18 Draft-Worthy Fantasy Players With Injury Concerns
I am thrilled to be back for another season with the awesome team here at 4for4 fantasy football. As we start to really rachet up our preparation for drafts and the start of the fantasy football season, we would be remiss to not discuss the main injuries that players are currently dealing with. In past seasons we would break down the injury and discuss whether or not this would be something that would be a concern for the upcoming year. This year we are going to go with a green, yellow, or red light format to determine whether or not the players we discuss have injuries that would warrant some hesitation, or if they are a full go.
This list will be updated throughout the preseason to make sure you are fully prepared and aware of every notable injury and its impact on your drafting. Let's get right into it as the list will only continue to grow as the season approaches.
Todd Gurley, Rams
Chronic Knee Issues
Yellow Light - At the end of last season and into the playoffs, Gurley did not look like the same player who totaled 21 touchdowns over the span of the year. This offseason has only raised more concerns over Gurley's knee issues and whether or not his workload is going to be scaled back. While more chronic, persistent issues can be troublesome to predict, even if they cut back Gurley's workload, I still believe he'll produce at a very high level. For those who are willing to take the risk, he could be a steal as he's going significantly later than he has in the past. As long as you account for the possibility that his workload won't be near what it was but still has big upside in the snaps he does play, then he's worth taking!
Yellow Light - Luck was seen warming up before the Colts last preseason game, so that is the most encouraging sign we've seen from Luck since he's been dealing with this ankle/calf issue. If you want more information on what we think Luck is dealing with, you can check out a more detailed article here. There are still many obstacles Luck will need to go through to get the green light before Week 1, but he is trending in the right direction.
Yellow Light - Any foot or ankle issue is always a concern this close to the regular season. In this case, Cooper is dealing with a heel issue, which is directly affecting his ability to run and put pressure through that foot without discomfort. The thing that is concerning about this injury, is that heel/foot issues have a tendency to hang around and normally don't get better as the season progresses. The hope is Cooper can get this issue under control now, but I'd have some reservations about drafting him if he doesn't see any preseason action.
Yellow Light - Although Allen has been pretty healthy over the past two seasons, let's not forget that we're not far removed from when he missed 22 games in 2015 and 2016. Allen was also dealing with knee issues earlier during training camp, so this ankle injury has me a little more concerned. There is no mention as to whether or not this injury is a high ankle sprain, so assuming it is just a garden variety sprain, then there's a chance that he could be ready for Week 1. Hopefully, we'll get more updates on his recovery this week, but I would just err on the side of caution if we don't see any progress in his ability to do rehab and more activity over the next week or two.
DK Metcalf, Seahawks
Yellow Light - Having minor knee surgery this close to the season is never a good sign. Although Metcalf is a physical freak, how much cleaning up they do in the knee will determine his ability to get back on the field as soon as possible. While there is optimism that he could be ready for Week 1, I would not assume that he will be and that he might miss the first week or two if things don't go exactly as the Seahwks plan.
A.J. Green, Bengals
Red Light - The fact that Green just had surgery this close to the beginning of the regular season is concerning. Ankle stabilization surgeries normally have a tendency to take longer in terms of recovery than the 6-8 week timetable that is currently being projected. Coach Taylor has stated that Green will miss regular season games, now it's just a matter of how many. I think he'll be able to avoid the PUP list, but even when he does return, he might need a few games to get back up to full speed. I'm sure Green's draft stock will drop based on this news, but this is still something that I would avoid just due to his health issues over the last few years.
Yellow Light - Soft tissue injuries in preseason are always hard to figure out as most teams will rest them until they are fully healthy, but that makes it difficult to determine how healthy they will be before you decide to draft them. There's a good chance Johnson will miss the second preseason game and will continue to be day to day until we see him back out on the practice field.
Green Light - Newton underwent a clean up in his throwing shoulder in January and appears to be on track to be ready for the start of the season. The Panthers are limiting his reps during training camp and he might not see much action during the preseason, but I don't see any reason to think that Newton won't be fully ready once Week 1 rolls around. The fact that the surgery was not as elaborate as they originally thought is always a good sign, as well. Recency bias might depress the QB's draft position, but I think his supporting cast is the best he's had in a while and Newton could outperform his current QB8 ADP.
