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Reality Check: Visiting the injury ward

Senior Fantasy Writer
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How's your team holding up?

That's probably the best way to phrase it coming off the week we just had.

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Granted, when some of the most solidly built individuals our species has ever known are running full speed into each other over and over again over a 3 1/2-hour period, injuries are inevitable, but the major ones are usually limited to just a couple of the players Fantasy owners care about.

This past week? Try five.

If you're one of the unaffected, consider yourself lucky. And consider yourself forewarned. We're not even halfway home yet. Plenty more injuries to come.

But particularly if you play in multiple leagues, chances are you're reeling from the loss of one or more of those players and not entirely sure what to do next.

That's where I come in.

Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers

"I couldn't wait on this dude. Dropped him for Percy Harvin. Even if he does come back it isn't like he was lighting up the scoreboard. Bust." -- potato_sunday, via Martin's player page

Looking to capitalize on late-round gem Knowshon Moreno after his third touchdown in three games way back in Week 4, I dealt him along with Andre Johnson for -- you guessed it -- Doug Martin.

I felt really good about it at the time, too. Even wrote about it.

But as bad as that trade looks for me now, I didn't regret it until the moment I learned Martin had torn the labrum in his left shoulder -- which, given Moreno's performance in the weeks since, says a lot about his potential.

Dropping Martin because he's injured is one thing, but dropping him because he hasn't met your expectations so far strikes me as extremely short-sighted.

Let's not forget the disappointment has spanned only three games, during which the Buccaneers have undergone a transition at quarterback from the somewhat-established Josh Freeman to the unestablished Mike Glennon. Martin scored double-digit Fantasy points in each of his first three games, putting him on pace for about the same number that Jamaal Charles had last year.

And he looked good even when he struggled. He just had nowhere to run with a rookie under center. Given the success Glennon has had throwing the ball to wide receiver Vincent Jackson so far, though, you had reason to believe that would change.

"Well, that's all well and good, Scott, but it doesn't help me now that he's out for the year."

Says who?

Look, I'm no doctor. I don't know what kind of pain goes along with a labral tear. But from what I understand, it mostly affects range of motion. And while limited range of motion would be a deal-breaker for a quarterback or wide receiver, I could see how a running back might play through it, as long as it didn't limit his grip too much.

Clearly, Martin feels the same way, which is why he refuses to declare his season over. Clearly, coach Greg Schiano feels the same way, which is why he acknowledges only that Martin is "a stretch" to play Thursday. Clearly, the Buccaneers medical staff feels the same way, which is why they haven't put a stop to all this nonsense by now.

Will the next hit he takes knock him out for good? I can't guarantee it won't. But if he has any hope of taking that next hit, you can't cut him loose, not with all you have invested in him.

Who could you get instead? Obviously, rostering Mike James, the next in line in Tampa Bay, is a smart move for Martin owners, but not at the expense of Martin himself, who is one of just a handful of running backs promised 25-plus touches per game. Will Chris Ivory get that kind of opportunity? Not with Bilal Powell still in the picture. What about Chris Ogbonnaya? Or Daniel Thomas? Someone like Zac Stacy might, but if you play in a league where he (or Harvin, for that matter) is still available, you should probably check for a pulse.

Now, I'm not saying you should count on Martin to make a significant contribution for your team. It's a real possibility, but a relative long shot, making a trade something worth pursuing. Find the guy living and dying with Tom Brady or Colin Kaepernick at quarterback and offer up your Philip Rivers or Andrew Luck for a Steven Jackson or Joseph Randle type. Maybe throw in a third wide receiver if that's what it takes.

Just don't do anything desperate. Right now, Martin is officially week to week.

Sam Bradford, QB, Rams

"Currently 10th in Fantasy points among quarterbacks and outperforming the following: Cam Newton, Eli Manning, Andrew Luck, Michael Vick, Robert Griffin III, Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick, Geno Smith, Matt Schaub, Tom Brady, Carson Palmer, Alex Smith, Ben Roethlisberger, Ryan Tannehill and Terrelle Pryor." -- dolfinzboy, via Bradford's player page

... At least, that was the case for Bradford before tearing his ACL in Week 7 (and it was actually sixth in standard CBSSports.com leagues). But the point stands: He was really, really good, and now he's really, really gone.

