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Injuries played key role in 2011 fantasy season

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - I don't have to tell fantasy owners who drafted Jamaal Charles in the top-three how much injuries effected this season's fantasy results, but the Chiefs running back and his owners weren't the only ones lament a high draft choice gone bad.

If we look at the preseason top-12 players courtesy of fantasyfootballnerd.com, five of the first round picks suffered significant injuries and loss of production. Obviously we start with Charles, ranked No.3, who attempted just 12 rushes this season before being knocked out in Week 2. Most fantasy owners can't absorb the loss of their first-round draft choice that early in the year and still be competitive, particularly when its a running back. It's one of the reasons my "big money" league" elected to go to a two-half system, thus allowing owners a second chance at the re-draft in Week 9.

Next was the injury to the No.1 receiver off the board - Andre Johnson of the Houston Texans. Johnson (ranked No.9), who earlier in his career had been known to be injury prone, had shaken off the label by playing in 16 games in both 2008 and 2009. He did miss three games last year, but played through pain in many others, so wasn't thought of as a high-risk selection back in August.

Unfortunately, this just wasn't Johnson's year. He suffered a right hamstring injury in Week 4 against Pittsburgh which required surgery and he didn't play again until Week 12. He played a full game against Jacksonville (just 2-22-0) and then was about to break out with one of his huge games when he suffered another hamstring pull and hasn't been back on the field since then.

Next up was No.11 on the list and one of last year's biggest surprises - Darren McFadden. The Raiders' tailback had set career highs in rushing yards (1,157), receiving yards (507) and touchdowns (10) last season and had posted two 50+ points games last year. He injured himself in Week 7 and hasn't returned as backup, and hopefully your handcuff, Michael Bush has ably manned the position in his absence.

The last pick of the first round, No.12, was quarterback Michael Vick. Vick, who some "experts" had said should be picked as high as No.1 overall, had a couple of good games, but never came close to last year's production. He also missed three games with a pair of broken ribs. He did return in the fantasy playoffs, but he wasn't the same guy as last year. For example, in 2010 he ran the ball into the endzone nine times, but this season he did it just once, in Week 15.

Finally, we look to the No.1 overall pick - Minnesota's Adrian Peterson. Peterson was having another solid season and even becoming a part of the Vikings passing game, when he suffered an ankle injury that kept him out of the final two weeks of the fantasy regular season and the first round of the playoffs.

The story here was that he did return to the field in Week 15, Round 2 of the playoffs, but was ineffective and eventually gave way to backup Toby Gerhart who outperformed him. Worse, he returned for "championship week" saying he was close to 100-percent and suffered an ACL and MCL injury in the first half. So fantasy owners who installed him into their lineup were disappointed for a second consecutive week.

The injury will likely take 8-10 months to recover which will make for interesting off-season strategy since he isn't likely to be ready to go in Week 1.

And that was just the first round.

So congratulations to all those who won their league's championship this weekend and likely avoided these guys. To those who suffered devastating injuries which ruined their season - there's always next year.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.


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