NFL Week 9 Injury Report: Forecasting Impact on Fantasy Football
Oakland Raiders RB Darren McFadden is not on his team's injury report this week, but he does headline my editorial take on this subject for NFL Week 9. I'll tell you why.
McFadden is getting too many carries in a scheme that does not suit his strengths. I have said it from day one, but the issue still remains somehow. It seems so obvious.
Many, like me, spent last Sunday's afternoon games yelling at their televisions.
"Does Jamaal Charles even play for the Kansas City Chiefs anymore?! Did fat Peyton Hillis take his job?!?! DAYYY-BOLLL you fool!!!" (Throws remote control across room after botched third-down screen to Shaun Draughn.)
Raiders fans were similarly frustrated. McFadden is having his explosiveness stretched out to an unrecognizable level, just like the run plays he is attempting to execute. His center of gravity is too high to make a quick read off a roving safety, and his instincts come most naturally at the second level after being sprung by a good lead block.
Darren McFadden sees holes created off of bodies, not imaginary lanes that are supposed to be there on paper.
This is not exactly hot-off-the-press news. You switch to man-blocking, Run DMC goes off. It is just how things have proven to be. Why switch back to the Tom Cable era?
Furthermore, why make Darren McFadden into a volume back? The NFL's biggest injury risk should not be used in this manner, pounding out a useless set of plays that are doomed to fail the moment they are called in the huddle.
He's going to get hurt.
It's terrible because the rest-of-season schedule for Oakland RBs looks so good, but, the "tweaks" to the system are not enough. Coming off bye, I was hoping they would be, but they aren't. Not yet, at least.
McFadden is not a volume back who can hold up like Marshawn Lynch or Ray Rice. He is not a back who you depend on for grind-it-out production on a week-in, week-out basis. Backup Mike Goodson actually appears to have a style and body better suited for the offense that HC Dennis Allen has given OC Greg Knapp the authority, for some reason, to employ.
Before we get on to the implications of fantasy injuries that have already happened coming into Week 9, let's just take a moment to think about this one that is likely to happen.
In the event Darren McFadden gets hurt, you can expect a 2011 C.J. Spiller-type of stretch run performance out of Goodson. He is that type of player, and this is that type of situation.
Starting this week, if he is available, I will be rostering Goodson minutes before the Sunday games kick off, and dropping my least valuable bench player in exchange. If McFadden does get hurt, I don't want my league mates getting Goodson when waivers run on Tuesday.
Remember I told you.
Let's move on. These are the Week 9 fantasy implications for injuries that have already occurred.
Rashard Mendenhall and Jonathan Dwyer - Pittsburgh Steelers
Just when Jonathan Dwyer starts blasting off consecutive performances that had the Steel City media using a legend in Jerome Bettis to describe his style, he gets hurt. A quad.
A perfect microcosm of the position as a whole in Pittsburgh over the last two seasons. A lot of wondering about a lot of mediocre, rotating fantasy options.
It now appears that perennially disappointing backup Isaac Redman may be in the lead horse seat to receive significant carries Sunday versus the New York Giants, who represent my seventh-worst matchup for opposing RBs coming into Week 9.
Rashard Mendenhall was limited in practice Wednesday, and is clearly not as fast a healer as Adrian Peterson. Dwyer was held out and should not be on your Week 9 fantasy radar.
Even if Dwyer does go, you have a lot going against you should you choose to start him:
1) I hate starting RBs on my fantasy that aren't good pass-blockers and also miss Wednesday practice. Wednesday is for first- and second-down install. You don't want a young, first- and second-down runner missing Wednesday install. I call it the Mark Ingram rule.
2) Redman and Mendenhall. Or Chris Rainey or Baron Batch for that matter. You never know who will get pulled in during valuable no-huddle garbage time or in even more valuable offset goal-line sets where a curl route from a player like Chris Rainey might freeze the safety just long enough to miss Heath Miller.
Given the matchup, it isn't even a situation worth monitoring for anything other than a Hail Mary fantasy play. In this case, I would go with Mendenhall first and Redman second because of upside alone.
This advice is dependent on Mendenhall practicing in full on either (or both) of Thursday and Friday practices, however. No full practice for Mendenhall means roll out Redman if necessary and hope for a cheap TD to add to the minimal yardage output.
Ben Tate, Houston Texans
Why does this matter? Simple. The second RB in Houston goes bananas numerous times a year against easy matchups while spelling starter Arian Foster, and the Texans so happen to face the easiest RB matchup in the land Sunday in the Buffalo Bills.
