The end of the 2016 season was rough for some owners. Marcus Mariota and Derek Carr suffered season ending injuries in the last weeks of the season. Timing can be everything in Fantasy Football and how injuries such as those will affect the beginning of the season will change drafts.
Owners need to pay attention to these player returning from injuries as their 2017 Fantasy Football draft approaches.
Players Returning From Injury
Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans
Mariota comes into this season with a lot of hype, maybe too much. He suffered a broken right fibula and seems to be on track for a healthy Week 1.
With the Titans adding new weapons on the offense (Corey Davis and Eric Decker), Mariota will be a sought after sleeper quarterback. He is dangerous with his legs, but expect the Titans to lean on the run game for the first few games to make sure Mariota is comfortable.
He will start slow and pick up his play as the season goes on. His injury should not deter owners from drafting him, but they need to be aware of a potential slow start.
Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders
Carr was my 2016 MVP before he went down with a broken fibula. His recovery seems to be going great and will be healthy for Week 1. He is a mobile quarterback but not a true running threat, so the injury will not dampen his value coming into the season.
The Raiders added Jared Cook in the offseason, the offense and Carr will only get better in 2017. There is nothing to fear here and owners should draft Carr expecting him to be a Top 5 quarterback this season.
When Carr and Mariota square off in Week 1, Carr will easily outduel his counterpart.
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
Newton did not play in the Week 1 preseason game but that should not come as a surprise. His shoulder seems to be healing slowly and owners need to be wary of drafting him this year.
A bad shoulder and a leaky offensive line will never be a great couple, and with Newton’s penchant to run spells disaster for owners this season. Even if Newton gets healthy enough to play in Week 1 of the regular season, owners should avoid him.
We saw his peak in 2015 and he will never reach those heights again. He is great when the team is winning and reverts back to child Cam when things go bad. A nagging shoulder injury and a player who seems to give up easily should be an easy pass for owners.
Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
This is the year Andrew Luck becomes elite. Well, actually it was last year. No, the year before that. Wait, was he elite when he came into the league?
He has the talent but the team is so poorly mismanaged. He is surrounded by little to no consistent talent and the offensive line allows him to face constant pressure.
This is just another injury for Luck and they are piling up. It appears they are not going to rush him back from shoulder surgery. This is not a Super Bowl team so there is no urgency to put him on the field. Odds are he will come off the PUP list and be eligible to play in Week 1 of the regular season. Don’t bet on him playing, though. He will likely miss the first game and maybe more after that. It is hard to bet on Luck playing a full 16 games this season. Plan for him playing 12/13 games.
LeVeon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Another year, another injury for Bell. He missed the AFC Championship and had surgery for a core muscle injury in the offseason.
He is currently holding out, and owners should be happy at the moment. He will be fresh coming into the regular season, as long as he reports by then. He makes too much money not to play, but owners still need to worry about his injury history.
Bell will be healthy coming into the season, but do not expect him to play all 16 games.
Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
Gordon is back from a new injury and is running decisively. A fresh and healthy Gordon could have been one of the best backs in the league but the Chargers are already suffering injuries on offense. Offensive lineman Forrest Lamp is out for the season with a torn ACL and fellow rookie Mike Williams has fallen victim to the Chargers’ injury curse.
Owners should expect Gordon to be a fringe Top 10 back with high upside.
Eddie Lacy, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Overweight and hurt, Lacy found himself replaced by a wide receiver and is now in Seattle.
He is coming off an ankle injury and is placed into a running back by committee and will likely see less than 200 touches all year. With his history, owners should always worry about Lacy being on the field.
He can trick some owners with his sparse production when he has played. While he should be perfectly healthy for Week 1 but owners should still draft him knowing he will not be effective in Fantasy Football this season.
Adrian Peterson, RB, New Orleans Saints
He is old, coming off an injury, in a committee, and in a pass heavy attack.
Do I need to say more? This is not lazy writing, Peterson has so many red flags. Just pass on him and let someone regret picking him.
Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
Allen will go down as one of the best talents in the league who never lived up to his potential due to injuries.
Those injuries continue to pile up as he is now recovering from a torn ACL, but he appears to be healthy. ACL injuries take time and Allen will come along slowly during the season and owners just need to hope he does not suffer another injury.
Owners should draft him hoping for the game-breaking talent he has flashed but expect him to suffer another injury.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Los Angeles Rams
Watkins makes the list because he is coming back from injury but he is also heading across the country to LA.
His foot seems to be healing fine and will be healthy, but now his Fantasy value takes a dip because of his new team. Jared Goff and the Rams are a significant downgrade from Tyrod Taylor and their excellent run game.
Watkins will now be joining former Bill Robert Woods and an offense that is in flux. Defenses will key in on Watkins and his production will fall off a cliff with Goff throwing him the ball.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
At this point in his career, it is not a matter of if Gronk will get hurt, but when.
He will be healthy for the beginning of the 2017 season but after that, owners will be holding their breath every time Gronk gets hit. The Patriots have slowly built up the best offensive weapons in the AFC but Gronkowski will still be one of Brady’s favorite targets.
Owners have been gambling on Gronk to stay healthy for years, this time around is no different.
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