Originally created 09/23/04

Fantasy football: Early injuries cause owners to scramble to waiver wire



If you only had one word to describe the first two weeks of the NFL season what would it be?

To me, it can only be: OUCH!

Injuries are piling up to starters everywhere. It's not that it doesn't happen every year, but it's been ridiculous this first fortnight.

Owners with Carolina Panthers on their team have been hurt the most. The Panthers lost their top receiver (Steve Smith) for, most likely, the year and their top runners (Stephen Davis) for up to another month. Although it didn't show against a porous Kansas City defense last week, these two injuries will have a huge impact on Jake Delhomme owners. DeShaun Foster is not going to get 170+ yards every game, and without Steve Smith, Delhomme's value has dived below the must-start line.

It doesn't stop with Carolina, though.

New Orleans, considered by some to be a contender, lost Deuce McAllister for five-to-six weeks with a high ankle sprain last week, Detroit lost Charles Rogers for the year with a broken shoulder in Week 1; Pittsburgh lost quarterback Tommy Maddox for at least six weeks with ligament damage to his elbow; and Todd Heap went down for about two-to-four weeks, which puts Baltimore's already anemic pass attack on life support until he gets back.

To add insult to, well, injury, two of the league's top running backs might also be out for this Sunday's games. Indianapolis' Edgerrin James is questionable with a hamstring injury and Priest Holmes was hurting after the loss to Carolina. Holmes is questionable with a bum ankle against Houston, a team he lit up for three scores last year.

It hasn't been a smooth ride for promising rookies either.

Cleveland lost first-round pick Kellen Winslow II with a broken leg in the defeat to Dallas. The Cowboys also lost their top pick, second-rounder Julius Jones, to a broken shoulder. Both are expected to miss at least two months, if not the season.

In salary cap leagues, injuries mean very little. If Priest Holmes doesn't play Sunday, you just replace him with a better matchup, save some money and get a better wide receiver or quarterback.

In yearly drafted or keeper leagues, injuries often separate the playoff owners from the ticked-off owners. If you're in a deep league, more than 16 teams, the free agent list is thinner than a Lilliputian's needle thread.

In these deep leagues, the backup's backup is usually taken, leaving you with a rather serious problem. It's in these situations you'll find out just how good a team you drafted.

FOR STARTERS

RB Dominic Rhodes, Indianapolis: He should see plenty of carries against a Packers team that will be more worried about stopping the passing attack.

WR Andre Johnson, Houston: Expect the Chiefs to focus on stopping Domanick Davis. If they do, or the Texans get behind, Johnson could have a field day.

SIT DOWN

QB Brad Johnson, Tampa Bay: No offensive touchdown in two weeks equals no play for any Bucs offensive starter until they do score.

RB Rudi Johnson, Cincinnati: Another tough run defense should keep Johnson in the 40-to-60 yard range.

ROOKIE WATCH

RB Kevin Jones, Detroit: He'll be key if Detroit has any chance against Philadelphia.

WAKE-UP CALL

WR Todd Pinkston, Philadelphia: The Lions will be too concerned about Terrell Owens to worry about Pinkston.

Reach Raymond Beasock at (706) 823-3221 or raymond.beasock@augustachronicle.com