Darrius Heyward-Bey: Why Unfortunate Injury Makes Raiders WR Droppable

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistSeptember 27, 2012

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 23:  Darrius Heyward-Bey #85 of the Oakland Raiders lays on the field after getting hit hard in their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers  at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 23, 2012 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

When Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Mundy landed a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit on Oakland Raiders wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey in the teams' Week 3 matchup, many feared the worst.

The 25-year-old burner lay motionless for multiple minutes as team physicians tended to his injury and he was carted off the field using head and neck restraints.

Thankfully, the Raiders received the best news possible out of what could have been an ugly situation. Heyward-Bey was concussed and has a neck strain, but was discharged from the hospital earlier this week and is expected to make a full recovery (via ESPN).

While, more than anything, we're happy that Heyward-Bey's injury was not more serious, his injury puts fantasy owners in a precarious position. Unfortunately, it seems apparent that his value is inherently limited going forward.

For that reason, here is a look at why you should cut bait and drop Heyward-Bey.


We Have No Idea When He's Coming Back

Though Heyward-Bey has been released from the hospital and the news (thankfully) has been all positive thus far, it is still completely unclear when he will be cleared for football activity.

Quite frankly, that's a smart decision. Mundy put one of the most vicious hits in recent memory on the Raiders wideout, and considering what we now know about concussions, Heyward-Bey should be as conservative as possible.

Fantasy-wise, his is nil while out of the lineup. What's more, we have no timetable whatsoever on a possible return. Recent years have seen serious concussion problems hold guys out for exceedingly long periods of time and this isn't Heyward-Bey's first time being carted off the field with neck supports.

If you have an open injured reserve spot that Heyward-Bey fits on, feel free to use it. However, you cannot have him usurping a valuable roster spot when it is not even clear whether Oakland will allow him to return this season.


Heyward-Bey Isn't a Reliable Start Even When He's Healthy

Though he's undoubtedly a markedly improved receiver from his early years in the NFL, Heyward-Bey is one of the more frustrating players to own in fantasy.

His overall numbers last season, 64 receptions for 975 yards and four touchdowns, were career highs and placed him 29th among wide receivers fantasy-wise. However, he could not be relied upon weekly to put up consistent numbers.

There were three separate instances last season where Heyward-Bey got the starting nod and came away with five yards receiving or less. While those failures can be partially mitigated with his three 100-yard performances, one of those came in Week 17 when most leagues have already concluded.

If Heyward-Bey was a consistent force and a top-tier receiver, you obviously keep him until the bitter end. Unfortunately, he's an inconsistent enigma that vexes owners to the point that you're never comfortable putting him in the starting lineup.

It's best to drop him now and avoid the headache down the road.


There Are Solid Options Available

Considering that the Oakland speedster was probably any owner's third-best receiver or starter at a flex spot, his absence will likely have owners scouring the open market.

Luckily, there are still some values available that not only should help teams going forward, but make Heyward-Bey an obvious drop candidate.

If you're looking for a similarly inconsistent, yet explosive receiver, the Cincinnati Bengals' Andrew Hawkins is available in 80.3 percent of ESPN standard leagues. The second-year burner has touchdowns of 50-plus yards in each of the past two weeks and has become a favorite of quarterback Andy Dalton.

Nonetheless, the real steal available on most waiver wires is Carolina Panthers No. 2 target Brandon LaFell. After looking like a breakout star in the first two weeks of 2012, the former LSU star accounted for just 27 yards against the New York Giants and people pushed each other hopping off the bandwagon.

Well, with Heyward-Bey on the injury report for the foreseeable future, make the smart move and hop back on before another owner scoops up LaFell and leaves you empty-handed.