I never understood why fantasy players would want to draft before the preseason ends. I understand that it is tough to get everyone together for a draft and that it only gives a small window of about a week.
Every year players get injured in the preseason.
This alters each draft following preseason games. Those who draft prior to the preseason finale could wind up with a wasted pick if one of their players gets injured for any amount of time. Simply put, it leads to headaches. Hopefully more people realize this and will wait to hold their drafts until after the preseason is finished.
Byron Leftwich, PIT:
Byron Leftwich will miss the first two weeks of the season after suffering second degree MCL sprain. Veteran Charlie Batch will open the season over Dennis Dixon. Although Dixon would have provided more of a spark at the position due to his ability to run, Batch gives the Steelers an experienced presence.
Roger Goodell has reduced Roethlisberger’s suspension from six to four games. Help is on the way after the first quarter of the season.
Look for the Steelers to play extremely conservative in the first four games. Production out of Hines Ward, Mike Wallace and Heath Miller could be very limited until Roethlisberger returns. Batch being the starter bodes well for Rashard Mendenhall owners.
Jason Campbell, OAK:
Campbell has not missed a game in two seasons. Although he was carted off the field last week with a neck stinger, Campbell has guaranteed he will open the season against Tennessee. Draft him and the other Raiders as you would have, if you would have bothered.
Donovan McNabb, WAS:
McNabb will still be drafted in the middle rounds as a late QB1. His ankle injury has caused many to believe that he will miss the opening week of the season. My gut feeling is that McNabb will try to give it a go on Sunday Night Football against division rival Dallas. McNabb, on a new team, will want to prove to his new teammates that he is a tough competitor.
Of course, the problem is that the ankle injury could linger if he tweaks it further in the game. Still, QB is deep this season and if McNabb were to miss the opener, there should still be plenty of options for owners to plug in.
Brett Favre, MIN:
Favre was held out of the preseason finale as he continues to rehab his ankle. He will be ready for the season opener without Sidney Rice, who we all know is out for around eight weeks after hip surgery. If you didn’t know that, you might as well forfeit your fantasy season.
It’s safe to say the ankle injury will just be a lingering nuisance that Favre will play to. However, until Favre misses a game, it’s safe to pencil him in first 16 more starts. Do not expect Favre to repeat his impressive 2009 season but he could be a borderline top 10 fantasy QB this season.
Maurice Jones-Drew, JAX:
Arguably the biggest question mark heading into drafts now. Many are worried that Maurice Jones-Drew’s knee injury could linger well into the season. Jones-Drew, who always takes himself in his fantasy drafts, has slipped in recent drafts as owners do not want to take the risk on a player who was inconsistent last season.
Reports came out that he underwent surgery in August. However, Jones-Drew, his agent and head coach Jack Del Rio all stated that the report was false and Jones-Drew never had surgery. Jones-Drew is slated to open the season against Denver. The lack of information about the knee is good and bad.
The good: It’s relatively a non-issue. Jones-Drew is fine for the season.
The bad: It could linger throughout the season. One wrong cut or hit and Jones-Drew could be out for weeks or even the season.
Jones-Drew has arguably the strongest legs in the game. He is a powerful and shifty runner. His knee could tweak or give out, but if he insists the knee isn’t an issue, who are we to say that his fantasy teams will go nowhere?
If Jones-Drew were to miss any time, Rashad Jennings figures to get the majority of the carries. Be aware that Greg Jones is still on the roster and has been used as a goal line back for Del Rio in the past.
Chris Wells, ARZ:
The hits keep coming for the Cardinals during this tumultuous preseason. Wells suffered a knee injury last night in the finale. Wells now says he is fine and is not expected to miss any time.
With some sort of knee injury and Tim Hightower receiving a lot of playing time, Chris Wells will rightfully slip in drafts with these question marks. Wells was generally going between the third and fourth rounds. The fourth round is still a good spot to draft him. Do not hesitate to draft him if he falls anywhere between the fifth or sixth round in your league.
The fantasy season like the NFL season, is a marathon and not a sprint. Let the Cardinals abuse Hightower early so that Chris Wells can come in and dominate even more than he did last season behind a better run blocking offensive line.
Hightower has looked good throughout the preseason. He has also put up very good numbers as a backup running back in Arizona, so much that he has been a fantasy starter for many teams the past two seasons. If Wells were to miss time, Hightower could be a first tier fantasy running back option.
Knowshon Moreno, DEN:
Once a third or fourth round pick, Moreno has slipped in nearly every draft since suffering a hamstring injury to open August. Knowshon became a steal in the fifth to eighth round many were drafting him.
Knowshon is now almost fully healthy and dressed for the preseason finale although he didn’t play, which was an extremely smart decision. Expect Knowshon to be almost fully recovered for Week 1 against Jacksonville.
Knowshon was a dynamic college runner but the speed of the NFL has subdued that some. Still a very talented back, Knowshon should be relied on heavily. The Broncos have one of the better offensive lines in the league. With the lack of receiving options on the Broncos and a QB in Kyle Orton that often looks to check down, Knowshon is a steal in the fourth to fifth round in PPR leagues. If you were able to draft Moreno at a discount in August, be happy that he is finally nearing 100 percent.
