By Kyle “Doc Sop” Soppe, RotoExperts Staff Writer
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As exciting as it is to see “NFL Football” on your T.V. Guide, it is a little terrifying when you are doing your pre-draft rankings and notice that a handful of Top 50 overall players are battling nagging injuries or missing weeks at a time. Should you adjust their Fantasy value? How about your rankings? Your draft is coming up, what if the medical staff doesn’t reveal an exact time table?
That’s why I’m here. No, not a real doctor and I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but I can offer top-shelf Fantasy insight and give you direction when it comes to injuries and rankings. While a handful of “big names” make the list this week, there is little reason to make major adjustments to your preseason rankings.
Diagnosis: Recovery from an appendectomy
Timetable: There are rumors floating around that he may be healthy enough to play in one preseason game, but reports have Coach John Fox as non-committal when it comes to getting his second year back snaps in games that count for nothing.
Analysis: I have him as the eighth best running back in my rankings and a second round selection in all formats, something that will not change as a result of this “injury.” The only thing with less long-term risk than a standard medical procedure such as an appendectomy is the production of a run game behind Peyton Manning, and Ball is slated to receive the majority of carries, which gives him immense Fantasy value. He showed workhorse potential, as he carried the mail 663 times in his final two seasons in Wisconsin and seems to have added some pass-catching ability to his skill set (he ran a pass route 10.1 percent more often than he carried the ball in 2013).
Diagnosis: Recovery from foot injury that cost him 11 games last season.
Timetable: Jones has declared himself “back to the old Julio”, but the Falcons are exercising caution with their stud. He will likely see limited snaps prior to the third preseason game, at which point he will get some work with the starters.
Analysis: I’m not worried at all here and think that this approach is the ideal route, both for the Falcons and Jones’ Fantasy owners. He and Roddy White both want to eclipse 1,500 yards this season, and with Tony Gonzalez no longer suiting up, they may be able to accomplish that lofty goal. Matt Ryan is going to throw the ball all over the yard and Jones is a Top 5 player at his position in terms of raw talent. That being said, even if you believe the injury risk is small (like I do), it is still non-zero, which puts his Fantasy value outside of the top tier of receivers and just inside my Top 10 in PPR formats.
Diagnosis: Recovery from arthroscopic knee surgery
Timetable: He was activated from the PUP list on Wednesday, and while his preseason debut is likely one-to-two weeks away, he is expected to be active for the Dolphins’ season opener against the Patriots.
Analysis: Lamar Miller has been distancing himself as the starter in Miami, and this injury certainly doesn’t close the gap. Daniel Thomas is also on this roster, but he too is battling a nagging injury (hamstring) and has not proven anything on the NFL level. I do think both Miller and Moreno have their weeks of strong Fantasy production, but neither with enough consistency to rank as anything more than a RB3 flier. I prefer a running back like DeAngelo Williams (quietly averaging 1,179 total yards per 16 games since his breakout campaign in 2009) if you’re looking for a RB late in the draft with less risk.
Diagnosis: Broken fifth metatarsal (foot)
Timetable: He is expected to return to the Bengals lineup following their Week 4 bye. The “hope” is that he can return at this point, as such an injury typically takes 5-7 weeks for recovery.
Analysis: This is an obvious blow to any owner that was high on Jones after his strong 2013 campaign (51-712-10) and takes him completely off my draft board. He was one of 10 receivers to score double-digit touchdowns last season, but with six games in which he caught two or fewer balls and an unrepeatable breakout season from Andy Dalton, regression was in store long before this injury. The fact that six of his scores came in a three week stretch make him an interesting bye week replacement (by the time he is back in action, bye weeks will be in full swing), but I’d rather take a flier on Jordan Matthews or Kenny Stills if you’re looking for a player who will make the most of limited targets, even when Jones is healthy. As for the Bengals, Mohamed Sanu gains value as the de facto number two. He failed to flash greatness last season and dropped far too many passes (twice as many as Jones on four fewer targets), but he profiles as a nice underneath option for Dalton and should complement the athleticism of AJ Green nicely. I’m not drafting him in anything but the deepest of leagues, though, as his best case is a bye week filler, while his worst case is a very limited role long-term when Jones returns. Dalton’s value may drop a bit, but I wouldn’t view this as an injury that should result in him plummeting even further down your ranks. This may open up the opportunity for the skilled tandem of Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert to see a nice bump in production for the first month. I’m not drafting a single tight end this season that is in a time share, but it does give both players an increase in opportunity and thus makes them interesting in deeper leagues. In other words, no Bengals elevate to relevant as a result of this injury, and after Green/Bernard, there aren’t any players on this team I am drafting (unless you consider the DST, which I’d take in the final two rounds).
Diagnosis: Left ankle “tweak”
Timetable: I would expect him to make his Redskins debut in their next preseason game, as this injury sounds minor.
Analysis: There are plenty of reasons to be concerned about Jackson (his reliance on the deep ball and Robert Griffin III’s unproven arm strength), but this ankle injury is not one of them. If you were buying him this preseason, that shouldn’t change, but don’t count me among the buyers. Based on early season ADP’s, I prefer to draft three receivers in new spots (Emmanuel Sanders, Golden Tate, and Eric Decker) as well as the Eagles receiver I have pegged to take over Jackson’s role (Cooper).