There are a few key fantasy contributors that have had a number of injury question marks surrounding their playing status leading up to Week 4 of the 2012 NFL season. Here’s a little bit about these three and what you should consider.
Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants RB vs. Philadelphia Eagles (Sunday night)
Ahmad Bradshaw is set to return from a game-and-a-half hiatus after a bulging disk in his neck sidelined the Giants No. 1 running back. In his sted, Andre Brown has looked more than capable of holding down the starting job — 184 yards, three scores and five catches for 36 yards.
Well, great. A No. 1 back already with an injury history, a journeyman back that has made due in his short time as the No. 1 and a Sunday night game.
What do the Giants do with two healthy, productive backs? What do you do with the two backs in your lineup?
Well, first the matchup. The Giants’ defense is taking on Michael Vick, who has looked terrible so far this season and has been more than willing to turn the ball over to the Giants. The Giants love to pass the ball — no matter who’s in or out of the lineup — and for the most part the Eagles have been pretty good at defending that the last year-plus.
So it is back to what do the Giants do with two healthy backs?
Last year when it was Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs — or D.J. Ware in Bradshaw’s absence — let’s just say it was not fun fantasy.
Only four times when both Bradshaw and Jacobs were in together (10 games) did one of the two get over 16 carries. Bradshaw led on three such occasions — 17-4, 26-5 and 16-7 — and Jacobs once at 19-8.
Bradshaw did lead in carries in all but two games in which they played together, and when he did Jacobs was relegated to nine or less carries each of those eight times.
The bright side for Bradshaw last season was that he still had 10 double-digit fantasy days. The dark side is that Brown certainly brings something different than Jacobs did last year.
This is a tough call to make, particularly with it being a Sunday night game.
I would still roll with Brown for one week on the assumption Bradshaw is eased back in and hope for the best. This would almost be a show-me game to see how Bradshaw looks and if he blows up, oh well, you know he’s back and pop in the lineup for Week 5.
Jonathan Stewart, Carolina RB vs. Atlanta Falcons
Much like the Giants’ running back situation, two healthy backs is not necessarily a good thing in regards to fantasy.
Jonathan Stewart has battled a toe injury and that’s about as non-knee related bad as it can get for a running back. He’s great when he plays but he also has DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert to contend with, in addition to QB Cam Newton running the ball.
This offense looked miserable last Thursday against the Giants and the Falcons don’t offer much of a reprieve.
But back to the usage of backs.
Stewart played in all 16 games last season, starting three and carrying 142 times for 761 yards and four scores. His 47 catches for 413 yards and a score made the low carries somewhat tolerable. Williams played in 16, started in 14 and had 155 carries for 836 yards and seven scores. He added 16 catches for 135 yards. Then the team adds Tolbert, the TD vulture/replacement for whichever of the starters inevitably goes down.
I have never drafted any of these three in any league in any year and I am in eight leagues per season. I just don’t want to deal with headaches like this. And now we add the fact that they take on a Falcons team that actually knows how to play defense now.
Willis McGahee’s 25.4 points in PPR leagues makes him the only back to go above 12 points this season against the Falcons, and it took him getting 24 of Denver’s 30 RB touches to do that.
It’s hard to picture Carolina hanging around for long in this one, and it’s hard to picture any one of these three backs being a factor. You might get an early score or a very late score from one, but wouldn’t you rather trust someone that can continue to produce in the middle 30 minutes?
Jacob Tamme, Denver Broncos TE vs. Oakland Raiders
OK, when I saw Jacob Tamme go down against the Texans last week and there was a tear in his sock I thought for sure that was a bone coming through. I watched that thing on the DVR like the Zapruder film. There was no tear in the sock when he ran the route and when the play ended, he was hurt and there was a tear in the sock.
Move along further in the game, and Tamme was out there when the Broncos made their last-ditch effort with the multiple laterals on the final play and it was Tamme who last touched the ball. I went from thinking: “Did I just see an L.T.-Theismann injury?" To "does Tamme lose points for touching the last lateral?”
When it was all said and done, Tamme ends up on the injury report this week as probable with a groin injury. He is likely to play and is getting looks from QB Peyton Manning; he just isn’t doing anything with said looks.
The concern of whether you should’ve drafted Tamme or Joel Dreessen is no longer an issue. Tamme has 19 targets (13th in the league) to Dreessen’s nine. However, Tamme only has 10 catches for 87 yards and a score this season.
Old man Brandon Stokley is a problem as he is getting in the way of more production for Tamme and Eric Decker, but unless you’ve already gone to the wire and picked up Martellus Bennett, Brent Celek or Thursday night bust, Dennis Pitta, then there’s really nowhere you can go at tight end.
If Tamme is playing you play him and take solace in the fact that the Broncos take on a Raiders team that is 23rd against fantasy tight ends with 19 catches for 263 yards and a score.
— Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter