There are certain aspects of the NFL and Fantasy Football which make me perturbed. With Fantasy Football and daily leagues becoming the backbone of the modern game, fans often forget about the complexities surrounding a team on a week to week basis.
One of the most commonly overlooked aspects of the game, which is lost in the world of fake football teams, is the roster. You see, in fantasy football if you want to dump a player and add another, it takes just a series of clicks, drags or emails to get the job done.
That isn't how it works in the real world National Football League.
A perfect example of this was the difficult decision the Pittsburgh Steelers were faced with when they realized second year outside linebacker Bud Dupree was facing surgery to repair an injured groin, or sports hernia, to start the 2016 season.
With Dupree having participated in team activities in the 2016 season, he would not be eligible for the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, but would either be carried on the roster as inactive every week, or placed on injured reserve.
Now, before going any further, it is important to understand how the NFL works their injured reserve system. The team is permitted to allow one player to return to the team after being placed on injured reserve, and, unlike in past years, this designation to return doesn't need to take place at the time of the injury.
Seems like an easy choice with Dupree and moving him to injured reserve, but this is where the injury to cornerback Senquez Golson throws a wrench into the plans. The Steelers second round pick in 2015 was injured during training camp, again, not allowing him to be placed on the PUP list. Most assumed he would wind up on injured reserve, seeing as his Lisfranc injury would need almost 4 months to heal before being able to play again, but if the team put Golson on injured reserve it would end either his or Dupree's season.
While most fans simply state this is an easy decision to make, seeing as Golson hasn't played even a snap of preseason football since being drafted, the Steelers see things differently.
The team has not placed Golson on injured reserve to date, and the oft-injured defensive back was quoted as saying his rehabilitation is going well, and he could return well before most would expect. What does this mean for the team's roster moving forward? It means Golson will be on the team's inactive list on a weekly basis until he is cleared to return to practice, and games, whenever the doctors deem him ready and capable.
Essentially saving a roster spot for an injured player speaks volumes about the player, and most fans would consider it a waste of a valuable spot. However, the team clearly wants Golson back in 2016, and they also want to ensure Dupree will be able to return when he has fully healed from his surgery to repair the hernia in his abdomen. The team let a healthy player like Doran Grant walk, all to keep Golson available for the 2016 season. In Mike Tomlin's weekly press conference Tuesday, he mentioned Golson as being "week-to-week", meaning more about their hope of his return, and not a legitimate timetable for his return in just weeks.
Some of these tough decisions certainly make fans scratch their heads, but at the same time the team is going off not just what the doctors are telling them about specific players, but also by what they think will give them the best possible lineup for Week 1, and the second half of the season.
When looking at it that way, there is a chance the Steelers could have a very different lineup in the latter half of the season, compared to the opening night roster in Week 1. If Golson, Dupree and tight end Ladarius Green are all able to return to the team around Week 8, it could certainly give a boost to a team looking for a stretch run to the postseason.
Only time will tell if and when these players will return to the lineup, and if they will be able to be productive, but the decision making process behind these decisions is far more complicated than meets the eye. I, for one, choose to trust the organization with six Lombardi trophies in their headquarters when it comes to these type of issues.