- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 23, 2013

HONOLULU (AP) - The easiest one-word summary of the 2013 fantasy football season so far: Ouch.

Injuries to Reggie Wayne, Sam Bradford, Doug Martin, Jermichael Finley and a bunch of other players in Week 7 have fantasy circles buzzing about whether this year has been particularly rough for injuries in the NFL.

As far as fantasy players are concerned, it’s the worst since 2000.

According to STATS, 177 skill position players (quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends) have had to miss at least one game with injury so far this year. That’s higher for the first seven weeks than any year since 2000 _ and nearly 25 percent higher than the average of 142.1 skill players missing at least one game in the first seven weeks each year from 2000 through 2013.


The difference is slightly sharper among more severe injuries: 122 players have had to miss at least two games so far this year, according to STATS. That’s nearly 28 percent higher than the average of 95.4 players missing at least two games over the same span from 2000 through 2013.

The bright side? It’s legitimate if you want to complain about injuries hurting your fantasy football team _ plenty of players are doing the same on Twitter, Reddit and other social networks. But the reality is the injuries are likely affecting most of the teams in your league in some way. That’s why you try to draft for depth, strategize on handcuffs and consistently look at your competition’s assets and needs in hopes of making the right moves.

Let Chuck Pagano’s comments on Wayne’s season-ending knee injury serve as a fantasy rally cry for owners facing injury problems.

“He’s not going out like this. He’s not going to leave this game like this. There’s no way,” Pagano said Monday. “He’ll fight, he’ll get his surgery, and he’ll rehab and he’ll grind like nobody’s ever grinded.

“He’ll do whatever it takes to get back on that football field _ even if it’s to catch one more pass, make one more block, do one more thing to help this organization win a football game, he’ll do it. But he’s not going out like this,” Pagano said.

The fantasy season is halfway through. Don’t give up yet.

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THE RED ZONE

You know how important touchdowns are to fantasy scoring. But predicting touchdowns is especially difficult for running backs and receivers because NFL offenses are trying to disguise their plays and often have role players used in different (ahem, frustrating) ways when they get within 20 yards of the goal line.

At each position, some surprising red zone numbers give a different perspective on the players you’re considering each week.

QB: Matt Ryan, Atlanta. Ryan leads the league with 51 pass attempts in the red zone. Yes, Ryan, not Peyton Manning _ and Ryan has already passed his bye week. He’s less efficient than Manning and others, and fantasy players are somewhat down on Ryan because of injuries to Julio Jones and Roddy White. Rightly so, but Atlanta is at its core a passing team, with Ryan throwing to whomever he can.

Story Continues →