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Next Man Up – Preseason Week 2

Each and every week players across the NFL suffers injuries. This weekly article will explore the injuries that affect your dynasty squads. We will briefly discuss both the injured players themselves and the players who stand to benefit or suffer as a result. In order to make them easier to follow we will break down the injuries by division. For this first article, we may also touch on some players who were struck down in the early portion of camps. Without further ado let us examine the Pre-Season Week 1 injuries and the next men up.

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AFC East:

New England 1st round pick N’Keal Harry was injured during his week 1 contest against the Detroit Lions. The Patriots are being typically tight-lipped about the injury, but early indications are that they are not overly concerned with the affliction. The main ramification of this injury will be that Harry will lose valuable practice and preseason reps as he prepares for his rookie campaign. In his absence, the Patriots seem likely to take an expanded look at camp and game 1 darling UDFA Jakobi Meyers. The kid out of NC State has made plays all off-season and will now have a chance to not only secure his roster spot but stake a claim to playing time going forward.

New England signed former Saints & Bears WR Cameron Meredith and immediately placed him on the active/PUP list. It seems that the Patriots will attempt to give Meredith time to fully recover before making a decision on his status moving forward. The signing appears to be a no harm no foul play to see if Cameron can regain the form he once had in Chicago before his devastating knee injury. This move has zero ramifications to other players on the roster yet was a move on the injury report nonetheless.

Jets WR Quincy Enunwa exited his pre-season week 1 contest with a groin injury. Team officials claim that the injury is nothing major and expect him to be available to play in week 2. I would not be surprised if they choose to hold him out due to the high risk of reinjury when it comes to groin and other soft tissue ailments. If he were unable to go, the absence would open an opportunity for the likes of Joshua Bellamy, Charone Peake, or Greg Dortch to gain valuable time with the first team in both practice and game reps.

AFC South:

Houston Texans WR Keke Coutee sustained one of the ugliest injuries of the first week of preseason games. He went down awkwardly during a tackle and had to be helped off the field by the training staff. The injury looked severe at first glance but the team has since called it a “non-major” ankle injury. At a minimum, this should mean that there are no broken bones in his foot or ankle. Houston is very thin at WR and his absence will be felt. One of the biggest beneficiaries of Coutee’s absence may well be the RBs. Newly acquired Duke Johnson is one of the best-receiving backs in the entire NFL and this injury may garner him more looks in the passing game moving forward. If this injury bleeds over into the season don’t be surprised if Houston looks outside the organization for help. I would expect Houston to be scouring the waiver wire when cutdowns occur later this pre-season to address their lackluster depth at WR.

Texans backup QB AJ McCaron was also injured in the teams week one exhibition. He injured his throwing hand on the back end of a follow-through and seems likely to miss the remainder of the pre-season. Joe Webb will fill in and Houston may seek outside arms in the meantime. The Texans backup could be a situation to monitor in super-flex given Deshaun Watson’s injury history and overall value to the team and your dynasty squads.

While he was not injured in any contest Colts QB Andrew Luck has yet to practice this season and was forced to miss the opening exhibition contest. The mysterious calf affliction that has kept him sidelined is beginning to cause a great deal of heartburn for Luck’s dynasty and fantasy owners. If he were forced to miss time, his backup Jacoby Brissett would again be pressed into service. Brissett has proven his value as one of the best backups in the NFL. If he is available in your super-flex he is a must-add.

AFC North:

RGIII missed the team’s opening preseason contest opening up significant playing time for late-round pick Trace McSorley. This is an injury that mostly affects Superflex leagues. If RGIII has any issues going forward with his injured hand keep an eye on the development of McSorley. He is an athletic read-option QB who would be a nice handcuff to running QB Lamar Jackson.

