Projecting Ripple Effects for Early NFL Training Camp Injuries

Chris Trapasso@ChrisTrapassoAnalyst IJuly 29, 2013

Projecting Ripple Effects for Early NFL Training Camp Injuries

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    Training-camp injuries are the absolute worst. 

    For some, seasons are lost before a preseason snap, which forces teams to scramble for long-term solutions.

    For others, a seemingly insignificant injury can lead to loss of practice repetitions, which can ultimately cost that player a starting job.

    Let's project the ripple effects that'll materialize in the wake of early training-camp injuries. 

Dennis Pitta

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    Injury: Hip dislocation and fracture 

    Expected time missed: 2013 season

     

    Ripple Effects

    Individually

    Dennis Pitta turned 28 in June and had a career year in 2012 with 61 catches for 669 yards and seven touchdowns during the regular season. He had four receptions for 26 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl. Missing the year is huge for this player who's clearly in the prime of his career.

     

    For the Team

    Only Anquan Boldin (112) and Torrey Smith (110) had more targets than Pitta (93) last year. He tied Ray Rice for the second-most grabs on the team (61). With Boldin now a member of the San Francisco 49ers, the Ravens will turn to fourth-year pro Ed Dickson, who had 54 catches for 528 yards in 2011, but only 21 catches in 2012, and newly signed Visanthe Shiancoe at the tight-end spot. Joe Flacco must prove he's worth the mammoth contract extension he received in 2013 without two of his top three pass-catchers from last season's championship campaign. 

     

    Financially

    Unfortunately for Pitta, he signed a one-year deal after his rookie contract expired in 2012. Had he stayed healthy and pieced together another productive season, he would have been primed for a relatively large payday. Now, that's highly unlikely.

     

    Fantasy Football

    According to FFToolBox.com, Pitta has been the No. 6 tight end taken in mock drafts on average. Dickson should be picked much earlier than he was prior to Pitta's injury. Also, don't be surprised if the average draft position of Ray Rice and Bernard Piece goes up, as they should see more targets.

Dan Koppen

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    Injury: Torn ACL 

    Expected time missed: 2013 season

     

    Ripple Effects

    Individually

    Dan Koppen will turn 34 on Sept. 12. He played in 15 games and logged 12 starts for the Denver Broncos in 2012 after a nine-year career with the New England Patriots. 

     

    For the Team

    With J.D. Walton already injured, the Broncos signed veteran interior offensive lineman Steve Vallos, per Mike Klis of The Denver PostVallos played for the Jacksonville Jaguars and Philadelphia Eagles in 2012. 

     

    Financially

    Koppen signed a one-year contract with Denver in May. It'll be hard for him to convince a team to offer anything more than a one-year deal in the future. 

     

    Fantasy Football

    Although offensive linemen don't have a specific place in fantasy football, they do protect quarterbacks and block for running backs. The Broncos will miss Koppen, who's an experienced and serviceable center, but Peyton Manning is the ultimate equalizer and makes offensive linemen's jobs much easier. 

Jeremy Maclin

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    Injury: Torn ACL

    Expected time missed: 2013 season

     

    Ripple Effects

    Individually

    Jeremy Maclin turned 25 in May and has averaged 65 receptions for 863 yards and seven touchdowns since his NFL debut in 2009. He was poised for a huge year in Chip Kelly's offense.

     

    For the Team

    The former Missouri Tigers star led the Philadelphia Eagles in every major receiving category a year ago. He had 35 more targets than the next highest pass-catcher, Brent Celek. According to Zach Berman of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Eagles GM Howie Roseman "said Sunday the Eagles will focus on internal options to replace Maclin, and they will count on more than just their wide receivers." Riley Cooper, who's dealt with a multitude of injuries in his NFL career, could be the man to replace Maclin on the outside. Arrelious Benn, Damaris Johnson and Jason Avant are others who should be asked to produce in Maclin's absence.

    Furthermore, DeSean Jackson should become more of a focal point in the offense with Maclin sidelined. The former California Bear had 45 receptions for 700 yards and two touchdowns a season ago. In all likelihood, the Eagles will need more production than that from Jackson in 2013.

     

    Financially

    Maclin was entering the final year of his rookie deal and will be a free agent at season's end. His ACL tear will likely cost him a considerable amount of money.

     

    Fantasy Football

    According to FFToolBox.com, before his injury, Maclin's was the No. 34 wide receiver take on average. Expect Avant to see the most significant average draft position (ADP) spike. Benn and Cooper should now at least be on the radar for some fantasy owners. Also, there are two schools of thought regarding Jackson's current fantasy value. While he should receive more targets, there's a good chance he'll be double teamed more often. 

Percy Harvin

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    Injury: Partially torn hip labrum

    Expected time missed: Unknown, but could be entire season

     

    Ripple Effects

    Individually

    Percy Harvin turned 25 in May and caught 62 passes for 677 yards and three touchdowns in 2012. He missed seven games with an ankle injury. If he needs surgery on his hip, he could miss the entire season.

     

    For the Team

    Per FootballOutsiders.com, the Seattle Seahawks averaged the sixth-most yards and seventh-most points per drive a season ago, but Harvin was added to bring even more efficiency to Russell Wilson's attack. According to ProFootballFocus.com (subscription required), Harvin's 8.7 yards-after-catch-per-reception average led the NFL in 2012 (among receivers who played at least 25 percent of their respective team's snaps.) With the entire NFC West improved, the Seahawks could use Harvin's versatility.

