numberFire Tuesday Injury Update - Preseason Week 4

Want some under the radar guys? numberFire's got you covered.

Going into the regular season, there's some guys more beat up than others. Or, in the case of MJD, more holdout-y than others. But I'm a glass half full-type of guy: those injuries don't have to be a bad thing. Look at it as an opportunity! Here's some guys who could benefit from their teammates' misfortune in the early part of the season due to nagging injuries. All injuries are courtesy of the nice injury chart from the fine people at CBS Sports.

numberFire Tuesday Injury Update: Preseason Week Four

Injured Player: RB Trent Richardson - Cleveland Browns
Extent of Injury: Questionable for start of season
Who Could Benefit: RB Montario Hardesty

If there's somebody who you'd ever want to treat with kid gloves, it's the number three overall pick in the most recent NFL Draft who plays at the position most susceptible to injury. And especially considering the other options the Cleveland Browns have offensively, they will not rush Richardson back from an injury too soon. If he's limited or completely out in week one against the Eagles (and their young LB corps), that opens the door for Montario Hardesty to play the role of featured back. However, I wouldn't trust Hardesty with carrying the ball to the ref after the coin toss, let alone in an actual game. In 9 games played and 4 started last season, Hardesty averaged just barely over three yards per carry and didn't score a single rushing touchdown on the season. His advanced numbers look even more Cleveland Browns-esque, with an unusually high -0.38 NEP per rush (meaning that every time he rushed the ball, the Browns lost 0.38 net expected points when compared to the average team) and only a 20% success rate in helping his team have a better chance to score.
Verdict: Don't pick up

Injured Player: RB Benjarvus Green-Ellis - Cincinnati Bengals
Extent of Injury: Probable for start of season
Who Could Benefit: RB Bernard Scott

On our questions board a few weeks ago, Adam Filadelfo asked whether Scott can be a useful back-up to the Law Firm. Despite him not being a factor in fantasy directly as a back-up like Ben Tate, the consensus was, yeah, he's not a bad back. In limited opportunities for the Bengals (only 3 starts in 3 years), he's been a bit of a mixed bag: a poor -0.17 NEP per play rating in both 2009 and 2011, but an above-average +0.01 NEP per play rating in 2010 shows that he has potential. His success rate paints an even rosier picture: over 31% of his rushes have been successful in getting his team in better scoring position in each of his three seasons, and his 2010 success rate was a Bengal-fierce 44% in 61 rushes. He has the potential and wouldn't make a bad waiver-wire pickup (and an easier name to say) if the Law Firm takes a turn for the worse.
Verdict: Potential pickup, Keep an eye on the situation

Injured Player: WRs Miles Austin and Dez Bryant - Dallas Cowboys
Extent of Injury: Bryant probable for start of season, Austin questionable for start of season
Who Could Benefit: WR Dwayne Harris

If you look at the stats for Dwayne Harris, you'll see... absolutely nothing. The man hasn't caught a single NFL pass, and he's only appeared in seven games thus far, mostly on special teams. Much like Laurent Robinson broke out for the Cowboys last season, however, Harris could be the one who appears out of nowhere to become Jerry Jones' darling child. After a preseason game this past Saturday where he went for three catches, 118 yards, and 2 touchdowns, Harris may have the inside track on the Cowboys #3 receiving slot ahead of Kevin Ogletree. Ogletree has had his chances in the Cowboys system; he's entering his fourth season with the team and has 25 total catches, most as a slot third or fourth receiver. If there's a guy with upside in that battle though, Harris is it. The writers on think Harris won won a job on Saturday, although not necessarily the #3 job. Don't be surprised if he wins of Jerry Jones's heart by the time September 5th rolls around.
Verdict: Potential pickup, Keep an eye on the situation

Injured Player: RBs Kevin Smith, Mikel Leshoure, and Jahvid Best - Detroit Lions
Extent of Injury: Smith questionable for start of season, Leshoure suspended Weeks 1 and 2, Best on PUP list and out until Week 7 at least
Who Could Benefit: RB Keiland Williams

A third year back out of LSU, Keiland Williams hasn't looked too shabby in his limited playing time since entering the league. In 2010 with the Redskins, Williams started three games, played in 15, and actually ended the season close to 100 fantasy points. His 261 rushing yards netted him close to 4 yards per carry, and perhaps even bigger for fantasy purposes, his 309 receiving yards cemented him as a pass-catching threat out of the backfield. He didn't get as many opportunities with Detroit last season, not starting a single game and only rushing for 195 yards, but he's not a bad option to go to if Smith gets injured and Leshoure looks shaky coming back from the injury that held him out all last year. Perhaps more importantly for Detroit, Williams has been successful: his NEP per rush (-0.14) and success rate (33%) were only slightly worse than Smith's numbers (-0.04/33%) in 2011, and his 2010 numbers (-0.09/32%) were actually better than Smith's corresponding numbers in 2010 when Smith received even more limited time (-0.28/30%).
Verdict: Only in deep leagues

Injured Player: RB Ryan Mathews - San Diego Chargers
Extent of Injury: Mathews questionable for start of season
Who Could Benefit: RB Ronnie Brown

Hey, Ronnie Brown! Remember when he was the #2 overall pick out of Auburn to the Miami Dolphins, only to see him rush for over 1,000 yards exactly one time in six seasons as the Dolphins starter? Yes, you do remember that Dolphins fans? Well cheer up, you've got Reggie Bush as your starter now. No, that wasn't supposed to be a joke. Anyway, Brown is now working on his third team in as many years after a brief stint with the Eagles last season, and he could be thrust into a big role right away if Mathews can't make it back for week one. The current news is that Mathews is ahead of schedule, but with the type of injury that one expert said could keep him out until October, I don't see the Chargers rushing him back right away if he shows any sign of soreness. Enter Ronnie Brown. Despite only hitting the 30 year-old mark last season, Brown's numbers have seen a decline for the past couple of years. His past two NEP per rush marks (-0.15 in 2011, -0.20 in 2010) are his worst two totals of his seven year career, and his 29% success rate in 2010 was one of the worst among starting backs. Even if he does play, I don't expect much from Brown; I just expect Philip Rivers to air it out some more.
Verdict: Don't pick him up