Fantasy Football Week 4: How to Handle Big-Name Injuries
RealClearLife fantasy expert Tom Kessenich analyzes the past week and looks ahead to Week 5.
In the world of fantasy football, nobody has ever knelt or sat during the national anthem, because it’s not the real world; there’s no such thing as social or racial injustice here. Everybody’s equal.
That is, except for their numbers, the dollars you earn off of them, and your resultant pride.
And since no (real) NFL team owners have taken President Trump’s (fake?) Twitter advice and fired any of their players just yet—i.e. messed with our fantasy world—all that really matters is that the guys we drafted or plucked from the waiver wires are racking up points.
If the fantasy gods seemed to be coming around in Week 3, per RealClearLife fantasy expert Aram Megerian, the same cannot be said of Week 4. “It was absolutely brutal,” explains Tom Kessenich, manager of High Stakes Fantasy Games for SportsHub Technologies. (They’re the folks behind the National Fantasy Football Championship, by the way). The week got off to an ugly start on Thursday night, when Chicago Bears inside linebacker Danny Trevathan leveled Green Bay Packers’ wideout Davante Adams with an illegal blow to the head. Adams was rushed to the hospital, and will go into Week 5 with multiple question marks surrounding a start, while Trevathan has been suspended for a pair of games. Then, during the Sunday matchups, owners saw two of the Atlanta Falcons’ top wide receivers Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu sidelined with injuries; Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson go down with a broken leg; and quarterbacks Marcus Mariota (Tennessee Titans) and David Carr (Oakland Raiders) with potentially playtime-threatening injuries.
But the coup de grâce for fantasy owners was the injury to Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, who had been killing it since Week 2 and whose ACL injury has put him out of commission for the rest of the season. “It’s a tough sport, we know that; injuries are a big part of fantasy football, and it’s a war of attrition,” says Kessenich. “But to be in Week 4 and see maybe the rookie of the year go down for the season … it’s a huge problem.” Your waiver-wire targets as far as backups are concerned? Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon, but don’t expect Cook-type numbers from either.
Other fill-ins to keep in mind: The Carson injury in Seattle frees up carries for backups Thomas Rawls, C.J. Prosise, and Eddie Lacy, pending future weigh ins. From a different perspective, the Houston Texans’ Deshaun Watson could prove more than just a temporary bandaid for Mariota or Carr owners. “[Fantasy owners] know mobile quarterbacks carry a much higher floor than traditional ones do, because if they can get you 30-40 rushing yards a game, that’s pretty much [equal to] a touchdown pass,” says Kessenich. (He posted five TDs, four through the air and one rushing in Week 4.) Other promising waiver-wire pickups include the Cleveland Browns’ RB Duke Johnson and the New Orleans Saints’ RB Alvin Kamara—that is, if they haven’t already been snapped up in previous weeks.
Assuming that the injuries to Jones and Sanu aren’t too serious, the two will have Week 5’s bye week to recover and come back strong for Week 6. That also means that Matt Ryan will be out Week 5, so QBs like Watson and Jacoby Brissett, whom Megerian mentioned in Week 3, will have added value. Trevor Siemian (Broncos), Drew Brees (Saints), and Kirk Cousins (Redskins) are also all on byes, too—along with all their various targets, backs, and defenses.
Advice Going Into Week 5: “It’s a marathon, but obviously we’re kind of at a point now, when you should have a pretty good feel for your team,” notes Kessenich. If your squad has been affected by injuries, “the season’s not over,” he advises. “What you’ve got to do is look at your roster, see where you can improve, see where production can come from,” he says. That means staying extra vigilant on the waiver wire “even if it’s only for one week.” Season-long fixes might be more difficult to find, but spot-start salves could prove just as important, if not more so, depending on the week.
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