Every year the boys in The Shop league get salty when they have players with injuries. During the course of a season, we all get hit pretty hard with roster issues based on injuries, some that keep a player out for a week or two, others that knock them out for the entire season.
Anyone who owns Rob Gronkowski knows what we’re talking about. He missed the first two games with an injury (and no Tom Brady), missed last week’s game at San Francisco with a lung injury and left early from the Jets game Sunday with a back injury. At least in the first three games, owners knew he wasn’t going to play prior to game time, but injuries have taken a big toll on fantasy owners all season.
Here is a list of the players at the fantasy positions – quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end – that have been placed on injured reserve. Depending on how many players from this list were on your roster at some point likely goes a long way to figuring out if you’ve had a successful season or not.
QUARTERBACKS – Teddy Bridgewater (Minnesota), Robert Griffin III (Cleveland), Brian Hoyer (Chicago), Tony Romo (Dallas), Geno Smith (New York Jets)
RUNNING BACKS – C.J. Anderson (Denver), Giovani Bernard (Cincinnati), Jamaal Charles (Kansas City), Arian Foster (Miami, retired), Chris Johnson (Arizona), Eddie Lacy (Green Bay), Darren McFadden (Dallas), Adrian Peterson (Minnesota), Charles Sims (Tampa Bay), Shane Vereen (New York Giants), Danny Woodhead (San Diego).
WIDE RECEIVERS – Keenan Allen (San Diego), Martavis Bryant (Pittsburgh, suspended), Eric Decker (New York Jets), Josh Doctson (Washington), Bruce Ellington (San Francisco), Josh Gordon (Cleveland, suspended), A.J. Green (Cincinnati), Vincent Jackson (Tampa Bay), Alshon Jeffery (Chicago, suspended), Andre Johnson (Tennessee, retired), Stevie Johnson (San Diego), Markus Wheaton (Pittsburgh), Kevin White (Chicago)
TIGHT ENDS – Jordan Cameron (Miami), Marcedes Lewis (Jacksonville), Zach Miller (Chicago), Brandon Pettigrew (Detroit), Jacob Tamme (Atlanta), Benjamin Watson (Baltimore), Maxx Williams (Baltimore)
We know that injuries are part of the game and that many of the most serious injuries – to elite defensive players and starting offensive linemen – have just as much impact on fantasy owners as losing a top RB or WR can have. But it seems this year, especially at running back, the injury bug is hitting with a vengeance and taking away some of the top fantasy players – not including guys who have missed a week or two at a time and not been placed on I.R.
It would seem like this year, winning a fantasy title will be a war of attrition where the last man or woman standing is the one who was able to avoid getting crippled by injuries.
- Kansas City is no joke. Since starting 0-5 last season Andy Reid’s Chiefs have posted a record of 19-3, by far the best in the league.
- Tampa Bay is making its case to be a playoff team at a time when many were writing them off. Winning three straight games in a row doesn’t necessarily make you a playoff team, but doing it at Kansas City (7-2 at the time) and vs. Seattle (7-3-1 at the time) is pretty impressive. Don’t sleep on the Bucs.
- The Raiders just keep on winning and could end up forcing New England to keep on playing hard late in the season because even Tom Brady doesn’t want to go the Black Hole right now.
- Members of the NFL’s Competition Committee will have something to work on following Baltimore’s brilliant move at the end of Sunday’s game with Cincinnati. Ahead by seven points with 11 seconds to play, John Harbaugh, a former special teams coach, pulled a trick out of his hat and had all of his blockers hold and tackle Bengals players while the punter danced around the end zone until he stepped out as time expired. Games can end off offensive penalties, but expect to see the league make a chance to this policy at some point in the offseason to prevent it from becoming a late-game trend in close games with time running out.
- When Miami started 1-4, most left them for dead and all there was for fantasy owners to cheer for were huge games Jay Ajayi was putting up. Six straight wins later, Miami is pushing the teams from the AFC West for a playoff berth, but will have to prove they can win on the road, where they play three of their next four games.
The Razor’s Edge
10. Pretend You’ve Been There Before – Oakland fans have a reputation for being a little thuggish, but one took it to an extreme level Sunday. After Cam Newton scored a touchdown, he reached into the Black Hole to give a little kid the ball and a woman (at least I think that pooch was a woman) tried to rip the ball out of the kid’s hand and, when that didn’t work, slapped him in the forehead. Charges should be filed against her. Stay classy, Oakland.
9. Feeling Minnesota – The Vikings slide continues, as they’ve dropped their fifth game in their last six after a 5-0 start, giving up a field goal as time expired in regulation for the second time this season against division rival Detroit. The Vikings defense is still playing well enough that the team could run the table in their final four games, but, you don’t win many games throwing 2- and 3-yard passes every down, including third downs when you need seven or eight yards to move the chains.
8. Ring the Bell – The Chicago Bears have won only two games this season, so losing is nothing new. But, without Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffery, their offense needed to play over their heads to beat Tennessee at home. In the final minute of the game, wide receiver Josh Bellamy was wide open in the end zone and Matt Barkley put a pass right between the 1’s on his jersey. For some reason, Bellamy jumped and the ball thunked off his chest for an incompletion in a 27-21 loss. With John Fox’s job on the line with the dismal season the Bears have put together, letting a win slip away because one guy can’t catch a pass is disheartening to say the least – and possibly Bears career-threatening for him.
