Writing this column each Monday, I feel a bit like a vulture, but so be it. As fantasy owners, it's our duty to pick through the carnage the weekend has wrought. This week, though, the carnage is particularly gruesome from a fantasy perspective.
For the first time all season, we've got some serious stars on the list below. Guys who went in the first and second rounds of your fantasy draft. Guys on whom you're relying to take you to your league's championship. Now is the time to act, people. Don't get overcautious. Grab your injured stars' handcuffs. Get your hurt studs out of your lineup. Think about trading away depth at a different position to get help. We're nearing the halfway mark of the fantasy regular season. This is no time for the feint-of-heart.
On to the injuries:
Daunte Culpepper, Mia – The Miami Herald reports the Culpepper and Dolphins coach Nick Saban got into a shouting match during Friday's practice over whether or not Culpepper would play in New England on Sunday. He didn't. The nominal reason 'Pep didn't go was because of a right shoulder injury, but something smells fishy here. It sounds to me as though Joey Harrington's going to get another chance regardless of Culpepper's health.
Larry Johnson, KC – The No. 1 pick in a lot of drafts had a scary-looking run-in with Antrel Rolle at the end of Sunday's game. After breaking a game-winning screen from Damon Huard into a 78-yard gain to set up the eventual winning field goal, Johnson was tackled by the facemask rather viciously, wrenching his neck in a direction that human beings shouldn't experience. Johnson was on the ground for five minutes, and then left the game, and was seen icing his neck on the sidelines in the contest's final minutes. It was a nasty injury, but the Kansas City Star reports that Johnson talked with reporters after the game. He'll have an MRI on Monday.
Ahman Green, GB – If it's any consolation to all you fantasy owners out there who believed Green Bay and left Green in your starting lineup, the Packers say they expected Green to be able to play through his hamstring injury right up until game time. Yeah, I didn't think it would be much consolation. Anyway, Green didn't play at all, and Vernand Morency choked away the first shot at replacing him. Noah Herron was the primary beneficiary. Considering the Packers have a bye next week, Green will probably be fine. Until his next injury.
DeAngelo Williams, Car – His first carry of the game came with just five minutes left in the second quarter, which was bad enough. Even worse was the fact that Williams badly sprained his ankle on that carry, and needed to be helped off the field. He didn't return. The Charlotte Observer reports that the Panthers think it's a bad sprain; at this point, it would seem unlikely that Williams would be able to play next week.
Brad Hoover, Car – The Panthers' fullback joined backfield-mate Williams on the sideline with a bad right hamstring.
Kevin Jones, Det – Jones was flattened on Detroit's second-to-last play of the game, and suffered a concussion.
Larry Fitzgerald, Ari – Oh, boy. This could be a big one. One of the league's absolute best players (and one of my favorite players to boot) told the Arizona Republic that he felt his "hamstring pop," and that he "couldn't even straighten my leg out." He didn't return, and it sounds like this will be a multiple-week injury.
Roy Williams, Det – Williams torpedoed a lot of fantasy hopes this week when he went down with a left shoulder injury in the first quarter of Sunday's game. He told the Detroit Free Press that he had "flashbacks" to Charles Rogers's two broken collarbones, but the Free Press says, "this doesn't look that bad." It remains to be seen if he'll miss time.
Brandon Stokley, Ind – Hopefully you're not relying on much from "The Stoke" this year. He can't stay healthy. After seeing the most action he's seen in 2006, Stokley suffered a sprained knee in the fourth quarter of Indy's game against the Titans. He's due for an MRI on Monday.
Dennis Northcutt, Cle – Northcutt contributed mightily to the Browns' defeat in Carolina by inexplicably popping up a screen pass from Charlie Frye, and allowing Carolina's Richard Marshall to pick off what will no doubt be the easiest interception of his life, and return it for a TD. Later in the game, Northcutt injured his ribs, and didn't return.
