Week 4: Injury Update
Another major top 10 fantasy producer at his position went down for the count this week when Titans WR Kenny Britt suffered a season ending ACL injury. Britt ranked 5th among fantasy WRs and his replacement -- Nate Washington -- will be a hot commodity on the waiver wire.
Taking a QB in round 1 has been viewed as a major mistake among most experts. The always brittle Mike Vick is proving that theory to be correct as he suffered yet another injury in week 3. What was once thought of to be a broken hand has now been labeled as a significant bruise. He's likely to play in week 4 against SF, but it is not looking like this will be the year that the Dogfather makes it through all 16 games.
In this article we will profile some of the more fantasy relevant injuries that have cropped up and suggest which players are likely to benefit from increased playing time (some of the replacement players might be sitting on your waiver wire).
In his 8 previous seasons, Vick has played a full slate of games only once (2006). In week two he suffered a concussion and this past week a severely bruised right hand knocked him out in the 4th quarter. Replacement Mike Kafka was less than impressive and Eagles fans (and owners of the Birds' skill position players) have to hope that Vick returns for week 4. Today he announced that he's 100% and all signs point to Vick under center when the Eagles face a very mediocre 49ers pass defense (allowing 244 YPG). Vince Young appears close to 100% recovered from his hamstring injury and would be the handcuff to own for those in deeper leagues.
Fantasy football's #1 running back from 2010 has been a major disappointment for those that took him among the top 3 picks. A hamstring injury has cost Foster most of the first three games, as he's registered a pedestrian 10 carries for 33 yards to date. The emergence of second year RB Ben Tate (66 carries for 301 yards) has allowed head coach Kubiak to be cautious with Foster (much to the dismay of his fantasy owners). Foster took part in Wednesday's practice and appears likely to start against the vaunted Steelers defense. His carries will likely be limited in his return (especially with Tate impressing), so keeping Foster on your bench is advisable if you have two other solid top 25 options for week 4.
Father time appears to be catching up to the 28 year old University of Miami alum. He's missed 9 games over the previous three seasons and has struggled mightily in 2011, averaging a laughable 2.5 YPC. Gore also has only 6 catches for 36 yards through three games after averaging close to 50 receptions per season over the past two years. Gore missed 4th quarter snaps in the week 3 win over the Bengals and appears questionable to play in Philly in week 4 after missing Wednesday's practice. Rookie dual threat Kendall Hunter is a must own as he's flashed potential in the preseason and could see his role expand as head coach Jim Harbaugh looks to keep Gore healthy for the long haul. Hunter would get the start against Philly's 30th ranked run defense (131 YPG) if Gore is ruled out, making him a solid lower end RB2 for week 4.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy told reporters Wednesday that he does not expect Ryan Grant (bruised kidney) to play in Week 4. Similar to concussions, there is NFL protocol for Grant's injury (meaning he'll have to pass league mandated tests before he's allowed back on the field). The injury couldn't come at a worse time after Grant seemed to reestablish himself as the go-to RB for the Packers in their week 3 win in Chicago (17 carries for 92 yards). James Starks took a back seat in week 3 (11 carries for 5 yards), but could be in store for significant production as the main back against a Broncos defense that ranks 14th against the run (100 YPG). Rookie Alex Green is also worth considering if Grant's injury will sideline him for multiple weeks.
The Cowboys' lead back re-aggravated his dislocated shoulder late in Monday's win over the Redskins after racking up 155 total yards on just 17 touches. He has returned to practice and should play week 4 against Detroit, but the oft-injured game breaker is proving to be a durability concern (missed 12 games in his first three NFL seasons). Jones struggled in the first two games of this season (26 carries for 69 yards), but showed why many experts had him on their breakout lists heading into this season with an impressive week 3 performance. Rookie Demarco Murray should be added as a handcuff for Felix Jones owners as Tashard Choice continues to struggle.