NFL Injury Report: Who's Hurting the Most After Preseason Week 3?

Matt Stein@MatthewJSteinCorrespondent IIAugust 28, 2012

NFL Injury Report: Who's Hurting the Most After Preseason Week 3?

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    As much as we all wish we could turn off injuries in real life like we can in Madden 13, we unfortunately cannot. There is always a chance that we'll see our favorite player go down with a crucial injury.

    Through the offseason and three weeks of preseason football, we've already seen our fair share of season-changing injuries. Certain teams have been hit harder than others, but even one injury to a key component of your team can completely change the course of a season.

    Not only do injuries affect NFL teams, but they also have an affect on the ever-popular fantasy football.

    Today we bring you an updated NFL injury report with the biggest injuries we've seen so far. We'll give you a breakdown of what is ailing each player, a timetable of their return and predictions for how it will affect their team and your fantasy football team.

    Let's get this NFL injury report started.

Levi Brown, OT, Arizona Cardinals

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    The Arizona Cardinals put Levi Brown on injured reserve after he tore his right tricep on August 17 against the Oakland Raiders. He'll miss the entire 2012 season.


    Impact to Cardinals

    While Brown's status as starting left tackle was questioned before the season began, the Cardinals simply didn't have any options to replace him heading into the season. Now that he is injured, Arizona is even thinner across an already weak offensive line.

    Arizona will rely on either D.J. Young or D'Anthony Batiste to protect John Skelton or Kevin Kolb, and neither of those options have to sound good to management.


    Impact to Fantasy Football

    It's not like you were going to draft Skelton or Kolb as a starting quarterback for your team anyway, but now they'll need to drop even farther down your list. Without any protection, it will be hard to see them making much of an impact at all.

    That also means that Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams could all take a hit on their overall statistics. Basically, be cautious drafting any player from Arizona too early, as the Cardinals could struggle mightily on offense.

Brian Urlacher, LB, Chicago Bears

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    Brian Urlacher and the Chicago Bears haven't exactly been very open about just how serious Urlacher's knee injury is. While he may not miss a huge chunk of time, Vinnie Iyer of Sporting News reports that the injury could be serious enough to keep Urlacher off the field in Week 1.


    Impact to Bears

    If Urlacher is forced to miss a good amount of time, the Bears could be in some trouble on defense. While he may no longer be the best player on the unit, he is certainly the leader and the one who keeps everyone on the same page.

    With the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys on the schedule in the first four weeks, Chicago is going to need all the defense they can get. Considering the talent in the NFC North, a few early losses could spell doom for their chances to make the playoffs.


    Impact to Fantasy Football

    Defenses aren't what win fantasy football championships, but they can certainly help to make the playoffs. Look for Chicago's unit to suffer a slight drop off until Urlacher is back to 100 percent.

Miles Austin, WR, Dallas Cowboys

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    Even though Miles Austin hasn't had any setbacks from a hamstring injury suffered during the offseason, he also hasn't been healthy enough to participate in any preseason games. However, the Dallas Cowboys are confident he'll be ready to play in Week 1 against the New York Giants


    Impact to Cowboys

    Few teams have been hit as hard with injuries on offense as the Cowboys. Both Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are recovering from their own injuries, leaving Dallas rather thin at options for Tony Romo

    Without any time to get in sync with Romo during the preseason, it is hard to imagine Austin being as big of an impact as Dallas will need in Week 1. With that said, don't expect Austin to take too long to get back in his impactful, week-by-week groove.


    Impact to Fantasy Football

    This isn't the first time that Austin has missed time because of a hamstring injury. He missed six games last year and wasn't very effective even when he was on the field.

    Despite his recent history with his hamstrings, when Austin is healthy he is one of the better fantasy receivers in the league. He already has great chemistry with Romo and should be a top-15 receiver as long as he is healthy.

Jason Witten, TE, Dallas Cowboys

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    Original reports about Jason Witten involved surgery to a ruptured spleen, but now it appears as if the spleen will be able to heal on its own. The Dallas Cowboys have to be thrilled that instead of losing Witten for the season, they're likely to only miss him for Week 1.

    Even if Witten needs to spend a few extra weeks on the bench, it is certainly better than the outcome of surgery.


    Impact to Cowboys

    For the past few years, there has been little doubt to who has been the No. 1 target in Dallas. Witten has been as consistent as any other tight end in the league. While he isn't as athletic or dynamic as other tight ends, few players bring as much to the field.

    Dallas is certainly going to miss Witten in their opening game against the New York Giants and any other game that he may miss. We also can't forget that the Cowboys didn't re-sign Martellus Bennett in the offseason, so they're especially thin at tight end.