Ben Tate is unlikely to go from everything I understand, leaving Justin Forsett as my sneakiest fantasy play of the week should Tate be unable to suit up vs. the Bills Sunday.
Forsett actually has a skill set that translates well to this matchup, and I would expect an RB3-type performance out of Forsett alongside Arian Foster's RB1 monster this week.
The Bills have fantasy points to spare against RBs, even facing Arian Foster.
Some defensive line upgrade.
Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants
Bradshaw has been brilliant as of late, and as usual is not practicing. Get used to it. Bradshaw's foot will always be "questionable." It is made of screws. Somehow he produces.
If Bradshaw is somehow unavailable to go Sunday versus the Pittsburgh Steelers, Andre Brown makes for an excellent bye-week fill-in, but is far too risky in other circumstances if you look at the snap counts.
Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons
If you look at this ridiculous chart, you'll see that White is due for a big game despite facing one of the NFL's best cover corner tandems in Brandon Carr and rookie Morris Claiborne of the Dallas Cowboys.There will be fantasy productivity in this offense's aerial attack regardless of matchup.
White was limited in practice Wednesday with back soreness, but I will not be worried about his questionable designation until he is held out completely. The fact is, everyone is playing hurt right now. Again, I'm not worried until a player is held out after starting the week's practices on a limited basis.
Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
Bryant did not practice Wednesday on his sore hip, but expect him to play. The Atlanta Falcons have been a brutal matchup all season despite the loss of Brent Grimes. I worry about this coupled with the fact that we know that hip injuries often lead to hamstring, abdomen and other general lumbar-area injuries when players overcompensate.
Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins
See Darren McFadden 2011. These foot things stick around and linger. Just like they likely will for DeMarco Murray and more so Maurice Jones-Drew. It's far past time to cut bait if the dead weight is dragging down your roster.
Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
Nothing to see here, and this dude is due for a monster game. Megatron did not practice Wednesday, but all indications are that he'll be ready to go in a great matchup against Jacksonville Sunday. Expect a return to form out of your first-round stud.
Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers
I said last week to get Donald Driver in your lineups if Nelson doesn't go as a last-ditch Hail Mary play, and it paid off. I don't feel the same way this week. It seemed that the Packers organization was content to let Nelson take his time in returning from the Thursday hamstring injury suffered in practice prior to the Packers' Week 8 contest.
After all, it was just the Jaguars. The MJD-less jaguars with a lower-case-j. As I forecast, it was still no picnic. Nelson should be back this week. Keep an eye on the situation, and look most for limited participation on Friday.
Ryan Tannehill of the Miami Dolphins is questionable to play in Week 9 after Matt Moore came in and finished off a romping of the New York Jets last week in his absence.
Jake Locker of the Tennessee Titans is also back on the injury report as a limited participant in practice, and like Tannehill is questionable for Week 9.
You should not be starting either. Ever. Not in 2012.
Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions
Did not practice on Wednesday and did not catch easy balls last Sunday. What else is new? Pettigrew is the epitome of a volume-producing fantasy TE who is an NFL liability. I like him for his usual five- to seven-point floor with big upside against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 9, especially in PPR leagues.
Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints
The heartbeat of the Saints offense is the tight end, and that has a lot to do with Sean Payton, but it has a lot to do with Drew Brees as well. Whether it has been Antonio Gates, Marques Colston as a rookie, or Jimmy Graham, Saints QB Drew Brees is most comfortable operating with this sort of chess piece, and he utilizes them brilliantly.
It's how the offense works, and Graham is the perfect weapon for it physically. If Graham is on the field, he is a top-three TE every week for fantasy purposes, and all indications are that he will be.
Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers
I had almost forgotten Jermichael Finley played football until I started scouring this week's injury reports. He must be in the same witness protection program as Kevin Smith and Jared Cook.
The fact is, Finley is under-performing and dogging it while blaming lingering injuries. Finley is known for this, and many wondered why his athletic talent was not utilized to a greater extent while at the University of Texas.
It's probably about time we put two and two together.
Finley might play this week, hurt, again, but I will have him in my rankings among other ordinary TEs such as Scott Chandler, Jermaine Gresham and Joel Dreesen.
The fact is, Jermichael Finley is currently not a viable option on your starting roster until proven otherwise. If he goes off on your bench, be happy he might be showing signs of life to round the season out.