25 Fantasy-Relevant Training Camp Injuries to Keep an Eye On *UPDATED 9/5/16
Projection: Starts Week 4. Bell’s suspension got reduced by one game, so he will be ready to roll Week 4 when the Steelers take on the Chiefs. Bell has looked good in preseason action, so those who are willing to take a chance on him in drafts with a backup plan to draft DeAngelo Williams later could reap the benefits as soon as he comes back.
Projection: Misses first 2-3 games of season. This has definitely been a surprise to hear, but it’s not uncommon for the recovery process to take a little longer as an athlete ages. Although it doesn’t sound like he experienced a setback of any sort, the fact that this came on pretty abruptly makes me question as to whether or not there's something else maybe we're not hearing yet. I mentioned on twitter that the Chiefs ability to wait on Charles' recovery is more about their depth at the position than Charles’ lack of progress. It sounds like Charles’ usage could be similar to Todd Gurley’s workload last year, where the Rams sat Gurley the first few games until he was ready. The key here is Gurley’s volume increased pretty rapidly as soon as he started playing, so my guess is that Charles should be in the same position. If Charles continues to fall in drafts, then he could possible provide some good value later in the season as I believe he'll regain his feature back status, but you need to make sure you have Spence Ware as a handcuff just in case.
Projection: Starts Week 1. Foster’s recovery from an Achilles rupture has gone as smooth as anyone could’ve imagined, to the point where it looks like he’ll play heavy snaps for the Dolphins. Foster’s talent has never been questioned, it’s more his durability of late that has really made it a risky proposition to invest in him. Foster will likely have a lot of good weeks, but there’s always that lingering question as to whether or not he can stay healthy. Make sure you have a backup plan if you have Foster on your radar.
Projection: Starts Week 1. Rawls carried the ball twice in the Seahawks final preseason game and although it’s not much, it’s still encouraging to see that the Seahawks felt comfortable enough to get Rawls some carries. There will probably be some ramp up in his workload towards the start of the season as to see how his ankle cooperates, but if he’s healthy, Rawls has every opportunity to be the premiere back in an offense that looks to score a lot of points this year.
Projection: Starts Week 1. With Dion Lewis out of the picture for at least the first 6 games and possibly longer, Blount’s role is clear as the early down back and goal line back for a top lined offense when Tom Brady returns. Even until then, the Patriots could rely on Blount even more earlier in the season with Jimmy Garrapolo under center.
Projection: Starts Week 1. There were some concerns I had about Stewart’s foot heading into training camp, but he avoided the active/PUP and saw some preseason action which is encouraging. I would draft him like you normally would.
Projection: Out at least until after the Patriots Week 9 bye, potentially longer. The fact that we still don’t know what type of procedure Lewis had is why this is very difficult to project, and to be honest we still might not get an idea of what was performed until we’re into the regular season. Lewis should not be drafted in regular formats unless you have a deep bench or an IR slot. We'll update his status once we get any ideas of what surgery he had.
Knee Microfracture Surgery
Projection: Starts Week 1. Gordon has looked good so far in preseason action, and if he can carry over what he’s shown this preseason, he could be in for a season that people were expecting last year. Danny Woodhead will continue to get his touches, but it’s not out of the realm to think Gordon can be the running back we were expecting last year.
Projection: Starts on reserve/NFI list, missing at least 6 games, possibly longer. The latest report on McFadden is that he might not ever be able to regain his ability to fully straighten his arm due to the injury he sustained in June. It sounds like McFadden's injury is much more serious than we thought, especially considering he's not able to fully regain his elbow range of motion yet. Although regaining full range of motion in a joint is important for long term health, he should still be able to play. There's still a chance that McFadden is activated from the NFI list after six games, but until we get more information, Alfred Morris is clearly the handcuff to have for Ezekiel Elliot.
Lumbar Compression Fracture
Projection: Returns either in Week 6, or in Week 8 when Cowboys return from Week 7 bye. The Cowboys do not plan on putting Romo on the PUP to start the season, which suggests that they are feeling good about his progression so far after sustaining an L1 compression fracture just a few weeks ago. I still don't think Romo comes back anytime earlier than Week 6, as he'll only be 8 weeks removed from the injury at that time and will be still working to regain strength and stability around the injured area. Best case scenario would be Week 8, where he would have 10 weeks to return from the injury, and would return against a division rival in the Eagles. What to expect from Romo when he does return is anyone's guess, so if you have Dak Prescott, I wouldn't cut bait when Romo returns.
Projection: Starts Week 1. Flacco’s rehab has gone very smoothly and there was never really any question that he would be ready for Week 1 against the Bills. Flacco has a bunch of talent on the offensive side of the ball, and with Marc Trestman in his second year with the Ravens, Flacco has some sneaky upside.
