Injuries in the fantasy playoffs are just brutal, aren't they? I mean, you scrimp and save, wheel and deal, cut and acquire all season to get in position for the later rounds of your fantasy tournament, then Steve McNair gets his hand stepped on, and the wheels come off.
Is there a sicker feeling than logging into the box scores at, say, 3 p.m. ET, hoping to see that your fantasy charges have showered themselves in glory, only to discover that Fred Taylor has exactly two carries? Or that Willis McGahee fumbled on Buffalo's fourth offensive play, when he got his bell rung? Or that Javon Walker was only able to follow up his pulse-pounding 54-yard touchdown on Denver's first series with a measly four more catches for 30 more yards, because of a bad shoulder?
Of course, the goose egg is worst of all. Fantasy "experts" (quote marks a must) squawked about Marty Booker all weekend (yours truly included), how he was this season's Patrick Jeffers, how he'd wind up winning some Fantasy Bowls with his scalding play. Yeah, uh, except he hurt his ankle and got his owners zero catches in Buffalo. Doh.
At that point, you just have to chalk it up to karma, and not let it get you down. If you had the right guy in there, and he simply zigged on his knee ligament when he should've zagged on a linebacker, it's not your fault. Don't second-guess yourself. Take up croquet.
Anyway, here were the Week 15 injuries that sent thousands of red-blooded Americans spiraling into despair:
Steve McNair, Bal – McNair killed some fantasy teams this week through no fault of his own; after missing on his first four passes, McNair had his throwing hand inadvertently stepped on by Browns' linebacker Andra Davis, and had to leave the game. The Baltimore Sun reports "McNair was taken to the locker room, where X-rays on the hand were negative. He did suffer a cut on the hand that became aggravated every time he took a snap from center on the sideline." McNair told reporters he thought he'd be able to play next week.
Michael Vick, Atl – Vick had to come out of Atlanta's loss against Dallas on the team's final series because of a strained groin. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Vick told reporters he'd be fine for Week 16, but the paper expects to see Vick on the Falcons' injury report.
Fred Taylor, Jac – Taylor felt his hamstring injury "twinge" after his second carry on Sunday, and didn't return, killing a whole heckuva lot of fantasy owners in the process. He told reporters "I didn't pull it, it was a spasm," but a fat lot of good that's doing Fragile Freddy owners today.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jac – Espionage and intrigue abound about why Jones-Drew had to leave Sunday's loss to Tennessee late. Taylor said Drew was "cramping up." Jones-Drew himself denied he had X-rays, though a reporter saw him entering the X-ray room. The Florida Times-Union reports that Jones-Drew "limped toward the sidelines late in Sunday's game, eventually collapsing before making it all the way off the field."
Willis McGahee, Buf – McGahee was momentarily knocked loopy by a helmet-to-helmet hit from Zach Thomas in Sunday's win over Miami, according to the Buffalo News. McGahee fumbled on the play, which came on Buffalo's first drive, and told the News "that was the hardest hit I've taken since I've been in the NFL." McGahee was able to return, and logged 79 yards on 28 carries.
Thomas Jones, Chi – Jones was questionable going into Sunday's game against Tampa Bay with a sprained ankle, but he started and played quite well, carrying the ball 17 times for 68 yards and a score. Unfortunately, the Chicago Tribune reports that Jones had to come out of the game late with a "strained left side," giving Cedric Benson all of the team's overtime carries.
Kevin Faulk, NE – Faulk, who scored twice for the Patriots on Sunday, was "limping noticeably" in the locker room, according to the Boston Herald. His right leg "was in a long black protective sleeve," and he told reporters "I'm not going to be able to talk today."
Jason Wright, Cle – Wright suffered a twisted knee in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game when Ronnie Prude tackled him. "I don't know why he hit me like that," Wright told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. After the game, Romeo Crennel told reporters he thought the injury was "serious," but Wright seemed to think he'd be all right. He'll undergo an MRI on Monday.
Daimon Shelton, Buf – Shelton was injured while blocking on the second-half kickoff, and didn't return to the game. The Buffalo News reported that Shelton "looked fine after the game."
Montell Owens, Jac – Owens, a special teams player, suffered a "head injury" in the first half of Sunday's loss in Nashville, according to the Florida Times-Union. He didn't return.
Javon Walker, Den – Walker injured his shoulder in the first quarter in Arizona on Sunday, one series after catching a 54-yard touchdown. According to the Denver Post, Walker "received treatment" for his injured shoulder, but was able to return to the game thereafter. Walker received only five targets and made only three short-yardage catches after that, though, so this will be something to keep an eye on. Rookie Brandon Marshall played significant minutes with Walker hurting.
