Fantasy Football: 5 Preseason Injuries That Have Major Implications
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Every year it seems like there at least a handful of injuries in the preseason that can bring about major changes not only in the NFL, but in fantasy football as well.
Last season injuries to rookie running backs Ben Tate and Montario Hardesty provided an impetus to monster seasons by Arian Foster and Peyton Hillis. Those two examples alone make it worthwhile to analyze what has happened this preseason.
The following slides represent five injuries this preseason that could have major implications on fantasy football in the 2011-2012 season.
5. Chris Cooley, TE, Washington Redskins
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
The left knee of Chris Cooley has not fully recovered from surgery in January. He insists he will be ready for the start of this season, but you can't expect him to back up what he did last year.
Cooley trailed only Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys in receptions by a tight end in 2010-2011. He was a PPR machine and would have been again this season if he was fully healthy.
Young backup tight end Fred Davis has had a very good camp with Cooley's absence, and could end up having a nice season. He's a good sleeper to target at the end of drafts.
Cooley's injury could help the Redskins' running game as well, and that would be in the form of Tim Hightower. Santana Moss is really the only other weapon Washington has in the passing game, and the Redskins will have one of the weaker starting quarterbacks in the league, whether it's Rex Grossman or John Beck.
4. Mikel Leshoure, RB, Detroit Lions
Leon Halip/Getty Images
The drafting of Mikel Leshoure was supposed to really help diversify the Detroit Lions offense this season. Last season, only the Colts and Saints attempted more passes than Detroit.
However, Leshoure is now on injured reserves with a torn left Achilles tendon. The injury affects the fantasy appeal of not only fellow running back Jahvid Best, but also Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and receivers Calvin Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew.
Best should now be a rock-solid RB2 as he will receive a lion's share of the carries. His value is higher in PPR leagues, though, as the Lions will probably be near the the top of the league in passes attempted again.
As long as Stafford remains healthy, he has the chance for a big year as he is at center of a passing-dominated attack. Johnson and Pettigrew should also see more targets than they would have if Stafford was handing the ball off to Leshoure.
3. Marques Colston, WR, New Orleans Saints
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
While Marques Colston is expected to play this season, his surgically repaired knee makes him a risky selection in fantasy. He's already suffered a setback in training camp and microfracture surgery is something very hard to come back from.
The biggest thing of note is that the possible limitations on Colston could lead to huge things for both Lance Moore and Jimmy Graham. Both have looked great throughout the preseason and are slated to have more targets.
While Moore had a scare last week with his groin, it appears like it was minor and that he will be fine for the start of the regular season. He's always been one of Drew Brees' favorite targets in the red zone and could have a breakout campaign if he's featured all over the field.
2. Ryan Williams, RB, Arizona Cardinals
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
The trade of running back Tim Hightower just about about one month ago to the Washington Redskins signified that the Arizona Cardinals coaching staff was ready to hand the reigns to rookie Ryan Williams.
Williams had just been signed to a four-year contract and was probably going to get the most carries for Arizona this season. He suffered a ruptured patella a few weeks later, however, and will miss the entire season.
The major impact on this injury for fantasy is that third-year runner Beanie Wells has a clear stranglehold on the majority of carries this season. In fact, he may end up finishing the year in the top five in rushing attempts due to the propensity of most teams going with a committee.
Wells was hardly even on the map in fantasy about a month ago. Fast forward to right now and he's entering the season as a RB2 with upside.
1. Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Kent Nishimura/Getty Images
Peyton Manning has not missed a start in his NFL career. That streak is in jeopardy right at the start of the 2011-2012 season, as he is dealing with a neck injury.
Even if Manning does play all 16 games this season, he is not likely to be at 100 percent. That factor not only affects his fantasy stock, but also the fantasy stock of the rest of the Colts' skill players.
Manning may in fact might be the most indispensable player in the NFL. The Colts are perennial contenders with him at the helm but would have almost no chance at making the playoffs without him.
Manning's neck makes it risky to take himself, Reggie Wayne, Joseph Addai, Austin Collie, Dallas Clark and Pierre Garcon at the position they are ranked. If one of them does land on your team, you just have to hope the Colts leader can perform close to the superstar level he has throughout his career.