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Sunday, September 2, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL INJURY FALLOUT: LOSS OF JERRICK McKINNON MAKES ALFRED MORRIS RELEVANT AGAIN

Every summer the four-game NFL preseason slate serves as nothing but one major source of agita for those in the fantasy football community.  With fantasy football drafts already well underway at this point, each week of the four preseason games brings more worry and stress wondering if their players will succumb to serious injuries before a game that counts is even played.  Think Jordy Nelson in 2016 or Julian Edelman last summer as prime examples of big-name drafts picks whose fantasy football owners ultimately wasted an early-round pick on as they failed to make it to Week 1 before their season went up in smoke.  This summer was certainly no different but you could almost hear the collective exhale once preseason Week 4 went in the books a few days ago.  The exhibition games are over so we are home free to Week 1 went the thinking.  Well maybe that should be amended going into next summer after we saw San Francisco 49ers running back Jerrick McKinnon suffer a season-ending torn ACL in his knee during a workout on Saturday and his loss is a big one considering the massive expectations that were attached to his name after head coach Kyle Shanahan made it his chief priority to sign him over the winter.  Shanahan had major plans for McKinnon and those in PPR formats had to be extra pumped about his outlook given his ability to both run and catch the football.  Now all that has gone up in smoke and recently signed off the street veteran Alfred Morris unbelievably is in line to be the starter for Week 1. 

Now as far as the fallout here, Morris is set to be the primary runner going forward and he has looked fresh in the limited time he has played this summer which makes sense since he was just a backup with the Dallas Cowboys in 2016 and 2017.  Originally a sixth-round find of Mike Shanahan with the Washington Redskins, Morris had a very nice start to his career as he rushed for a massive 1,610 yards as a rookie and then went for 1,275 and 1,074 the following two seasons.  While he was almost a complete zero catching the football, Morris's power running ability and nose for the end zone made him a nice weapon in standard formats.  

Ultimately, the wheels began to come off in 2015 when Morris dropped off to just 751 yards at 3.7 per pop and that brought his backup status with the Cowboys the last two seasons.  The fact Morris rushed just 185 times total the last two seasons means he is likely quite fresh despite getting up there in age at 29 and so there is a decent chance he can yield RB 2 status in standard league in 2018.  Those in PPR formats should be more interested in Matt Breida who will come in on third down and be the Duke Johnson or Theo Riddick in this offense but he is nothing more than a speculative RB 4/5 in that setup.  Either way, the loss of McKinnon is a reminder we are never in the clear in terms of injuries in fantasy football at any point in the season.  


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