7. Take That Gregg! – It seemed clear that the fallout between Sean Payton and Gregg Williams stemming the Bountygate scandal runs a little deeper than either let on. Payton was quite animated on the Saints sideline in their 49-21 win over the Rams in which the Saints rolled up 555 yards on Williams’ highly-regarded defense and scored 42 points in the game’s final 40 minutes. I’ve never been a fan of Williams, so this came as good news to me, but it would seem that Payton holds a grudge after all these years and isn’t going to let go of it any time soon.
6. You’re No Matt Prater – When Matt Prater played for the Broncos, he had big shoes to fill being the guy who came after Mr. Automatic Jason Elam. He not only filled the shoes, he made a legacy of his own. The Broncos believe Brandon McManus could do the same, but in Sunday night’s Game of the Year candidate, with one minute remaining in overtime, the Broncos thought it was a good idea to have McManus try a 62-yard field goal – only a yard shy of the longest field goal made in NFL history (by Prater). They knew if he missed, Kansas City would get the ball on the Denver side of midfield with enough time to do some damage. With a 4th-and-10 from the K.C. 44-yard line, the more logical play would have been to try to pick up a first down. Even if the play came up short, the Chiefs would have needed 15-20 more yards to get in range. A tie in that situation wouldn’t have been ideal, but it would have been a heck of a lot better than the L they posted.
5. Oops, He Did it Again – I used to be a fan of Cam Newton. He’s an elite talent and, for my money, one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the NFL, but he lost a lot of my admiration last year when he showed up opponents constantly with his little choreographed dance numbers and rub-your-nose-in-it displays following touchdowns – which was very, very often. When he rallied his team from a 24-7 deficit to take an eight-point lead after scoring 25 unanswered points, Cam took it on himself to taunt the fans in the Black Hole and make himself the center of attention. There were two problems with that – the Panthers were 4-6 and in no position to be showing up anybody at that point and there were still more than 13 minutes left in the game. Oakland came back to score the game’s last 10 points and the team that went 15-1 last season is now having priests called in to give their 2016 season the last rites. Maybe this most recent humbling will be enough to get Newton to pretend that he’s won games before and leave the showboating antics for when a game is out of reach, not when you simply have a fourth-quarter lead.
4. Bye, Bye Bengals – Over the past five years since Andy Dalton arrived, there hasn’t been a season in which the Bengals didn’t make the playoffs. Over the last four, they’ve won 10 or more games each season and have won two of the last three AFC North titles. But, with their loss at Baltimore Sunday, they’re 1-5 on the road, 3-7-1 overall and are ahead of only Cleveland, Jacksonville and the Jets in the AFC standings. Even if they run the table, there are just too many teams ahead of them to make the playoffs for a sixth straight year. Without their top two explosive offensive talents – A.J. Green and Giovani Bernard – the Bengals will be hard-pressed to avoid losing 10 games this season, coming into the year with such promise.
3. Houston, You Have a Problem – Despite their offensive ups and downs this season, the Houston Texans had the chance to stay clear of the competition with a home win over San Diego. It had been a formula that had worked for Houston all season. They were 5-0 at home and 1-4 on the road coming in and San Diego was 1-4 on the road. But four turnovers, including three Brock Osweiler interceptions kept both Tennessee and Indianapolis very much alive in the AFC South title chase. Osweiler was paid big money despite a very limited sample size and you have to wonder if the Texans blew it in a big way. Garbage QBs got them to the playoffs the last couple of years and the guy they invested tens of millions of dollars in just hasn’t got the job done consistently enough and is actually costing his team games and making De’Andre Hopkins just another guy.
2. Eating the Bird Leftovers on Thanksgiving Weekend – The Arizona Cardinals lost just three games last season, finishing 13-3 and pushing Seattle into the wild card round. Many saw the Cards as a legitimate Super Bowl frontrunner in the NFC, but, following their 38-19 blowout loss to Atlanta, the Cardinals have guaranteed that, at 4-6-1, even if they run the table, they will only win nine games. Given the current lay of the land, nine wins likely won’t make the playoffs, much less having a tie on their slate and a losing record against NFC teams. Bruce Arians isn’t the only one having chest pains. So are Arizona fans, whose hearts get broken more times than not.
1. Where There’s a Wilson, There’s a Way – I’m a big fan of defense and no team is consistently better at it than the Seattle Seahawks. But, despite having an electric quarterback in Russell Wilson, the one Achilles heel of the Seahawks is they don’t have an offense that is easily capable of making up a double-digit deficit when a team gets the upper hand on them early. The Bucs got two Jameis Winston-to-Mike Evans touchdowns in the first 12 minutes of the game and Seattle never recovered. Wilson had a passer rating of 38.8, which was an improvement over the 6.1 rating he had at halftime and the Hawks were only able to muster 245 yards of offense. They went 1-for-11 on third down and, despite their record, if they keep having to play three rookies on the offensive line, teams can and will have their number at some point in the playoffs. Their defense can singlehandedly win games, but, they couldn’t do it Sunday after giving up two early touchdowns.