Everyone should be mindful, however, that hamstring injuries could tend to be lingering issues that could haunt him throughout the season. With the time off to rehab, though, Moreno and the Broncos do not expect this to be a major issue.
Michael Bush, OAK:
A popular sleeper pick, Bush injured his thumb last week. Reports are now coming out that he could miss four to six week with the injury. Bush should obviously slide down the draft boards. That could be a good thing for owners hoping to draft him. Darren McFadden has yet to put it together and the coaching staff was hoping to lean on Bush. He could come back with a vengeance when healthy. Michael Bennett will back up Darren McFadden to open the season.
Montario Hardesty, CLE:
A potential rookie of the year candidate and popular sleeper pick, Hardesty will miss the season with a torn left ACL. If you already drafted him, there’s no reason to hold on to him. Even those in keeper leagues will want to drop him, unless there is an IR spot available.
Cut ties and look for last year’s fantasy hero Jerome Harrison to move up some in drafts. He should be relied on much more due to the lack of options in Cleveland. However, Harrison isn’t very good and has a poor preseason.
Peyton Hillis, the other bruising back for Cleveland, could fill the role Eric Mangini envisioned for Hardesty. James Davis, last year’s potential sleeper rookie, is also a name to look out for but was bothered by an ankle injury during the preseason finale.
Steve Slaton, HOU:
Already in Kubiak’s dog house after losing his starting duties to Arian Foster and relegated to kick returns during the preseason, Slaton is now suffering from turf toe. A late round flier, Slaton is one of the last two or three picks or will go undrafted altogether in most drafts.
There are reports Houston is looking into the possibility of adding free agent Derrick Ward, who was released this week by Tampa Bay.
Ward is shifty runner with some power. Most important for the Texans, Ward can catch the ball and is good in pass protection. He would be a prime fit for the Houston Texans offense. He could be a big sleeper candidate if signed. If Foster were injured or revert back to his fumbling nature, which plagued him throughout college, Ward could be a fantasy hero of his own in 2010.
LenDale White, DEN:
White will miss the season with a ruptured Achille’s tendon. Correll Buckhalter remains Knowshon Moreno’s top backup. Bruce Hall would probably be the third back used.
Larry Fitzgerald, ARZ:
Fitzgerald will have had almost a month to rehab from the brutal hit he suffered from Texans safety Eugene Wilson. Luckily, Fitzgerald only suffered a grade one MCL sprain and said after the injury occurred he could have still played. Like Jones-Drew, the injury could potentially creep up, but Fitzgerald is safe to open the season.
Steve Smith, CAR:
Smith was held out of the preseason finale as he is still getting his conditioning back after offseason arm surgery. Smith will be ready for the season and makes for a great third round pick who could finish as a top 10 fantasy receiver. Matt Moore and Steve Smith displayed excellent chemistry in the last three games of the 2009 season. Moore is clearly an upgrade over Jake Delhomme, meaning Smith could be far more consistent this season than last.
Mark Clayton, BAL:
Clayton, dealing with a concussion, appears set to play in the Monday Night opener against the New York Jets. Clayton could be a deeper sleeper with Flacco throwing him the ball. Flacco’s strong arm and Clayton’s speed will work well in the slot with possession receivers Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason on the field. Clayton is worth a look in what should be a high powered offense.
Kris Brown, HOU:
Brown has been released by the Houston Texans. Kris Brown’s foot injury opened the doors for one of fantasy’s top kicking options over the past few seasons, Neil Rackers. Rackers has a strong, accurate leg and will once again play with a high powered offense. Don’t hesitate to draft Rackers, but ONLY IN THE LAST ROUND.
Vincent Jackson, WR, SD:
Reports have surfaced that the Vincent Jackson could be traded on Saturday. Those who already drafted Vincent Jackson at a discount would be thrilled. Those who have drafts coming up afterwards, Jackson would easily be a third or fourth round pick anywhere he goes.
Patrick Crayton, WR, SD:
Crayton is headed to San Diego. Crayton isn’t too good of a receiver, but with Phillip Rivers throwing and Vincent Jackson most likely on the way out, he could be a late round flier.
This is more important for Dez Bryant owners and those who took the late round gamble on the quickly declining Roy Williams. Dallas is clearly confident in Dez Bryant returning from an ankle injury and Roy Williams re-emerging.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR, SEA:
It appears that Houshmandzadeh will be cut from Seattle. Already a mid round pick, Houshmandzadeh will free-fall in upcoming drafts. Despite his dreadful and inconsistent first season with Seattle, he somehow finished with 79 receptions for 911 yards.
If he were to land on a team with a quality quarterback and steal healthy, he could be a steal in the later rounds. Look for Seattle to try and lead a resurgence out of former USC star Mike Williams and former Super Bowl hero Deion Branch. Deion Butler could be good late round flier though, as he may be the most talented receiver on the team.
Derek Anderson, QB, ARZ:
Derek Anderson is a late round pick who could actually be fantasy relevant as he takes the reigns as the starting QB. Anderson has one season under his belt as one of fantasy’s top quarterbacks.
It seems nothing but bad news has come out of Arizona recently. Perhaps it is better for it to happen in the preseason than the regular season. These could just be the growing pains for good things to come. Stranger things have happened in fantasy. For example, Derek Anderson once one of the top fantasy quarterbacks… for the Cleveland Browns of all teams.
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Written by Brandon Galvin