Marty Booker, Mia – Booker was a primary target of Joey Harrington throughout the first half of the Dolphins game in New England, but landed awkwardly on one attempted grab and badly wrenched his shoulder. He didn't return, and was seen wearing a sling in the Miami locker room after the game.
Dante Hall, KC – Hall suffered a hip injury during the first half, and couldn't return to field punts or kicks thereafter. He'll be evaluated further on Monday.
Willie Reid, Pit – Reid got to play in his first NFL game on Sunday night as the Steelers' new punt and kick returner. Unfortunately, two returns into his big-league career, the Florida State product badly sprained his foot and didn't return.
Jeremy Shockey, NYG – The loud-mouthed one was reportedly limping badly around the locker room on Sunday with a damaged foot. Shockey told the New York Post he's fine, but the newspaper reported that Shockey would undergo X-rays to figure out what's wrong.
Adam Vinatieri, Ind – Do I love creating a special "Kickers" heading in this column, just for Vinatieri? You know I do. Anyway, yeah, so Automatic Adam flaked on his owners again this week; after claiming he was fine to play all week, he suddenly couldn't go because of his bad groin on Sunday morning.
Damien Woody, Det – Woody suffered a foot injury in the Lions' first series (on the same play as they lost Williams). He didn't return.
Jason Spitz, GB – The Green Bay Press-Gazette reports that Spitz vomited before the Packers' game against the Rams, and then felt very bad in the first half, and had to be taken out and sent to the hospital with an "undisclosed stomach ailment."
Shaun Cody, Det – The second-year man out of USC was lost to Detroit in the second quarter with a dislocated toe. Shaun Rogers, Cody's running mate in the interior of the Lions' defense, also left the game with a shoulder injury, but was able to return.
Warren Sapp, Oak – Sapp hurt his knee and left the Raiders' game against the 49ers on Sunday, but was interviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle and didn't appear to be hurt too badly.
Cullen Jenkins, GB – Jenkins hurt his ankle in the second quarter of the Rams game and had to be carted to the locker room.
John McCargo, Buf – The rookie first-rounder is a defensive-line reserve, but played enough in Chicago on Sunday to hurt his right leg and be seen (according to BuffaloBills.com) leaving on crutches.
Mike Peterson, Jac – Peterson's knee injury finally looks relatively healed, but the Jags' starting middle linebacker had to leave Sunday's game with the Jets because of a pectoral strain. Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio didn't want to speculate about the injury's severity, and the Jags do have a bye week next week.
Shawn Barber, Phi – Barber suffered a hip pointer in the fourth quarter of Sunday's win over the Giants and didn't return.
Will Witherspoon, StL – The Associated Press reports that Witherspoon left Lambeau Field on Sunday with a leg injury, and didn't return.
James Harrison, Pit – Harrison is the Steelers' top backup at outside linebacker, and suffered a nasty-looking high-ankle sprain on Sunday night against the Chargers. He was carted off the field, and will likely miss significant time.
Paris Lenon, Det – Starting outside linebacker Lenon hurt his neck in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game in Minnesota and didn't return.
Marlin Jackson, Ind – The Colts suffered yet another defensive injury when Jackson was leg-whipped in the first half of Sunday's game. Jackson played in place of Nick Harper in Week 4, but Harper returned from his calf injury on Sunday and made it through the entire game. Still, the Colts are very glad to have their bye week.
Travis Fisher, StL – Fisher, the Rams' starting left corner, strained his groin in the second quarter of Sunday's game against the Packers and didn't return. Considering the starting RCB, Fakhir Brown, missed Sunday's game with an ankle injury, the Rams are getting scarily thin in their secondary.
Roman Harper, NO – The rookie starting strong safety out of the University of Alabama, who has been partly responsible for the Saints' surprisingly good defense so far this year, injured his left knee on Sunday, and didn't return.
Chris Harris, Chi – The man with the sexiest name in the NFL (check out my byline, people) has already lost his starting safety job to rookie Danieal Manning (and reportedly is in a state of danieal over it) got dinged in the quad and didn't return to Sunday's game against Buffalo.