ESCANABA - injuries, injuries injuries. It's that time of year again.
In the final two weeks of the fantasy football season before the playoffs begin, you're likely experiencing at least one major injury on your team. If you're fortunate, your roster is deep and you have quality bench players you can plug in without a large dropoff in point production.
If you're really fortunate, you have a lead of at least two games for a playoff spot in your league and can coast into the postseason.
But if you're battling these last two weeks, a key injury can be the difference between being in or out.
Traditionally the teams with the best depth will survive and flourish.
Can you still get that depth this late in the season? There aren't many worthwhile players still available in the free agent pool at this point, but let's take a look as we eulogize this week's slew of injuries.
The biggest injury news of the week is Frank Gore, who fractured his hip and will miss the remainder of the season. If Gore was one of your top two running backs, get used to about 10 fewer points per week, no matter who you plug in as his replacement.
However, the 49ers backup to Gore is none other than Brian Westbrook, who will now get likely his last opportunity to show he's still got it. Westbrook as of this writing is only 33 percent owned and in replacing Gore, he rushed for 136 yards and a touchdown last week against Arizona. Grab him if you need him.
The Lions Shaun Hill has apparently broken a finger to go along with his mending forearm. That's going to put him out of action for at least the Lions next game. Hill was by no means a fantasy stud, but he could produce decently. The Lions are now down to Drew Stanton again (Groan).
If you do need a quarterback, Kerry Collins appears ready to go for the Titans. He's two percent owned and is likely the best free agent quarterback currently available on the fantasy market.
In that same respect, Randy Moss' stock has plummeted. If you own him, it might be time to bench him in favor of someone who can produce, well, anything really.
Since joining the Titans, Moss has just four catches through three games for a total of 49 yards, no touchdowns, and just 5.5 fantasy points. Ouch.
His production could improve with return of Collins, but why count on it? If you own Moss, the only reasonable spot for him right now is on your bench, until he proves he can produce again. Don't let starting Moss be the reason your team crashses and burns down the stretch.
There's more than a handful of players with minor to major bumps and bruises that will be game time decisions for you. This is the worst kind of injury in fantasy ball. In some cases it might come down to an hour before kickoff and you're still deciding whether or not to start or bench a player with the ambiguous injury status of doubtful, probable, or questionable next to their name.
Leading the limping pack of athletes this week is Adrian Peterson, who has described himself as being in "unbearable pain" after twisting his ankle against the Redskins. Again, you could plug in Westbrook in this situation as well, but there's also Toby Gerhart, the rookie form Stanford who sits behind Peterson on the Vikings depth chart.
In limited action this season Gerhart hasn't been overly impressive but could make something out of a start at the running back position. When Peterson went out of the game last week, Gerhart rushed for 76 yards and a touchdown, which was good enough for 14 fantasy points. With Minnesota going up against Buffalo, Gerhart is all but a lock for double digit fantasy points. At the very least, if you own Peterson, then Gerhart or Westbrook should be handcuffed to your team.
Best of luck to all teams as they go down the stretch towards the fantasy playoffs. Next week I'll unveil the all-fantasy team for 2010 as Gridirony comes to a close this season.