Bloodshed, carnage, utter decimation – the injury imp has a score to settle and apparently any and all wide receivers are the intended targets.
Only ONE preseason game into the NFL slate, the fantasy community has lost Michael Crabtree, Percy Harvin, Jeremy Maclin, Jordy Nelson (hopefully for only a game or two max) and now Chargers long-bomber Danario Alexander. According to the Chargers' official site, the wideout, a popular mid-round value pick among fantasy pundits, suffered a torn ACL, ending his 2013 campaign before it began.
Alexander, coming off an unexpected second-half surge, one that ranked him inside the WR top-20 in per game average, was anticipated to build on last year's success. Though his rickety knees were always a concern, his size/speed combination and burgeoning relationship with Philip Rivers were very attractive qualities. Now sidelined yet again, confidence in his ability to stay healthy stands at zero, or on the same plane as teammate Ryan Mathews.
Overall, wide receiver, once thought to be incredibly deep, is thinning rapidly. Ample talent remains, but owners could reach earlier and earlier for reliable options, especially if the relentless demolition continues. ADP data among top-tiered pass catchers could rise markedly over the next few weeks.
However, in a next-man-up league, the door of opportunity swings wide open. As a result of Alexander's absence, Vincent Brown, oft-injured in his own right, and Malcom Floyd receive substantial boosts. The former, already expected to be featured often in Mike McCoy's newly installed dink-and-dunk offense, will now be more than just a short-pattern specialist. Because he's only played 340 career snaps, experience is lacking, but he's a sensational route runner who has flashed big-play ability. Recall two years ago, he averaged a glowing 17.3 yards per catch. If everything comes together a final line around 80-1100-7 is certainly possible. Similar to Golden Tate, his 100-plus ADP (113.0, WR42) will skyrocket in short order. Petrified wood, Antonio Gates, and slippery running back, Danny Woodhead, already a strong candidate for 45-55 receptions, could also benefit from additional targets.
Floyd, meanwhile, will be Rivers' primary downfield weapon. He likely won't suddenly morph into a 1,200-yard, 10-TD monster, but another 55-850-6 campaign is within reach. Keep in mind last year he ranked No. 5 in deep passing, grabbing 57.9-percent of intended passes beyond 20 yards according to Pro Football Focus. He should be considered a fringe WR3 in 12-team leagues, unless the Chargers kick the tires on free agent Brandon Lloyd. That happens, and the ex-Illini could soon return to fantasy respectability.
Despite the void, Rivers remains a viable bounce-back candidate. San Diego's suspect offensive line will need to jell quickly and he must get rid of the ball quicker, but he has enough weapons on roster to deliver high-level QB2 numbers. Remember he's just a year removed from top-10 QB numbers.
The past couple weeks are the bloodiest I can ever remember. Hopefully, the slaughter at WR soon ceases.
Bull rush Brad on Twitter @YahooNoise. Also, check out the Yahoo! Fantasy and Rotoworld crew every Thursday on 'Fantasy Football Live' starting at 6:30 PM ET on NBC Sports Network (Find channel here) and online at Yahoo! Sports (Watch here)