Preseason games are upon us. Teams and fans alike are holding their collective breath in the hopes that players can make it through without any major injuries. Last season we saw fantasy stud Jordy Nelson go down with an ACL tear, and undoubtedly, we will see more players lost in the span of these mostly meaningless games.
However, as it stands now, let’s take a look at current injuries and suspensions and how they may or may not affect your fantasy season.
Sammy Watkins, WR: Watkins is dealing with a lingering foot issue. He is officially listed as probable for the start of the season. He has just recently been cleared to practice, so the Bills are hoping he will be ready. 2015 stats: 60 catches, 1,047 yds., 9 touchdowns
Karlos Williams, RB: Williams will be serving a 4-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. As a rookie in 2015, he scored touchdowns in his first 6 games. His absence definitely boosts the value of LeSean McCoy. William’s 2015 stats: 517 yds., 9 touchdowns
Alshon Jeffery, WR: Jeffery has been held out of several practices with a hamstring issue. He is probable for the start of the season, but there are questions about his durability. Jeffery played in just 8 games a year ago. This is something to monitor and it might mean big numbers for second year man Kevin White. Jeffrey’s 2015 stats: 54 catches, 807 yds., 4 touchdowns.
If you rely on Browns players for fantasy, then you need to take up knitting or perhaps lawn darts. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this one.
WR’s Corey Coleman and Andrew Hawkins are nursing hamstrings. WR Josh Gordon is returning from exile and will play in week 5. He’s also out of shape and lamenting the fact that he doesn’t play for Denver or Seattle where an occasional batch of “brownies” is legal. Also, RG3 is the quarterback. Stay away from this dumpster fire….far, far away.
*Note: If you are actually considering any Browns, Terrell Pryor might be the guy. The former Ohio State quarterback is turning heads at the receiver position.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB: Elliott is dealing with a hamstring issue but should be ready for week one. He seems to be the sexy pick because anybody can run behind that offensive line right? I’m on the Elliott bandwagon. If he is healthy he should be very effective, both running and receiving. Plus, the guy behind him, Darren McFadden injured his elbow trying to catch his cell phone.
Dez Bryant, WR: Dez is back baby! I love Dez because he got me 16 touchdowns a couple of years ago when I won my league. Drafted him again last year only to see him go down with a broken foot in what was essentially a lost season. If Dez and Romo are healthy, the he is a big-time fantasy stud.
*Note: Stay away from the Dallas defense. McClain and Lawrence are suspended. Jaylon Smith won’t play at all this year. They won’t be good.
Eric Ebron, TE: I previously listed Ebron as a sleeper, and he promptly went down with an achilles injury. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to be serious. Ebron has been seen walking around at practice without crutches or a boot. Could be a big year for him if he gets healthy.
J.J. Watt: Watt is recovering from back surgery and he’s chomping at the bit. He will probably not play any preseason games, but it’s likely he will be back for the regular season.
Jadeveon Clowney: Clowney has missed a few practices. I’ve just learned he is experiencing some soreness in his surgically reconstructed knee. Supposedly, he will be back next week.
Houston’s defense could be very good if all the parts are in place.
T.J. Yeldon, RB: Yeldon is dealing with a hamstring, but should be good to go for the regular season. He didn’t make much of a fantasy impact as a rookie. The Jags acquired Chris Ivory, who may end up being the better fantasy play. However, this has all the earmarks of a committee approach, which means stay away!
New England Patriots
Tom Brady: Brady, as we all know, has been suspended for 4 games because he can never get his balls correctly deflated. Jimmy Garoppolo is not a bad play, considering he will have Rob Gronkowski, Martellus Bennett, Julian Edelman, and Danny Amendola at his disposal.
I truly believe the Steelers are the best team in the AFC, however, they continue to deal with knucklehead behavior from some of their key players.
Martavis Bryant, WR: Suspended for season. This is a shame as Bryant is the epitome of a touchdown maker. Don’t sleep on Sammie Coates. Coates was a rookie last year. He’s big, he’s fast, and he could fill in quite nicely.
Le’veon Bell, RB: Bell, who is coming off an ACL injury, is now suspended for the first four games for failing to show up for a drug test. When on the field, he is a no doubt top 3 running back in the league. DeAngelo Williams adequately stepped in for Bell last season, and will do the same this season. He is definitely worth a look.
San Diego Chargers
Stevie Johnson, WR: Johnson is out for the season with a knee injury. He was key for Phillip Rivers last season when Malcolm Floyd and Keenan Allen went out. Floyd has retired, but Allen should be back to fantasy relevancy. Also, the Bolts picked up the speedster Travis Benjamin. Both Allen and Benjamin should get numbers, because we know how Rivers likes to sling it.
Jimmy Graham, TE: Graham didn’t do a lot last season before he was hurt. He’s healthy now, but still not a great fit for what Seattle likes to do. I’d be very hesitant to go with Graham. There are many better options out there.
Jordan Reed, TE: Reed is listed as probable with a thumb injury. This is a guy who could easily be a top 5 TE this season, if he can only stay healthy. He is a favorite target of Kirk Cousins as evidenced by his 87 catches, 957 yds., and 11 touchdowns in 2015. “You like that!!!” Reed is the real deal.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the preseason games don’t bring any major injuries. Let’s also hope that pigs suddenly sprout wings and fly. That’s why it’s called fantasy. Thanks to those of you who continue to read.
Header image base on “Tom Brady” by Keith Allison (CC BY SA-2.0)