Injuries to Monitor (2019 Fantasy Football)

by Jason Katz | @jasonkatz13 | Featured Writer
Aug 30, 2019

There is no chance we see A.J. Green before Week 3 at the earliest.

I hate injuries. I wish we could turn injuries off like in Madden. Unfortunately, not only do we know injuries are a huge part of the NFL, we know that dozens of players will get hurt before the season even starts. We also know we will lose at least a handful of big-name players. In 2018, Derrius Guice didn’t make it through the preseason and Hunter Henry didn’t even make it to training camp.

We are now through three weeks of the preseason where most teams are playing starters less than ever before (this is a good thing). I do not think starters need to play at all. We’re in the clear until the regular season starts as nobody important ever plays Week 4 of the preseason.

As it stands, we’ve already seen a few players go down with injuries of varying degrees of severity. Let’s take a look at players that did not suffer season-ending injuries as ones whose status we need to monitor as we inch closer to our drafts and the start of the season. This list wasn’t overly lengthy when I started preparing it, but then the third week of the preseason happened.

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A.J. Green (WR – CIN)
One of the offseason’s earliest injuries, A.J. Green tore ankle ligaments during training camp back in July. It was reported he would miss 6-8 weeks, which puts him on schedule to return sometime in September. There is no chance we see him before Week 3 at the earliest. My guess is he doesn’t return until Week 5 or 6. Tyler Boyd is being undervalued in fantasy drafts.

Cooper Kupp (WR – LAR)
My guess is Cooper Kupp could have played in the preseason, but Sean McVay is not an idiot and doesn’t unnecessarily expose his starters to injury by playing them in games that don’t matter. But since we haven’t seen Kupp play football since he tore his ACL last season, we at least need to double-check to ensure he is all systems go for Week 1. I have no concerns over his readiness. My only reluctance with targeting him in drafts is that players typically don’t fully get back to their pre-injury selves until the year after they tear their ACL.

Amari Cooper (WR – DAL)
The Cowboys are describing Amari Cooper’s foot issue as an intrinsic muscle strain, which sounds really fancy for “plantar fasciitis.” Cooper said he’s dealt with the injury before. I expect him to be out there Week 1, but foot injuries are always tricky especially plantar fasciitis. This is just another reason to avoid Cooper in fantasy drafts.

Jerick McKinnon (RB – SF)
I wavered on whether to even bother including Jerick McKinnon. He returned to practice on Tuesday only to suffer a setback on Wednesday. He is not fantasy relevant. His season is probably over. His career might be over. Nothing to see here.

Keenan Allen (WR – LAC)
At the time you’re reading this, Keenan Allen is roughly two weeks removed from spraining his ankle in practice. That is all we know about the injury. Hopefully, it is not a high ankle sprain as although players typically return in 4-6 weeks from high ankle sprains, they actually take months to heal and we don’t need wide receivers that rely on their footwork to be playing at less than 100% from the get-go. All reports indicate Allen will be back for Week 1. I’m not overly concerned at the moment.

Julian Edelman (WR – NE)
The 33-year-old veteran receiver broke his thumb earlier in the offseason. He has since recovered and has been activated from the PUP list. He will be ready to go Week 1.

Sterling Shepard (WR – NYG)
Much like Julian Edelman, Sterling Shepard also broke his thumb way back in July. He is on track to play Week 1.

Kenyan Drake (RB – MIA)
Not much is known about Kenyan Drake’s foot injury. Head coach Brian Flores indicated Drake’s Week 1 status was very much in doubt following the injury. Drake shed his walking boot about a week ago and we still have a little over a week to go until the games that count begin. He returned to practice earlier this week, but the extent of his participation is unclear.

It is conceivable that Drake returns for Week 1. At the very least, I would expect him back sometime in September. Although he is on the Dolphins, Drake is a value in fantasy drafts as he has a good shot to set a career-high in touches given the deplorable state of the Dolphins’ backfield. Kalen Ballage is one of the worst running backs on an NFL roster. Drake will return to an immediate role and quickly push Ballage aside.

DK Metcalf (WR – SEA)
Players that undergo surgery three weeks before opening day are typically not ready for opening day. Pete Carroll also can’t be trusted on just about anything. DK Metcalf’s role in a low volume passing offense was already questionable. With the news of his knee surgery, he is off the redraft radar.

Antonio Brown (WR – OAK)
This is no longer a situation to worry about, but since Antonio Brown didn’t play the entire preseason, it’s at least worth mentioning. Brown’s helmet issue was more of a concern than his frostbitten feet. All of that nonsense appears to be behind him. AB will be out there Week 1, but there are legitimate concerns over his lack of rapport with Derek Carr given that they haven’t practiced much together.

Keke Coutee (WR – HOU)
The Texans’ primary slot receiver went down with an ankle injury in early August. It was described as nothing major, but it did keep him out of practice for about three weeks. However, Bill O’Brien is not optimistic about Keke Coutee’s availability for Week 1. Given his injury history and his position on the depth chart, he’s no longer a must draft.

David Moore (WR – SEA)
No one was drafting David Moore anyway, but his reported serious shoulder injury leaves the Seahawks without a WR2. It is probably Jaron Brown at this point. Tyler Lockett’s ADP might jump. It shouldn’t because this does not affect his target share at all, but fantasy gamers are fickle beings.

Cam Newton (QB – CAR)
Playing in a game that doesn’t matter, Cam Newton hurt his foot. It is being described as a mid-foot sprain and all indications are Newton will be okay for Week 1.

Jordan Reed (TE – WAS)
Concussion number seven. Not good. Every time Jordan Reed is concussed, there is a chance he never plays again. Jay Gruden’s comments suggest this is your standard concussion procedure and Reed will have about three weeks to clear the protocol. Given that his ADP was so low, you can still throw a dart at him as normal.

D.J. Chark (WR – JAC)
After appearing to work his way into a starting role, D.J. Chark also sustained a concussion. With over two weeks to go until Week 1, he has a good chance to be ready. He is merely a late-round dart throw.

Lamar Miller (RB – HOU)
The Texans’ starting running back tore his ACL and MCL against the Cowboys in the third preseason game. Duke Johnson will start and assume a larger workload, but someone else will be involved. Keep an eye on Damarea Crockett or Karan Higdon as well as whether the Texans look outside the team for a replacement.

DeSean Jackson (WR – PHI)
Somehow, DeSean Jackson broke his ring finger on his left hand working out earlier this week. It’s a three or four-week injury. He may try and play through it. He may miss the first couple weeks of the season. It’s not a huge concern, especially for a guy you’re not going to need until bye weeks start hitting, but it is something to track going forward.

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Jason Katz is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Jason, check out his archive or follow him @jasonkatz13.

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