We're nearing the end of the 2012 preseason in the National Football League, and while one more week of exhibition games remains we've seen about as much of the starters as we're going to.
That's due in no small part to the threat of injury, because as Kansas City Chiefs tight end Tony Moeaki showed a season ago it's just as easy to suffer a season-ending injury in the preseason finale as in the regular season opener.
However, for some fantasy football studs the injury bug has already bitten, and here's the latest on both those players' status for Week 1 and how it affects their fantasy prospects for this season.
Fans and fantasy owners of the Detroit Lions were given quite a scare over the weekend when quarterback Matthew Stafford was forced to exit their game with the Oakland Raiders after absorbing a punishing hit from defensive end Dave Tollefson.
Luckily for the Lions and fantasy football squads everywhere, Stafford escaped with only some broken blood vessels in his non-throwing hand, but even the 24-year-old was a little freaked out by the injury according to Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.
"It was kind of scaring me," Stafford said Monday, when he spoke of the injury with a laugh after going through a full practice. "I didn't know what it was.
"At some point, I don't know if I cracked it or did something. I've just never seen it swell like that before, so I was kind of pissed because I thought maybe I'd broken it or something. But then it started feeling a little bit better."
Fantasy Stock: Holding steady as a top-five fantasy quarterback
In fact, the 27-year-old hadn't even been cleared for contact until very recently, and while Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that that has changed, the Vikings are still very much taking a cautious approach with their star tailback, limiting him to upper-body contact.
However, head coach Leslie Frazier likes what he's seen from Peterson to this point, and he remains optimistic that "All Day" will be ready for the team's September 9th opener.
"There were times there was nowhere to go and he had to run into people, and he responded well," Frazier said. "That was good to see. There were some good, hard hits. Nothing to the ground, just guys thudding him."
Fantasy Stock: Trending slightly upward as a RB1, although he may start the season slowly
Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart was on top of the world after recently signing a lucrative contract extension, but the 25-year-old's parade was rained on when he was carted off the field during last Sunday's win over the New York Jets with an ankle injury.
Stewart, who topped 1,100 total yards in 2011, definitely won't play in Carolina's preseason finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but according to Jonathan Jones and Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer, head coach Ron Rivera remains optimistic that Stewart will be ready to go in Week 1.
“It looked like he had a twisted ankle, sprained it a little bit,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “We’re going to be very careful with it obviously. We got X-rays, completely negative. … I’ll tell you right now, he’s not going to play on Thursday (at Pittsburgh).”
Fantasy Stock: Trending downward as a very risky RB2 play to open the season
The Dallas Cowboys receiving corps is a walking M.A.S.H. unit right now, with starting wide receivers Miles Austin and Dez Bryant and tight end Jason Witten all nursing various ailments.
Austin remains sidelined by a hamstring injury, but as head coach Jason Garrett told Jason Archer of ESPN, he remains hopeful that all his weapons in the passing game will be on the field when the Cowboys battle the G-Men on opening night.
“I think everything has been really positive with him since he had the injury and I think he’s gotten better and better,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “There has been no setback. He does have the hamstring injury and he’s had it really for a number of years. Dating back to ’07, ’08 and ’09 when we were trying to give him a chance to step up, he missed a lot of time at different points of those preseasons and during the seasons. It’s been something he’s been dealing with for a long time."
Fantasy Stock: Trending downward significantly as a fantasy WR2 with chronically gimpy hamstrings
Jonathan Stewart isn't the only prominent member of the Carolina Panthers who has been sidelined with an injury, but wide receiver Steve Smith takes the cake for the oddest malady on this list.
The 12th-year pro has been sidelined for over a week with an infection in his foot, and while Smith is expected to be all systems go for the season opener, the team isn't taking any chances, according to Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer, which means Smith will sit this week.
“Putting him out there right now in this situation and circumstances would not be smart, especially if he doesn’t get any practice reps in terms of what we do,” Rivera said. “This is really a game-plan week. We’re approaching this week as if we would any regular-season game. … To put a guy out there when he hasn’t had a chance to get those reps would be careless.”
Fantasy Stock: Holding steady as a higher-end fantasy WR2