Fortunately, few put much stock into his performance so far. As of last week, he was started in only 15 percent of leagues -- many of them two-quarterback formats, presumably. But having him on your bench still counted for something. Maybe you were this close to pulling the plug on Tom Brady for him, or maybe he made shopping Philip Rivers possible.

Good news: Jake Locker just came back from injury.

Seriously, go look at his numbers -- specifically, his week-by-week point production -- and tell me you wouldn't want that guy on your team.

He's done it quietly, playing for a lackluster Titans team and missing time with a sprained hip, but his last three games have been as productive as you could ask from anyone other than Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers or Matthew Stafford. And his "bad" games at the beginning of the year came against two of the league's best pass defenses in Pittsburgh and Houston.

That's not as much of a concern for him going forward. He faces the Texans again in Week 17, but otherwise, the only things standing in his way are his health and the whims of the Titans' offense.

Of course, I wouldn't want to trust in Locker as my No. 1 quarterback precisely because of those "things," but for a Bradford owner looking for a replacement backup, the timing of Locker's return couldn't be better.

Even if I already had two healthy quarterbacks, I'd scoop up Locker before someone else beat me to it and flag down the owner of ...

Jay Cutler, QB, Bears

"I got away with playing him this week. Don't know how. Had Andrew Luck and Andy Dalton on my bench. Note to self: Quit listening to the 'experts.'" -- mattymath, via Cutler's player page

Clearly, that guy doesn't need any help. In fact, losing Cutler to a groin injury may have been a blessing in disguise for him.

He didn't stand a chance of picking the highest scorer among those three every week, and that's no knock on him. At quarterback especially, it's a crapshoot. Narrowing his options from three to two will help ensure he gets the best of either Luck or Dalton.

Of course, Cutler isn't out for the season -- four weeks, but not the season, which is something for Sam Bradford owners to keep in mind if no Jake Locker types are available.

Especially given the differing timetables, losing Cutler shouldn't be any more upsetting than losing Bradford. I understand he had emerged as a trustworthy option in the Marc Trestman offense, but he wasn't on the level of a Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers or Matthew Stafford. Even with the injuries to Michael Vick and Matt Schaub in recent weeks, the number of second-tier quarterbacks in Fantasy Football today is staggering. Chances are you already have a Luck or Dalton type yourself, and if not, you can acquire one easily enough.

Find an owner who has more than one (most leagues will have several), figure out what position he's lacking, and if you have excess there, make an offer. Something like Keenan Allen for Luck or Chris Ivory for Dalton should fly.

Most owners will go for an offer that equally benefits both sides, as long as you're not also trying to upgrade in the process.

Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts

"Sad news for a great player. Have had him for a few years in my dynasty league and have enjoyed his production and reliability ... Opportunity now for T.Y. Hilton to step up." -- smcjets1, via Wayne's player page

As the owner of Wayne in three of my five leagues, I'm almost troubled by how little his torn ACL troubled me.

Outside of certain points-per-reception leagues, wide receiver is the most abundant position in Fantasy, with new talent emerging off the waiver wire every single week. I may have had to drop Wayne, but I feel like replacing him with Harry Douglas, Jarrett Boykin or DeAndre Hopkins was painless enough.

I wouldn't have even minded turning to Nate Washington with Jake Locker back. Or hey, if you're looking for Hilton to step up, why not Darrius Heyward-Bey? Andrew Luck still needs options.

Wayne has a track record and all that, which is why he was started in 100 percent of leagues, but he wasn't exactly putting up Dez Bryant numbers. And with the new look of the Colts offense, he wasn't going to.

I'd venture to say your third wide receiver -- not the one you just added, but the one you already had -- isn't too far off statistically.

Well, who is it? Alshon Jeffery? Denarius Moore? Cecil Shorts? Come on ...

Jermichael Finley, TE, Packers

"Dude better quit before this game kills him." -- Living Dead Fan, via Finley's player page

Holy melancholy. That's a little too dramatic for me.

But the gist is sound. A spinal cord injury only a few weeks after a concussion? Finley's nervous system can only take so much.

The Packers haven't offered a timetable for his return, but for Fantasy purposes, I'm thinking he's as good as done for 2013, which leaves those owners staring at a waiver wire of Garrett Graham and Scott Chandler in a bit of a bind.

But even if you missed out on Week 7 breakout Jordan Reed, who appears to be Robert Griffin III's new favorite target in Washington, the solution is fairly straightforward. And again, the timing couldn't be more perfect. Find the owner of Rob Gronkowski and see what else he has at the position.

