Unfortunate injuries ruined value of two top fantasy picks
Anyone who plays fantasy football knows just how frustrating it can be when injuries sink your team.
There is a feeling of helplessness, knowing there is nothing you can do but roll with the punches and try to minimize the damage with waiver-wire pickups.
Though weve seen high draft picks bust in years past, the 2023 season will forever be remembered as the year two of the top three picks in nearly every draft both let their managers down.
Neither Justin Jefferson nor JaMarr Chase will be delivering a fantasy championship to anyones doorstep.
Jefferson had a breakout 2022 season, hauling in a career-best 128 catches for a career-high 1,809 yards and eight touchdowns leading all wide receivers in fantasy points and second overall among non-quarterback skill positions.
He was the consensus No. 1-overall pick in most fantasy drafts.
He opened the year racking up three-straight 100-yard efforts and grabbing four touchdowns through the first four weeks.
But against the Chiefs in Week 5, Jefferson suffered a hamstring injury, landed on IR and missed seven games.
Justin Jefferson (18) is tackled by Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Chidobe Awuzie (22) during the first half of an NFL football game. APWhile he was out, the Vikings lost Kirk Cousins to a ruptured Achilles, so even if Jefferson was to return, his potential value for the fantasy playoffs greatly diminished.
Then he suffered a chest injury in his first game back, giving us eight-straight weeks (one bye week) of zeroes, bookended by two games he combined for just five catches for 55 yards.
A fantasy bust, for sure, but you couldnt see it coming.
As fantasy busts go, Chases struggling season was vastly different.
The second-overall pick in many drafts, he first saw his value crumble when Joe Burrow suffered a calf injury late in the preseason.
Ja’Marr Chase #1 of the Cincinnati Bengals reacts after making a reception in the first quarter of the game against the Minnesota Vikings. Getty ImagesThe Bengals were ill-prepared with a backup QB, let Burrow determine his own on-field availability and left us watching Chase open the season like an 11th-round pick while playing with an injured quarterback.
We saw some flashes of Chases prowess, but with either Jake Browning or Burrow, at less than 100 percent, the season has been a disappointment. Chase will not finish as a top-five receiver, though again, of no fault of his own.
The first round of any fantasy draft can be treacherous, as injuries are both abundant and unpredictable. But we can learn from this for next season.
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Stop stressing over your first-round pick. Fantasy championships are built in the mid-to-late rounds and on the waiver wire. Make your first pick a player you truly want, not someone you think youre supposed to take. Build your team from there. Just understand that when the injury bug flies by, everyone is vulnerable.
Howard Bender is the head of content at FantasyAlarm.com. Follow him on X @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award-winning Fantasy Alarm Radio Show on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 6-8 p.m. Go to Fantasy-Alarm.com for all your fantasy football advice.
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