Whether you lost your first game or lost your first round pick to injury DO NOT give up on your team.
Look, injuries are a fact of life in the NFL, where the motto has to be “Next Man Up”. You can’t use an injury or loss to quit on your commitment to the other teams in your league, and let me tell you from personal experience that managing a team to winning the league feels even sweeter if you do it after a devastating injury in Week 1.
So let’s take a look at some of the key injuries from Week 1 with an eye on which players you should target via the free agent process this week.
In all of the high stakes football contests and most of the regular leagues, there are no IR slots available for you to use, and even if there were, Dez Bryant, whether he is out four, six, or eight weeks isn’t being officially put on IR anyway. You just need to view your roster differently to maximize your lineup until the injured player returns.
Dez Bryant – Broke a toe as you may have seen on Sunday night. Bryant was immediately declared out 4-6 weeks by the Cowboys and will have surgery on the foot. I would look for his absence to be six weeks – some are speculating longer but today’s athletes are in much better condition and medical procedures are vastly improved. You don’t simply replace Dez Bryant though. The best you can do is look at the other Cowboy receivers if any of (in this order) Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley or Devin Street are available because they will all get increased targets, as will TE Gavin Escobar, and I would put him above Street in a pickup list.
DeSean Jackson – Left the Washington game early with a hamstring injury which reports say may keep him out another 3-4 weeks. Jackson is having an MRI so watch for the results of that for a better picture. Both Pierre Garcon (likely rostered) and Andre Roberts (likely available) will get an increase in targets. It is not so clear whether Ryan Grant will become fantasy relevant but in very deep leagues or where you miss on a higher target, he is worth a look.
T.Y. Hilton – Bruised his knee on the turf in Buffalo and will likely be held out of this week’s game as the Colts are protective of their best receiver. Donte Moncrief, if available, is the player you want to get. I would also expect both of the Colt tight ends to be more involved in the passing game while Hilton is off the field.
Note on WR targets – you want to prioritize your waiver claims with the available players in your league by how many targets they are likely to see and still figure out how much the team will pass to receivers or possibly incorporate tight ends or running backs into the game plan. That would put the Cowboy receivers ahead of the Redskin receivers. Moncrief may have the shorter window now but also has a larger upside later in the season.
Andre Ellington – Will be out 2-3 weeks with a PCL injury to the knee. Chris Johnson will now be the starter for the Cardinals. Rookie David Johnson, who had a nice 55-yard catch and run for a TD last Sunday will also get more time and has more upside than Johnson. Both would be very playable against da Bears this week.
Derek Carr – The Oakland Raiders quarterback may miss this week’s game, and if so, the value of rookie receiver Amari Cooper takes a serious hit. I wouldn’t drop him but I would bench him, assuming there are decent alternative options.
Terrell Suggs – Is enough of a presence that if you have the Ravens DST, I would seriously look at upgrading. Suggs is the rare player who raises the level of his fellow defensive players in addition to making his own contributions.