As the regular season kicks into gear here, we’ve decided to do a few things differently here at DLF. You’re surely going to see many of those changes in our articles this week as we review the week that was and preview the week that is. Our Monday Morning Break article has two different meanings. First, we’re stalled a little as we wait for the Monday Night Football game to cap off the week, thus fantasy football is “taking a break.” Second, there’s bound to be a “break,” as in a significant injury that has impact on dynasty leagues moving forward. When something significant happens on Sundays, expect to see this article pop up on Monday mornings so we can cover any injuries as best we can, knowing some information may simply not be available quite yet.
With all that said, there are three very significant injuries that have already occurred in week one that are going to potentially have a huge impact in dynasty leagues. It’s been confirmed that Allen Robinson has torn his ACL and is out for the season. In addition, David Johnson has a sprained wrist (at the very least) and could miss extended time, though that’s far from confirmed. To top it off, Kevin White is believed to have a broken collarbone that will end his year as well. Let’s look at the players who are affected by these three injuries.
Allen Robinson, WR JAX
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Robinson caught one pass for 17 yards in the first quarter of the Jaguars opening day beatdown of the Houston Texans, then promptly tore his ACL as he ran out of bounds. The non-contact injury didn’t look terrible at first. However, when Robinson started walking back to the sideline then couldn’t make it as he dropped to the ground, we knew something was really wrong. Sure enough, news has come out now that Robinson has indeed torn his ACL and will be lost for the entire season.
The fourth year wideout had a decent start to his career back in 2014 with 48 catches for 548 yards and two touchdowns in his rookie campaign. However, he really broke out in his second year with 80 catches for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns, making him one of the most coveted assets in dynasty leagues. Last year was a step down for Robinson as he caught just 73 passes on 151 targets for 883 yards and scored only six touchdowns. However, poor quarterback play was certainly a huge role in his statistical downturn. Still, as you can see, his ADP still took a pretty big hit over the span of the last year, certainly prior to this week’s injury.
This was an awful time for Robinson to sustain a significant injury as he was entering a contract season and on the last year of his rookie deal. If the Jaguars don’t extend him (which you wouldn’t expect them to now), Robinson will enter free agency as a 25 year-old receiver with a boatload of talent but also one coming off a lost season. His recovery and the subsequent action taken during his free agency period will be a huge storyline this off-season. If you’re a believer in his talent and not afraid of a torn ACL recovery, there will likely not be a better window to buy. If you believe this injury and his inconsistency last season indicate you have a player you can’t trust, feel free to sell. However, just know the price tag this week is going to be substantially lower than it was prior to week one. To me, Robinson is going to be moved down my rankings by at least a round and maybe two. Still, I’m not panicking. There are countless players who tear their ACLs and come back to have great careers.
Blake Bortles, QB JAX
The Jaguars wiped out the Texans on opening day, 29-7. This was certainly one of the biggest surprises of opening day. Lost in that was another sub-par performance from Bortles as he completed only 11 passes on the day. It’s obvious the Jaguars don’t trust him (how could you blame them) and it’s also apparent they’re going to run Leonard Fournette into the ground. I’d expect the rushing attempts of Fournette to outnumber the passing attempts of Bortles in any game where the Jaguars are competitive.
Losing Robinson certainly doesn’t help the outlook of Bortles. There are now about 140 targets to re-distribute and those aren’t going to anyone who is nearly as talented as Robinson was. He was the safety valve for Bortles and the player he tended to lock on when things got tough. Without Robinson, Bortles and the offense are going to suffer. If he wasn’t “dead man walking” before, you may want to check his pulse this morning. After all, the Jaguars defense isn’t going to dominate like that every week.
Jacksonville Wide Receivers
The Jaguars are now left with Marqise Lee, Allen Hurns, Keelan Cole and Arrelious Benn. Lee is likely to step into the WR1 role for Jacksonville and he comes off a season where he posted 63 catches for 851 yards (both career highs). However, Lee has always proven to be more of a “Robin” than a “Batman” and color me skeptical, especially after he didn’t catch a pass in the opener. Allen Hurns caught three passes for 42 yards in on Sunday and suddenly has some great short-term value after being left for dead. With Robinson and Dede Westbrook both out now, Hurns could very well lead this team in targets and outplay Lee. Keenan Cole makes for an interesting dart throw as well. I’m simply not buying on Benn because he’s never been able to stay on the field. Regardless, on a team with Bortles or Chad Henne at the helm, it’s going to be tough to trust any of these players, especially if they have games like this week where the quarterback is protected from making any type of mistake.
David Johnson, RB ARI
At this point in time, it’s really tough to say if Johnson is even going to miss any time at all. X-rays were negative on his wrist and he’ll have an MRI today. Chris Mortensen of ESPN reported Johnson could miss several weeks or even more than half the season. Another source last night said they don’t believe the Cardinals have any idea if he’s going to miss any games.
Regardless, if Johnson misses any time, it’s a crushing blow to a dynasty team as he’s undoubtedly their best player. However, this would have really no impact on his long-term value. He’s currently right there with Le’Veon Bell as the RB1 in dynasty leagues and this won’t really change, regardless of the MRI. After all, this is a wrist injury, not a torn patellar tendon. It’s a tough break, but not a crushing blow like the injury to Robinson.
Cardinals Running Backs
The immediate beneficiary if Johnson was to miss time would likely be Kerwynn Williams. He spelled Johnson this week and posted ten yards and a touchdown on five carries. However, it’s doubtful he’d be a true three down back if Johnson was out and would likely give way to Andre Ellington on third downs, making him a flex play, at best. If Johnson was to miss significant time, I’d expect the Cardinals to bring back Chris Johnson on a non-guaranteed contract as well. We’ll wait to see the extent here and not overreact too much, but Williams would likely be the top waiver add this week if Johnson does indeed miss time.
Kevin White, WR CHI
Most believed this was a “make or break” year for White and if the reports of a broken collarbone ring true, it’s another bust of a year for White, who will have played in a grand total of five games in three years after being taken with the seventh overall pick in 2015. It would be an unbelievable end to what has been a disaster of a career highlighted by really nothing but injuries and confidence issues. As you can see below, his ADP dropped dramatically over the past year but had finally stabilized right around 100.
If White is indeed lost for the season, his ADP is going to tank as owners decide they’ve had enough. On the plus side, White will still only be 26 years old and theoretically has more to give in the NFL. However, we’ve yet to see anything that would make us believe this ship is going to turn around. White has now endured a stress fracture in his shin, a fractured fibula and now what is believed to be a broken collarbone – that’s three significant injuries and five total games played. In short, White has some time left but has a long way to go to be considered anything else but a bust.
When it rains, it pours.
After losing Alshon Jeffery in the off-season, the Bears have lost Cameron Meredith (torn ACL) and have likely lost White. The Bears are now left with Deonte Thompson, Markus Wheaton, Josh Bellamy, Kendall Wright and Tre McBride. Wright is the most likely receiver to emerge from this group. However, it’s simply more likely the Bears rely on Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen even more with White out. Keep an eye on this receiving corps over the next few weeks as someone could emerge. However, I wouldn’t get my hopes up too much. This has the looks of a “receiver by committee” in Chicago.
Ken is on Twitter at DLF_KenK