The majority of NFL teams had organized team workouts this week. It’s interesting to see what players are penciled in as starters and what coaches have to say about their athletes. Much of this “coach speak” can be misleading, though. In an attempt to bring you real news, I will tend to steer clear of opinions, but some opinions are unavoidable. If a coach says he’s considering the benching of a star player, that’s obviously news. If a coach goes on record as saying a player “looks good,” I won’t waste your time.
This week we learned a couple of players will miss the majority of the 2014 season. This is sad news for those players, fans and fantasy owners alike. As NFL teams preach, it’s time to learn those players fate, then move on.
This week I challenge you to remember one thing – one injury will not end your season unless you allow it to do so. You may not need this help now, but you will need it eventually. You will, in all likelihood, have a star player miss significant time this season. What will you do after that happens?
Let’s get to the news.
Sean Lee, LB DAL
Lee suffered a torn ACL this week. Even the most optimistic predictions point to him missing the entire 2014 season. This is not the first time Lee has missed time for the Dallas Cowboys. The former Penn State Nittany Lion has missed a total of 18 games over the past four years with the Cowboys. He has never played an entire season in the NFL and will not until 2015 at the earliest.
There’s no doubt about the skill Lee possesses. He is one of the best IDP linebackers in the league when he’s on the field. Unfortunately, he will create a large hole in your lineup where your LB1 should be. Fortunately, we have a great set of IDP rankings. If you’re curious about Lee’s potential replacement, the Cowboys spent a fourth round pick on rookie Anthony Hitchens. I’d consider Hitchens a player to keep an eye on, but not to spend a roster spot on just yet. Alfred Morris, LeSean McCoy and New York Giants running back owners are free to be slightly more excited with Lee’s absence.
Roddy White, WR ATL
The Atlanta Falcons are reportedly working on signing White to a contract extension. White will turn 33 midway through the 2014 season and missed significant time last year with hamstring injuries.
White is a savvy veteran and will play well despite being on the wrong side of 30. Despite his age and recent injury history, the Falcons are willing to commit to him for a few more years. Thomas Dimitroff is one of my favorite NFL General Managers. If he’s putting his faith in White, I am too. If you’re a rebuilding team, I’d still explore other options, though.
Kiko Alonso, LB BUF
Here’s another unfortunate injury situation that could plague your IDP roster. Alonso suffered a torn labrum last year, but many do not know when that injury took place. We know he underwent the knife to repair his hip this off-season, but the Buffalo Bills and Alonso have not disclosed when the surgery took place. The normal recovery time for torn labrums is four-to-six months. Without knowing when his recovery started, I cannot give you an accurate prediction as to when he will return. Many believe he will miss most of training camp and possibly some of the preseason.
Alonso had an amazing rookie campaign in 2013. This injury may not be the most damaging factor to his value, though. Alonso must deal with a position change in 2014. He will play “Will”, or weak side linebacker, a position he is unfamiliar with in the pros. While the move to Will negatively affects Alonso’s IDP value in theory, players such as Lavonte David and Lance Briggs thrive in the role.
Isaiah Crowell, RB CLE
Crowell was a highly coveted undrafted free agent this year. While he wasn’t drafted, he earned hype around the fantasy football community as if he were an early draft pick. Crowell is already missing time during OTA’s due to an undisclosed injury. While minor injuries aren’t normally news, players fighting to make an active roster need every break they can get.
Crowell comes with as much personal baggage as he does hype. Since we know what can happen with players who possess personal issues, is Crowell really a player you want on your team?
Von Miller, LB DEN
The Denver Broncos are bringing Miller back slowly from his ACL surgery. Miller participated in individual drills this week, but has not yet been cleared to participate in team drills. He is expected to be ready by the beginning of the 2014 season.
Miller is one of the most explosive pass rushers in the league. ACL injuries do not benefit explosion. While I suggest you curb your enthusiasm if you believe Miller will immediately mirror his pre-injury performance, we know athletes can return to full health after an ACL injury.
David Wilson, RB NYG
Wilson is participating in OTA’s for the New York Giants. This is great news for Wilson owners, but he is not yet cleared for contact. Wilson is scheduled for an MRI next week and is still hoping to be a full participant in training camp.
Wilson is an enigma wrapped in a riddle. He has the ability to be a superstar running back in the NFL, but cannot stay on the field. Whether it’s injuries or fumbling issues, he has only proven to be a disappointment thus far. Since his perceived value has taken such a hit, it may be time to kick the tires. If he can be had for pennies on the dollar, he’s worth a consideration.
Remember folks, dynasty football is a marathon, not a sprint. Many of the qualities of a successful NFL General Manager can translate into the fantasy world. When you read that your player is dealing with an injury, do not panic. Of course you must react accordingly, but do not overreact. Do not drop a player like Alonso just because he had surgery, but you may want to have a backup plan in place. The most successful dynasty players are always prepared while staying calm in the face of adversity.
Doug Baldwin, WR SEA
The Seattle Seahawks and Baldwin exchanged signatures as they agreed to a three year, $13 million deal. Baldwin caught 50 balls for 778 yards and five touchdowns last year despite being on a run heavy offense.
Russell Wilson seems to have an eye for the former undrafted free agent. Baldwin has been able to remain fantasy relevant in spite of his team’s run first nature. We see teams change their colors often and I expect the Seahawks to become more pass reliant in the coming years. Baldwin will thrive as a third receiver and will become a valuable player for the back end of your roster. If you can acquire Baldwin for cheap, he’s definitely worth a roster spot.
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