HANDLING INJURED PLAYERS
As teams are reporting to training camps for the beginning of preseason workouts, there are bound to be injuries. Some of these injuries will be to players we’ve never heard of, while some happen to players on our favorite team. The ones that always seem to hurt the most, however, are those that happen to the players we have on our fantasy teams. The most recent victim of pre-season training camp workouts has been Cam Akers, the starting running back for the Los Angeles Rams, who tore his Achilles and will miss the entire 2021 season. While this is a devastating injury for a talented young player who was poised for a breakout season and whose healthy, speedy recovery we all wish for, the one silver lining that can be taken from the timing of the injury is that it is early in the preseason. Therefore, you most likely haven’t drafted him since you probably haven't even had your draft in the first place. On top of that, this unfortunate piece of news allows me to discuss the issue of how to deal with injured players throughout the season, which is just what this article will do.
The first and foremost piece of advice I have on how to deal with injured players is to have your draft as close to the start of the season as possible. There is absolutely no benefit to having the draft in late July or early August . The amount of risk everyone in the league takes by drafting while there are still preseason games being played is not something anyone should want in their leagues. There is already so much uncertainty associated with fantasy football, so why should anyone make it that much more difficult to play.
The second most important thing when it comes to handling injuries is to listen to what the teams are saying and the actions they take in response to them. If a player suffers an injury, the team will likely make a statement on the severity and expected recovery timeline. Injuries that occur in the preseason are the most important ones to pay attention to, as teams are making decisions on their depth charts, and an injury can sway the amount that player is involved, whether it be a change in the amount of weekly snaps they get or even being cut altogether. Running backs are the most important injuries to watch for as that is the toughest position for fantasy to figure out in terms of having a consistent role. All it takes for a player to take over as the starter is an early injury, therefore allowing the backup to show they can perform at an equal or better level. Injuries later in the preseason are usually more of a concern than those that occur earlier on due to the fact that there isn’t enough time to see how they progress post injury. While I always take injury status into account, unless it is a multi-week injury, draft stock for the top end players shouldn’t be affected by minor injuries.
The last and final thing about how to handle player injuries is to remember that even though these injuries affect you and your fantasy team, do not blame the actual players. No one ever tries to intentionally get hurt, and the last thing they care about or need after an injury is how it hurts your fantasy team. There is absolutely no reason to take to social media and let the player know how this injury affects you; just don’t. Keep that to yourself and learn to adapt. Fantasy football is about appreciating what the players are doing on the field, and there’s no quicker way to make an ass of yourself than to insult a player on social media for something out of their control.
While injuries are an unfortunate part of fantasy football, those who can navigate and overcome injuries to their roster will be better players for it. It’s never fun to deal with injuries for any player, regardless of draft stock, but just remember to always be checking injury reports and listening to what beat reporters say regarding any injuries. Finally, listen to the injury experts; there’s a reason they are the best at what they do. This may shock some of you, but I'm not a doctor and won't claim to be an injury expert at any point throughout the season. Instead, I urge you to listen to and read what Stephania Bell of ESPN says because she does an excellent job and is always on top of injuries including what to expect regarding return timelines and who to potentially avoid over minor concerns. Listening to the experts will always be more advantageous than guessing what the injury means to a player, so stay knowledgeable and as always, stay dreamin’!