     

    Financially

    Harvin signed a six-year, $67 million contract with the Seahawks with $25.5 million guaranteed after being traded. The guaranteed money is the sum of a $12 million signing bonus and both of Harvin's first two base salaries. He represents $14.5 million and $12.1 million in dead money the next two seasons. His absence would be a hit to Seattle's offense and, essentially, a waste of money in 2013.

     

    Fantasy Football

    According to FFToolBox.com, Harvin's has been the No. 8 wide receiver taken on average. Expect to see a boost in the ADP of Golden Tate and Sidney Rice. Also, Randall Cobb, who to some is the new-age Harvin, should be drafted higher now. Harvin could potentially be selected much later, at a much better value. 

Blaine Gabbert

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    Injury: Sprained ankle

    Expected time missed: Unknown, but shouldn't be long

     

    Ripple Effects

    Individually

    If the sprain is serious, Blaine Gabbert could lose valuable repetitions in practice to Chad Henne, his main competition in the Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback battle. 

     

    For the Team

    Gus Bradley's team needs viable play from its signal-caller position, and a legitimate competition for the job is preferable to handing Henne the starting gig uncontested. 

     

    Financially

    Gabbert is currently playing under a four-year, $12.002 million contract he signed after he was picked in the first round of the 2011 draft. The deal is fully guaranteed, and Gabbert is set to make $1.47 million in base salary this season. If he's out for a while, there's an increased chance the Jaguars look to move on from Gabbert. However, that's unlikely for the time being.  

     

    Fantasy Football

    Gabbert wasn't fantasy relevant entering the 2013 campaign, and although Henne struggled as his replacement a year ago—outside of a huge game in Houston against the Texans—if Henne is the unquestioned starter, he could find himself being selected in the late rounds as a backup in deep leagues.

Armon Binns

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    Injury: Torn ACL and MCL

    Expected time missed: 2013 season

     

    Ripple Effects

    Individually

    An undrafted free agent in 2011 out of Cincinnati, 23-year-old Armon Binns caught a total of 24 passes for 277 yards and one score as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins last season. Because he's young, he shouldn't be out of football for good, but it won't necessarily be easy for him to find work in the future. 

     

    For the Team

    According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Binns was "consistently one of the team's top playmakers and served as the Dolphins' biggest red-zone threat for whichever quarterback he was paired with" during OTAs this spring. Miami is desperate for viable red-zone targets. 

     

    Financially

    Binns wasn't even remotely expensive for the Dolphins, as his current deal is for $1.245 million over three years with no guaranteed money. He was set to make $480,000 in 2013. He likely will miss out on a good chunk of change.

     

    Fantasy Football

    If Binns continued to impress during training camp, he could have made a push to be Miami's No. 3 or No. 4 receiver, which would have resulted in some fantasy relevancy in deeper leagues. Instead, he'll be sidelined all season, and the rest of the Dolphins pass-catchers should receive a little bump in their respective values.

Martez Wilson

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    Injury: Elbow injury

    Expected time missed: 2-4 weeks

     

    Ripple Effects

    Individually

    Martez Wilson, a third-year outside linebacker, is primed to be a key contributor off the edge this year for the New Orleans Saints after Victor Butler was lost for the season with an ACL tear. While the month off won't derail Wilson's regular-season playing time, missing practice repetitions and preseason games is rarely a good development for a young player.

     

    For the Team

    For Rob Ryan's 3-4 defense to be successful—or any defense for that matter— it needs to have disruptive pass-rushers. Butler was a major loss, and not having Wilson in training camp and preseason would be a hindrance to the installation of the new defense, especially from a pass-rushing perspective. 

     

    Financially

    There is no major financial risk on either side, as Wilson should be ready for the start of the regular season. 

     

    Fantasy Football

    New Orleans fielded one of the worst defenses in NFL history in 2012. There won't be many fantasy owners grabbing the Saints defense at the end of drafts this summer, but Wilson should garner some consideration in IDP leagues. With this injury, he may be able to be selected later. 

Arian Foster

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    Injury: Strained calf 

    Expected time missed: Unknown, but shouldn't be long (per GM Rick Smith via ESPN's Josina Anderson)

     

    Ripple Effects

    Individually

    Foster injured his calf in May during an OTA session. If it lingers, he could miss relatively important—but not absolutely vital—training camp and preseason action. He didn't miss a game in 2013 but was held out of 3 games in 2011 due to injury.

     

    For the Team

    Although the Houston Texans have added more weapons to their offense, Foster remains the unit's essential figure. He accumulated 391 total touches a season ago, and his presence is integral to the play-action passing game that aids the production of quarterback Matt Schaub.

    Ben Tate has proven to be more than serviceable backup, as he'll carry a 5.1 yards-per-rush average into 2013 after 240 attempts in his first two campaigns. However, Foster is the heart-and-soul of the offense because of his mastery running in the zone-blocking scheme. 

     

    Financially

    Foster is currently playing under a five year contract worth $43.5 million with nearly $21 million guaranteed. It expires after the 2016 season. He is set to make $5.25 million in base salary this year and is an $8.25 million cap hit. Because Foster's injury isn't expected to keep him off the field for much longer, there shouldn't be any worry here, but if the ailment nags him all season, there could be some restructuring in the offseason.

     

    Fantasy Football

    Despite the fact that Foster has been less efficient in each of the last two seasons, he remains an elite fantasy football option at running back. He led the league in rushing touchdowns in 2010 and 2012 and is in line for a high number of touches once again. If shelved for a considerable amount of time, Foster could cause a major eruption near the top of fantasy drafts. All of his contemporaries would see a boost in their stock, and Tate could emerge as a borderline RB-1.