Clearly, he's sitting pretty after the way Gronkowski performed in his return Sunday, and clearly, he's had to make due without him all this time. Did he pick up Jordan Cameron late in the draft or Julius Thomas early in free agency? Did he luck into Antonio Gates' rebound season? Even if he just has someone like Martellus Bennett or Charles Clay, you'll want to make an offer.

Of course, he may simply opt to move that spare tight end to his flex spot, but if he has a third running back or you can offer him a third running back, maybe not. Easier said than done, I know, but the point is that spare tight end is a luxury for him now. If you have luxury of your own, you can find a way to get a deal done.

Judging by some of the actual trades made in CBSSports.com leagues in recent days, any of Joseph Randle, Roy Helu or James Jones could land you Bennett straight-up. I wouldn't be thrilled to give up Randle for him, but if he was my fourth running back, I might do it.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB or Facebook . You can also follow Scott via Twitter @CBSScottWhite .

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Player News
Bills move Corey Graham to safety
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2:01 am ET) The Bills have moved cornerback Corey Graham to safety, the Buffalo News reports.

Graham said that he and the team have discussed the move all offseason and decided to give the position change a try on Tuesday when the team held its first workout of OTAs.

"He’s got that unique ability where he can do both things," coach Rex Ryan said. "So let’s see what we have out there. And this is no slam on Duke or on Rambo or on Meeks or any of those guys, but this is us doing what’s best for the team. And if that means we feel good about [Graham] playing safety, then that’s where he’ll be."

Graham is enthusiastic about playing the safety position full-time.

"I want to try to really learn it and see where it goes, see how much my grasp is, see how I’m playing at it, see where it can take me," he said. "I look forward to it. It’s a challenge for me, but I’m actually very excited about it."

Graham recorded 84 total tackles last season, his first in Buffalo, while intercepting two passes.


Vikings' Bridgewater 'extremely comfortable' with leadership role
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Vikings second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is embracing his role as leader of the offense, the Star Tribune reports.

"I’m a young guy still on the team, but guys are pushing me forward to say something in the huddle, or break the team down, or break the offense down," Bridgewater said. "That just gives you that confidence in yourself, confidence in your leadership and I’ve been extremely comfortable doing that so far."

Coach Mike Zimmer is satsfied with the work Bridgewater has done during the offseason.

"It’s hard to never not be pleased with Teddy because he’s such a hard worker," Zimmer said. "We wanted him to get bigger and stronger; he looks a little bit bigger to me. He’s always worked real hard. The leadership things are starting to come better. I think he’s been doing a good job the two days we’ve been out here against the defense."

Bridgewater made 12 starts in his rookie season and played 13 games in all, racking up 2,919 yards, 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while completing 64.4 percent of his passes.


Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders hoping to reach 1,000 yards
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders believes the new offensive scheme in Denver will effect his numbers, accoridng to the team's website.

Sanders is working with new offensive coordinator Rick Dennison and coach Gary Kubiak to install the team's new offense and noted it's very different from last year's spread attack.

"You talk about going from a no-huddle offense to an offense that's huddling up, to an offense that is predicated off running a football and then throwing it. It's different," Sanders said. 

"It's a totally different set up, but I tell you what, the more and more I'm in it," said Sanders. "Because we can get the run game going and just use my vertical speed on cross routes and all these different combinations of routes is based off the play action, then I think the offense will be successful with Peyton Manning at the helm."

Sanders, who totaled 1,404 yards and nine touchdowns in 2014, doesn't think he'll accomplish the same numbers.

"Of course obviously it's not going to be one of those offenses, well I'm praying that it is, but obviously it's not going to be one of those offenses where you catch it and you're going to have two receivers catching over 100 passes," said Sanders. "Hopefully, my goal is really to try to get a 1,000 yards to just help this team win ball games."


Cowboys rookie La'el Collins taking reps at RT in OTAs
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Cowboys rookie offensive lineman La'el Collins started offseason team activities on Wednesday taking reps at right tackle, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Collins, who was signed as an undrafted free agent, could also see time at left guard. But the rookie is taking his first reps with the team at right tackle with Darrion Weems while Doug Free recovers from ankle surgery.

"We think he has the physical ability to play a couple of different spots," coach Jason Garrett said. "He was a tackle for most of his career in college but did play guard. We see him as a guy who can maybe do both of those things as he goes.

