Most NFL teams have not played a preseason game yet, yet the catastrophic injuries are already piling up.
Injuries play a bigger role in fantasy football than they do in fantasy baseball, hockey or basketball. And it's striking not only how many injuries occur during training camp and the preseason, but also how many of them happen during non-contract drills or on seemingly harmless plays in practice.
But those injuries open doors and opportunities for other players on those teams, and fantasy football owners know that better than most people so keeping track of preseason injuries and depth charts is a must this month as you prepare for your upcoming fantasy drafts and auctions.
Here are three players whose fantasy values have gone up during training camp thanks to the injuries of their teammates.
DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles (WR)
It remains to be seen just how often the Eagles will pass in Chip Kelly’s 700-plays-per-game offense, but now that Jeremy Maclin tore his ACL and will not be on the field, Jackson’s fantasy value definitely goes up.
And Maclin might not be the only Eagles receiver NOT getting in Jackson’s way of catching passes. After Riley Cooper’s verbal vomit at a Kenny Chesney concert, who knows if Maclin’s replacement will end up being replaced himself!
Jackson is primed for a bounce-back season if the new offense runs anywhere close to how it was run when Oregon piled up 40-50 points per week during Kelly’s heyday.
Even though it is a run-first system, the additional plays created due to the hurry-up offense, along with play-action passes that open up receivers deep downfield when the running game gets rolling, Jackson will get plenty of passes thrown in his direction.
Will Kelly’s high-octane offense help Jackson drop fewer passes, stay healthier and be more consistent than he has the past two years? No. But will the offense, along with the lack of other quality receivers, give Jackson a better chance to reach the 1,000-yard plateau like he did in 2009 and 2010? Definitely.
Golden Tate, Seattle Seahawks (WR)
Seattle is going to be known as much for its injury-prone wide receivers as it is known for its coffee, seafood, grunge rock and rain.
Newly acquired Percy Harvin, who was supposed to add some speed and skill to an average-at-best receiving group that even Eddie Vedder or Chris Cornell could not make sound exciting, is going to miss most if not all of the season due to hip surgery.
And Sidney Rice, Seattle’s former No. 1 receiver before Harvin was traded for, has been perpetually banged-up during his career thanks to shoulder problems, knee troubles and concussions. He had some work done on a balky knee in the offseason, so his status for the season opener is questionable at best.
So with Harvin definitely out and Rice’s availability very mysterious, Tate could be quarterback Russell Wilson’s de-facto top target.
Tate had the best season of his underwhelming three-year career last year when he set personal bests across the board with 45 receptions for 688 yards and seven touchdowns. Unless you had him in a 16-team fantasy league, Tate did not have much of a fantasy impact, though.
But if Wilson improves instead of suffering s sophomore jinx, and if Harvin and Rice are at Starbucks and not in uniform, Tate should be ready to re-break all his career-highs and have 800-900 yards and eight touchdowns if everything breaks right.
Ed Dickson, Baltimore Ravens (TE)
Dickson has never quite panned out as a pass catcher. He has shown flashes and glimpses that he could be a decent fantasy tight end, but he has not sustained solid production for more than a week or two at a time. That is why he was the No. 2 tight end on his team, which normally translates into fantasy worthlessness unless the New England Patriots are your team and Tom Brady is your quarterback.
Dickson’s fantasy worth unquestionably goes up with Dennis Pitta out for the season after fracturing his hip, though. He is now the starting tight end by default, and without Pitta or Anquan Boldin to throw to quarterback Joe Flacco will be looking towards Dickson when he needs to complete short passes over the middle and around the end zone.
Dickson had 54 receptions for 528 yards and five touchdowns in 2011. Hardly Hall of Fame numbers that would get Dickson mentioned in the same breath as Shannon Sharpe, but good enough to be a No. 2 tight end on a fantasy squad. And that is the stat range he should be around this season for the Ravens.