Fantasy Triage - Week 7
By Andrew Garda
October 19th, 2011

In World War I, a group of French doctors developed a system to help battle field medics and doctors treat wounded at aid stations behind the front.

Wikipedia defines the concept behind triage this way:

At its most primitive, those responsible for the removal of the wounded from a battlefield or their care afterwards have divided victims into three categories:

  • Those who are likely to live, regardless of what care they receive
  • Those who are likely to die, regardless of what care they receive
  • Those for whom immediate care might make a positive difference in outcome
  • For fantasy purposes things aren't so life and death though some owners might look at it that way.

    The aim of this column is to help you figure out whose value is a bit banged up, whose value is on life support and who is beyond help.

    We have four labels, just like the real thing.

  • Minimal - The player in question might have a minor injury or be underproducing but things should be fine shortly.

  • Delayed - We're looking at a guy whose situation or injury could linger or be long term and steps should be made to protect yourself.

  • Priority - This label means the player has a definite lingering injury or his offense just had the wheels come completely off and the timeframe for return to normalcy, while possible, is unlikely. Time to break the seal on emergency subs.

  • Expectant - Big time flatline for the fantasy season. Turn out the lights, the party's over.
  • Each week I'll go over players who fit in the above categories and suggestions of players who might make a good band aid if needed. Sometimes a category may have nobody, sometimes many.

    Let's get going with this week's guys.

    Minimal

    Jahvid Best
    Best is dealing with 'concussion-like' symptoms this week and we know he's got a history of that, so shoring up his roster spot would be a wise choice. I'd have him in Delayed but I want to see how this week plays out. He might be fine. To be prepared for the worst though, you will want to take a look at Keiland Williams or Ronnie Brown (just traded to Detroit from Philly). I have a feeling Brown will be the bigger beneficiary if Best is down for any length of time. He may even gain enough carries to be a flex play while we deal with bye weeks. Earnest Graham is also worth a look as he has played very well whenever LaGarrette Blount is down.

    Delayed

    Andre Johnson
    We were hoping that Johnson would be back Week 8, but as of Tuesday afternoon, the timetable for his return is still unknown and could be as long as six weeks. While it's a problem to lose Johnson for any length of time, one hopes that like the team did with Arian Foster, the Texans are cautious. Better to have him miss a few weeks now, than lose him later when you are pushing for a playoff spot. You can't replace his production easily, but you can add depth to your roster to rotate in and out on matchups. With Brandon Lloyd moving to St. Louis, Denver receivers Eric Decker or Demaryius Thomas will have to step up. Both have intriguing upside and are worth a roster spot.

    Felix Jones
    It looks like Jones could be down for a couple of weeks and we all know that the dreaded high ankle sprain can rear its' ugly head more than once after a return. Of course, you won't dump him but with a great set up of games against St Louis and Philly, you want to see if you can grab DeMarco Murray if he's still around. Tashard Choice isn't a bad second choice if Murray is gone.

    Vincent Jackson
    Jackson was out Monday and Tuesday, still nursing his hamstring injury but the word is he should be back practicing come Wednesday. If you read this and he is, breathe a bit easier. On the other hand (and here is today's running theme) hammy injuries have a way of recurring so be prepared for that. It's not like Jackson has been killing it thus far, with two fantastic games balanced by two average at best and one awful game. Still, he should round back to form if healthy. This is a reminder that the hamstring could very well crop up again and to be prepared for it.

    Sam Bradford
    Bradford is another guy with the evil high ankle sprain which - say it with me now - 'is prone to lingering'. Whether he plays or not is going to be a concern from here on out and the way the Rams are going, at what point is it just not worth trotting him out there? The good news is he has Brandon Lloyd to throw to now and I imagine that will make a big difference in his overall play now that he has a true weapon. The ankle is a worry though so consider a backup like Tim Tebow or Carson Palmer. Neither is a guarantee but more than likely Bradford was your backup so they should suffice and both have upside. I'd throw in Christian Ponder in a pinch but he's far more risky.

    Priority

    Antonio Gates
    For whatever comfort it's worth, Gates is killing me too. I've limped along with patchwork tight ends like Ballard from the Giants and Shockey in Carolina. One hopes the foot thing is truly behind him (he is practicing this week) but be prepared for it to continue to be an issue. In my opinion, if you haven't grabbed a suitable long term replacement, pull the trigger. You can't replace him (unless you have the depth, in which case do so) so it's best to get a guy like the two I mentioned (perhaps both) and play tight end by committee. Here's hoping there is no Gates update on next week's Triage at all but he has me very worried.

    Peyton Hillis
    Hillis is a combination of hamstring, contract dispute and underwhelming play. It might all be a domino effect but the result is the same - bad fantasy output. If Montario Hardesty can stay healthy (a BIG if), Hillis could end up in a time share very quickly. Having Hardesty might help protect you from losing Hillis, and don't forget the guys I mentioned earlier like DeMarco Murray, Ronnie Brown and Earnest Graham.

    Tim Hightower
    Hightower is still dealing with a shoulder injury and even when he isn't, has slipped to third running back behind Ryan Torain and Roy Helu. Let's face it - Hightower was a nice early player but he's doing what he always does, which is to say, proving he's an ok player and that's all. That Shanahan might go RBBC anyway just makes this worse so find alternatives if you can and feel free to replace Hightower with another position if you already have a good RB2/3.

    Rex Grossman
    Speaking of Redskins on the outs - even if Rex Grossman survives the looming John Beck replacement, there's no guarantee he will be all that useful. Consider this a warning - we've seen this movie before and the ending isn't pretty. It's time to move on and as mentioned before Tebow, Palmer and Ponder are possibly out there and it's worth being proactive if you were counting on Grossman to carry you for a bye week.

    Expectant

    Jason Campbell
    Campbell wasn't lighting the league on fire by any means, but he was holding his own and looked ok overall, so it is a bummer to see him go down with a busted collarbone. He did though, so now he's got the be replaced as he hits the IR. Carson Palmer is intriguing in his place, and the aforementioned Tebow/Ponder connection is worth a look. As well.

    Chad Ochocinco
    I read today that Ochocinco is still not fully on top of the Pats' offense and he needs to be told by his teammates where he is supposed the be when they line up in the offense. That may be total rumor but given how little he has done, would it shock you? If you still have 85 on your roster, dump him and pick up a Titus Young or Greg Little. Look for upside to replace a player who has none anymore.

    Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to garda@footballguys.com.

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