Injuries are an unavoidable menace in fantasy football. Whether it is a fluke injury to a previously sturdy superstar or another in a long line of muscle pulls for an injury-prone player whose upside is too big to quit, in-season injuries can make or break fantasy teams.
Preseason injuries, however, are not always bad. From those who are rehabbing the serious knocks of the previous season, to those who suffer slight nicks early in the offseason program, players carrying injuries into the summer are often undervalued. Here is a look at the most important fantasy assets entering the summer with injury questions and a few thoughts on their outlook for this season.
1. Andrew Luck, QB, Colts
Injury: Surgery on his right (throwing) shoulder in January of 2017
Here we are again. Still recovering from surgery on his throwing shoulder way back in January of 2017, Luck did not resume throwing until minicamp, and even then it was not a full-size ball. Even so, the Colts say Luck is on track, and they are “not worried at all” about the quarterback being ready for Week 1. Similar things were said before Luck sat out all of last season, but the situation feels quite a bit better this time around.
BEST CASE: Luck is ready for training camp and does not show any signs of rust.
WORST CASE: Luck suffers another setback and is shut down again.
MOST LIKELY: Luck is limited early in camp, but he is ready for Week 1
2016 full-season pace: 4,523 yards, 33 passing TDs and 14 INTs
2. Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles
Injury: Suffered a torn ACL on Dec. 10
A legitimate MVP candidate through 13 games, Wentz’s 2017 season was cut short by a torn ACL. The Eagles have been cautious with their public comments about his rehab, but Wentz looked well ahead of schedule during OTAs, reportedly jogging “without a hitch” and comfortably taking part in 7-on-7 work.
BEST CASE: Wentz is able to get in some work during the preseason and is fully healthy for Week 1.
WORST CASE: Wentz is sidelined into the regular season.
MOST LIKELY: Wentz does not do anything during the preseason but is under center Week 1.
2017 full-season pace: 4,057 yards, 40.6 TDs and 8.6 INTs
3. Deshaun Watson, QB, Texans
Injury: Suffered a torn ACL on Nov. 2
An absolute lightning bolt in six starts, Watson’s rookie season was unfortunately cut short by a torn ACL he suffered in practice. Reportedly “ahead of schedule” in his rehab – who isn’t? – Watson was able to get in some individual and 7-on-7 work during OTAs and even shed his knee brace during minicamp.
BEST CASE: Watson is fully healthy for camp and dominates like he did in his six starts as a rookie.
WORST CASE: Watson is hampered by his knee injury throughout camp and into the season.
MOST LIKELY: Watson takes a step back from his white-hot pace last season, but he remains a high-end QB1.
2017 full-season pace: 3,883 yards, 43.4 TDs and 18.3 INTs
4. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
Injury: Suffered a broken collarbone on Oct. 15
Seemingly the only thing that can stop Rodgers is a broken collarbone. Unfortunately, he suffered the second one of his career in Week 6, and his late-season return lasted just one game before he was sent back to injured reserve for good. The second trip seemed to be out of an abundance of caution, however, and Rodgers was fully healthy in time for OTAs.
BEST CASE: Fully healthy, Rodgers returns to his 2016 form.
WORST CASE: Rodgers suffers yet another collarbone injury.
MOST LIKELY: Rodgers stays healthy and finishes as the overall QB1.
2017 full-season pace: 3,829 yards, 36.6 TDs and 13.7 INTs
5. Odell Beckham, WR, Giants
Injury: Suffered a broken fibula on Oct. 8
Beckham’s 2017 got off to a rough start when he sprained his ankle in the second preseason game, an injury which caused him to miss Week 1, and it ended with a broken fibula in Week 5. Despite rampant rumors during the offseason about his future in New York, Beckham seemingly had a good rehab and was cleared for minicamp.
BEST CASE: Beckham is a full-go at the start of training camp and reclaims his spot among the best fantasy receivers.
WORST CASE: Beckham’s injury lingers into training camp.
MOST LIKELY: The best-case scenario.
