Frank Hughes, of the Tacoma News Tribune, reports Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Bobby Engram (shoulder) is out six to eight weeks with a cracked bone in his shoulder. He suffered the injury during the team's first preseason game Friday, Aug. 8.
It isn't looking like a good year to be a Seattle receiver. Engram, who compiled 94 receptions for 1,147 yards and six touchdowns last year, is the team's clutch third-down option as well as a favorite safety valve for quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. Now, the Seahawks will have to adjust and rely on young, unproven options while Engram is out possibly the first month or more of the season.
The team is already hamstrung at receiver; Deion Branch (knee), the team's No. 1 receiver, is still recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, and his status for the start of the regular season is up in the air.
Receivers Ben Obomanu, Courtney Taylor, Logan Payne, Jordan Kent and Bryan Gilmore were all jockeying for the remaining spots. Obomanu and Taylor appeared to have the inside track according to a source close to the situation, but Engram's injury causes a new wrinkle by opening a starting position that needs filling. Taylor is likely to step into the starting flanker position, which is the most prominent in the Seattle offense, because head coach Mike Holmgren likes his explosiveness. That would likely leave Obomanu to fill out the top three. Taylor, by the way, is also considered injury prone.
Wideout Nate Burleson, who will likely remain at split end, now becomes the most experienced option in the passing game for the foreseeable future, which could be a problem. Burleson hauled in 50 receptions for 694 receiving yard and nine touchdowns last year while starting 12 games. This followed a miserable first year in Seattle, which saw him catch just 18 balls for 192 yards and two scores. Which Burleson will show up this year? With no proven threat opposite of him, can he handle double teams?
Fantasy football participants need to approach this situation cautiously and be prepared to downgrade Hasselbeck along with the remainder of the Seahawks for possible the first six weeks of the season. Even if Engram comes back on the short end of his estimated time out, he will need to get his football legs under him and shake off the rust.
Further complicating the situation is the Seahawks' changing of gears at running back. Julius Jones and Maurice Morris are co-starters at tailback, which adds a volatile nature to an offense trying to find an identity. When you also toss in a rookie tight end in John Carlson as the starter, along with two of their top three wideouts likely out of the picture early, you can see an offense ready to sputter out of the gate.
Hasselbeck is starting to appear more like a low-end No. 1 fantasy football option in larger leagues. However, with this new development, he may be a better option as your backup to start the season. Burleson came in ranked by KFFL as a mid-range No. 3 fantasy football receiver. He is being selected near the end of the 11th round in a standard 12-team league, on average, but look for that to increase with Engram out. We have seen him flop under pressure before, and he may not be ready to raise his game as the default No. 1. Fantasy owners should view Burleson as a very risky, weak No. 2 or strong No. 3 with upside, especially early in the season.
Engram, who had an average draft position of about the ninth round in a standard 12-team league, will definitely fall a few extra rounds now in fantasy football drafts. Consider him as a fourth receiver on draft day, and he could be a solid value once he returns to health, which is projected to be roughly Week 5. It is possible the team places a harness on him and ushers him out earlier, should he feel up to it.
Consider Obomanu and Taylor, who have never started a game in the NFL, high-risk options with potentially moderate reward near the final rounds of your draft as flier picks. If neither pans out, they will be easy waiver wire drop material at the top of the season. Payne and Kent both have potential, but neither should be drafted at this time.
About Ryan R. Bonini
Founding KFFL in 1996, Bonini now serves as VP of Fantasy Sports Solutions for USA
TODAY SPORTS, KFFL's parent company. Bonini was named 2009 Fantasy Football Writer
of the Year by the FSWA,
received honors with the Best Fantasy Football Series in '10 and was named into their Hall of Fame in '13.
His work has been found in USA TODAY Sports, Yahoo!
Sports, FOX Sports, CBS Sports, NFL.com, and many others. He has also been featured
on numerous radio programs around the country. Bonini is a member of the PFWA,
FSWA and FSTA.
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