Fantasy Football 2010: Tony Romo and the Biggest Injuries of the Year
To many, Sundays in the fall are bigger than the actual game of football. Most are not only fans of a 2010 NFL team on the field, they're also the owner, general manager and coach of a mythical squad on the computer screen where stakes range from cash and prizes to, most importantly, bragging rights. Fantasy football is taken very seriously.
Given the struggles of the Dallas Cowboys this season, the injury to star QB Tony Romo is as significant in the real football world as it is in the fake. Romo is one of the league's most consistent fantasy performers. Just as Dallas' season went up in flames with his broken collarbone, so did the playoff hopes of thousands of fantasy owners.
Through the first seven weeks of the 2010 season, multiple fantasy stars have gone down with injury. As Week 8 and the rest of year commence, there are sure to be many more crippling player losses to fantasy teams.
Following are the biggest fantasy football injuries in 2010, headlined by Cowboys QB Tony Romo.
RB Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints
After a breakout performance in helping New Orleans to a Super Bowl win last year, RB Pierre Thomas was being touted as a fantasy difference maker in the preseason.
Thomas averaged 5.4 yards per rush last season, and was supposed to be the Saints lead man in the backfield this season in addition to getting all carries near the goal-line. With that in mind, 1,000 yards and at least 10 TDs were modest projections for him in 2010, making him a viable starter in most fantasy leagues.
After injuring his ankle in Week 3, Thomas has been slow to heal, leaving not only the Saints—but fantasy ownersscrambling to duplicate his production.
QB Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles
An afterthought in the worlds of reality and fantasy coming into 2010, Eagles QB Michael Vick took the football world by storm after replacing injured starter Kevin Kolb in Week 1.
Displaying newfound poise and comfort in the pocket as well as improved accuracy, Vick was the NFL's most electrifying player in the season's first three weeks. He threw for six TDs, ran for another and put up big yardage numbers through the air and on the ground. Vick was a star statistically, easily the best in-season free agent acquisition in fantasy football.
The fortunes of Vick and his fantasy owners took a turn for the worse in Week 4 when he took a vicious hit and injured his shoulder. He will return in Week 8, however, though it is unlikely his initial production will match that of what it was in the season's beginning.
RB Ryan Grant, Green Bay Packers
Packers RB Ryan Grant was poised for a huge year statistically in 2010, ready to feast off of running lanes widened by QB Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay's burgeoning passing offense.
Grant was extremely effective last season, rushing 1,253 yards and 11 TDs, numbers jiving with number one RB status on the field and in fantasy leagues. Given improvements to the Packers offense this season, those stellar stats were a foregone conclusion in 2010.
After suffering a severe leg injury in the season's opening plays, Grant has left a sizable void in the backfields of fantasy owners, as well as that of the Packers.
TE Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers
Jermichael Finley of the Packers established himself as one of the game's brightest young receivers last year, putting up huge numbers in the 2009 playoffs.
The young TE lived up to lofty expectations in the season's first four weeks, getting off to a terrific start by catching 21 passes for 301 yards and a score. Finley had the look of not only the number one TE in fantasy football, but also of one of the most reliable and consistent targets in the fantasy world. He was making owners chided for drafting him too highly look very, very good.
All that changed after a Week 5 injury, as Finley was lost for multiple weeks with a torn hamstring.
TE Dallas Clark, Indianapolis Colts
TE Dallas Clark has recently emerged as QB Peyton Manning's most reliable target for the Indianapolis Colts, establishing himself as a fantasy star at TE in the process.
Clark was off to a fantastic start in 2010, catching 37 passes for three TDs in the season's first six games. The Colts passing attack was as effective as ever, and Clark was only getting better. He was one of the league's most reliable fantasy performers in terms of catches per game, and was producing scores, as well.
How the absence of Clark will hinder Manning and the Colts remains to be seen, but there is no doubt the Week 6 injury to his wrist has left many fantasy owners without a real threat at TE.
QB Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
After a promising rookie campaign, Lions QB Matthew Stafford was a popular preseason fantasy darkhorse.
The second-year man threw 13 TDs against 20 INTs last season, numbers he was sure to improve on this year. Stafford and WR Calvin Johnson are one of the league's top young pass-catching combinations, and looked ready to establish themselves as elite fantasy performers in 2010. As a result, many owners were counting on Stafford as a No. 2 QB.
However, Stafford went down with a shoulder injury in Week One, and has yet to return to action. He looks ready to return for Week 8 though, and should be one of this week's biggest waiver wire pickups.
QB Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
QB Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys were a popular preseason Super Bowl pick in 2010. After a dismal start to the year, expectations were tempered. Losing, though, didn't keep Romo from putting up big fantasy numbers.
One of the most consistent fantasy stars of the last few seasons, Romo was on pace for a big year in 2010. Through the season's first five games, he threw for 1,566 yards and 11 TDs. Though his team was struggling, Romo was easily living up to his status as a legitimate No. 1 fantasy signal-caller.
As the Cowboys season unofficially ended with their loss last night, many fantasy owners' hopes of a postseason berth ended as well. Romo broke his collarbone, and will be out for several weeks, if not the remainder of the season.