Fantasy Reaction: Injuries to Julian Edelman and Spencer Ware
Preseason injuries suck. Our fantasy starters being hurt in meaningless games can be devastating. Every year we complain about it and every year our cries go unanswered. The NFL preseason is a great time for teams to get a feel for young players but when that cart comes on the field our hearts sink. Last night, the preseason reaper came for Julian Edelman and Spencer Ware. It appears Edelman’s season is over and Ware will miss some time but not as much as feared. Let’s look at how it affects their team’s fantasy outlook.
New England Patriots
Anytime a team loses a guy who accounts for 29% of their targets and 27% of their receptions, you can bet the fallout is epic. Nearly everyone on the Pats offense, less Tom Brady, stands to see a fantasy bump from the loss of Edelman. To start, Brady will be fine, Edelman is a product of Brady, not vice versa. Gronk will likely see the smallest bump, his role was already cemented with or without Edelman. Here are the biggest benefactors:
- Chris Hogan– No, Hogan does not play the slot like Edelman, but he is going to see an increased snap count which is naturally going to lend itself to more fantasy points, especially when you play with Tom Brady. Hogan was a WR5 last year with Edelman missing no time. I think he has a WR3 floor and will have more than a few weeks where he is a WR1. Welcome to relevance, Chris Hogan! His ADP is going to skyrocket, this may be your last weekend to get him cheap.
- Brandin Cooks– Writing this is hard for a known Cooks-hater but Brandin Cooks may have gotten the golden ticket. I didn’t buy the hype when he was traded to New England. I didn’t see that moving from Brees to Brady was going to fix his inconsistency, especially playing as the 3rd target behind Gronk and Edelman. With Julian out of the picture, Cooks is going to shine. His training camp reports were already out of this world and now he is going to be “the guy” at the WR position. Cooks is cemented as a WR1.
- Malcolm Mitchell– The Patriots are still going to use 3 WR sets. Naturally, that means the new 3rd WR is going to see a bump in production. The Mitchell hype train chugged slowly last year and never amounted to much. But from Weeks 11-14, he had three WR2 finishes and found himself as a WR1 once. He has proven that he can be fantasy relevant and is currently free in fantasy drafts. He has that “winning lottery ticket” feel at the end of your draft.
- Dwayne Allen– After seeing what Martellus Bennett did in this offense last year (TE10 overall), it is clear that the TE2 in New England is worth a look in fantasy. The loss of the primary slot WR could lend itself to more 2 TE sets and, as I’ve stated, more time with Tom Brady is good for anybody. If the poor production from fantasy TEs in 2016 continues into this season, Allen could end the year as back-end TE1 that you can get for free in your draft.
- The RBs– Take your pick, they will all see a slight PPR bump. I am still avoiding this backfield and it’s “no depth chart” talk at all costs, but there will be some production. It’s just anybody’s guess who gets in from week to week. James White and Dion Lewis are the best suited for passing down role and will see the most benefit from the loss of Edelman, but until Belichick tips his hand as to how these guys will be utilized, it will be hard to trust any of them.
Kansas City Chiefs
Early reports on Spencer Ware’s injury are pretty positive. It looks like he’s avoided any dreaded tears and is dealing with a knee sprain.
According to our very own physical therapist, Matthew Betz, “unlike Edelman, who went down immediately after a cutting movement in typical ACL tear fashion, Ware was able to continue to fight for extra yardage on the play where he was injured, which is a good sign. Early reports are that Ware’s injury is likely a sprain of the PCL and/or a meniscus tear. An MRI of the knee will provide clarity, and I expect a definitive diagnosis to come within the next day or two. If the PCL is sprained, Ware’s recovery will largely depend on the severity of the sprain. Grade I and II PCL sprains in which the ligament is stretched but not torn are almost always treated non-operatively with great results. A grade I sprain would put Ware out for about 2-4 weeks, while a grade II sprain would keep him out about 4-8 weeks. If the meniscus is torn, Ware will likely undergo an arthroscopic procedure to either remove the piece of the meniscus that is torn or a surgery to repair the tear. If the first intervention is the choice, Ware should only miss a couple of weeks, and he may even be able to be out there by week 2 or 3 of the season. If he undergoes surgery to repair a torn meniscus, he will miss the entire year.” So things could be worse but the problem is that Ware missing any time opens the door for rookie Kareem Hunt to take his job.
Ware had a solid 2016 but not spectacular. He finished as the RB15 despite only playing 14 games and had 7 weeks where he finished as an RB1 or 2. But after the Chiefs traded up for the super productive Kareem Hunt in the 2017 draft, it was clear that Ware was going to have to work to keep his job. Obviously, that work will be hard to do from the sideline.
If Hunt steps on the field and shows the abilities that he did in college, Ware may never get this job back. Kareem Hunt had over 1800 total yards and 11 TDs in his final season at Toledo. Most importantly, with his 41 receptions, he showed that he is the type of dual threat back that Andy Reid covets. It is often said that rookie RBs face the easiest transition to the NFL and if that proves true for Hunt, he is in the right offense to pay dividends for those who drafted him early. Don’t expect his 7th round ADP to last much longer.
If you haven’t drafted yet you may have missed these land mines but also missed out on the value on some of the others. Be sure to be prepared and stay up to date with the Ultimate Draft Kit!