Laveranues Coles, NYJ – Coles had a huge game Sunday in Minnesota, but left the game with 4:53 left after a big hit from Vikings' linebackers Ben Leber and E.J. Henderson. According to the New York Daily News, it was "a sharp blow to his rib and kidney area. Neither Coles nor Mangini divulged any information about the injury. Coles called it a "back shot," adding, "I'm fine. I'm sure coach isn't going to let me out of practice."
Marty Booker, Mia – The red-hot Booker injured his ankle on the first play of the second half in Buffalo on Sunday, according to the Miami Herald, and couldn't return. He was replaced by rookie Derek Hagan.
Joe Jurevicius, Cle – The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Jurevicius had to leave Sunday's game with a concussion after a helmet-to-helmet hit from Baltimore safety Ed Reed. Reed proceeded to say some typically idiotic crap about how it's okay to hit people like that "in our house."
Eric Parker, SD – According to the San Diego Times-Union, Parker suffered a neck injury just before halftime Sunday, and didn't play in the second half. His status will be updated Monday.
Alvis Whitted, Oak – Whitted suffered an injured wrist on Sunday, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, and had to leave the game. His status will be updated Monday.
Corey Bradford, Det – Bradford injured his elbow in Sunday's loss in Green Bay, and according to the Detroit Free Press, Rod Marinelli indicated that the injury "might be serious."
David Martin, GB – Martin, playing in his first game since Week 10, re-injured his ribs in the fourth quarter of Sunday's win against Detroit, and according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette couldn't return.
Stephen Alexander, Den – Alexander aggravated his rib injury in the first half of Sunday's win in Arizona, and didn't play much in the second half. "I could have finished," Alexander told the Denver Post, "but they didn't want to make it any worse." Tony Scheffler appears to have taken over as Denver's primary pass-catching tight end.
Eric Heitmann, SF – Heitmann suffered a broken tibia on Thursday night, and has already undergone season-ending surgery. The Niners' starting center should be ready for '07.
Damion McIntosh, Mia – The Miami Herald reports that McIntosh suffered a bruised forearm on the first play of the second half, and couldn't return. X-rays were negative, according to Nick Saban.
Mike Wahle, Car – Wahle was an unexpected scratch, according to the Charlotte Observer, when he re-aggravated a shoulder injury that's been bothering him for weeks in pre-game warm-ups.
Kelly Butler, Cle – Butler, a substitute who's replaced Ryan Tucker since Tucker was placed on the non-football injury list, had X-rays on his left foot or ankle, and left the stadium Sunday in a walking boot, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Mike Rucker, Car – According to the Charlotte Observer, Rucker tore the MCL in his left knee on the first play of the third quarter. His season is probably over. More tests will be done on Monday to determine if Rucker tore his ACL as well.
John Abraham, Atl – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Abraham had to leave the first quarter of Saturday night's game against Dallas with a thumb injury, and though he did return in the second half, he's scheduled to undergo surgery on the thumb this week. The paper does report that Abraham expects to be able to play with the injury in Week 16.
Mike Vrabel, NE – The Boston Herald reports that Vrabel was "limping in the locker room" after New England's easy win over Houston, and that his right ankle was "noticeably swollen." Vrabel wouldn't talk to reporters.
Andra Davis, Cle – After stepping on McNair's throwing hand, Davis himself had to leave the game, with a concussion.
Randall Godfrey, SD – Godfrey injured his hamstring in Sunday night's game against Kansas City, and didn't return. Godfrey registered two sacks before he left.
Ernie Sims, Det – Rookie first-rounder Sims injured his shoulder in the third quarter of Sunday's loss to Green Bay; the Detroit Free Press reports that Rod Marinelli said he wasn't sure of the injury's extent.
Peter Sirmon, Ten – The Nashville Tennessean reports that Sirmon left Sunday's win over Jacksonville early in the game with a "knee strain," and didn't return.
Chad Brown, Pit – The ancient mariner of linebackers suffered a "severe left knee injury," according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Bill Cowher told the paper that "it doesn't look good," and that "we'll probably have to make some moves there." The implication is that Brown is out for the year.
Samari Rolle, Bal – Rolle was down on the turf for several minutes, according to the Baltimore Sun, after suffering a shoulder sprain and neck stinger while tackling Braylon Edwards after Edwards torched Rolle for a 28-yard gain down to the Baltimore 3. Rolle didn't return, but according to the Sun, his injury "isn't considered serious."
Fabian Washington, Oak – Washington injured a shoulder early in the third quarter of Sunday's home loss to the Rams and didn't return, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Will James, Phi – The artist formerly known as Will Peterson was slated to be the Eagles' third corner against New York on Sunday, but according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, he "suffer(ed) a calf injury while warming up." He didn't play.
Ryan Clark, Pit – According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Clark, who was already replaced in the Steelers' starting lineup by rookie Anthony Smith, aggravated his groin injury Sunday in a reserve role.
Jacques Reeves, Dal – The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that Reeves dislocated his elbow in Saturday night's win over Atlanta.