ESPNews reports Denver Broncos running back Selvin Young (groin) and tight end Tony Scheffler (groin) will not play in the team's Week 6 game.
This is certainly not good news for an offense that has put up some impressive numbers this season.
Young came out of nowhere last season to become one of the better running backs in fantasy football. Coming into this season, he was valued as a low-end No. 3 running back. There were concerns because he was considered injury prone, had a lick of experience as a feature back and was the lead for a team that has used multiple running backs in recent seasons.
Despite sharing carries with other running backs, Young has put up decent numbers through five games this season. He has rushed for 266 yards and one touchdown on 47 carries and leads the team in both categories. He also leads the team with a 5.7-yard average per rush. He has not been much of a factor through the air, catching only three passes for 16 yards. His season high in carries is 11, and in rushing yards, 78; these are not ideal numbers for a fantasy back. Another negative is that he has not been in the end zone since Week 1.
It appears Young's injury is a short-term one, because head coach Mike Shanahan said the Broncos' athletic trainer believes Young will be able to play in the team's Week 7 game. Fantasy owners should just put Young on the bench and wait to see if he is available Week 7. With the injury to Young, the Broncos' running back rotation will now consist mostly of running backs Andre Hall and Michael Pittman.
Hall has played in every game this season, but his high in carries is only 10. He has rushed for 144 yards on 32 carries this season, but his workload should increase in the short term.
The Broncos have used Pittman mostly as a short-yardage and goal line runner; he has thrived in that role. He has rushed for 119 yards and four touchdowns on 29 carries. Shanahan commented on how impressive he felt Pittman was in the team's Week 5 contest, although it wasn't necessarily a statement made to imply that Pittman would get more work. With the injury to Young, it's no longer a possibility but a near certainty.
Both of these players, especially Pittman given his penchant for scoring, should be picked up in fantasy leagues if they are available. Those in need of a body as third back or flex play this week could do worse than Hall. Both will likely see more carries in the team's Week 6 game. Denver's Week 6 opponent, the Jacksonville Jaguars, has allowed 140.8 total yards and one total touchdown per game to running backs in the past four weeks.
If this injury lingers, fantasy owners should keep in mind that running back Ryan Torain (elbow) could be back by Week 9, following Denver's bye week. Shanahan was extremely high on the rookie entering camp. He could be a significant factor upon his return, especially if Young's injury is more serious, and even if not. Torain is an intriguing pickup, at least in deep leagues, right now.
Scheffler has 16 receptions for 259 yards and two touchdowns in five games. He is the team's third leading receiver. Denver has tight ends Daniel Graham and Nate Jackson to pick up the slack while Scheffler is out of the lineup, though.
Graham was the target of four plays, the same number as Scheffler, this past Sunday. In fact, this season Graham has received only six fewer targets than Scheffler's 23; the younger tight end has just been able to do more with his. Graham has a mere seven receptions for 82 yards this year. Jackson has been targeted six times in fives games. He has four receptions for 11 yards and a score.
The Broncos have been high on Jackson, a converted wide receiver, for the past couple of years, but a projected increased role by the coaching staff has never materialized. The coaches still remain confident that he can contribute. Despite that fact, the safer player to acquire of the two is Graham, given the fact that he's on the field often as a blocker anyway and has garnered so many targets already. Neither tight end is recommended as a fantasy starter this week, regardless, except in very deep leagues. The Jaguars have allowed 4.5 receptions, 49.5 yards and 0.25 touchdowns per game to the position in the past four weeks.
About Tim Piotrowski
Piotrowski has been a Hot Off the Wire analyst since 2007.
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