If you haven’t heard, football is a sport where men get injured, often in stomach turning fashion. Such was the case this week when Delanie Walker suffered a gruesome ankle injury in the seven hour thunder and lightning marathon otherwise known as the Dolphins and Titans game. Walker has reportedly suffered a dislocated ankle with ligament damage and will now be out for the season. In addition, Greg Olsen re-injured his surgically-repaired right foot in the Panthers game against the Cowboys and was seen in a walking boot and on crutches at the end of the contest. While the severity is still unknown, Olsen could be looking at a lengthy absence as well.
In a re-draft league, moves you make are pretty simple. You just drop Walker (and Olsen if he’s indeed out for a long time), find someone on the waiver wire or via trade and move on, knowing it won’t matter in the long-run and holding firm to the noting you can just start over next year. In dynasty leagues, your strategy has to look a lot different. Let’s run through the options for dynasty owners, with the assumption Olsen is out for an extended period and knowing now that Walker is indeed out for the season.
Walker and Olsen
I would imagine this would go without saying for any savvy dynasty owner but Walker and Olsen need to be kept at this point in time, regardless of how severe Olsen’s injury is. Neither player should be placed on the waiver wire, even knowing Olsen was flirting with broadcasting last year. It’s quite possible he looks at that again in the off-season (or even now) but he’s talented enough to keep on your roster with the assumption he returns to the playing field. The same goes for the 34-year old Walker, who is aging but a difference maker at a position that rarely has them. Hopefully your league has IR spots and neither indicate their careers have come to an end. Again, we’re not even 100% sure what Olsen’s status is moving forward so we’re in a bit of a holding pattern anyway.
Cheaper Veteran Trade Possibilities
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If you’re a competing team, it’s easy to say, “Go get Rob Gronkowski, Zach Ertz or Travis Kelce!” However, that’s really easier said than done. If I owned either of these two (Walker or Olsen) and needed to find a replacement this year, I’d be looking first at some cheaper veterans who can net me some solid points but won’t come with a massive price tag. Jordan Reed is a player who comes to mind. Reed’s ADP has taken a free fall and while he’s a major injury risk, he could replace the points you’d get from Walker or Olsen in the short-term, without you selling the farm. Tyler Eifert is another talented player who would come cheaply based on injury risk but also could produce for you this year. Eric Ebron would be another player to take a look at. He scored yesterday and while he’s not a full-time player, he could still do in a pinch if you have no other great options. Kyle Rudolph or Benjamin Watson won’t cost as much as some young assets as well. If you’re a contending team, I’d consider this group for sure if I don’t have a decent replacement on my roster.
More Expensive and Younger Trade Possibilities
If you’re thinking Walker or Olsen are really at the end of the road and you’re looking to get a young tight end to be the future of your franchise, there are several to think about. Trey Burton certainly didn’t have the start owners were wanting, but that’s probably not going to be the norm. Other players like David Njoku, OJ Howard, George Kittle, Dallas Goedert, Mike Gesicki and Ricky Seals-Jones all look like they have bright futures, though their week-to-week production could be an issue. This group is going to cost more than the older veterans I suggested but won’t come with the price tag of Gronkowski, Evan Engram, Ertz or Kelce, just to name a few.
Waiver Wire Possibilities
First and foremost, I’m assuming Ian Thomas and Jonnu Smith are rostered in your leagues. If not, they’re a must get this week. Most owners are going to go straight to the waiver wire in search of a replacement for Walker or Olsen and that’s the right play, at least to start. There are several possibilities here as well. It’s quite possible Vance McDonald and Jesse James of the Steelers could be out there. If so, using James until McDonald is healthy, then using McDonald (until he gets hurt again) could be a solid play. Will Dissly set a Seahawks record for most yards by a player in their first game. However, he really is more of a blocking specialist and this could very well be his best game of the year. Still, he’s a free agent and on the wire in most leagues. Other options could include Nick Boyle, Maxx Williams or Mark Andrews of the Ravens, though they look a tight end by committee after week one and that situation could be maddening. Antonio Gates is on the wire in a lot of leagues and while he’s going to be touchdown dependent, the price is right. I’d also keep my eye on how the Rams use Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett tonight. Jordan Akins of the Texans could emerge as well and he’s on the wire in too many leagues already.
In short, there are a lot of options for owners who have Walker and possibly Olsen. While we wait to see the severity of Olsen’s injury, solid dynasty owners should be formulating a plan of attack that matches their short-term team goals without sacrificing the future of their dynasty teams. Owners of competitive teams should scour the waiver wire first, evaluate their options for veteran and young player trades, then formulate a long-term strategy that keeps them in the mix this year. It’s never fun to lose great players but these aren’t the first and they certainly won’t be the last we could lose for lengthy periods this year.
Ken is on Twitter at DLF_KenK
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