LANZILLA: Injuries to Benjamin, Nelson Upset Fantasy Owners
Fantasy Football Corner

I’m sitting in front of my television and inwardly cursing myself. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network has just reported that Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson has likely torn his ACL and will be done for the season. No, luckily I did not draft Nelson in fantasy football this year and am not a Packers fan, so others (especially Nelson himself) deserve more sympathy. With that said, I was planning to pick up Packers upstart wide receiver Davante Adams before Nelson went down, and now that is nothing but a distant dream.

Nelson was at worst a top-6 wide receiver coming into this year after posting a stellar 1500-yard, 13-touchdown campaign last year. As the top target for all-world quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Nelson was well-positioned to once again dominate on the field and on your fantasy team.

What are the early implications of this horrible news? Davante Adams immediately launches himself from a speculative late-round pick or waiver-wire target to a top-20 wide receiver who is worthy of going in the middle rounds in any drafts that have yet to happen. If you find yourself reading this and your league has drafted, go make sure he isn’t still floating around as an available free agent. Thank your lucky stars if he is, but that’s probably a sign you should find another league with more educated fantasy owners (Adams was picked up in my league within five minutes of Nelson going down, hence my dismay).

Ty Montgomery and Jeff Janis should now be on your radar as well if Adams struggles or if another injury to someone like Randall Cobb (whose fantasy stock should increase with news of Nelson’s injury) occurs, with Montgomery, a third-round pick out of Stanford, the more attractive option.

Jordy Nelson is, of course, not the first star wide receiver to receive the ACL curse this preseason. Second-year stud Carolina Panther Kelvin Benjamin suffered a gruesome injury earlier this week that will also cost him the upcoming year. Coming off a 1000-yard, 9-touchdown rookie campaign, Benjamin was expected to continue to flourish catching passes from quarterback Cam Newton, especially if he could cut down on some of his dropped passes, the one negative to his otherwise great year.

That promise is now dead, and Carolina’s offense is now extremely questionable for fantasy purposes. Newton is knocked down a few pegs with the loss of his top pass-catcher, and Carolina simply lacks the wide receiver depth that the Packers are blessed with. Devin Funchess is the most likely candidate to step up and absorb some of the targets that were destined for Benjamin, but he projects as more of a top-35 or -40 wide receiver than a starter for your squad.

The horrible injuries of Nelson and Benjamin are disappointing not only because of their severity, but also because of their timing for fantasy owners. They happened during a meaningless preseason game, in the case of Nelson, and during practice in Benjamin’s case. The total 2015 fantasy output for these two stars will equal a cool zero points.

What this tells us is that while the desire to do your fantasy draft early is understandable (my league drafted a couple weeks ago), perhaps fantasy owners should think twice about drafting before the preseason even begins. I didn’t own Nelson or Benjamin, but if I did I would surely be outraged that players who I invested heavily in will not give me any contribution at all during the regular season. While waiting to do your draft until Labor Day weekend may not be popular, it could save some owners some serious heartburn from preseason injuries killing their fantasy teams before they even take the field for the regular season.

Until next time, fantasy lovers, play on.

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Joe Lanzilla is a rising senior in the School of Foreign Service. This is the final installment of Fantasy Football Corner.

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