- Will Carroll, ESPN Fantasy Games
In the years that I've been looking at sports through the lens of injuries, there's one fact, one lesson that keeps coming back. Injuries have context. An ACL injury to one player is not the same to another. An ankle sprain affects one running back more than another. The reason is context. Drew Bledsoe and Michael Vick are both listed at QB, but couldn't be more different in almost every other way. The same holds true for systems, teams, bodies, playing styles and hundreds of other factors. You have to take them all into consideration if you're going to truly understand the effect any injury -- or worse, series of injuries -- will have on your team. Alternately, you can just keep reading this column and I'll do the work.
Let's get to it:
• I heard someone say at last year's NFL Combine that linemen were the anonymous ones, that no one would recognize even the best offensive tackles if they walked down the street. Aside from possibly mistaking them for a suburban McMansion, he was right. Go ahead and try to name the right guard who plows the lanes open for your lead fantasy RB. There are a lot of injuries to linemen coming out of Week 1 and many of them will affect fantasy teams. Walter Jones is perhaps the best OT in the league and a big reason that Shaun Alexander went first overall in many drafts. Jones doesn't look to miss time with his ankle sprain, so take a deep breath. Injuries to the Rams' Andy McCollum (knee surgery, done for the season), the Panthers' Travelle Wharton (knee surgery, done for the season), and the Niners' Larry Allen (out two weeks with, you guessed it, a knee injury) will affect a lot of fantasy teams. The smart ones will understand that.