Yellow Light - Kupp is only eight months removed from ACL reconstruction surgery, and although he's made great progress, fantasy owners should still heir with some caution. As we've seen in the past, players who return from an ACL tear normally take 11-12 months to fully be recovered. While I anticipate Kupp to be ready to start Week 1, there might be some rust as game speed is always different compared to practice and preseason. Continue to keep an eye on how he progresses and just how much the Rams use him during the preseason to truly gauge how fast he's recovering from his knee surgery.
Red Light - McKinnon is experiencing renewed soreness and discomfort in his surgically repaired knee and is going to be shut down until he is able to ramp things back up. The fact that the 49ers took him off the active/PUP list last week now leaves them with a tough situation if he has a lengthy absence. He received a shot in his knee to see if it helps speed up the recovery process, but at this point, he does not look like a lock to be healthy for the start of the season and injured reserved is looking more like a possibility if he doesn't recover quickly.
Red Light - Taylor had surgery immediately after sustaining a Jones fracture in Week 1 of the preseason. Although it is good that they caught the injury early and the surgery happened as soon as possible, we know that recovery timetables from this type of injury and surgery are longer than we like. I wouldn't be overly optimistic on Taylor being ready for the Week 1 of the regular season and I think he's in danger of missing more games. If he does return quickly, I wouldn't expect him to be close to 100%.
Green Light - Reports are that Edelman suffered a broken thumb at the beginning of July and is expected to miss the rest of training camp and likely the preseason as well. The fact that there has been no news on a surgery needed for his thumb is a great sign that he should be close to 100% by the time Week 1 starts. With Rob Gronkowski retired, Edelman should continue to be a pretty safe bet for consistent numbers, especially in PPR formats, with Tom Brady under center.
ACL Tear/Hamstring Strain
Yellow Light - Guice is apparently supposed to get some work in during the Redskins third preseason game, so this is the most encouraging news that we've heard on him in a while. The hope is that if he does play, he's able to come out of the game unscathed which would then likely cause his draft stock to rise. Guice is still a risky proposition as there is a lot of unknown about how he is going to handle coming off ACL reconstruction, but the Redskins have to be excited to get him back on the field.
Red Light - This designation has less to do with the fact that Eifert appears to be trending in the right direction after suffering a broken ankle last year, and more that Eifert has played in only 14 games over the past three seasons. He can be a late-round flier if you are feeling optimistic about Eifert's production, but at this point, especially at the TE position, it doesn't make much sense to take a chance on him.
Yellow Light - Sanders has been participating in a limited fashion during training camp so that is a great sign. Considering that he tore his Achilles in December, his chance to be available for Week 1 of the regular season is pretty much set barring any setbacks. The primary concern that remains to be seen is how effective will Sanders be, as Achilles ruptures are known to limit explosiveness especially only being eight months removed from surgery.
Will Fuller, Texans
Green Light - Fuller will be 11 months removed from ACL reconstruction by the time Week 1 rolls around. He's been participating in training camp without limitation so if he continues to progress without issues, he'll be ready to provide that deep threat for Deshaun Watson once again in 2019.
Yellow Light - Lee was activated off the PUP, which is a good sign for his availability hopefully sooner than later. Him being activated puts him on track to possibly be ready for Week 1, but we've seen in the past that no ACL recovery is created equal and Lee isn't guaranteed consistent targets even if he does play Week 1 so I'd let this one play out before using draft stock on him.
Delanie Walker, Titans
Green Light - Walker went down in the first week of last season with a brutal injury that has taken a while to fully recover from. Marcus Mariota will be happy to have his favorite target back and all signs point to Walker being ready for Week 1 without any limitations. Walker may not be the player he once was, but his rapport with Mariota and the fact that Jonnu Smith has not really taken advantage of his chances leaves him as a solid TE option.