Injury Rundown: Fallen Stars

This Monday injury thing is just no fun to write. It's particularly unpleasant when a marquee player suffers an injury that puts his livelihood in jeopardy, as happened on Sunday.

Let's deal with the worst news first …

Carnell Williams, torn patellar tendon
As Jason Cole reported on Sunday night, this injury could be career-threatening. "The patellar tendon helps hold the kneecap in place," wrote Jason. "An injury to the tendon can have significant impact on an athlete's ability to jump or accelerate, even after it heals following surgery."

When Cadillac went down, it clearly looked like a season-ender. He landed with his right leg underneath him, bending unnaturally, then clutched his knee. Terrible news for a back who'd gotten off to a successful start (208 yards rushing, three TD). He'll be replaced by the combined efforts of Michael Pittman and Earnest Graham. Expect Pittman to get more yards and receptions, while Graham takes more of the goal-line touches. Both players entered Week 4 available in 98 percent of Yahoo! leagues. If I'm adding just one, it's Pittman.

LaMont Jordan, back
Jordan was just beginning another huge fantasy day (15 carries, 74 yards) when he aggravated his already-aching back. Don't be so sure the bye week will allow enough time for Jordan to recover, either. Justin Fargas entered in relief of Jordan, and he's probably still running. Fargas finished with 179 yards and prompted Joey Porter to tell the Oakland Tribune, "It's pretty pathetic when the backup running back enters the game and has his best day against you."

Yeah, no kidding. Dominic Rhodes returns from exile in Week 6. He and Fargas are both widely available in Yahoo! leagues.

Joseph Addai, shoulder
Speaking of "pathetic when the backup running back blah-blah-blah," Kenton Keith ran for 80 yards in 10 carries on Sunday in relief of Addai. According to the Indianapolis Star, Addai could have returned to the game if necessary. So he seems fine for Week 5. The injury is being called a bruised shoulder.

Marvin Harrison, knee
This unspecified injury – it was called a "bruise" during the game, but that might just be a placeholder – occurred in the first half while Harrison was run-blocking. He caught only one pass for eight yards before his day ended. No one replaces Marvin Harrison, fantasy-wise, so this is one to fret over. The Colts offered no useful updates on Harrison immediately after the game. They've offered nothing too encouraging so far on Monday, either. Expect missed practices, rumors, and informed and/or baseless speculation ahead.

Alex Smith, separated shoulder
Depending on the severity of the separation, we're talking either weeks or months here. Trent Dilfer replaced Smith, and … well, this is what Dilfer told the San Jose Mercury News: "Today, our defense and special teams made some great stops and captured momentum, and I immediately lost momentum for us." You can't really add Trent Dilfer, not with Baltimore up next in Week 5. Smith becomes droppable in any 10- or 12-team league.

Laurence Maroney, groin
Bill Belichick would rather loofa Eric Mangini slowly in a candlelit tub than reveal injury information. Everyone is questionable. Except Tom Brady, who's probable. Always.

There's been some worry about Maroney's injury leading up to the Monday night game, and the best we can say is that he hasn't been ruled out yet. This would seem to benefit Sammy Morris owners. Morris is definitely worth playing. The most likely scenario here would seem to be that Maroney plays and (again) disappoints. But here's hoping that's not the case.

Todd Heap, hamstring
The Baltimore Sun reports that Heap injured his hamstring near the end of the third quarter, and that his status for Week 5 is in doubt. Bo Scaife (3.1 percent owned) and Marcedes Lewis (1.3) can begin warming up in the bullpen for Heap's fantasy owners.

Jake Delhomme, elbow
Well, David Carr helped no one in Week 4. That wasn't really a big shock. If Delhomme can't recover from the ambiguous elbow injury – John Fox says he just needs rehab, other team spokesmen seem noncommittal – it's going to affect Steve Smith. Ronde Barber told the Charlotte Observer, "We didn't do anything to (Smith). He just wasn't getting his opportunities." Smith didn't speak with reporters after the Week 4 loss. If you can't say anything nice, et cetera …

St. Louis Rams offense, acute chronic immobility
Here's the way Michael Silver put it today: "In our fantasy-obsessed football universe … the unheralded fatties are the key to everything."

That's also true in circuses. And in college, for various reasons. But Silver's dead-on right, it's totally true in football. Fantasy owners tend to forget that on basically every play in the NFL, there are several 300-pound humans actively fighting. Winning and losing those fights is everything, and the Rams offensive line is broken right now. The short-term outlook for Marc Bulger (ribs) and every other skill position player for St. Louis is poor. You need alternatives, and soon.