If we could go at least one week without a major injury decision involving a player in one of the late afternoon games or the primetime games, the normal headache I have on Sunday mornings after an evening of kool-aid drinking would be only moderately less severe.
Previously it’s been Brandon Lloyd and Reggie Bush, and Trent Richardson was kind enough to kick off our hair loss way back in Week 1. Now, it’s Aaron Hernandez who steps up to keep the streak alive. Thanks, Aaron.
You’re surely aware of the impending debacle that will finally come to a head this afternoon at about 3 p.m. ET when the inactives for the late games are announced, and we mercifully get a definitive decision from Bill Belichick regarding Hernandez’s playing status. Hernandez has been out since Week 2 when he suffered a severe ankle injury during the Patriots’ upset loss to Arizona.
His high ankle sprain is an injury that often lingers even after a player has recovered, and it zaps burst and explosiveness. Now he’s likely ready for a quick comeback today from an injury that could have kept him out for up to six weeks. But even though he may be available to deploy today, injury expert Jene Bramel thinks Hernandez’s owners are far from assured of seeing his normal elite upside. Translation: there’s a lot of risk here, and very unnecessary risk.
But the problem for you, the anxious Hernandez owner, isn’t necessarily whether or not he plays. Oh sure, playing or not playing is sort of important, especially with the Patriots kicking off against the Seahawks at 4:05 ET on the west coast, a game that starts along with only three other late afternoon games that are vastly outnumbered by the seven early games. Instead, though, the larger problem is that kickoff time.
Since you drafted Hernandez on average midway through the seventh round (ADP of 65.6 in ESPN leagues), that means depending on the size of your league there’s a very reasonable chance that you came back to the TE well and stashed a flier on your bench in the later rounds. Maybe, say, a Dennis Pitta (ADP of 130.4), or a Brent Celek (129.9). They both play in the early games, though, and the list of decent late-game TEs aside from Hernandez and his teammate Rob Gronkowski is short. There’s Vernon Davis, and if you own him you almost definitely don’t also own Hernandez, and Martellus Bennett. Fred Davis and Antonio Gates also fit into that group of tight ends Hernandez owners surely don’t also employ on their fake teams.
Owen Daniels could be stashed, and so could Kyle Rudolph and Scott Chandler. But while those three are capable of fine Sundays, there’s a sizable tumble down from Hernandez to them, and therein lies our problem. If you’re willing to take the risk and start Hernandez, you’re doing it expecting top 10 production, and the options available to replace him in the late games if he’s scratched are underwhelming, and they simply aren’t top ten players at the position.
So sit him, and dig into the deeper pool of replacements among the early games, one of which you hopefully, god willing snapped up.
Need more? There’s a soul crushing report for that.
Even if Hernandez does play, the chances that he’ll truly be Hernandez seem minimal. Instead, as the Boston Globe’s Greg Bedard reported yesterday, he’ll be some rehabbing imposter, toying with our emotions while chillin’ on the sideline, and doing little else throughout the game.
Deliver the tears, Bedard:
Hernandez’s role is to be determined based on how he feels on Sunday, but it’s likely to be in a limited role. The Patriots prefer to slowly reintegrate players coming off major injuries in a platoon-type role.
It could be a situation where Hernandez only plays 15-20 plays to stay on an upward track in his rehab. But knowing Hernandez, he will likely try to push it. He came back quickly — probably a little too quickly — from his MCL sprain last year.
Just say no.