injury.
For more fantasy information and updates, head over to CBSSports.com.
Ryan Mayer is an Associate Producer for CBS Local Sports. Ryan lives in NY but comes from Philly and life as a Philly sports fan has made him cynical. Anywhere sports are being discussed, that’s where you’ll find him.