There is nothing more devastating to a fantasy owner than the sight of a crumbled player agonizing grabbing his knee, especially when he is a top producer on your team. Whether it be to an elite level player, such as the injury suffered by Tom Brady in September of 2008 that took him out for the season, or a lower level star such as Matt Ryan who missed several weeks this year with Turf Toe, injuries can and will happen, and the top notch fantasy football manager has to be prepared for this fact.
These injuries can have a devastating effect if your draft strategy or your psyche revolves around one player leading your club, so you need to do a little planning for a rainy day. So let us take at look at the effect that injuries have in fantasy sports leagues, and how you can avoid it bringing down your entire season.
Well the most obvious effect of injuries is that it removes a player from your selection pool to fill out your lineup each Sunday. If this player is one of your regular starters that you put in on a weekly basis, it is assuredly a player that you counted on to score big for you. Thus your looking at trying to win your matchup with probably a lower point total than you would normally put up during a given week. If the injury occurs to one of your reserve players, this can still have a profound effect as well. Many leagues these days take bye weeks into account and require you to carry over a player during his bye week, or bench him in favor of one of your reserve players.
Now imagine if you have two of your receivers on a bye week at the same time. Normally you would scan your bench players and insert perhaps two other receivers, or even one running back and one receiver. If one of your reserve backs or receivers is out with an injury, suddenly your options have shrunk considerably. In some cases, instead of being able to put in a player you drafted, you might be really desperate and have to rely on a waiver wire selection, which usually does not lend itself to producing high scoring players.
Strange as this may sound, the other effect that injuries can have on a fantasy sports team and its owner is a mental one. Yes, that is correct a mental one. Most people might say that this analysis is not correct, but having been a part of many fantasy leagues in most of the major sports, it is absolutely true. What tends to happen is fantasy owners make their first round selection and consider that person to be the franchise player if you will of their fantasy team. They certainly draft the other members of their team as well, and some of the next few rounds can fall into this category as well.
The Manager thinks that the core of his or her team is exactly what they want and can’t lose. Then the season starts; the wheel spins, and the injury bug clips one of their best players. Suddenly the plan that they laid in place to lead them to victory is gone, and with it, the hopes of competing or so they think. Instead of pursuing a trade, or perhaps picking on a serviceable free agent, the fantasy owner begins to lose interest and figures why bother because my best player is gone. Certainly not the way that someone who probably paid money to join a league should react, but it has happened on far too many occasions.
So we have seen the effects that injuries can have on a fantasy team, but what can be done to minimize these problems should one occur. Well first off, value each and every selection in your draft. Too many times players will get through their first six or seven picks in a fantasy draft, then tend to lose interest and just pick up whomever to fill out the other spots on a roster. Wrong premise ladies and gentlemen. Every pick should be looked at as a value pick because you never know when that late round selection could get called into have to play on your team in a given week.
Examine the names left in the draft pool and do a little research before and during your draft. It can be the difference between winning and losing. Also do not be afraid to take a flyer on an unknown rookie late in your draft. They are in the league of the sport they play because they showed promise in college and had enough to make it to the pros. You never know when that person will turn out to be the Rookie of the Year. Antonio Gates was a rookie around 6 years ago and led me to a fantasy title because I picked him late in our draft and he has been a top tight end selection ever since.
Finally, be sure to use the waiver wire process as well. Sure, you say that everyone is looking on the wire for replacements. That is not always true. A lot of fantasy owner’s turn to the wire when an injury occurs and they are in need of a player, or they drafted and forgot to get a backup at a position during say a bye week. The smart owner begins scanning the wire as soon as shortly after the draft or at the very least after the first day or week of play. Don’t wait till something bad happens before trying to improve your club. Build your depth throughout your season, so when the inevitable injury occurs, you will have a somewhat capable backup to put in and at least get you some of the points back you lost.
It is clear then that injuries are part of sports, and no team is immune to having them take place. To the fantasy sports team owner, injuries can definitely be a real downer and cause them some anxious moments. However they do not have to be a season ending injury for the entire fantasy team. With the combination of adept drafting, along with shrewd wire waiver and trade management, a fantasy team can easily be resurrected from the rubble!