Bengals HC Zac Taylor disclosed the fact that All-Pro WR AJ Green will miss games early in the season. His absence means a boost in targets for newly resigned up-and-comer Tyler Boyd. The former Pitt product should soak up additional targets as the only proven option on the team. Green’s absence will also mean an increase in the roles other receivers. Chief among those to benefit are John Ross and potentially Stanley Morgan Jr. Ross has been dealing with a hamstring injury of his own further muddying the waters. Keep an eye on how the battle goes for the 3rd WR spot in the Queen City.

 Cleveland Browns WR Antonio Callaway came down with a high ankle sprain this past week. He was also suspended by the league for the first quarter of the season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. Callaway had been receiving negative press for most of the offseason and was being beaten out by Rashard Higgins for the starting slot role in the potent Cleveland Offense. This injury, coupled with the suspension, makes Higgins a virtual lock for the starting gig and a potential flex option in deeper leagues. 

AFC West:

Kansas City did not experience a major injury in their first exhibition contest but, the continued absence of anointed starting RB Damien Williams to a hamstring injury has opened the door for a potential RB controversy. During their first game, rookie late-round pick Darwin Thompson may have fired the first shots across the bow. He looked electric in his debut and if Williams doesn’t get back soon he could be in danger of getting Wally Pipped. 

Of all the teams in the NFL Denver was hit the hardest following this past week’s action. They lost rookie TE Austin Fort for the season to a torn ACL, Fullback Andy Janovich for 6-8 weeks to a strained pec, and newly signed receiving back Theo Riddick to a Fractured Shoulder. The loss of Fort will not have any effect on your dynasty teams. However, the other two will cause some ripple effects. It is never good to lose your lead blocker on the eave of the NFL season. The sooner Janovich can get back the better for the efficiency of Denver’s running game. Riddick was expected to take on a sizable receiving role after his signing earlier this month. His loss should mean increased potential for Pro-Bowl RB Phillip Lindsay and his running mate Royce Freeman. Riddick will likely start the season on the PUP giving one last chance for Devontae Booker to make the squad.

Oakland suffered the strangest injury of the entire offseason when it was revealed earlier this month that star acquisition Antonio Brown was unable to play due to blistered feet he had sustained during an episode in a cryogenics chamber. If you haven’t already, google the images of his feet, they are a brutal mess. Brown has subsequently gone off the deep end complaining about his helmet and threatening to retire if the NFL does not acquiesce to his wishes. Either way his continued absence means that Tyrell Williams has operated as the Raiders WR1 for the bulk of the offseason program. He has flashed in the past when given the opportunity with the Chargers. Oakland paid him and he may finally get the chance to show what he can do with number 1 type targets. Other beneficiaries of a Brown retirement, holdout, or injury absence would be Hunter Renfrow, JJ Nelson, and Ryan Grant among others.

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NFC East:

Giants backup RB Wayne Gallman suffered a strained foot in the teams Week 1 exhibition against the rival Jets. The injury is not season-ending but will hamper Gallman in his bid to again establish himself as the handcuff to All World RB Saquon Barkley. In his absence, Paul Perkins will look to bounce back from an ugly opening game in which he had yet another turnover. The Giants will also likely take a really good look at Rod Smith who they signed earlier in the offseason. Whichever RB wins the backup job will likely be a high priority handcuff based on the workload funneled through the position under coach Pat Shurmur.

Philadelphia lost backup QB Nate Sudfeld to a broken wrist in their first pre-season tilt. He has already undergone surgery and is expected to miss the first couple weeks of the regular season. In his absence, Cody Kessler will back up injury-prone superstar Carson Wentz. Sudfeld shouldn’t miss much time but, with Wentz’s injury history stretching back to college, super-flex owners may want to scoop up his backup just in case. 

NFC South:

Falcons backup QB Kurt Benkert injured his toe and was placed on IR. This means that veteran Matt Schaub will again serve as the handcuff to former MVP Matt Ryan. This is only relevant in the deepest of Super-Flex formats but is worth noting nonetheless.

