Ahh, you again. We come to the final installment of the injury update
series today with an examination of the often, overlooked tight
end position. You should expect to see a lot of big names here.
After all, tight ends take quite a beating on the field. These guys
do all of the bluecollar work in a wideout’s body. They’re
blocking ends and linebackers that even the best offensive linemen
sometimes can’t stop, and then the next play they are running
a crossing route over the middle that ends with getting lit up by
the strong safety. So goes it for tight ends. Any tight end worth
his weight is going to be a little banged up all season. So don’t
freak out just because you see a name on here – you’ll
notice that many of the best fantasy tight ends are represented.
Let’s start with the most controversial and injury-laden of
all, the acclaimed “Soldja”…
Winslow II, CLE
Injury – Offseason Microfracture
Knee Surgery, January 2007 … Torn ACL And Other Leg Injuries,
Motorcycle Accident, May 2005 … Broken Leg, September 2004
Progress – Well Winslow sure is a case, isn’t he?
It would be pretty easy to dedicate an entire article just to
him, but we don’t have that luxury so let’s cut to
the chase. Winslow’s legs have not done him well. He had
ankle injuries his first preseason before breaking his leg and
missing most of his first season. Apparently he thought he was
healthy though so he was out on a motorcycle joyride, and that
led to the accident that really messed up his leg. He missed all
of 2005 recovering from the torn ACL that was found and then was
a staple on the injury report for the entire season while still
putting up surprisingly good numbers for a guy playing at 80%.
The crazy thing is that he played all 16 games and really didn’t
miss a snap.
But the injury was bigger than it seemed. There was further cartilage
damage – serious damage – and Winslow underwent offseason
microfracture surgery. Now don’t confuse this with your
ordinary arthroscopic surgery. A microfracture surgery is much
more severe and can often require at least a full year of rehabilitation.
It is a surgery from which very few professional athletes have
recovered. Jason Kidd and Amare Stoudemire of the NBA come to
mind – but note that it took each of them an extra year
or almost two years really to get totally healthy. Yet reports
out of camp so far look pretty good. Winslow is healing quickly
(he’s used to rehab by now) and has practiced a bit with
the first team. The Browns maintain that he will be 100% by the
start of season.
Fantasy Implications – The implications are rampant here.
Winslow looks healthy for now, but history is not on his side
in recovering this quickly from microfracture surgery. Maybe he
can jog a little bit, but the real test will come when Winslow
has to cut on a route or stop quickly. Winslow is not a stud TE
without the ability to cut, run with speed, and gain yards after
carry. So his value is in doubt this year. His long-term value
is also in doubt. The microfracture surgery leaves scar tissue
on the knee, and that can’t be good for an NFL star.
Can he be a star? Absolutely, he looked the part last year even
playing at 80%, and he can be the next Gates or better if healthy.
Not to mention that he is hooked up again with offensive coordinator
Rob Chudzinski who coached him at Miami. The offense could be
built around a healthy Winslow. But will he be healthy this year,
or ever again? I say no. If you believe in miracles, you can give
him a chance. I believe in history.
Injury – Sprained Ankle, On And Off
Progress – Nothing that happened
to Shockey last year or at any point in his career has left any
lasting damage. Shockey has dealt with a bit of a bum ankle throughout
his career. It heals every offseason, and then he jams it again
every season. Get used to it.
Fantasy Implications – If you
plan on owning Shockey, plan on him missing a game or two at some
point every year and playing on a bum ankle for the remainder
of that season. And plan on another 6 or 700 yards just like always
and a handful of TDs as well. Nothing to see here, Shockey is
still one of the best fantasy TEs in the game.
Injury – Offseason Knee Surgery, April
Progress – This may actually
be a good injury note for once. Crumpler has struggled on and
off the last two seasons with some knee problems. Nothing huge,
and nothing that has made him miss many games, but enough to slow
him down and keep him in pain. This offseason he finally had surgery.
In this case, surgery is good. He’s had plenty of time to recover
and now, for the first time in a couple seasons, he may finally
Fantasy Implications – Crumpler
continues to post numbers pretty similar to the top non-Gates
TEs and yet continues to slip about a round after them every year.