Projection: Starts Week 1. Nothing to see here, Rodgers is just fine.
Projection: Ready Week 1. Kaepernick has been playing with minimal limitations it seems so far, but Coach Kelly still seems to think that he still isn’t 100%. Regardless, Kaepernick will be backing up Blaine Gabbert to start the season which should give him plenty of opportunity to get healthy barring an injury to Gabbert.
Projection: Starts Week 1. In his last season, there wasn’t really any question as to whether or not he would be playing, it’s just a matter of how effective he’ll be. The Ravens WR situation is still one to sort out, but Flacco trusts Smith’s ability to get open and deliver when needed. He might not play as many snaps as he did last year before he got hurt, but then again you never know with him.
ACL Reconstruction/Patellar Tendinitis
Projection: Starts Week 1. Coach McCarthy declared Nelson 100% and will be used often in their Week 1 match up against Jacksonville. Keep an eye on Nelson as the season progresses to make sure he doesn’t pop up on the injury report with the tendinitis that he has been bothered by at the start of training camp.
Projection: Starts Week 1. Benjamin has had some questions about his conditioning after having offseason ACL reconstruction, but conditioning is something that he’s struggled with in the past as well. Benjamin should be able to solidify himself as a top option for Cam Newton and could produce solid WR2 numbers with upside.
Projection: Starts Week 1. Watkins hasn’t had any setbacks in his recovery from offseason foot surgery, which is something that is always a concern with a Jones fracture. Just because Watkins is currently healthy doesn’t mean he’s in the clear, as he really hasn’t used his foot at game speed, which is always different. He remains a true high-risk, high-reward player that if healthy, can be a big producer in an offense that needs him to stay on the field.
Projection: Starts Week 1. Dez has looked good in preseason action, and coincidentally he’s looked good with Dak Prescott throwing him the ball. Dez seems to have fully recovered from his foot injuries and seems ready to regain elite WR status.
Projection: Starts Week 1. Edelman had a little hiccup when he left practice in early August, but it appears it was nothing serious. He will continue to be a big part of the Patriots offense, and if he’s able to avoid any setbacks or issues with his surgically repaired foot, then he should be able to produce as you normally would expect him to.
Projection: Ready Week 1. After dealing with a myriad of injuries since he was drafted by the Ravens last year, Perriman finally saw some game action in the last preseason game. The more important part is that he came out of the game unscathed and he seems to be the healthiest he’s been in quite some time. The Ravens WR situation is muddled, so Perriman might not see a ton of snaps early in the season, but there’s a good chance that he works his way into the rotation to showcase his talent. I believe he’ll be starting at some point this year.
Patellar Tendon Repair
Projection: Ready Week 1. Coach Carroll seems confident that Graham will be available Week 1, so until that changes, I’m going to expect Graham to be active. Active is very different than starting, so there’s no guarantee that even if he’s active that he’ll play significant snaps. I’ve said all along that I expect Graham to be eased into his role as he recovers from patellar tendon surgery, and it seems that the Seahawks are doing everything they can to make sure he’s able to play and not have any setbacks.
Projection: Starts season on the PUP. No one really knows if he was put on the PUP because of his ankle or because of his lingering headaches, but regardless he’ll miss at least six games to start the season. If and when he returns, his lack of reps due to the injuries hurts his ability to potentially make an immediate impact. Jesse James will open up the year as the Steelers starting TE. He's off my radar at this point until we hear some progress.
Ankle Stabilization Surgery
Projection: Misses first 3-4 games of the season. Eifert has been jogging and doing agility drills as he recovers from ankle surgery that he had at the end of May. Eifert seems to be right on schedule, but he’s still a few weeks away from making a return. The Bengals will likely be careful so I wouldn’t expect Eifert back until Week 4 at the earliest.
Projection: Starts Week 1. Cook looked to be on the same page as Aaron Rodgers in the short time they spent together on the field in the Packers’ third preseason game. He looks to be healthy as the ankle didn’t look to be too limiting. Cook has always had potential, let’s see if that materializes with the Packers as they’ve been looking for a TE replacement since Jermichael Finley left.
Projection: Ready Week 1. Pitta had been out basically all preseason due to a fracture in his finger from a fight during training camp. He recently resumed practicing and made the Ravens final 53 man roster, so barring any setbacks, he should be in line to see immediate snaps. Crockett Gilmore is currently the Ravens starter after Ben Watson went down with a ruptured Achilles tendon, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Pitta makes an immediate impact as one of Joe Flacco’s favorite targets.