Panthers rookie RB Jordan Scarlett missed his NFL debut with tightness in his back. The injury does not sound to be a concern long term. Scarlett is as good a bet as any to be the handcuff to Pro-Bowl RB Christian McCaffrey. Keep an eye on this back issue as it could create an opening for UFA Elijah Holyfield.

Carolina TE Ian Thomas injured his ribs in last weekend’s exhibition opener. The injury does not seem to be a long term concern but is worth monitoring all the same. Thomas showed the type of play he was capable of last year when filling in for an injured Greg Olsen. Thomas should once again be tasked with reserve duties this year before presumably taking over the main role next year. Were he to missed extended time if could affect Carolina’s formation decisions. They may be less inclined to run double TE formations if Thomas is unavailable. This could potentially mean more time on the field for 3rd WR Chris Hogan.

New Orleans placed Buck Allen on IR with an undisclosed injury. He had a chance to be the nominal handcuff to Alvin Kamara in the passing game. The Saints brought in Kerwynn Williams, Rob Kelly, and Jacquizz Rodgers to fight for the cleared spot. The real winner here is likely UFA Devine Ozigbo who’s chances of making the squad went up exponentially. 

Tampa rookie WR Scott Miller suffered a hamstring injury last week which cost him playing time in week 1 of the preseason. He is rumored to be fighting with veterans Breshad Perriman and Justin Watson for playing time behind Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Hamstring injuries can be tricky for speedsters to recover from so keep an eye on this one as it will sap Miller’s 4.36 speed.   

NFC North:

Chicago Bears WR Anthony Miller sprained his ankle during the team’s game against Carolina. It was not a visible injury and the team has said he will not be forced to miss regular-season time. His absence will mean increased reps for a trio of young WRs behind Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel. I would look for Riley Ridley, Emanuel Hall, and most importantly Javon Wims to get increased playing time with the first unit. Wims, a second-year player out of Georgia, has impressed for two consecutive offseasons and has the best grasp of the system among the three. Look for him to again be given a chance to shine for the remainder of this preseason. 

Detroit WR Jermaine Kearse had the ugliest injury of the weekend when he broke his leg against the Patriots. The injury will cost him his season and potentially end his career. Look for the Lions to be players for a WR after teams begin to make their cuts. Detroit is exceedingly shallow behind their starting trio of Galladay, Jones, and Amendola. Among the players behind them, I look for rookie 6 round pick Travis Fulgham out of Old Dominion to be given a shot. He has the makings of a big-bodied slot WR and could slide into the role they had telegraphed for Kearse prior to his injury. 

While it did not happen during the game the Green Bay Packers may have lost Equanimeous St. Brown for the season to a knee injury. The team is waiting on tests to confirm but it does not look good for the 2nd year WR out of Notre Dame. If he were to indeed miss games it would open up an increased opportunity for Aaron Rodgers favorite Jake Kumerow and fellow 2nd year WR J’Mon Moore to carve out roles behind the presumed starting trio of Adams, Allison, and Valdes-Scantling.

NFC West:

Jerick McKinnon suffered a setback in his surgically repaired knee. The injury has beat reporters speculating he will begin the season on the PUP list. His absence would clear things up in the 49ers backfield. This news is a solid boost to both Matt Breida and Tevin Coleman. The absence of McKinnon could also mean Raheem Mostert gets a hand full of offensive snaps.

49ers Slot WR Trent Taylor suffered a broken foot in the 1st preseason game. The injury required surgery and will keep him out multiple weeks. His absence will lead to an increased opportunity to rookie WRs Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd. Both players showed well during their first exhibition contest.

Cardinals rookie WR Andy Isabella missed the teams 1st preseason game with a minor knee injury. Early indications are the injury was minor and he is back practicing with his team. Any prolonged absence would give early preseason favorite Keesean Johnson yet more time to stake his claim to a starting role.

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