We’re Just 6 weeks in to the 2017 NFL season and it’s already shaping up to be one of the most injury plagued years of recent history! With so many big name stars out for the season I thought we should take a look at the fantasy and NFL impact and see who the beneficiaries are and who will struggle as a result.
Let’s start with the latest news. A-Rod is arguably the best Quarterback of all time and so after a somewhat innocuous looking sack resulted in a broken collar bone causing him to undergo season ending surgery, there will inevitably be a huge impact.
In the NFL, one of the most common phrases you’ll hear is “next man up” and in this case the “next man” is 2015’s 5th round draft pick Brett Hundley. Being behind Aaron Rodgers on the depth chart is probably quite a cushty position to be in as you learn from one of the best to play the game without the pressure of having to start…. Until the future Hall of Famer gets injured that is! Now Brett will have to go under centre for a team that was touted as being Superbowl contenders and see what he can do! This is his chance to show whether or not he’s ready to fill daddy’s boots! Furthermore, we have seen in the past (most recently with Brock Osweiler) that if a backup can show some flashes when called upon at a good team, then he can earn himself a huge contract from a more QB needy team further down the line. So this opportunity could potentially lead to a monster pay day for Hundley.Embed from Getty Images
Lions, Bears & Vikings
Since Rodgers appeared on the scene the Packers have reached the playoffs every year since 2009! This division has become the Packers’ to lose and by proxy has meant that the other teams have had slim pickings as a result. Well now they have an opening. Rodgers’ injury has given a chance to the also-rans of the NFC North and the Division title (and playoff berth) is up for grabs.
Davante Adams & Jordy Nelson
I mention Adams first because although Jordy Nelson will inevitably suffer, he is still the number one guy in the offence. This means that the volume will still be there and so he will still be fantasy relevant, whereas Adams’ value comes from his TD threat that Aaron Rodgers can help him sustain by throwing for 40+ TDs most years. Without Rodgers though, this number will reduce significantly and Adams will suffer as a result.
DJ was taken almost universally as the number 1 pick in fantasy drafts this year. So that means a lot of disappointed people woke up to the news after just the first game of the season that (again) a somewhat innocuous tackle led to wrist surgery being required. As David Johnson was the focal point of the offence, the Cardinals have struggled to react to his loss on the field.
This may be a bit premature, but David Johnson’s injury opened up a need at Running Back that, following a trade with the New Orleans Saints, was filled by future Hall of Famer Adrian “All Day” Peterson. Following a season ending injury himself last year Peterson thought his career may come back on track in New Orleans but was left disappointed after splitting carried with Mark Ingram & rookie Alvin Kamara in a Running Back by Committee situation. Even when he did get a chance, he looked a shadow of his former self. This may well have been due to the fact that AP’s dominance in the past has come from his volume and his ability to run defences ragged, so by having a reduced workload, this strength was taken from him.
On Peterson’s debut for the Cardinals he had 26 carries, which is just 1 short of what he had been given in his entire 5 weeks at the Saints. This led to a performance and numbers that we’re used to seeing from AP as he produced 134 yards and 2 TDs at over 5.2 yards per carry (and that’s excluding another 30+ yard run that was called back for holding). Needless to say, from this one performance people are excited that AP may be BACK! And he owes this opportunity to the unfortunate David Johnson injury.Embed from Getty Images
Fantasy Drafters who had #1 pick
This goes without saying, but the number 1 pick in fantasy is a big deal and you expect to get great value from it, especially considering everyone else in your league then gets to draft 2 top players before you get to pick again, so when he goes down in the first half of the opening game, it’s devastating! Last year David Johnson carried many teams to fantasy glory, however this year may well be the opposite as one would think that those who drafted DJ will struggle to make the fantasy playoffs in most leagues in 2017.
Odell Beckham Jr
OBJ is quickly becoming the face of the NFL. With his one handed catches regularly making the headlines and his extraordinary production in the first 3 years of his young NFL career break records, its hard to ignore the hype around this talented young man. So when he came down for a catch and his ankle got caught underneath him (certainly not innocuous this time!) it was one of those injuries that was difficult to watch without squirming. Unlike the previous injuries, you were immediately left in little doubt that Beckham’s season was over.
The rookie Tight End had already been getting involved in the offence somewhat before OBJ’s injury, however, Beckham’s loss will now necessitate the Giants changing their number 1 target from OBJ to their 2017 first round pick. It is unusual to see rookie TEs be involved so much as it has notoriously been a position that takes more getting used to the progression from College to the Pros but as Engram is more of a pure pass catching Tight End this learning curve has been shortened to the point where he is doing very little blocking and is essentially just a large Wide receiver. Fortunately, this is exactly what the Giant need right now, especially when considering that OBJ’s fellow WRs Brandon Marshall & Dwayne Harris are also out for the season with injuries. This could be a huge breakout year for Evan Engram.Embed from Getty Images
Eli Manning has 2 Superbowl rings already. Both of these were attained when the Giants had a good defence that could keep them in games and would allow him to form enough offence to win important games. After getting to the playoffs last year, the Giants had been tipped to go one step further this year but without their superstar Wide receiver, the New York Giants’ offence is just too lacklustre to pull them through. OBJ won the Giants multiple games last season literally singlehandedly, so without him Eli Manning has lost his most important weapon and rather than a playoff push, now finds himself in a situation where the Giants could end up with a top 5 pick in next year’s draft!
Perhaps less fantasy relevant, but JJ Watt is incredible. He has won Defensive Player of the year 3 times out of his last 4 active seasons and became the first player in NFL history with multiple 20+ sack seasons. Unfortunately, he missed most of last year with injury also, but 2017 was meant to be his comeback year
Jacksonville Jaguars & Tennessee Titans
The JJ Watt led Texans or the Peyton Manning/Andrew Luck led Indianapolis Colts have dominated the AFC South for the past decade. Andrew Luck’s absence has curtailed the Colts’ season leaving the Texans as the favourites this year. However, JJ Watt’s injury (supplemented by an injury to fellow Defensive Lineman Whitney Merciless) has taken away the Texans’ greatest strength: their Defence. Whilst rookie QB Deshaun Watson has looked brilliant, the loss of such powerhouses on the defensive side of the ball could well mean that the door is open to the AFC South title. The Jags and the Titans will look to capitalise on this to claim the AFC South title. The Jags have never won it and the Titans haven’t since 2008!
The City of Houston
Just before the season started, Houston was ravaged by Hurricane Harvey. Nearly 100 people lost their lives and thousands lost their homes as a result of the storms. It seemed that the citizens of Houston had very little to be hopeful for, that was until JJ Watt set about trying to raise $200k in aid of those impacted by Hurricane Harvey and instead, he has managed to help raise over $37m! This just goes to show what an iconic superstar he is and what an impressive ambassador of both Houston and the sport he has become. However, just a month into the season he suffered another season ending injury that is a loss to not just the Houston Texans defence, but to the city of Houston.
Bonus Loser – Applies to all above:
Football!! – as fans and viewers, it is never a good thing to see the most talented players in the sport go down. Watching these men show off their skills is part of the entertainment of the game and when you lose the best quality players, inevitably the overall quality of the league decreases which is not good for anyone. In an ideal world, we would turn off injuries like you can on Madden or FIFA, but alas it is part and parcel of the game we love.