This time of year as teams slim down their rosters to 53 players we see a lot of players find their way to the Injured Reserve and the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. Both designations can result in a major impact on your fantasy team.
In the case of the Injured Reserve, players who are placed here are done for the year unless the team uses their one available ‘designated to return’ tag. In the case of the PUP list, players are not eligible to participate in practice throughout the first six weeks of the season. Following the completion of the 6th week, until the completion of the 11th week, players can rejoin their teammates at practice. After which teams have 21 days to remove players from the PUP and place them on the active roster – otherwise players are returned to the PUP list and not eligible to play for the duration of the year.
Beginning Friday we’re going to take a look at the “minor” bumps and bruises (and strains, etc) that players will be dealing with for the upcoming week and how they’re going to impact your fantasy roster for the weekend’s slate of games. Today however we’re just going to take a look PUP/IR designations which have been handed down for common offensive “skill positions” which may impact your fantasy team – with all due respect to the Jeff Kings of the world, we’re going to focus on those who are actually going to be relevant to you, the fake football manager.
The year is over: Injured Reserve Designation
Kevin Kolb, Buffalo Bills, QB: Kolb suffered what has been described as a potentially career-ending concussion during the third pre-season game this year, another unfortunate incident after finally returning from injury sustained
tripping over a mat. The Bills have placed him on the IR, and it is believed that during his year away from the game that he’ll be considering retirement. Although E.J. Manuel has some injury concerns of his own with his recently operated upon knee, he’s supposedly ahead of schedule and has returned to practice. Still far from worthy of owning as a QB1, with no competition behind him from Kolb anymore it’s possible you may want to consider Manuel as a low-end QB2 in 2-QB leagues. He showed flashes during the pre-season of being an interesting selection, and if he can stay healthy he may be worth the dice roll.
Montario Hardesty and Dion Lewis, Cleveland Browns, RB: Hardesty, a former second round pick, and Dion Lewis who arrived in the offseason from the Philadelphia Eagles, have both found their way to the season-ending IR. It’s hard to imagine Trent Richardson not growing on last years 260+ carries, he almost has to now as he simply has no qualified backup: both the RBs on the Browns roster were claimed off waivers in recent days and aren’t expected to make any significant impact. Although Chris Ogbonnaya made the 53-man, he’s also not expected to put any dent in Trent’s workload – Richardson’s ceiling is sky-high. Considering Norv Turner was already projecting a significant workload for the second year back, without a strong option to spell him the workload could grow significantly.
DuJuan Harris, Green Bay Packers, RB: Well, if there was any debate that Eddie Lacy would be the Packers full-time feature back, it has been removed with Harris heading to the IR. Johnathan Franklin and James Starks now round out the Packers RB corps, and neither were considered locks to even make the roster. Although it’s hard to believe the Packers would have seriously considered letting such a high pick as Franklin get away so quickly, he’s been a total flop in the pre-season. Fan-favourite John Kuhn will remain the packers third down back it seems, as he is appears to be the best back for pass protection purposes, but there doesn’t appear to be anyone challenging Lacy anymore for the lion’s share of the 1st and 2nd down carries.
Joe Morgan, New Orleans Saints, WR: The clear-cut WR3 in New Orleans went down in early August during an inter-squad scrimmage at practice, and found his way to the IR. As is often the case with injury, one man’s hurt gives another an opportunity to shine and rookie wideout Kenny Stills has done just that while solidifying himself as the new WR3 in town. Although he has played well throughout the pre-season, Stills remains faced with the uphill task of producing consistently on a team with Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Jimmy Graham, and Darren Sproles on the roster. Nevertheless he remains worth a shot if you’ve got the space late in re-drafts, and should be given serious consideration in all keeper/dynasty leagues.
Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles, WR: Much like the previously discussed Morgan, Maclin was an early injury to a player that had his roster spot all locked up. Maclin was primed to have a strong season under new head coach Chip Kelly who would presumably utilize his speed in his newly implemented system. Instead, the receiving corps behind DeSean Jackson just got a little more thinned out. Jackson was already the clear cut WR1 in Philly, and as he seems to be clicking well and adapting to the new regime quite well he could be set up for an even better season now that Riley Cooper is the man on the other side of the field.
Danario Alexander, San Diego Chargers, WR: Phillip Rivers is in a serious decline it seems, but none the less this team will have to be throwing to stay in games (one assumes, at least) and Alexander represents seven score from last year that may find their way to someone else. The problem is, who knows who will benefit? The most likely receiver to suggest would be Malcom Floyd, but whether he can stay healthy and hold off incumbent Keenan Allen remains yet to be seen. Don’t sleep on Vincent Brown, either, who many view as the best fit for San Diego’s presumed implementation of a high efficiency passing game.
Physically Unable to Perform (at least until maybe week 7):
Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers, RB: Of the remaining players to list that may actually make any sort of
impact fantasy-wise, Stewart perhaps has the greatest potential to return to the league during the 7th week – and it’ll still be a relatively small impact he makes, if impact at all. The Panthers, despite being a run first team, have a list of players who are more likely to cross the chalk than is Stewart – Cam Newton, DeAngelo Williams, and perhaps even Mike Tolbert. Throughout the pre-season Mike Shula’s offense has not exactly been thrilling, and it’s hard to guess who may be a significant fantasy threat throughout the year.
Percy Harvin, Seattle Seahawks, WR: The ‘Hawks sacrificed over the moon for Harvin, and he promptly found his way to the sidelines before playing a single game with the club. Harvin’s availability for late in the year is in jeopardy as he’s no lock to ever get off the PUP, but the club has hopes he can return late and make a difference. In the meantime his absence should directly benefit Golden Tate the most, as the wideout is now suspected to get an increase in targets in what should be a breakout year. Harvin may not be worth the risk to roster in re-draft, but could be a terrific value in dynasty or keeper leagues if he falls far enough down the board and you’ve got a spot to dedicate to him.
Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham, San Francisco 49ers, WR: Both Crabtree and Manningham found themselves with the PUP designation, which is something that the 49ers wideout corps really didn’t need. Crabtree showed flashes of brilliance with Kaepernick last season, but his Achilles injury may very well have removed any value he has this season – although if you can roster him, surely one would assume he’d be an excellent selection for next year. Manningham hasn’t participated in football activities since last year, and even if he returns this year the only reason he’d presumably make any impact is because of the weakness of the receiver corps. Of the options available to Colin Kaepernick at the position it is hard to say who will wind up being the most ownable player (which likely means that none of them are). Marlon Moore, Quinton Patton and even Jon Baldwin – who could make a push for playing time after he acclimates to the offense – are all parties to keep an eye on, however.