Quite possibly the scariest fallout from the debacle that was the NFL replacement officials didn't occur last Monday night in Seattle but in Oakland the day before.
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, who has nine catches for 98 yards and a touchdown this season, was knocked unconscious by a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit from Pittsburgh safety Ryan Mundy in the team's win over the Steelers.
Shockingly, no flag was thrown on the play. Perhaps even more surprisingly, the fourth-year pro, who led the Raiders with 975 receiving yards in 2011, harbors no ill will toward Mundy, according to Dan Loumena of The Los Angeles Times:
That's just football. I signed up to put on pads and go out there. That's what happens out there. People get hit; people get hurt.
The 25-year-old, who was hospitalized overnight following the hit but has since been released, is doubtful for this week's game against the Denver Broncos with a sprained neck, and as head coach Dennis Allen told Loumena, until Heyward-Bey passes his concussion tests there's no telling how long he might be sidelined. Allen said:
He's made a lot of progress. Obviously, he's doubtful this week. The biggest determining factor is we want to make sure that he's fully recovered and ready to go before we put him out there on the field. That's really for the doctors to determine when he passes all the NFL protocol for concussions.
From a fantasy perspective, Heyward-Bey's prospects aren't particularly appealing, due in no small part to the fact that we don't know exactly how long he'll be sidelined given the NFL's concussion protocols. With the bye weeks now here, fantasy owners in shallower leagues simply can't afford to hold a roster spot on a player whose return date is unknown.
Especially a player whose fantasy upside appears limited.
Granted, Heyward-Bey did lead the Raiders in receiving yards and the passing game in Oakland has come to life over the past couple of weeks, but Heyward-Bey hasn't topped 50 receiving yards in a game this season. Quarterback Carson Palmer seems to favor throwing to wide receiver Denarius Moore, who has worked his own way back into the lineup from injury.
At the end of the day, if you play in a fantasy football league with deeper rosters and are hard up for wide receiver help, then Darrius Heyward-Bey may be worth a roster stash in the hopes that he'll return in Week 6 when the Raiders come back from their bye.
Otherwise, Heyward-Bey is best dropped or left on the waiver wire for now, although fantasy owners should monitor his status and may want to consider picking him back up in a couple weeks.
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