Week 4 Fantasy Football Injury Fallout

By kylesoppe
Don McPeak
Don McPeak – USATODAY Sports

Well that was an ugly Sunday.

There were a handful of fantasy football relevant players leaving their games early, but the injury situations for the Tennessee Titans and Oakland Raiders appear to be the most significant.

For the Titans, starting quarterback Jake Locker (hip) was sandwiched between two New York Jets defensive linemen while firing an incomplete pass (a rare mistake in his 18-of-24, three-touchdown performance). He was carted off the field and taken straight to the hospital for evaluation, with word coming out today that the Titans expect him to miss at least one month and potentially up to two.

Former Buffalo Bills failure Ryan Fitzpatrick will assume the starting gig in Tennessee, and while I very much question his ability to lead a team to wins, he has proven the ability to put up reasonable fantasy numbers. In September last season, Fitzpatrick threw at least three touchdowns three times, resulting  in a greater value to his fantasy owners than to the Bills organization (he also threw three-plus interceptions in two of those games).

That being said, those three three-plus touchdown games (in a four-week span) are three times the number of such games Locker has tallied in his career, suggesting that this injury can do nothing but help the upside of Tennessee’s skill position players.

Fitzpatrick under-threw a ball to Nate Washington after the Locker injury, but it resulted in a 77-yard touchdown … same old Fitzpatrick. Speaking of Washington, he is the lone receiver on this Titans roster that should be owned in fantasy leagues, especially given his numbers over the last two weeks (12 catches for 236 yards and two scores).

While I do think Fitzpatrick can produce decent fantasy numbers, even I’m not touching him with a 10-foot pole until after the team’s Week 8 bye (vs. Kansas City Chiefs, @ Seattle Seahawks, vs. San Francisco 49ers).

As for the eminent Darren McFadden injury, you were properly warned. It is unknown how serious the hamstring injury is, but with his injury-riddled past, it is hard to imagine a quick return.

The catch here, however, is that his backup Marcel Reece also left Sunday’s game with what is being labeled as a “more serious” injury than that of McFadden. The knee injury to the reserve running back opens the door for Rashad Jennings, a player the Jacksonville Jaguars no longer wanted. Yikes.

The Raiders are a team that lacks talent, but now without a reasonable running game, the concussed Terrell Pryor has more fantasy value than he did entering this week despite being inactive. The Raiders are going to be behind with regularity, something that should result in Pryor slinging the ball all over the place.

He’ll turn the ball over with some consistency mainly because the Raiders simply aren’t good and will continue to struggle to protect him, but much like the 2012 version of Fitzpatrick, he will stumble his way upon some very useful fantasy days. Rod Streater, who is physically a tough cover, should be the beneficiary from the increase in passing plays and deserves a roster spot in most leagues.

If you own Pryor, I’m benching him more often than not, but I’m keeping him on my roster should he begin to rack up garbage time numbers. At the very least, I’m not cutting ties until after his back-to-back games against the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants in Weeks 9 and 10.

In short, you can cut Locker and Reece, but I’d hold onto Pryor and Streater for the time being. You drafted McFadden, and if you didn’t sell high on him, you are now forced to waste a bench spot on him until more information about his injury is released.

Fantasy questions? Get at me @unSOPable23 or read the latest articles. I’m here to help you win on a weekly basis and will offer timely advice in an effort to help you field the optimum lineup.

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