Fantasy Football Week 1: 5 Injuries to Watch Before Kickoff
The NFL’s first slate of Sunday games is almost upon us, and much to the annoyance of fantasy owners everywhere, a handful of offensive stars are hurting.
Here are five of the league’s most significant injuries to watch before kickoff. We’ll leave speculation of any bad Calvin Johnson/Madden 13 mojo off of this list.
Arian Foster, RB, Texans
Despite missing three games in 2011 with a faulty hamstring, Foster still finished fifth in the league in rushing last season, leading all running backs in fantasy points per game (18.3).
Here’s a note to all of Arian’s fantasy owners this season: More missed time may be in store.
After making it through the preseason relatively unscathed, the RB left practice early on Thursday with a sore knee, though reports are spotty on which knee is actually hurting. Texans’ head honcho Gary Kubiak has said that Foster will be a “game-time decision,” though the man himself says that he expects to play.
Houston plays at 1:00PM EST against Miami, which was particularly staunch to opposing backs last season, ranking as the fifth toughest defense in terms of fantasy points allowed to RBs.
In his two career games against the Fins, Foster has rushed a total of 29 times for 130 yards and a TD. His most recent matchup came in Week 2 of last season, where he sat out that game’s second half with hammy problems. Fantasy owners are hoping that his health is a bit better this time around.
Marques Colston, WR, Saints
With the departure of wideout Robert Meachem to San Diego, it’s possible that Marques Colston can once again reach the double-digit TD plateau that he hasn’t hit since 2007.
After all, in the four years since Meachem’s Bayou debut in ’08, Colston has caught an average of 7.2 TDs a season—compared to 9.5 pre-Meachem. While this difference isn’t gigantic, a return to these levels would vaunt the Hofstra product back into the position’s top 10 in terms of fantasy points.
Unfortunately, all of these projections don’t mean much if Colston can’t get on the field. Bothered by a sore left foot, the wideout missed Wednesday’s practice, and was limited on Thursday and Friday.
He’s officially listed as questionable on the Saints’ injury report.
If he can go, Colston will get a decent matchup against the Redskins, who rank near the league average in terms of fantasy points given up to WRs. In two career games against the Skins, Drew Brees’ favorite receiver not named Jimmy Graham has notched 65.0 receiving YPG with one score.
With an early kickoff on Sunday, fantasy owners will find out by brunch time if he’s suiting up or not.
Steve Johnson, WR, Bills
Oh, the roller coaster that is Steve “Stevie” Johnson.
Fortunately for the Bills and anyone who has drafted him over the past two seasons, Johnson’s play has been far more impressive than his nickname suggests. After breaking onto the Buffalo scene in his third year—you don’t hear that much—with an ’10 line of 82/1073/10, the wideout once again topped the 1,000-yard mark last year with a slightly reduced TD total (seven).
Despite his penchant for head-scratching tweets that blame God for his drops, Johnson is expected to be a top-25 WR again this season, as Ryan Fitzpatrick and Co. run a surprisingly potent passing attack.
Interestingly, Johnson played much of the 2011 season with a nagging groin injury, though it didn’t cost him any game time. In the offseason, the wideout opted for surgery and felt right as rain throughout training camp and most of the preseason.
Whether it was a result of Johnson’s aforementioned Twitter blasphemy, or just bad luck, the WR was limited in Friday’s practice after sitting out Thursday with a similar groin injury.
The Bills’ Week 1 matchup against the New York Jets means Johnson will have
Tim Tebow Darrelle Revis covering him.
Even if he weren’t injured, seeing the three-time All Pro corner across the line isn’t exactly a fantasy term of endearment.
Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals
Another member of the awkward nickname club, Chris “Beanie” Wells had one of the most unpredictable fantasy seasons of 2011.
Though he finished with 159 standard-league points good for 9.9 FPPG, Wells had a half dozen games with six or fewer fantasy points. In addition to this underperformance, the Cardinals RB missed two games with assorted knee injuries that required surgery this past January.
If Wells’ silence on the matter is any indication, it may have been microfracture surgery, though this is just speculation.
What isn’t speculation, though, is that Wells’ listing for Sunday’s game against Seattle is officially a big fat Q, after he was limited in practice on Friday. The reports are that the brittle back is battling a hamstring injury—say that 10 times fast—unrelated to his offseason surgery.
Due to the fact that the Cardinals and the Seahawks don’t kickoff until late afternoon, it would be wise for fantasy owners to look elsewhere at Flex or RB3. Even if he does play, Seattle’s defense has been particularly stout against Wells, holding him to a 3.0 YPC in three career matchups.
Austin Collie, WR, Colts
Here’s a video of Collie’s unfortunate collision with Larry Foote.
The fourth-year wideout from Brigham Young had his best year in 2010 catching passes from Peyton Manning. Though concussions limited him to nine games in that season, Collie averaged a little over 70 receiving yards a game, while catching eight scores. 2011 was a clear struggle with the terrible trio of Curtis Painter, Dan Orlovsky and Kerry Collins under center, but Collie managed to stay healthy, finishing the season on a high note with a 9/96/1 line at Jacksonville.
Prior to Collie’s most recent head injury on August 19th, his average draft position among WRs was in the top 40, as fantasy owners hoped Andrew Luck could bring the wideout back to fantasy relevance.
Since the concussion, Collie’s positional ADP has sunk to the mid 50s.
The Colts play the aging but still smash mouth Bears on Sunday, and according to head coach Chuck Pagano, Collie will be a game-time decision. Both teams square off at 1:00 PM EST, so it would be wise for those who own the concussed wideout to check on his status before hitting the snooze button on Sunday morning.