After a week the NFL would love to forget, things managed to get uglier still once the players took to the field. At least this time the ugliness wasn’t self-inflicted.
Jamaal Charles sprained an ankle after accumulating just 12 total yards. Robert Griffin III suffered a nasty dislocated ankle just before teammate DeSean Jackson was knocked out with a shoulder injury.
The Dolphins lost new starting RB Knowshon Moreno (dislocated elbow), reportedly for at least a month, on his first carry. A.J. Green was bounced by a strained foot before he could register a catch. Ryan Mathews was carted off the field with a knee injury, and Tavon Austin left with his own knee troubles.
Dexter McCluster’s foot injury could open the door to more touches by rookie Bishop Sankey in the weeks ahead. And Marcedes Lewis (ankle) left the game with a walking boot and crutches.
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Eric Decker yanked a hammy, while Vernon Davis left the Sunday night matchup hobbling on a sprained ankle.
Of course, both of Chicago’s starting wide outs entered the Sunday nighter banged up, Brandon Marshall’s bravado performance notwithstanding.
Both Antonio Brown (head) and Dez Bryant (shoulder) were knocked out early but each returned to post strong performances.
The moral of this story? Actually, there are at least three.
First, watch the inactive reports up until the last minute. Lots of fantasy players missed out on Marshall’s heroics, including many who still had the flexibility to make a change at the eleventh hour.
Second, handcuff your stud running back(s). I know I’m a broken record on this, but you never know when the backups will be pressed into service.
And third, don’t neglect your bench. Constantly look for opportunities to upgrade — not churn, mind you; but upgrade — to provide the depth you’ll need to overcome injuries and to manage the upcoming bye weeks.
Unfortunately, injuries are part of the game. They can be painful, sometimes career-ending for the players. But they need not put your season in jeopardy.
FREE AGENT PICKS AND PANS
To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here’s a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else’s lineup.
Catch ‘em while you can
Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington. Many believe Cousins is a better fit for Washington’s offense than Griffin, and now he’ll have the opportunity to prove them right (or wrong). If you need help at the position, Cousins is worth a flier. RG3 is expected to be out for an extended period; and if Cousins excels, even a healthy Griffin might not get his job back.
Knile Davis, RB, Chiefs. Charles’ early exit left the backfield in his understudy’s capable hands. After scoring twice and going for 105 total yards, Davis proved he is worthy. Charles’ owner should already have him handcuffed; but if not, scoop him up.
Matt Asiata, RB, Vikings. Arguably the most anonymous handcuff in the NFL, Asiata excelled late last season in relief of an injured Adrian Peterson before racking up 84 total yards and a score against the Patriots on Sunday. Though Peterson has been re-activated for week three, you’re playing with fire if you don’t hedge your bets with Asiata.
Don’t be fooled
Mohamed Sanu, WR, Bengals. Sanu broke loose for a long scoring strike after A.J. Green went out. But don’t think that’s a sign of things to come. Sanu has shown flashes in the past, but more often than not has disappeared. Marvin Jones is a better bet for consistent production once he returns from his broken foot.
Ladarius Green, TE, Chargers. Think Antonio Gates has lost a step? Who cares? The Green Era in San Diego will just have to wait. Philip Rivers is still locked onto his old pal, and Gates clearly has plenty left after his TD hat trick against the vaunted Seahawks defense. Somehow, Gates is available in roughly half of all leagues. What are you waiting for?