Hay-low boys and girls, it’s that time of the year again when mini-camps and OTAs are over and the NFL Preseason is underway. With most teams having already played their first game, and some having played two, there’s no better time than now to begin reviewing some of the injuries that are plaguing the league’s players. If you follow the fantasy baseball side of Razzball, which I’m sure most of you do (if you don’t, you’re dead to me), you all know I, SethDaSportsMan, bring you the weekly “Ambulance Chasers” column, featuring all the nicks, bangs, and bruises from across the diamond. Luckily for you pigskin lovers — and you perverts with S&M fetishes — I’ll be doing the same throughout the entire fantasy football season.
Why me, you may ask? Am I turned on by the idea of blood and breaking bones? Not really. In fact, I’m getting sick and tired of seeing all these guys across the sports landscape getting hurt. What I offer is experience in the health and fitness field — I’m a certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition specialist, as well as a certified fitness instructor. I’m no doctor (it’s never gonna happen, mom!), but all my schooling gave me a vast knowledge of sports injuries and the human anatomy. I also played sports at a highly competitive level until my early-20s and have personally gone or will have undergone five major surgeries by the time 2015 rolls around. So, yeah, you could say I’m “close” to the subject. This piece will be the first of many to grace the glorious pages of Razzball Football. Once the season starts, look for Ambulance Chasers each and every Wednesday morning, and you can see my handsomeness in the flesh when I review my Weekly Injury Report on Razzball Radio with the Italian Stallion himself, host Nick Capozzi.
Now, what you’ve all been waiting for…
Marvin Jones, Bengals — The 2014 version of the NFL off-season has been relatively quiet in terms of fantasy-crippling injuries. Last year, we had guys like Jeremy Maclin and Dennis Pitta go under the knife. Marvin Jones is the first semi-big name to succumb to injury. Jones had a breakout season last year, compiling 712 yards and 10 TD (although 122 of those yards and four of those TDs came in one game), and he was expected to be a nice complement to star wide receiver A.J. Green. Unfortunately, Jones broke his foot in practice the other day and the team is saying he won’t return till Week 5 vs. the Patriots, which follows the Bengals’ bye week. This seems like a rather optimistic timetable given the nature of the injury. Foot injuries are always one of the more serious ones for football players, especially receivers, who need them to push off and leap for balls. Take Julio Jones for example. He broke his foot in Week 5 last year and ended up missing the rest of the season. Do I think the Bengals’ wideout will miss the entire 2014 campaign? Probably not. But I wouldn’t be drafting him in anything less than a 14-team league, Dynasty format or leagues that allow IR spots. And in case you’re wondering, I wouldn’t go reaching for Mohamed Sanu either, but I would move tight end Tyler Eifert higher on your draft boards. He was already primed for a breakout season and reports out of camp say he’s now working in the slot. Yummy, yummy.
Rob Gronkowski, Patriots — It seems like we watch more of Gronkowski on TMZ these days than we do on an actual football field. Photos of him partying with Johnny Manziel in Vegas. His porn star girlfriend taking pictures in his jersey. ESPN’s “E:60″ profile on him (Gronk SMASH!). A lot of hype for a guy who’s played just 18 of a possible 32 games over the past two seasons. Yes, he’s still only 25 years old and has limitless upside, but his current early third-round ADP is far too much of a gamble for me. I’m not one to ever take a tight end early in the draft (you won’t see Jimmy Graham on any of my teams this year), but taking Gronk with the 26th pick is ridiculous. The man is only eight months removed from surgery to repair his ACL and hasn’t even been given approval to participate in contact practice. He’s not even a lock to suit up for Week 1. Let him be someone else’s problem come draft day.
Arian Foster, Texans — Another year, another season of being on pins and needles for owners of the the Texans’ oft-injured running back. The 27-year-old undrafted free agent ran amok in 2010 (2,220 total yards, 18 TD), and then combined for 3,482 all-purpose yards in 2011-12, but 2013 was a huge disappointment. The former Tennessee Vol was forced to miss all but eights games with a back injury that eventually required surgery. He had a microdiscectomy performed on his lower back during the off-season, and the hopes were that this would catapult him back to prominence, but alas, until this week, Foster has sat all nearly all of Texans’ camp with hamstring issues. As you may have heard me say in previous posts, the lower extremities — and especially the hamstrings — are directly tied to the back. If the back isn’t 100 percent, the likelihood of incurring a hammy, ankle, Achilles, or knee injury will rise. The Texans had the worst record in the NFL last year and chose to take a defensive player (Jadeveon Clowney), rather than a QB, with the No. 1 pick. Even if Foster somehow manages to play the full 16, the Texans offense is pretty bad — like Ryan Fitzpatrick bad — and they will be playing from behind in many games. Yes, Foster offers exceptional pass-catching skills, so he has that going for him, but I’m avoiding him and his current late second-round draft spot, which has plummeted over the past week. If he continues to slide, there will be value there, though, so keep that in mind. In an interesting move, the Texans cut free agent signee Andre Brown and made Jonathan Grimes their No. 2, which is always valuable when running second behind Foster (i.e. Ben Tate), so if you do happen to take the plunge for Foster, make sure you draft him as a handcuff.
Follow SethDaSportsMan on Twitter at, you guessed it, @SethDaSportsMan, for quality fantasy sports advice and the deepest veneration of all things Nicolas Cage