Kelvin Benjamin (WR-Car)
Kelvin Benjamin tore his ACL last week in a non-contact running drill. Mr. Benjamin is now out for the 2015 season. That sucks. A lot. Especially for leagues that have already drafted.
Benjamin was a late 3rd, early 4th round pick in most drafts. His injury is going to hamstring the teams that have drafted him. He was at worst, your #2 WR. Drop him in redraft leagues, but hold on in dynasty and keeper leagues. Those who have drafted him may think they are the only ones who have to deal with this, they’re not. There is a player that this really hurts and a few players that it actually helps.
- Cam Newton – Down - This affects Newton negatively the most. It will help his rushing TD total, and his rushing yards, but it significantly reduces his ability to make plays in the passing game. I was very excited about drafting Newton this year because with Benjamin, Funchess and Olsen they had a true core of pass catchers. Now, having to start Funchess, Olsen, and (insert journeyman WR here), there will be a large learning curve for this offense. I’m taking him in the third tier of QB’s still, especially in leagues where passing TD’s are four points.
- Devin Funchess – Up – Funchess would have benefited in real life if he was able to be the #2 WR learning from Benjamin, who was a raw, physical specimen last year, which is what Funchess is. However, this is a fantasy world. Funchess is going to be targeted much more now with Benjamin out. With his size, he should have a lot of red zone targets and be successful. He’s a good mid-round WR as your 3rd or, even better, your 4th WR. That mitigates the risk of him being so raw.
- Greg Olsen – Up – Olsen benefits the most with Benjamin out. He was already the 4th TE in my rankings, and, now, I believe he jumps to the 2nd tier of TEs with Graham and Kelce. He is the lone veteran in the pass-catcher group and will be targeted a lot. Expect another 1000 yard season from Olsen. Not much more to say. He was already a stud, and he’ll be better now. Draft him around the same time as Kelce, round five-ish.
- Cameron Artis-Payne – Up – CAP is looking like the handcuff for Jonathan Stewart. With that being the case, Stewart doesn’t have the best track record staying healthy. With the increased workload on Stewart because of the passing game, CAP is also likely to have an increased workload and potentially a stint as the starter. He’s a late round flier, but RB is always a good place to take a flier.
Jordy Nelson (WR-GB)
Jordy Nelson tore his ACL this past weekend. Also a noncontact injury, and Mr. Nelson is also now out for the 2015 season. This one hurts a little more than the Benjamin injury for fantasy players, but a little less for Packers. He was a second rounder and your #1 WR. If you already drafted him, you’re in a bind. I’m sorry, but that’s the reality. In redraft leagues, drop him and pick up Devante Adams if at all possible. In dynasty leagues, he’s an obvious hold and also in deep keepers. He is 31 after all. The players affected are as follows:
- Aaron Rodgers – Down – There’s no reason to get crazy about Rodgers. He’s still No. 1 or 1a in the QB rankings. For those who had Rodgers and Luck even, this gives Luck an edge. Rodgers is still going to be awesome. The reason I have him as down is Jordy was his security blanket. It can easily become Randall Cobb or maybe even Devante Adams, but there is now the possibility of a transition period.
- Randall Cobb – Up – Cobb is now the man. He is going to be targeted much more than he was, and he produces. He is now in the WR1 range and should be taken in the late second or early third rounds. Not much more to say here. He already was a top notch option, and he just got better.
- Devante Adams – Up – All of you owners that drafted Adams as a late round handcuff, well done. He’s now in the mix as a midrange WR2. You’re going to want to take him in the 5th round. People will reach for him, so, if you want him, be sure and take him earlier than that. He was productive last season and will be much more this season.
- Ty Montgomery/Jeff Janis – Up – Someone will have to be the #3 WR in that great offense. I believe it will be Montgomery, who will fill Cobb’s role as the multipurpose guy. Janis is almost a Jordy clone. He is 6’3”, 215lbs., and runs a 4.49. He is very raw. I think he’s going to get snaps, but not consistently. Keep eyes on both Montgomery and Janis this preseason. One might end up as a huge steal, but both are late round fliers.
Maurkice Pouncey (C-Pit)
Maurkice Pouncey broke his ankle and is likely to have surgery. Mr. Pouncey could be out half the season and possibly the whole season. Usually, you don’t expect a center to be on the injury report of a fantasy football site; but Pouncey is one of the best in the NFL, and that’s important for the offense. His affect will be felt.
- Ben Roethlisburger – Down – If any QB can deal with a little extra pressure, its Big Ben. It does affect him with protection calls and time to throw the deep ball. Luckily he has an RB that catches everything thrown to him, and a WR that can separate in the midrange passing game. Ben should be drafted exactly where he was going before the injury to Pouncey. He might struggle to find the deep ball early, so keep an eye on that aspect of his game.
- Le’Veon Bell – Down – If a top lineman goes down, it certainly has an impact on the running game. This brings him back to the pack a little. By the time he gets back from suspension, hopefully they’ll have the line figured out. He’s still #1, but now there’s an argument.
- Martavis Bryant – Down – Big Ben not having time to throw the deep ball affects Bryant more than anyone. As of now, that’s what he does. He goes deep and catches long TDs. With less time to throw, Bryant is hurt the most. I would drop him to a low-end WR3. He was going as a low-end WR2 or high-end WR3. If you are set at WR, he is still a solid boom or bust pick as a WR3.
- Markus Wheaton – Up – Wheaton is in a battle for the second WR position as it is. Even if he doesn’t win the job, he’ll be the third guy. He’s an underneath player with good quicks. With the time the QB has to throw shortened, there will be more option routes and dump downs. You can get him as a late round flier, and you’ll have a starting WR in a good offense.
Arian Foster (RB-Hou)
Arian Foster tore his groin the first day of padded practice. Mr. Foster doesn't have a concrete timeline to return to action. Reports have been from 4-6 weeks up to a season-ending injury. Luckily (easy for me to say), most people hadn't drafted when Foster went down. There's always risk involved with Foster, and this was that risk realized before we had a chance to take it.
Drafting Foster is a tough proposition. It's hard to know when to take him, and he will still have risk when he gets back. I personally have been taking him after I have drafted my core squad. That's usually around the 6th or 7th round. You have to be willing to deal with uncertainty if you take him at all. Even when he plays, you will have to check Sunday morning before church to see if he's in or out. I do recommend taking him if you have the patience and roster flexibility. When healthy he's a top-ten back, maybe top five. While he is gone, there are a couple players that will get an uptick in production
- Alfred Blue - Up - Blue is slated as the starter in Foster's absence. Starting RBs have value. He won't be a top notch back, but he'll get carries; and carries usually net some sort of production. I would take him right after the Doug Martin, Isaiah Crowell tier. I have found that I typically take Foster ahead of Blue even with the injury. Blue's value is still as a handcuff to Foster.
- DeAndre Hopkins - Up – Hopkins’ value doesn't change a ton. He will be targeted more with a suspect rushing attack. Hopkins talent should supersede the fact that there isn't a fantasy relevant QB in Houston. Hopkins draft value should be the same also. Top-end WR2 in the 3rd to 4th round. When Foster gets back his value shouldn't change much, and maybe, by then, he and Hoyer will have built a rapport.