This year his mobility should be improved, so the number should
go up with them. Of course he also lost the connection with Vick
and now has Joey Harrington instead, so that could just end up
offsetting what he gained. Oh well.
Injury – Broken Leg, September 2006
Progress – Davis’s rookie season
was hampered by an early leg injury just a few games into the
season. In late September he suffered a hairline fracture to his
left fibula and missed 6 games in recovery. But there was nothing
serious or lasting about the injury, and Davis in fact returned
for the second half of the season and looked good in doing it.
Fantasy Implications – Davis
is a favorite sleeper among fantasy footballers, and for good
reason. He flashed his big play ability and raw talent during
the second half of the season and has now had a full offseason
to gel with QB Alex Smith and totally grasp the offense. This
guy is real. He is going to break out at some point soon – it’s
just a matter of when.
Injury – Sports Hernia, October 2006
Progress – Every year seems
to be the same with LJ Smith. He starts off healthy and posts
good numbers and then another injury springs up and hampers the
second half. Last year it was a hernia that bothered him. Smith
is fine now and healthy in camp, but like Shockey above, we have
learned that it is probably just a matter of time before the next
Fantasy Implications – Think
of LJ Smith as a lesser version of Jeremy Shockey. He’ll probably
miss a game or two and play hurt in a bunch more, but he’ll still
get the numbers you expect in the end. Just plan accordingly.
Injury – Sprained Knee, December 2006 …
Concussion, September 2006
Progress – Clark may be as injury
prone as anyone on this list. Like that Madden video game commercial,
he has a knack for making a big catch over the middle and taking
a real licking. The knee injury last year was thought to be season
ending, but then Clark was back looking like the key to the entire
offense at times during the Colts’ Super Bowl run. There are few
other players who look so valuable one week and so useless the
Fantasy Implications – Expect
more of the same from Dallas this season. He will probably end
up having a couple really big games, but you won’t have any idea
when they’re coming. And this year when he gets hurt, the Colts
can take their time. Fellow TE Ben
Utecht is a fine replacement, and new rookie WR Anthony Gonzalez
will man the slot anyways. Clark is moving perilously close to
being pretty useless in the fantasy world.
Injury – Back And Knee injuries, December
Progress – Watson is like many
of the other TEs on this list. He is consistently nicked up every
single year and never quite seems to reach his very high potential.
There were no serious or lasting injuries last season, and Watson
should be healthy again. But count on the knee injuries popping
up again at some point this year.
Fantasy Implications – Like
Clark, Watson is bound to explode for a huge game or two when
he catches a long TD pass. Like Clark, those games will be literally
impossible to predict. Like Clark, the Patriots will be in no
position to hurry Watson back onto the scene from his injury.
With their influx of WRs they can just as well go four or five
wide. And like Clark, Watson is moving perilously close to useless
in the fantasy realm.
Injury – Sprained Shoulder, December 2006
Progress – The shoulder injury
was nothing serious, even though it did cost Daniels two games
last winter. It likely also hurt his production over the final
half of the season. But the injury is gone and Daniels should
be ready for he new season.
Fantasy Implications – Daniels
is a favorite sleeper for a backup TE or even a long shot to be
a decent starter. The injury is of no concern. Keep him on that
Injury – Broken Foot, May 2007
Progress – Scheffler’s injury
happened during practice in May, and he had surgery near the end
of the month to repair it. As of now, he is still being listed
on the PUP list. The Broncos expect him to be healthy and in practice
again soon, but his status is still up in the air for now.
Fantasy Implications – Scheffler
probably shouldn’t be on your fantasy radar too much this year.
He will still be recovering from this foot injury and he also
has to contend with two other veteran TEs on the roster, Stephen
Alexander and Dan Graham. You would be wise to look elsewhere
Injury – Broken Ankle, November 2006
Progress – Troupe had ankle
problems last November and was placed on the injured list and
missed the final six games. For the third time in three years,
Troupe missed significant time with injuries, and he is yet another
player with obvious talent who looks like he’ll never stay healthy
enough to maximize it.
Fantasy Implications – While
Troupe was out last year, Bo Scaife enjoyed his playing time,
and so did Vince Young. Young and Scaife played together at Texas
and developed a good rapport together. Now Scaife looks like the
starter and Troupe looks like he has injured himself out of a
good opportunity. Time to move on.