2017 full-season pace: 100 catches for 1,208 yards and 12 touchdowns
6. David Johnson, RB, Cardinals
Injury: Suffered a wrist dislocation on Sept. 10
Johnson’s bid to become the third player in history to record 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards came crashing to a halt when he suffered a dislocated wrist in Week 1. He flirted with returning late in the season but ended up sitting out the rest of the year. Johnson was fully healthy by the time OTAs started.
BEST CASE: Johnson is able to make history by joining the 1,000/1,000 club.
WORST CASE: Johnson suffers another injury in training camp or early in the season.
MOST LIKELY: Johnson falls short of his goals in a disappointing offense but remains a high-end RB1.
2016 stats: 293 carries for 1,239 yards and 16 TDs, 80 catches for 879 yards and 4 TDs
7. Dalvin Cook, RB, Vikings
Injury: Suffered a torn ACL on Oct. 1
Cook was on his way to a spectacular rookie campaign before a torn ACL ended his season in Week 4. The good news is he has reportedly "knocked the rehab out of the park” and was able to get in some limited work during OTAs. Barring a setback, he should be ready for Week 1.
BEST CASE: Cook is a full-go for training camp and picks up right where he left off as a rookie.
WORST CASE: Cook struggles to get back to full health and is limited throughout camp.
MOST LIKELY: Cook is limited early in camp but is ready to go for Week 1.
2017 full-season pace: 296 carries for 1,416 yards and 8 TDs, 44 catches for 360 yards
8. Allen Robinson, WR, Bears
Injury: Suffered a torn ACL on Sept. 10
It would have been difficult for Robinson to have a worse contract year. Coming off a disappointing 2016, Robinson tore his ACL on his first catch of the season opener. Despite the injury, he landed a three-year, $42 million contract from the Bears in free agency, and he was able to get in some work during OTAs.
BEST CASE: Robinson is fully healthy for training camp and serves as the clear No. 1 option for ascending quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
WORST CASE: Robinson is limited throughout camp and struggles to settle into a new offense.
MOST LIKELY: Chicago takes things slowly with Robinson, but he is ready to go once the season rolls around.
2016 stats: 73 catches for 883 yards and six TDs
9. Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots
Injury: Suffered a torn ACL on Aug. 25
Edelman had perhaps the best season of his career in 2016, but a torn ACL in the third preseason game ended his 2017 campaign before it even got started. Despite having to wait over a month before undergoing surgery, Edelman was able to get in limited work during OTAs. He looks on track to be ready once his suspension ends.
BEST CASE: Edelman is 100 percent for training camp, avoids any setbacks and is ready to go when his suspension ends.
WORST CASE: The 32-year-old struggles to regain full health and is not quite right when he returns.
MOST LIKELY: Edelman is limited early in camp but is a full-go well before Week 5.
2016 stats: 98 catches for 1,106 yards and three TDs
10. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Eagles
Injury: Underwent surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff on Feb. 21
Jeffery’s first season in Philly was an unmitigated success, especially considering he played the year with a torn rotator cuff. Unfortunately, he had to have that shoulder repaired in February, an operation which could cost him time in training camp.
BEST CASE: Jeffery is fine for camp and betters his 57 catch, 789-yard, nine touchdown performance from a season ago.
WORST CASE: Jeffery’s recovery lingers through training camp and limits him early in the season.
MOST LIKELY: Jeffery is limited early in camp but is fully healthy by Week 1.
2017 stats: 57 catches for 789 yards and nine TDs
11. Chris Thompson, RB, Redskins
Injury: Suffered a broken right fibula on Nov. 19
Always an explosive playmaker, Thompson was on another level in 2017, turning 39 catches into 510 yards and four touchdowns and adding another 294 yards and two scores on the ground in 10 games. Unfortunately, a broken leg ended his season early, and he still wasn’t ready to go when OTAs opened in May.
BEST CASE: Thompson is ready for training camp and operates as the passing-down back behind second-round pick Derrius Guice.
WORST CASE: Thompson struggles in his return from a serious injury and is not fully healthy for Week 1.
MOST LIKELY: Thompson is healthy but cedes a large chunk of his work to Guice.