"The big thing for him is to try to get him acclimated as quickly as we can. So right now he's going to play right tackle for us. He and Darrion Weems are competing at that spot in Doug Free's absence and we'll just see how that unfolds." 


Vikings' Adrian Peterson on absence from OTAs: 'It's business'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Vikings running back Adrian Peterson said in a statement on Wednesday that his absence from OTAs has "nothing to do with wanting to be traded," ESPN reports.

"The reason I'm not attending OTAs has nothing to do with wanting to be traded. It's about securing my future with the Vikings. It's business, not personal and I understand that firsthand. Go Vikings."

It was reported earlier Wednesday that coach Mike Zimmer said that Peterson could "either play for us or not play." The running back has expressed frustration with team management for not showing him support during his legal case for child abuse.


Report: Falcons' Dezmen Southward undergoes knee surgery
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Falcons defensive backs Dezmen Southward underwent a minor-knee operation Wednesday, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Southward did not attend Tuesday's OTA and it is not known how long he'll be sidelined.


Julius Thomas trying to fit into Jaguars' offense
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas said after Wednesday's organized team activity that he intends to make it work with quarterback Blake Bortles, reports The Florida Times-Union.

"There is no 'Here's me coming in, and Blake's going to get on my page.' I'm going to be on Blake's page," Thomas said. "Whatever he expects, that's what I am going to do. He's the quarterback. He's the one in control of that huddle, and I like catching passes so I will make sure I do exactly what he wants."

With Thomas entering his first season with the Jaguars, he said it will take time to develop a rapport with Bortles.

"I think that getting good chemistry with a quarterback probably takes a couple of thousand passes," Thomas said.


Cowboys RB Darren McFadden not concerned with playing time
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) With the Cowboys just beginning their organized team activities this week, running back Darren McFadden said he just wants to concentrate on becoming familiar with the team, reports the team's official website.

"For me, I'm just going out there grinding," he said. "However the coaches put me out there – whether it's first team or second team. When it comes time for them to make a decision, it's totally up to them. I'm just trying to get that playbook down and take advantage of this opportunity."

McFadden is competing with Joseph Randle to be the first-team running back, and he said he just wants to work hard and not worry about how many repetitions he's receiving with the first team.

"Once you've been in a place so long like Oakland, you can get set in your ways," McFadden said Wednesday, after his second OTA practice with the Cowboys. "Coming out here and being around guys that work so hard, it just brings out the best in you. It's something I look forward to."


Chiefs' Mike Catapano on his health: I feel better than ever
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) After missing the entire 2014 season with a gastrointestinal virus, Chiefs defensive end Mike Catapano was able to participate in the team's OTA on Wednesday, reports The Kansas City Star.

"Every time I step on the field now it's with purpose and with extra vigor that I never really had," Catapano said. "It feels great. I feel better than ever."

Catapano played in 15 games during his rookie season in 2013 and he totaled four tackles and one sack. He said he's ready to surpass that in 2015.

"I'm ready to show that I offer a lot to this team. I'm ready to step up in big situations and starting situations," Catapano said. "I just want to keep getting better every day… and play to the best of my abilities."


Broncos' Manning, Sanders keeping up with Thomas during holdout
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas is holding out of offseason workouts while he continues to negotiate a long-term deal with the team, but teammates Emmanuel Sanders and Peyton Manning have been keeping up with the star receiver, the Denver Post reports.

"One thing a lot of people don’t realize is when you’re playing on a one-year deal, there’s a lot of things going through your head," Sanders said. "As much as you guys want to say, ‘Don’t think about it,' of course it’s going to cross your mind because you’re talking about a lot of money at stake. When you’re playing these one-year deals, it’s a lot of stress on you. No matter how much you don’t want it to be, it’s going to happen. We’re all human."

Manning would like to have Thomas in workouts but understands the business aspects of his decision.

"I keep up with Demaryius. He’s my buddy," Manning said. "They got that business side of it to work out, but he’s been a great teammate to me, been a great friend to me since I’ve been here in Denver, so I keep up with him. Obviously want him to get back here as soon as possible, but we want what’s best for him, and he certainly deserves what’s best for him."

Thomas has started 16 games for three straight season, topping 90 receptions, 1,400 yards and 10 touchdowns in each.


 
 
 
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