FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS!

December 4, 2014

With most either getting ready or already in playoff mode, I thought I would cover some of the injuries that may literally make or break your season.  Here are some of the key injuries to take note of, as well as what you can expect:

rashad jennings

Rashad Jennings is suffering from an ankle injury from this past weeks loss vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars.  This is one of the biggest injuries for league play and one day players as Jennings was in line to face the awful run defense of the Tennessee Titans. The Titans have been a running backs dream this season and I think that Jennings will unfortunately miss out.  Initially the injury was said to not be serious but Jennings was quoted as not being able to put enough weight on his foot when it first happen.  These details likely suggest that he is dealing with a simple grade 1 or 2 low ankle sprain.  Although this may not be a serious injury, it will still need to go through the phases of healing.  Like most ankle injuries, this will limit Jennings ability to cut and plant on that foot and should take 1-3 weeks of rest and treatment to heal.  My guess is that Jennings is currently dealing with a swollen ankle that gives him pain if not supported significantly.  The training staff should be focused on getting the swelling and pain under control and we may see him give it a go with a heavy tape job, but I would need to see him practice at least on Friday to have any faith.  If you are in a league, a Friday practice and good reports may allow you to start him, but for one day fantasy it would be impossible to pay that premium price for damaged goods (wish they would adjust the prices mid-week). Unfortunately those who were licking their chops for this matchup will either have to trust Andre Williams,  his back up, to still light up this poor run defense or look elsewhere for a quality running back.  I would give Jennings until week 15 if it were my line up; after all it’s not like the Giants are in the playoff hunt and that he will pull out all the stops to get on the field.  For league players, I would just pick up Williams.  For one day players, there are other backs to consider near his price point (Eddie Lacy and Joique Bell are my picks for now).

Alshon Jeffrey’s injured hamstring is likely on many people’s minds.  If I had to pick my least favorite injury for one of my fantasy players to have it would be either a groin strain or a hamstring strain.  I despise these injuries mostly because they are the lingering type.  In many cases with a hamstring strain, a player will seem to come along well, may be practicing again, and be generally pointing in the right direction; and with one simple stride that player will do what all fantasy owners dread seeing–abruptly slow up and grab the back of their leg in pain.  Many of the other injuries are easy to predict, but a hamstring strain can feel like rolling the dice.  The good news is that Jeffrey appears to have been struggling with hamstring issues as early as week 3 of the season and has now been dealing with it for the past 2-3 weeks, and during that time his production has been good.

The infamous hamstring pull or strain is generally a result of one or more of the hamstring muscles stretching to forcefully or quickly.  This can happen for a number of reasons, but I believe that in many cases these athletes are simply too fast for their own bodies.  This may be the case for Jeffries as he clocks in at a 4.48 with his 40 yard dash; and for a receiver standing 6’3″ and 216lbs that may almost slot him in the “Freaky Talented” column (although my verdict is still out on that).  During the process of running, these athletes can sometimes just simply be thrusting their legs into extension (a straight knee position) too fast, and when this is combined with any contraction of the hamstring; the athlete will typically experience a strain or even a tear of the muscle fibers.

Additionally, some individuals simply suffer from muscle imbalances.  Despite state of the art facilities and the top strength and conditioning professionals in the country, some athletes are still disproportioned.  With respect to hamstring injuries, the culprit would be extremely strong quadriceps (thigh muscles on the front) combined with slightly less strong hamstring muscles (thigh muscles on the back).  While in full speed action, if both sides are acting at their max capacities, the quadriceps can over power the hamstrings and in the process injure the hamstrings.

These are all things Alshon Jeffrey and his team should examine in the offseason to reduce his chances of repetitive hamstring issues next year, but for now I would expect Jeffries to play.  Despite him playing, I would not play him on my fantasy team regardless of the upside he may possess .  As I stated before, you are one stride away from that moment of him grabbing the back of his leg and ending your fantasy season.  Combine that with the fact that he has to share with Brandon Marshall and the fact that Jay Cutler can not be trusted and I would simply look elsewhere for nearly all formats.

T.Y. Hilton was also limited on Wednesday with a reported hamstring injury.  The timing of this being a Wednesday injury is the most troublesome factor to me as a T.Y. Hilton owner.  Hamstring strain recovery feeds off of time to recover, and with a mid-week starting point, Hilton may be feeling some restrictions on Sunday.  Additionally, Hilton is definitely in the “Freaky Talented” column based off his 4.34 speed alone.  With his game being primarily based on his speed, a hamstring injury may bump Hilton’s stock down significantly.  The Indianapolis Colts also have to leave the comfort of their temperature and surface controlled dome to go to Cleveland.  As hard as it may be for a league player (I know as I own T.Y. in my league), this is a week I would have already considered sitting Hilton but any signs of a hamstring issue beyond Thursday would reserve a spot on the bench for T.Y. Hilton on my team.  The good news is that wide receiver would have to be the deepest position in fantasy right now and you should be able to find a good matchup this week for league play (I have the luxury of Randall Cobb, Odell Beckham Jr. and Mike Evans as my other wideouts…..ha ha).  One day players should not even consider Hilton an option.

DeSean Jackson has a lower leg contusion.  Those who are familiar with me know that a contusion is just a fancy word for a bruise.  Jackson may take a little time to manage any pain or swelling associated with the injury but he should be a full go.  His presence is a domino effect for any offensive Washington player you may have.  He opens up Jordan Reed who should continue to be a PPR monster, he allows Colt McCoy to likely put up 20 + for his 3rd straight time as a starter, and he gives Alfred Morris a chance to run in a box that would not dare stack 8 with Jackson as the deep threat.  I am not sure DeSean would be my guy at receiver but in one-day PPR play, I think Reed and McCoy hold good value due to his presence.  Use the information as you see fit, but expect him to be ready to go.