2017 full-season pace: 62 catches for 816 yards and 6.4 TDs, 102 carries for 470 yards and 3.2 TDs
12. Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins
Injury: Suffered a hamstring injury Oct. 29, underwent offseason toe surgery
Reed was limited in camp by a toe injury, which he ultimately had repaired in the offseason, but a hamstring issue kept him on the sidelines for all but six games in 2017. Perhaps because of the lingering toe injury, Reed also did not play to his normal level when he was on the field. He is seemingly on a track to full health now after getting in some work during OTAs, but history tells us full health is a fleeting dream for Reed.
BEST CASE: Offseason surgery fixed Reed’s toe issue, he avoids any soft-tissue injuries in camp, and he is able to play more than 14 games for the first time in his career.
WORST CASE: Reed suffers another setback in camp and once again struggles to produce even when he suits up.
MOST LIKELY: Reed is able to provide a few TE1 weeks, but he ultimately ends up on injured reserve.
2017 full-season pace: 72 catches for 563 yards and 5.3 TDs
13. Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals
Injury: Underwent back surgery in October, underwent surgery to remove a cyst from his knee in November
Following another injury setback in a career defined by them, Eifert was forced to undergo the third back surgery of his career after just two appearances last season. Eifert has now played a total of 10 games in two years since scoring 13 touchdowns in as many games in 2015. Re-signed to a one-year deal over the offseason, the tight end says he is back to full health, but he was limited during the offseason program.
BEST CASE: Eifert is fully healthy for camp, maintains that health throughout the season and reaches his double-digit touchdown ceiling.
WORST CASE: Eifert suffers yet another injury setback and misses the season.
MOST LIKELY: Eifert is not able to play all 16 games, but he is a viable TE1 when he is on the field.
2017 full-season pace: 32 catches for 368 yards
14. Hunter Henry, TE, Chargers
Injury: Suffered a torn ACL on May 22
Unfortunately, there is not much analysis to offer in this situation. Henry will miss the entire 2018 season. The Chargers could turn to sophomore Mike Williams to replace Henry’s red-zone production.
Other injuries worth monitoring
*Kareem Hunt, RB, Chiefs – Suffered hamstring injury in OTAs, ready for camp
*Devonta Freeman, RB, Falcons – Suffered MCL and PCL sprains in December, cleared for OTAs
*JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Steelers – Undisclosed injury, expected to be ready for camp
*Ryan Tannehill, QB, Dolphins – Re-injured ACL in August, cleared for OTAs
*Pierre Garcon, WR, 49ers – Suffered neck injury in October, cleared for OTAs
*Marlon Mack, RB, Colts – Underwent offseason shoulder surgery, questionable for camp
*Adrian Peterson, RB, Free Agent – Suffered neck injury in November, reportedly cleared
*Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings – Underwent offseason ankle surgery, participated in OTAs
*Brandon Marshall, WR, Giants – Underwent toe and ankle surgeries, limited at OTAs
*Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Bills – Underwent offseason knee surgery, cleared for OTAs
*Darren Sproles, RB, Eagles – Suffered a torn ACL in September, questionable for camp
*Quincy Enunwa, WR, Jets – Missed 2017 with a neck injury, limited at OTAs
*D’Onta Foreman, RB, Texans – Suffered torn Achilles in November, questionable for camp
*Cameron Meredith, WR, Saints – Suffered torn ACL in August, questionable for camp
*Terrelle Pryor, WR, Jets – Ankle surgery this offseason, questionable for camp
*Zay Jones, WR, Bills – Underwent knee surgery in May, questionable for camp
*Kenneth Dixon, RB, Ravens – Suffered torn meniscus in July, cleared for OTAs
*Curtis Samuel, WR, Panthers – Suffered ankle injury in November, limited at OTAs
*Terrance Williams, WR, Cowboys – Suffered broken foot during offseason, questionable for camp
*James Conner, RB, Steelers – Suffered an MCL injury in December, cleared for OTAs
*Jake Butt, TE, Broncos – Missed 2017 with torn ACL, cleared for OTAs