    You can be quite certain that the Cowboys will be anxiously awaiting the return of one of their best offensive players.


    Impact to Fantasy Football

    Even though Witten isn't going to score as many points as a Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski, he is about as safe a fantasy pick as you can make. You know he is going to get targets, and you know he is going to consistently score points.

    Even with the recent developments of his injury, Witten is certainly worth being considered in the second tier of tight ends. 

Jahvid Best, RB, Detroit Lions

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    Jahvid Best is still recovering from concussion symptoms, and the Detroit Lions still don't know when they'll get him back.


    Impact to Lions

    The fact that Best still hasn't been cleared for contact has to be extremely troubling news for the Lions. If he can't get better after eight months, the question needs to be asked if Best will ever get better.

    Detroit doesn't depend on their running game too much, and to be honest they don't really need to with how potent their passing offense is. However, a dynamic weapon like Best would certainly improve this team, and his potential will be missed until he returns.


    Impact to Fantasy Football

    I only have two words concerning Best and fantasy football: STAY AWAY!

    Please stay away at all costs.

Desmond Bishop, LB, Green Bay Packers

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    During his preseason Week 1 matchup against the San Diego Chargers, the Green Bay Packers lost Desmond Bishop to a torn hamstring. The Associated Press reported via The Washington Post that he was placed on injured reserve and will miss the entire 2012 season.


    Impact to Packers

    For the second straight season, the Packers will be without one of their most talented defensive players in Bishop. With the difficulties that Green Bay has had on that side of the ball, losing an impact player like Bishop will be a big blow.

    While his replacement, D.J. Smith, has looked good so far in the preseason, it is hard to imagine him fully replacing the play of Bishop.


    Impact to Fantasy Football

    What makes the Packers defense such a valuable fantasy football pick is their ability to create turnovers. Even though Bishop is so crucial to this unit, there shouldn't be too much of a drop in turnovers due to his loss.

    Look for Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams and Morgan Burnett to continue to make plays in the secondary and make Green Bay's defense a valuable unit in fantasy football.

Austin Collie, WR, Indianapolis Colts

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    Against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 2 of the preseason, Austin Collie suffered another concussion on a first-quarter hit from Larry Foote. This was his third concussion, and the timetable for his return to the Indianapolis Colts is unknown.


    Impact to Colts

    Breaking in a new quarterback is never easy, and now Andrew Luck is going to be without one of his top receivers. This is not good. He still has Reggie Wayne, Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener, but Collie brings a completely different skill set to Indianapolis.

    They'll now be looking for Donnie Avery and LaVon Brazill to step up in Collie's absence. 


    Impact to Fantasy Football

    Collie wasn't necessarily considered a top fantasy wide receiver by any means, but he did have the potential to be an impact player on a deeper lineup or at the flex position.

    However, until a decision is made on his future, don't even consider drafting him.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings

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    Adrian Peterson is still recovering from a torn ACL and MCL suffered late last season, but all signs point to him healing much quicker than expected. While he won't play in any preseason games, he has started taking hits in practice and should be ready to contribute in Week 1.


    Impact to Vikings

    Without Peterson, the Minnesota Vikings simply didn't stand much of a chance to be successful early this year. However, now that Peterson looks poised to return early, the Vikings offense becomes very interesting.

    They have a young quarterback in Christian Ponder, and he has some nice weapons in Percy Harvin and Kyle Rudolph. Add Peterson to that equation, and you have a potentially high-scoring offense.

    I'm not saying the Vikings are going to take the league by storm, but with Peterson on the field, they'll be an extremely difficult team to beat.


    Impact to Fantasy Football

    Peterson has dealt with injuries the past two seasons, so using a high pick on him is definitely a risk. With that said, when Peterson is healthy, few running backs are as dominant as he is.

    If Peterson is truly healthy, getting him in the second or third round could be an absolute steal.

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, New York Giants

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    Ahmad Bradshaw is another injury-prone running back, and he has once again suffered a minor injury in preseason. The New York Giant suffered a hand contusion, and while X-rays were negative, his return date is still unknown.


    Impact to Giants

    The Giants lost Brandon Jacobs in the offseason but replaced him with a much more dynamic player in rookie David Wilson. Now that Bradshaw is again dealing with injuries, New York may be forced to use more of Wilson than they originally planned.

    There is no doubt that Wilson has loads of talent, but the Giants have always worked best on offense when utilizing two successful running backs. If Bradshaw misses any time because of this hand injury, the Giants could take a hit on offense and have to rely on Eli Manning even more.


    Impact to Fantasy Football

    Bradshaw has never been a dominant fantasy football option because of New York's love for using two running backs. However, with Jacobs gone and a rookie behind him, Bradshaw was expected to get the biggest workload of his career this year.

