Despite the variance from one life’s journey to another, there are some constants for everyone. I was reminded of one of these subtle consistencies while watching the “Sunday Night Football” game in Week 1.
As I saw the unfortunate replay of Blake Jarwin, the Dallas Cowboys starting tight end, tearing his ACL on Sunday, I was reminded of these stop-on-a-dime types of moments. These exceedingly rare moments — sometimes bad and other times good — are the type that leave you standing still, speechless. And while at the time, your mind could hardly process what was happening, you’ll never forget where you were during each of these moments.
Unfortunately, it seems that, more times than not, these moments come for professional athletes — and specifically NFL players — at the hands of a season-ending injury rather than a career-making play. You know what I’m talking about: the type of injury we’ve all become too accustomed to seeing on Sundays.
“In general, football is a risky sport,” said Matthew Betz (@TheFantasyPT) in a September, 16 Twitter direct message.
Betz, an orthopedic clinical specialist physical therapist, co-owner of Ball Blast Football, host of the “Redshirts Fantasy Football Podcast” and injury expert, writer and podcaster for The Fantasy Footballers said: “Players are strapping on and running full speed at each other — injuries will happen.”
The rate of risk for some of the most serious injuries is ranked in the following order: MCL > ACL > LisFranc > Achilles, with ACL injuries happening at a rate of about 3-5% per season throughout the league, according to Betz.
And while there are data and statistics about the frequency and risk ratings for these injuries, the toll the injury can take on a player’s mindset is individualized.
“Some athletes can recover without it affecting their mentality, while others struggle with apprehension after the injury,” Betz said. “Sometimes it takes players longer to achieve this after they’ve proven to themselves that they can trust their knee or ankle after injury. It also depends on how many injuries a player has had. Is it their first ACL injury or their second? Context matters here.”
Something else that matters when it comes to these injuries is the rehabilitation and recovery process.
As long as sufficient time is committed to the rehabilitation, players can make a full recovery. And, because their job is to actually rehabilitate an injury, NFL athletes can return from injuries at a higher rate than high school and college athletes, Betz said.
The thing about these injuries, though, is medical professionals believe they are going to continue to happen frequently.
“These players are cutting violently on the field and in today’s game, these players are stronger and faster than they’ve ever been,” Betz said. “As humans get stronger and the demands of the sport increase, there is a theory that the muscular system around the knee is stronger, thereby putting more stress across the ligaments.”
What we need to do better as fantasy football team managers, fans and media professionals is look at the more human side and non-fantasy aspects of the injuries. These players are people. They’re not just a name, photo and point total.
And these injuries can be a stop-on-a-dime moment for both the player who suffered it and their entire family, which is often their rock through the process.
Linda Godfrey (@Lindellions), host of the “Fantasy Football Confidential” Podcast, the Sons of Dynasty Twitter page and a writer at For Fantasy Sake, is well-known in the fantasy football community as a Jarwin truther. She took to Twitter after Jarwin’s injury Sunday night.
In all honesty, I just hope he’s okay. Fantasy football is fun and we joke around a lot but injuries are scary and very real. The magnitude of injuries in the past weeks and today has been insane. Remember we’re playing a computer game with real people. Show compassion.
— Linda™ (@Lindellions) September 14, 2020
“Obviously, Blake Jarwin’s injury was gut-wrenching but not because I had to head straight to the waiver wire for over half my 20+ leagues,” she said in a Sept. 16 Twitter direct message. “It was gut-wrenching because this is a 26-year-old who has fought through so much already, finally heading into a season where he gets to be THE guy in Dallas. His chance to prove to everyone watching that he deserved to be on that field.”
Godfrey’s compassion for Jarwin is a great example of something that is oftentimes lacking in the fantasy football community.
Sure, we play to win the game. But in my book, those who play fantasy football the right way also plays for the experience. And showing compassion toward players who suffer these season-ending injuries is something that should be, at least, the minimum we can do to show our appreciation for the people who risk their bodies week-in and week-out for our entertainment.
“This one is a learned skill,” she said. “You have to actively remember that these players do not care about your league. They do not care about how many points they get per reception. They are making their livelihood… Remind yourself that we are playing a glorified computer game that relies on the health and actions of real humans.”
It makes sense to me now that Godfrey, someone who had her own fair share of these stop-on-a-dime moments in life, helped set a powerful precedent with her statement about Jarwin and injured players.
