Drew Metcalfe

IR Warriors: Injured players to stash in Dynasty

IR Warriors: Injured players to stash in Dynasty

I’m always looking to capitalize on injury discounts in Dynasty. Each year, modern medicine has been shrinking the recovery time for most common injuries and we are seeing players get back onto the field and perform at a high level quicker than ever. None of the players on this list were highly coveted fantasy assets while healthy, so now is a great time to try and acquire them for close to nothing in many cases.

Anthony McFarland Jr.

This season has been the Najee Harris show in Pittsburgh. The 2021 1st-round running back has seen an 89.7-percent opportunity share (teams’ percentage of running back carries and targets) which is comfortably ahead of the player that’s second in the NFL- Derrick Henry (85.1-percent). This might be the plan for Harris all season long, but I believe it has something to do with the current options behind him. Benny Snell and Kalen Ballage don’t excite anyone, including the Steelers coaching staff. Both have shown to be well below-average backs and should only touch the ball in emergency situations. For this reason, I’m not going to forget about the Steelers’ 2020 fourth-round pick, Anthony McFarland Jr. who is currently out with a knee injury.  

Before you look it up- No, this is not “Booger” McFarland’s kid! Anthony was drafted as a redshirt sophomore, out of the University of Maryland. He’s best known for his monster game against Ohio State, during his 2018 freshman year: McFarland ran for 298 yards. That was only the second time that an Urban Meyer-led college defense had allowed a 200+ yard rusher. He had taken over the starting role his sophomore year, but suffered a high ankle sprain early on and was limited for the remainder of the season.

We don’t know what McFarland’s workload will be once he returns from IR (expected to be activated for Week 8). He will be reunited with his college head coach, Matt Canada, who is now the offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh. While I don’t expect him to ever earn a lead role, Canada probably has some packages in mind that worked well at Maryland. McFarland is the most dynamic athlete in the backfield and is the best bet to serve as the change-of-pace option behind Harris.   

Quintez Cephus

I especially look to take advantage of injury discounts when it’s not expected to have any long-term effects. This is exactly the case for Quintez Cephus. The second-year Detroit wideout was climbing his way up the depth chart until he broke his collarbone in Week 5 and was placed on season-ending IR.

Cephus was drafted in the fifth round of the 2020 draft. While I typically don’t chase after Day 3 (4th-7th round draft capital) players, he’s not your typical fifth-rounder. He likely showed up as a “red flag” right out of the gate for many teams evaluating prospects. In 2018, he was suspended from the Wisconsin team after being arrested for sexual assault. The charges were eventually proven to be false and dropped. He was reinstated to Wisconsin in 2019 and went on the lead the team in receiving with 901 yards. He also posted an underwhelming 4.73 40-yard dash time, which caused him to slide even further in the draft. Since then, we’ve seen him prove that he’s athletic enough to succeed in the NFL though.

We will never know how the 2021 season would have played out for Detroit with a healthy Cephus, but he was beginning to look the part of their No. 1 wide receiver. He saw 13 targets in the first two weeks and put up 83 yards against the Chicago Bears in Week 4, which ended up being his final game. 

Irv Smith

2021 was set up to be the rise of Irv Smith. He was going into his third season, which is known as the common breakout year for young tight ends. He was also going to be atop the Minnesota depth chart for the first time, as Kyle Rudolph was released and signed with the New York Giants. We have seen flashes of what Irv can do, but he was always inconsistent behind Rudolph. When Rudolph missed the last month of the 2020 season due to an injury, Irv operated as the lead tight end and was a Top 5 fantasy TE over the final four games.

Tyree Jackson

 While everyone has been excited for Dallas Goedert following the Zach Ertz trade to the Arizona Cardinals, most are overlooking another major benefactor- Tyree Jackson. A similar mold to Logan Thomas, Jackson is a former college quarterback who converted to tight end at the pro level. He’s also a freak athlete standing at 6’7” and a 4.59 second 40-yard dash time while weighing in at 250 lbs. We haven’t seen him on the field yet due to a back injury, but the Eagles camp was excited about him coming into the season. He now has a clear path to the TE2 spot in Philadelphia which is a team that loves using two tight end sets.