This NFL season 2017 was bound for an injury-plagued season. Injuries held back no punches this year, the best of the best went down with players like Aaron Rodgers, J.J Watt, Ryan Shazier, and Odell Beckham, just to name a few
In the offseason, we all play the what-if game. So what if I tell you most of these players being hurt this season created big differences in their team’s outcome. The 2017 season was one of the most bizarre seasons in NFL History. This year we had to deal with one of the most politically polarizing seasons I’ve ever seen. The whole Trump vs the NFL with Trump criticizing much of the league kneeling during the National Anthem; Colin Kaepernick effectively being blackballed in the NFL, several cities flooded out delaying bye weeks, and to top it all off, a slew of incredulous injuries amidst its star players.
Aaron Rodgers: Broke his Collarbone in Week 6 of the season during a year he was projected to start his season red hot. Though Huntley did, in fact, pull off a few wins, it was evident the Packers offense wasn’t humming along with ol Hail Mary vigilante himself at the helm. He did manage to come back in Week 15 (though I think he was rushed) and it wasn’t the same offense and Green Bay went without making the playoffs.
J.J Watt: Had a tibial plateau fracture in Week 4 and ended surgery. The Texans defense was not the same and pass rush definitely declined. Not to mention Whitney Mercilus was also down for the Texans with a pectoral injury. Watt has had large chunks of games where he is missing due to injury these past years. These injuries may linger and will need to be watched. Especially if you play IDP Fantasy.
Eric Berry: In the opening game of the season, Eric Berry was doing a fantastic job covering Rob Gronkowski when he tore his Achilles and was out for the whole season. Kansas City secondary never recovered and thus was less effective then when Eric Berry was playing in the lineup. Eric Berry really dominates the secondary and does it in a way that cannot be disputed. Kansas went from being a power Fantasy defense giving up less than 200 yards a game to nearly doubling that. More importantly, Berry was their leading scorer on the defense as well.
Odell Beckham: During the preseason lots of top-tier talent hold out in playing until the games really count. In the 2017 preseason, OBJ was hit in his leg while trying to catch a ball and had to miss the first two games of the real season. In Week 5, playing against the Chargers, OBJ reinjured his same ankle, this time fracturing his ankle in the worst way possible. The Giants pass offense died when receiver after receiver went down. This player demise led the Giants to have a 3-13 season and the 2nd overall draft pick in the upcoming season. The pass offense was nonexistent without having Beckham and even led to a QB battle in New York.
Ezekiel Elliot: Though Elliott didn’t have an injury, he had a court case for domestic violence issue dating back in 2015. He was found guilty and was suspended for 6 games. It really affected the Cowboys season before and after the suspension. Before the suspension, though Elliot was fighting the suspension, he seemed distracted in the middle of games, most notably versus the Denver Broncos. While Zeke was suspended their rushing attack was never as powerful and they were 3-3 with Zeke missing. Though Zeke was able to come back for the last two games of the season, the Cowboys couldn’t seem to swing enough momentum to make the playoffs having finished 9-7.
Deshaun Watson: He had a breakout rookie season that not one NFL analyst could account for. Tom Savage was named the starting QB for the Texans, but was obviously not the answer and was benched in the first game. When Bill O’Brien finally decided to play Deshaun Watson he made an immediate impact for the Texans offense by using his legs to extend plays and keeping his eyes downfield to make big plays. In Week 3 he played against the NE Patriots and threw for 3 TD’s and ran in one himself, in Week 4 versus the Titans he threw for 4 TDs putting up the most point total in the NFL with 57 points, and in Week 5 against the Chiefs, he threw for 5 TDs. In practice he injured himself, tearing his ACL. Texans offense wasn’t able to recover. He finished his rookie season with 19 touchdowns and 8 interceptions thrown for 1,699 yards in only 7 games which is more than Matt Ryan had for the entire season.
Now I have to pose the question if these top tiered players played the full season would the SuperBowl have had the same outcome?
I like to think it would have been different on the NFC side since more star players listed happen to be on the NFC side. Though we may never know as time moves on and the Philadelphia Eagles have been crowned as the World Champions.
Being a Cowboys fan, the Eagles winning makes me sick to my stomach. Though at least it is in our division. I hope Jerry Jones has a definite plan to get our Boys back on top.