“Finding out I was pregnant basically made the whole world stop,” she said. “Beyond that, little things like getting the call with a golf-scholarship offer or that time a couple of regulars that I served in college left me a $100 tip inside of a Christmas card (have been these moments in my life).”
And like some of the players she roots for, Godfrey also had to cope with her own athletics injury, one that left an orthopedic surgeon telling her that she’d never golf again at the same level.
It’s hearing these types of authentic stories that can help us better humanize the game we love and build a more compassionate culture. And it’s righteous people like Matthew Betz and Linda Godfrey who can help lead us there.
To see more of Betz’s injury analysis and other work you can find it on BallBlast Football and The Fantasy Footballers. This season he is also hosting the new “Injury Blitz Podcast” for The Footballers where he gives late-week injury updates to help listeners set their lineup.
Now, let’s get to it.
The following start/sit selections are based on stats, trends and film research, reflecting value in Points Per Reception (PPR) Redraft League.
Quarterback I’d Start this Week:
Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay): I know it’s only Week 2, but I’m beginning to feel foolish for doubting Aaron Rodgers’ fantasy value this season and having him on one of my preseasons sit lists.
The two-time NFL MVP quieted the narrative that head coach Matt Lafleur wanted to have a more run-centric offense in Week 1, completing 32-44 for 364 yards and four touchdowns, finishing as the QB2.
This Week he returns to Lambeau Field for his home-opener against a defense that allowed Mitchell Trubisky to finish as the QB7 in Week 1. Rodgers should continue his return to fantasy dominance here in Week 2.
Quarterback I’d Sit this Week:
Tyrod Taylor (Los Angeles Chargers): It’s a new year and a new quarterback under center for the Los Angeles Chargers this season. But I’m still not starting him in Week 2. Tyrod Taylor showed rust in his first start in almost two years, completing 16-30 attempts for an anemic 208 yards against the Cincinnati Bengals.
His rebound game is against the Super Bowl champions Kansas City Chiefs and an underrated defense led by Chris Jones and Tyrann Mathieu. Even in Super Flex and two-quarterback leagues, I’m avoiding Taylor at all costs.
Running Back I’d Start this Week:
The third-year USC product carried the ball 16 times for 66 yards and added two receptions for 16 yards. It wasn’t a breakout performance by any means, but that could come this week as the Buccaneers face the Carolina Panthers who allotted Josh Jacobs the overall-RB1 finish in Week 1. Slot him in as a high-upside 2 this go-around.
Running Back I’d Sit this Week:
Peyton Barber (Washington Football Team): Jones’ former backfield mate, Peyton Barber, continued his ineffective play, now for the Washington Football Team, rushing 17 times for a total of 29 yards.
But, after two goal-line scores and crushing Antonio Gibson truthers’ hopes everywhere, he was added in nearly 20 percent of ESPN leagues.
Washington, who shocked many with a win over Philadelphia in Week 1, will likely be trailing to the high-powered Arizona Cardinals offense Sunday, meaning Gibson or veteran J.D. McKissic should see most of the work. Under no circumstances should Barber be in your lineup this week.
Wide Receiver I’d Start this Week:
CeeDee Lamb (Dallas Cowboys): CeeDee Lamb looked like a veteran NFL wide receiver in his debut on “Sunday Night Football,” corralling five of 6 targets for 59 yards.
We’ll get more clarity this weekend, but the Cowboys might be a team who, like the 2018 Los Angeles Rams, can support three top-30 fantasy receivers. I think he hits double digits and maybe even scores his first-career touchdown in Week 2 against the Falcons, who just let Russell Wilson cook for 322 and four touchdowns.
Wide Receiver I’d Sit this Week:
Robby Anderson (Carolina): Robby Anderson might be the latest to add to the list of players that excel once they leave the clutches of Adam Gase and the New York Jets, after posting a 6-115-1 stat line in Week 1.
However, I’m not ready to put him into my lineup just yet. This is especially true because this week, as he will be facing a Tampa Bay defense that allowed only 11 PPR fantasy points to the entire Saints receivers, including 2019 WR1, Michael Thomas.
With that said, I don’t mind holding Anderson on my roster, as he has enticing matchups over the next month following Week 2.
If you have a feel-good story that you would like to share for an opportunity to be featured in an upcoming edition of “Start, Sit & Seth,” please reach out.
And for more fantasy football and uplifting content, you can find me on Twitter @Between_SethFF.