Dwayne Allen is back after suffering an ankle sprain.  I think he took the perfect amount of time off as an ankle sprain generally is a 1-3 week injury, and he took the 3.  I expect Allen to be effective, and with my expectations for T.Y. Hilton being low, you may find Allen to be a low-cost/high reward option especially in one day play.  Coby Fleener is the obvious buzz kill for those who own Allen in traditional leagues, but simply stated–Dwayne Allen is a better football player than Coby Fleener (for now).  That may be unpopular to the highlight watchers of the recent weeks, but most who really pay attention know this to be true.  So in this spot, I would roll with Allen and expect things to slowly return to normal in which Allen is the obvious TE1 on the Indianapolis Colts.

How about some defense?  They say defense wins championships and this can be true in fantasy football too.  Aqib Talib has the hamstring bug too.  Talib will have about 2 weeks off from game action by the time the Denver Broncos face the Buffalo Bills, but I would watch out for him having some difficulty.  I especially think he will have difficulty if he somehow get matched up with Robert Woods.  If he covers Sammy Watkins as expected, their injuries may cancel each other out as they are both banged up.  Denver got away with missing their #1 corner vs. the Kansas City Chiefs as the Chiefs have no wide receivers, but I am not so sure they will fair as well without Talib against a respectable wide receiver duo.  Owners of the Denver D/ST should pay attention and look for a good matchup this week instead of using a defense that may be without a true #1 cornerback, as I think I have cemented how I feel about depending on players with hamstring strains.

The other cornerback that may cause a fantasy domino effect is Vontae Davis who is coming off a concussion last week.  I will eventually talk about concussion a little more in-depth, but one of my simple rules is to not trust a player to play at their best the week following a concussion.  There is complicated evidence out there that correlates concussions with poor performance, but my stance is more from a common sense point of view.  Concussion cloud the brain and typically take the player out of their normal routine.  I believe that many of the players in positions in which studying the opponent is key, will suffer the most, shortly after a concussion.  I especially worry about defensive players who need to read and react to the offense and as the corner that makes that defense go, Vontae not being at full capacity may spell disaster in Cleveland.  I think the Davis concussion takes the Colts out of the starting D/ST conversation as I believe he is the single most important person on their defense.  I also think his injury bumps Josh Gordon stock up. Gordon already has a QB in Brian Hoyer with something to prove and he gets what may be a shoot out vs. Andrew Luck.  When you add in a recovering Vontae Davis, I think Gordon will be lighting up the scoreboard this week.  If one day players can get lucky enough for Davis to not play, I think Hoyer and Gordon could be the value play of the week.

Quick notes:

Reggie Bush- You can’t trust him.  He’s been out too long with this ankle injury.  Maybe during the regular season you could take a chance but at playoff time he is too much of a gamble.  He made our running backs running out of time earlier this season and is fully living up to the injury prone status that I predicted.

 

bush in new orleansbush in miamibush in detroit

Greg Olsen –The proof is in the pudding.  Make sure he gets back to practice before believing that his swollen knee is not a problem.  With tight end being such a tough position to fill, I think if he practices he should start in all league play.  As a one day option, he would be way down my list.

Larry Fitzgerald- He should be back this week but watch his practice pattern.  If he misses any practices, I would  throw up a red flag for a set back.

Andre Ellington-He needs to rest and heal!  Unfortunately his owners will have to scramble to find a RB1 that can get them through a playoff run.  You better start matchup hunting.

Good Luck!

Running Backs with time running out

On the field getting to the Red Zone is a good thing, but here at The IRD, The Red Zone means you are a player that is on the verge of injury.  We use various predictors to compile this list and have done very well in the past with avoiding players who are prime for injuries. Keep an eye on this list before you put your trust in a certain player or team…..it may be the difference between winning and losing for you!

steven jackson

Steven Jackson- At 31 years old and with multiple injuries over the past 3 years, Jackson is the most obvious Red Zone player.  Additionally Jackson, is weighing in at 240 lbs and could easily play ILB at his size.  We are pretty sure his days are numbered.  Falcons fans shouldn’t worry as their backfield is deep with many viable options.  Fantasy desperadoes should steer clear, Jackson hasn’t gone over 100 yards or scored multiple TD’s in a game in ions.

Darren Sproles– Many are running to put Sproles on their fantasy team but we say not so fast.  If you are deep at RB then fine but at 31 years old and 190 lbs, Sproles is moving into high risk/high reward status.  He does have in his favor that he is a niche player and does not touch the ball like a RB1 would, but beware  of the big hits he is beginning to take.  We wouldn’t be surprised if the injuries start coming this year or next.

Reggie Bush– Seems like only yesterday that Reggie was coming out of USC, doing Pepsi commercials, hanging with the Kardashians.  Truth is Reggie is almost to the end of the road.  His speed is still there but over the past few years, Reggie continues to get nagging injuries-the toes, hamstrings, sprains/strains, etc.  His production is declining and Im not sure if he can even still be considered a number 1 with Joique Bell in the backfield.  We expect his production to fade this year and the lengthier injuries to come next year.  You can put your stock in Bell for now, but my guess is that Detroit will be drafting or trading for a new number one back soon.