Oakland Raiders v San Diego Chargers

By: Luke Grilli (@lgrilli88)

Each season there are devastating training camp and preseason injuries. 2013 has been no different. From early injuries to players like Percy Harvin and Michael Crabtree, to yesterdays injury to Malcolm Floyd, the motto has never been truer…”next man up.” Here are a few players that have taken advantage of injuries to their teammates or vacant positions, and thus on your fantasy radar.

Vincent Brown and Keenan Allen- San Diego Chargers WR
2012 second half hero and made of paper mache WR Danario Alexander was hoping for a large role in 2013. Unfortunately for him, he will be adding yet another shredded ACL to his laundry list of injuries. On top of that, 2012 Chargers leading receiver Malcolm Floyd went down with what some have feared as a torn ACL as well. (At time of this being published, Floyd was suffering from a knee strain and will get a 2nd opinion from Dr. James Andrews). With these knee injuries, 3rd year WR Vincent Brown is now relegated to WR1 status in San Diego, while rookie Keenan Allen will line up across from him as the WR2.

In 2012, Brown was a  hot sleeper, but was unfortunately lost for the whole season due to a broken ankle suffered in a pre season game. It seems like 2013 will be the year that he finally breaks out. Considering that Philip Rivers is no slouch of a QB and there aren’t many other players pining for catches, I think a 60 catch 900-1000 yard and 6 TD season is a real possibility.

Keenan Allen is an intriguing prospect. He was regarded by many as one of the top receivers in the 2013 draft class, but saw his draft stock fall due to a PCL injury. Picked in the 3rd round, Allen has a real chance to shine due to the injuries in San Diego. Seeing that rookie receivers rarely dominate in their first season, I would temper expectations. Starting the season as San Diego’s WR, and possibly being passed by Malcolm Floyd if the injury isn’t devastating, I think Keenan Allen could have a 40 catch 700 yard and 5 TD season.

Zach Sudfeld and Kenbrell Thompkins– TE and WR New England Patriots

A few weeks ago, I discussed the New England Patriots pass catching options. Since then, my eyes have been opened a little bit more. We all know the issues the Patriots faced in the off season. Injuries, cuts and incarcerations have left Tom Brady with plenty of new faces to throw to. Two undrafted free agents have really stood out and played a significant role in the Patriots’ first preseason game.

Zach Sudfeld is no Rob Gronkowski, hell he may not even be a Kevin Boss, but it looks like he will be catching the ball from Tom Brady in the near future. That alone gets fantasy owners excited. Gronk could be on the shelf for the first six weeks of the season if left on the PUP list. If that’s the case, Sudfeld could be the new starting Tight End for the Patriots. I would expect an early season stat line where he teeters as a TE1/TE2, but remember…he is a rookie…that went undrafted. Take a chance, but don’t give up the farm to grab him.

Another virtual unknown has outplayed his rookie counterparts. Kenbrell Thompkins has impressed so much in camp, that he seems to have passed Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce as the WR lining up across from Danny Amendola and/or Julian Edelman. Thompkins showed a solid rapport with Tom Brady on Friday when they played the Eagles. If the chemistry continues, Thompkins could be Brady’s new go to guy, which is always a great thing for fantasy football

Dion Lewis– Running Back Cleveland Browns
I’ll admit it. I am a Trent Richardson owner and the moment free agency opened up, I locked up Montario Hardesty to be my handcuff to Richardson. Fast forward a few weeks and Hardesty is busy hurting his thumb handling a direct snap. To add insult to injury, Dion Lewis had jumped him on the depth chart by that point anyways. After a solid pre season debut, it seems that Lewis is the guy to go after if you are a Trent Richardson owner as well. I still don’t think he is built to be a true every down back, but it seems like if Richardson’s injuries continue to linger, Dion Lewis is the guy to target.

Daniel Thomas- Running Back Miami Dolphins
If you watched 2012’s season of Hard Knocks, then you know Coach Joe Philbin and Co. were not impressed by Daniel Thomas. That idea became even more evident once Reggie Bush left and everyone went wild for Lamar Miller. Miller instantly became the 2013 fantasy break out star even though he didn’t prove much during his  2012 rookie year. It seemed that Miller was destined to 3-down duty, but not so fast. Daniels Thomas has been turning heads in camp with his pass blocking abilities and has even split time with the first team. If Thomas can carve out a role as the 3rd down back or join a Running Back Committee, he turn out to be a much cheaper option than Miller, yet possibly churn out respectable fantasy numbers.

These are a few players that I think have made the most of their opportunities. If you think I have missed anyone, or am totally wrong about anyone, let me know in the comments or on Twitter.