Not to state the obvious, but a player’s injury risk plays a huge role in where and if we draft him. Something we don’t think about as much is how a potential injury will affect his teammates. Sure, we’ve all earmarked second-string running backs that are behind injury prone starters, but for lots of people that’s where it ends. We think about it after the injury has happened, but in the draft and early stages of the fantasy season, we don’t think about what might happen to the fantasy output of running backs and wide receivers in the event of an injury to a key offensive lineman, an elite blocking tight end, or most importantly, a starting quarterback.
The goal here is to predict what would happen to the fantasy fortunes of the rest of the offense if a starting quarterback goes down. I have 10 quarterbacks with frequently discussed potential for injury. I will assess their actual injury risk and attempt to predict what the fantasy effect would be on the rest of the team if they were to go down. It may seem to be almost comical overthinking to seriously consider factoring the injury risk of a teammate at a different position into your draft and preseason trading strategy, but think about this: Two surgically fused vertebrae are the only things keeping Denver’s receivers from playing with Brock Osweiler instead of Peyton Manning.
His backup: Colt McCoy
Injury Risk: Moderate. Good speed and lack of deep threats mean few sacks, and he has great size. Still, he’ll be running a bunch.
What will happen if he gets hurt: The San Francisco 49ers will suffer in the real-life wins column, but a McCoy-led team bodes well for the fantasy prospects of Vernon Davis and Frank Gore. McCoy’s borderline feminine arm strength means more short-range balls going Davis’ way, and less quarterback running plays can only help Gore’s touchdown total. Anquan Boldin’s value will suffer, turning him from a borderline starter into a total bye week fill-in.
His backup: Bruce Gradkowski
Injury Risk: Inevitable. Even if he doesn’t miss any starts, he will at least get hurt and play through some sort of brutally painful injury that hugely compromises his effectiveness.
What will happen if he gets hurt: If Roethlisberger doesn’t play, the Pittsburgh Steelers will be led by the weak-armed, undersized journeyman Gradkowski, who hasn’t started a game since 2010. If Roethlisberger decides to gut out something like a high ankle sprain, you can expect a couple amazing clutch plays surrounded by lots of backbreaking interceptions and wildly inaccurate passing. Keep any and all Steelers on the bench in either case.