Word on the Street: Reality of fantasy injuries

Word on the Street: Reality of fantasy injuries
October 24, 2011, 1:29 pm
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By Benjamin Standig
CSNwashington.comNo doubt, the Redskins suffered another round of injuries to key contributors, an epidemic pervasive throughout the NFL in Week 7. Fantasy football owners feel their pain. Numerous passers, runners and catchers went down, some perhaps for the count, sending gamers into a tizzy as they feared the worse. We will learn more about the various bumps and bruises as the day and days roll along, but here's a quick fantasy take on the potential fallout...Tim Hightower - His return to the starting lineup was impressive and short-lived as the dreadlocked one went down and went down hard with a left knee injury. Early reports suggest the worst - torn ligaments - and of true, Touchdown Timmy is done for the remainder of the 2011 season.That leaves backfield touches for Ryan Torain - assuming he leftSunday's gameunscathed- and Roy Helu. Certainly, the oft-injured Torain is on fantasy rosters of all sizes after his power packed outing against the Rams in Week 4. His numbers have paled in comparison since, though you can fairly chalk that up to the Redskins quickly falling behindthe Eagles and Hightower's potent start on Sunday. For as long as he can remain upright, Torain figures to be the lead runner, especially in short yardage scenarios.However...Helu's role figures to expand beyond passing down duties and with one less backfield mouth to feed. Considering Torain's sordid injury history, the odds are high that at some point this season the elusive Nebraska rookie takes over the top spot. Factor in his breakaway ability, the starting potential and the likelihood that other NFL backups to newly injured runners are already rostered, one can argue that Helu is the number one free agent running back to add this week at least in 12-team and higher leagues.Evenifpractice squader Evan Roysteriselevated to the 53-man roster, he does not need to be added to your roster though ownersnow relying heavily on Torain in deeper leagues might feel compelled to hedge Royster's wayif they do not already have Helu.Of course, the Redskins offense is hardly running at max capacity and every fantasy owner fears getting tangled up with a Mike Shanahan running back, not a faint of heart situation. At least now with only two options, the path for both appears clearer. Maybe, who knows.Santana Moss - From my understanding, it is rather hard to catch incoming passes with a busted hand so for at least the short-term (perhaps 3-4 weeks), assume the veteran wide out is sidelined. The usually reliable Jabar Gaffney now slides into the role of Redskins go-to wide receiver and moves upa peg or two on the WR3bye week filler board. However, hislack of big play potential keeps fantasy expectations from rising much, unless stat lines of 5-70 with a touchdown every three games or so rock your world. Solid and steady, not stellar and spectacular.The biggest beneficiary of any immediate playing time should be Anthony Armstrong. After flashing his deep threat skills last year with a 19.8 yards per catch average - 3rd in the NFL - on 44 grabs, Armstrong has only five receptions this season. Whether John Beck's limited arm strengthcan find him deep remains to be seen, but Armstrong's involvement in the passing game will grow as long as Moss is sidelined. Do not sprint to your waiver wire just for him,but if the Redskins continue the pattern of falling behind, they will be throwing more and more.Beyond that, Beck would have to improve greatly for more than two Redskins wide receivers to be fantasy viable, especiallysince tight end Fred Davis is arguably the top target overall. In the deepest of leagues, Terrence Austin is next in line with rookies Niles Paul and Leonard Hankerson likely to receive increased playing time. As for Donte Stallworth, eh, move on (like the Redskins should).As for John Beck, he was solid against the Panthers, posting decent numbers against a suspect defense. For those in need of a bye-week play, Beck has a chance in week 8 against the Bills 30th ranked pass defense, but his weapons are dwindling.Now checking around the rest of the NFL...Darren McFadden - Early reports suggest the Raiders were simply being cautious by holding out their leading runner on Sunday after McFadden suffered a sprained foot early in the contest. The Raiders are on a bye this week, giving DMac ample time to heal.Any insightful McFadden knew at draft time that adding Michael Bush as a handcuff option was a must and the power back showed why as he ripped off 99 yards against the Chiefs despite all the quarterback chaos around him. While Bush is unlikely to be available in all but the smallest of leagues, scatback Taiwan Jones is a low-end free agent option for those McFadden owners feeling naked this morning. Willis McGahee - The Broncos starting RB suffered a fractured right hand during the win over the lowly Dolphins and McGahee will visit a hand specialist this week. As the docs sort out the length and breadth of McGahee's recovery, there is no doubt Knowshon Moreno becomes the top free agent if there are leagues where indeed he is a free agent. It is also worth noting Moreno - primarily used as a passing down option this season - makes Torain seem durable by comparison. Former University of Maryland runner Lance Ball is also a worthy pickup as a possible tag-team, especially in short yardage scenarios.Matthew Stafford - The mantra was the same by all fantasy pundits this offseason. We love the Lions quarterback - as long as he stays healthy. He avoided physical mishap through six games, but Stafford suffered a right leg injury late in Sunday's loss to Atlanta. Stafford will undergo an MRI to determine damage to his knee and ankle. Stafford reportedly remains optimistic, but should the worst fears be realized, Shaun Hill steps in and immediately becomes a viable fantasy QB. Considering the Lions offense has dipped in recent weeks, it would be unwise to suggest Hill is a must-start, but in nine starts last season he posted three 300 yard games and threw 16 touchdown passes. Since the Lions have a bye in week 9, they could choose to let Stafford rest and give Hill the start against the beatable Broncos. Beanie Wells - Another running back who frequently finds himself sidelined, Wells suffered an injury to the same right knee he had surgically repaired before last season. LaRod Stephens Howling posted significant numbers in the passing game after Wells went out, but Alfonso Smith is the player fantasy owners should target if Wells misses games. Not so much forthe week 8 clash against the Ravens, but to use Smith againstthe Rams the following week. Without Wells, the rookie would likely handle goal line carries.Earnest Graham - Even if the reports of a torn Achilles tendon are true, there is nothing to see in the Bucs backfield other than (hopefully) a healthy LeGarrette Blount returning to the lineup after the week 8 bye week. Third-stringer Kregg Lumpkin, not interested. Prefer Forrest Gregg or C.J. Cregg.Redskins RoundupYeah, it's about to get ugly up in here (Snider - Washington Examiner)Grading Beck (Tandler - CSNwashington)If it wasn't obvious on paper or by hype, Cam Newton showed on the field that he is way better than what the Redskins have at quarterback (Daly - Washington Times)And yes, the Redskins need to get a franchise quarterback of their own. (Reid - Washington Post)...You know what. The easiest way for that to occur is to lose games and get a high pick. Neither the coaches nor the players are going to pack it in, Suck for Luck as it were (evenwith three wins, the Redskins have removed themselves from having a shot at Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, but there expected to beother high-end passing prospects in the upcoming draft). Shouldthe Redskinslose more often than not just by the nature of the makeup of the current roster combined with mounting injuries, will the fan base and the media pile on or silently nod in approval. We know the answer, even if the solution to the quarterbacking problem comes with mounting losses.Breakfast BuffetTerps senior linebacker Kenny Tate to undergo surgery, miss remainder of the season. The question now is will be the All-ACC performer'slast at College Park (CSNwashington)Rangers pitcher Derek Holland stymied the Cardinals to even the World Series at 2-2, perhaps sparking the Rangers other hurlers in the process (Boswell- Washington Post)Looking past the sleaze of high school sports (Snyder - Washington Times)