The injury count keeps growing as does the number of people questioning why the preseason still exists. I’m certainly one of those individuals wondering why the NFL has 4 weeks of meaningless games where teams have troubles filling stadiums. Luckily, my fantasy league has yet to draft so I haven’t been on the wrong side of one of these dreaded preseason injuries but I have in the past, so I can relate to those fantasy owners who have drafted either Spencer Ware, Julian Edelman or Cameron Meredith before their season ending injuries this season.
Anyways, the existence of the preseason is a topic for another time so let’s get down to business and analyze the implications of these 3 players being done for the year.
Spencer Ware l RB l Kansas City Chiefs
While it’s not 100% that Ware will miss the entire season quite yet with what was diagnosed as a torn PCL, it is very impactful nonetheless. Ware is coming off of a career year where he gained over 950 yards on the ground and was also the Chiefs’ #5 receiver. With Jeremy Maclin having left to Baltimore and now this, the Chiefs will have to look elsewhere for offensive production, something they have struggled with since the decline of Jamaal Charles.
The immediate player that obviously came to mind when the news broke was their 2016 3rd-round pick out of Toledo, Kareem Hunt. Hunt will have a great opportunity to prove himself right away and has already impressed through his two preseason games averaging 4.4 yards per carry. Hunt isn’t the quickest of backs but has shown the ability to effectively catch passes out of the backfield. He will likely demand a 4th/5th round pick now but could provide some exceptional value. Two other players that this could impact are Charcandrick West and Tyreek Hill.
West will likely be mixed in with Hunt in the backfield more than people think and by no means has Hunt proven himself yet. The buzz over the weekend around Kareem Hunt has been crazy and understandably so but I do want to remind people that there still is some risk associated with him. Rookies generally have short leashes if they mess up early in the season and if that occurs, West would be the next man up behind a solid offensive line. Bottom line is, Hunt certainly has talent and a fantastic opportunity to return RB1 numbers but it doesn’t come without some risk that I’m not sure everyone is taking into account.
Julian Edelman l WR l New England Patriots
Trying to guess what Belichick might to do replace the targets that Edelman would have seen, which totaled 160 last season, is not an easy task by any measure. He more than likely would not have seen that many targets this season with Gronk being healthy and Brandin Cooks joining the team, but nonetheless, it will be interesting to see who benefits the most.
Edelman has been a player that Tom Brady can rely on over their tenure together so it’s likely he will turn to Rob Gronkowski for more of that security blanket, which inherently increases his value. The Pats are known for their quick and short passing routes so Brandin Cooks should seen even more action his way and likely will be the biggest beneficiary from this.
Another player who will emerge as being a relevant fantasy option is Chris Hogan who has already developed some rapport with Brady after totaling 4 TDs and almost 700 yards last season. Before the injury occurred, Hogan was being drafted somewhere in the 14th round on average but has bumped to the 12th round and could easily outperform this mark playing on such a prolific offensive team that excels at spreading the ball around. More importantly, after Edelman was injured in their preseason game the other night, Hogan went on to score 2 TDs.
Cameron Meredith l WR l Chicago Bears
The Bears were already looking at a very bleak 2017 season with Alshon Jeffery gone and a very thin offensive arsenal and Meredith’s season ending injury only complicated things further. Without both of these players, the Bears will have to find a way to replace about 64% of their receiving yards from 2016 and now all of the sudden, Zach Miller has appeared to have emerged as their primary receiver…yikes.
The situation in Chi-town is one you might want to consider avoiding and attempt to stay away from drafting any of their players. Besides Jordan Howard, I want no part of this team and even Howard will likely take a hit from this. Their two starting wideouts are now Kevin White, who could be a post-hype sleeper candidate, and Kendall Wright, who signed a 1-year deal a while back. I would attempt to figure out which one of these guys will receive the bulk of the targets that will now be available, but I’m really not even sure it’s entirely worth it.
They both will clearly receive more attention and if I had to choose I would guess Kevin White would lead the pack but again, I wouldn’t even mess with the receiver situation.
Now, Jordan Howard was already receiving some raised eyebrows from people prior to this due to likely regression and this only raised them higher. The guy is a great athlete and was one of the best running backs last season in terms of YPC but his offense is going to struggle mightily this season which will largely affect his production. Defenses will be stacking the box against Mike Glennon and his two mediocre receivers which will make it very tough for Howard to find room to run. Don’t get me wrong, the guy is a great running back and will be one of their only options to move the ball down the field but I do think that this injury news will impact his 2017 fantasy production in a negative manner. I would wait until the beginning of the 3rd round to draft Howard.