Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
It sure looks to me as if there are a lot more hamstring, quad and groin pulls in the first two weeks of the 2011 season than in previous years and I blame it directly on the owner's lockout.
I don't have any quantitative analysis yet, but just look around the league. Top fantasy stars like Steven Jackson, Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Steve Johnson, Brandon Lloyd, Knowshon Moreno, Arian Foster, Malcom Floyd and Marcedes Lewis are all hurting due to muscle pulls.
And those are just the stars. Marion Barber, Jacoby Ford, Louis Murphy, Jerricho Cotchery and a host of defensive players including All-Pro cornerback Champ Bailey are suffering as well.
There was just too little time between the end of the labor dispute (July 25) and the beginning of the season (September 8). No off-season workout to keep everyone in good shape and less than two weeks between the beginning of camp and the first preseason game has apparently had its effect on football rosters and fantasy leagues.
If you didn't draft depth on your fantasy team, going instead for the best starting lineup possible while ignoring your bench, you could be in for a long season. Or if you didn't handcuff your superstar with his backup, you could be in danger as well.
Many Peyton Manning owners didn't worry about quarterback depth because the man had played in 227 consecutive games. That turns out to be a disastrous decision.
The lockout and holdout by Tennessee running back Chris Johnson is killing another first-round fantasy pick. Of course, this one I forecasted a month ago, likening his situation to that of Larry Johnson in 2007. Johnson was coming off a monster 2006 season (416 rushes, 1,789 yards, 17 TDs) and wanted to be paid accordingly. He got little or no preseason work after signing very late and failed to crack 60 yards on the ground in the first three games of 2007. Sound familiar? LJ finally worked his way into "game shape" and rushed for 100+ yards in three of the next four games, but his season ended in Week 8 after an injury. Give Johnson a week or two more and we should see the C.J. of old.
Note: This would be a great time to trade for the Titans' running back while his value is low and his owner is frustrated.
In Week 1 the Rams' Jackson took his first carry 47 yards for a touchdown against the Eagles, but strained his quad on the play. He's run just one time since.
Arian Foster owners knew what they were getting into after the Texans' running back suffered two hamstring pulls in preseason and the wise fantasy player handcuffed Ben Tate to last year's No.1 fantasy back. If you were that guy, you will not be suffering now that Foster has admitted his hamstring tightened again on Sunday. He sat out the entire second half and will likely sit next week as well.
The Cowboys receiving corps is decimated with first Bryant (quad) and now Austin's (hamstring) muscle pulls. The injury effects more than just those two players. Fantasy owners with Tony Romo as their starter can't be excited about facing Washington next week with a receiving trio of Kevin Ogletree, Jesse Holley and Jason Witten.
This week's season-ending knee injury suffered by Jamaal Charles is another dagger to the heart of fantasy owners, though the damage could be lessened if you have a strong bench and/or handcuffed Charles with Thomas Jones.
The bottom line is that those fantasy owners who had the foresight to choose depth over "star power" may be the real winners this season because the lockout has already forced many owners to go deep into their bench. I hope you were one of the smart ones.
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