The injury bug is already out in full force around the NFL. Here’s the news and notes you need to know before setting your fantasy football lineup for this weekends’ action and beyond.
David Garrard, Dolphins: Garrard suffered a freak knee injury while playing with his kids on an off day roughly 1 week ago. As a result, he’s expected to miss 3 to 4 weeks, thereby surrendering his projected starting gig. So who will be under center come Week 1? Rookie Ryan Tannehill has generated nothing but praise through camp and 1 preseason contest. 2011 starter Matt Moore remains a steady presence though, and I fully expect him to start for Miami when the games begin to count.
Peyton Manning, Broncos: Manning isn’t technically injured. But it’s worth noting his recent comments made about his arm strength. “I still have strength to recover, still have work to do,” Peyton said. “I am 36 years old. My arm has a lot of yards and a lot of touchdowns on it, so it’s probably not going to be the same as it was when it was 22, but I still think it can complete some passes. I can move the chains and hopefully get our offense into the end zone.” It’s a word caution for those thinking about plugging him into your weekend lineup.
Jahvid Best, Lions: Best just can’t seem to shake off his concussion issues. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported he’s likely headed to the Physically Unable to Perform list, meaning he’ll miss at least the first 6 weeks of the regular season. With Mikel Leshoure also out commission for the first 2 weeks (for violating the league’s substance abuse policy) Kevin Smith projects as a low risk, high reward fantasy play in the short term.
Adrian Peterson, Vikings: What can you say about this guy? He has once-in-a-generation talent – and he just so happens to be a fast healer. After tearing his ACL and MCL roughly 8 months ago,
Peterson is primed to return to the gridiron in time for Week 1. Just be aware that his workload will be monitored early on, as he won’t be seeing substantial preseason playing time.
Beanie Wells/Ryan Williams, Cardinals: Wells’ bum knee is cause for serious concern. After slowly recovering from offseason knee surgery, his training camp reports haven’t been encouraging. Daily fantasy leaguers will have a tough time trusting him because of durability concerns, along with the presence of Williams. The Cards’ 2011 2nd round pick is still on the mend from a serious Achillies’ injury suffered last preseason. He is still expected to see some preseason action, though I’ll be taking a wait-and-see approach before determining his value. This has the looks of a shaky backfield all season long.
Ryan Mathews, Chargers: Mathews’ first carry of the 2012 season resulted in a broken clavicle. Expected to miss the first couple weeks of the regular season, Ronnie Brown becomes a (relatively) intriguing name in fantasy circles. His skill-set has clearly diminished at 30, yet a steady workload will give him flex appeal.
Kenny Britt, Titans: Britt has vowed he’ll be ready to practice “sooner than you think” as he makes his way back from multiple knee surgeries. Usually, I’d be leery of a guy coming off such a serious operation – especially considering his absence from training camp. But Britt is a special talent, and I wouldn’t shy away from rolling the dice on him as a WR3 if he avoids a regular season suspension. Recall that he’s been arrested a ridiculous 8 times since 2009.
Hakeem Nicks, Giants: There’s been little to update on Nicks’ rehab from foot injury. In this case, though, no news is good news. Having avoided a setback thus far, the Giants’ #1 WR is fully expected to be ready to face the Cowboys on September 5th. In a bit of a tough matchup, he won’t come as a recommended fantasy play from me.
Miles Austin, Cowboys: Austin’s fantasy upside is undeniable in Dallas’ loaded passing game. But he’ll need to put reoccurring hamstring woes behind him. The injury sidelined him for the Cowboys’ first preseason game, and he’ll miss their Week 2 contest as well. Battling a similar hammy ailment last year, Austin managed just 43 grabs for 579 yards across 10 games. There’s definitely risk involved with adding him to your Sunday once the regular season rolls around.
Jason Witten, Cowboys: Nobody will dispute the notion that this dude’s tough as nails. Not only is he among the league’s top TEs, but he hasn’t missed a game since 2003. Yes – 2003! But a spleen injury has put a severe damper on his Week 1 outlook. The 30-year-old’s progress will be well worth tracking. However, given the time off, it’ll be tough for me to trust him in daily fantasy football leagues even if he manages to suit up for Week 1 against the Giants.
Jimmy Graham, Saints: I wrote the other day that Graham would probably be held out of Friday’s preseason contest with a minor back injury. While it’s still possible he will indeed ride the bench, indications now are that he’ll suit up and play. Still, even if the stud TE is active, I’d shy away from him and what’ll likely amount to a minimal snap count.