    Until more details come out about this hand injury, Bradshaw has to be considered nothing more than a backup option at running back.

Jacoby Ford, WR, Oakland Raiders

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    After Jacoby Ford suffered a vicious-looking injury against the Arizona Cardinals, it now appears that the injury is much less severe than originally thought. However, Ford is still unlikely to be available in the Week 1 matchup between the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers.


    Impact to Raiders

    Not only is Ford one of the most dynamic return specialists in the league, but he has made huge strides as a receiver, too. His ability to make plays in the open field has forced the Raiders to work him more and more into the offense.

    While Ford isn't expected to miss a major chunk of time, you still have to wonder how much his injured ankle will slow him down in the open field. If he struggles at making big plays, the Raiders may be forced to look to a younger receiver to pick up the slack.


    Impact to Fantasy Football

    Unless you play in a league where kick and punt return yards are used, it is unlikely that Ford will make it on any roster. With that said, Ford definitely deserves to be on your waiver-wire watch list every week as long as he is fully healthy.

David DeCastro, OG, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Last week against the Buffalo Bills, David DeCastro suffered a number of injuries to his leg, including a torn MCL and dislocated kneecap. The Pittsburgh Steelers will be without their first-round draft pick for up to five months after this severe injury.


    Impact to Steelers

    This might be one of the biggest injuries of the preseason simply because of how poor the Steelers offensive line has looked. They've been unable to successfully protect quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in each preseason game.

    Now they lose DeCastro, who was finally starting to look like the All-Pro prospect many labeled him as coming into the 2012 NFL draft. Look for this injury to make a huge impact at the start of the season until Pittsburgh can find some type of synergy.


    Impact to Fantasy Football

    On the surface, it doesn't appear like this injury will mean much to fantasy football, but if Roethlisberger is getting sacked on every play, it will be hard for the offense to function.

    Don't be surprised if Roethlisberger and his many receiving weapons all take slight hits for the first few weeks of the 2012 season.

Vincent Brown, WR, San Diego Chargers

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    The San Diego Chargers will be without one of their most dynamic receivers after Vincent Brown went down with a broken ankle against the Dallas Cowboys. He's expected to miss eight weeks while recovering.


    Impact to Chargers

    While the Chargers have two talented receivers in Robert Meachem and Malcom Floyd, Brown was expected to have a breakout year for San Diego. His knack for making big plays hadn't gone unnoticed by the coaching staff, but they'll now have to wait until Week 5 or 6 before implementing him into their offensive game plan.

    The Chargers should still be plenty dangerous on offense with Meachem, Floyd and Antonio Gates. However, Brown would have brought this offense to a different level that will now be unseen until later in the season.


    Impact to Fantasy Football

    The issue with Brown is that he's expected to be a valuable fantasy football player once he is healthy, but you need to figure out if you have the roster space to keep a player who will do nothing for the first five or six weeks.

    If you do have the space to keep Brown, your patience could pay off in a big way once the playoffs roll around.

Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers

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    In his first carry of the preseason, Ryan Mathews suffered a broken clavicle against the Green Bay Packers. Original reports called for Mathews to miss up to six weeks from this injury, but now he is hoping to be ready by Week 1 when the San Diego Chargers take on the Oakland Raiders.


    Impact to Chargers

    It is hard to imagine Mathews coming back so quickly from such a serious injury, but he definitely has his heart set on doing just that. Even if Mathews does see the field against Oakland, it won't be as an every-down back.

    In fact, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Chargers take it easy with Mathews until they know he is at full strength.


    Impact to Fantasy Football

    Before breaking his right clavicle, Mathews was regarded as a sure-fire first-round pick in fantasy football. However, the fact that he continues to struggle with injuries has pushed him back into the second round of most drafts.

    He still has the potential to be one of the top running backs in the league, but he also carries major bust potential if he can't stay healthy. 

Marc Mariani, WR/KR, Tennessee Titans

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    Marc Mariani suffered one of the most gruesome injuries of the preseason when his left leg snapped with a compound fracture. The Tennessee Titans were forced to put him on injured reserve, ending his season before it even started.


    Impact to Titans

    Since Mariani entered the league in 2010, he has been one of the better kick and punt returners in the NFL. He made the Pro Bowl as a return specialist his rookie season and has continued to play extremely well at that position.

    Now the Titans will need to find a replacement for Mariani in the return game. Whoever they do end up getting will have huge shoes to fill, and it's likely the Titans' special teams game will take a major hit.


    Impact to Fantasy Football

    Mariani had little to no value in standard scoring leagues, so his injury won't make that much of an impact in the world of fantasy football.