There are so many offseason injuries, and with the NFL now 24/7 with offseason activities, it’s important to know who is still in recovery mode and not practicing as opposed to those who are ready to go. In a time with complicated offenses, new coaches and schemes to learn, the receiver position is fluid, and staying on top of injuries is key for draft-day success.
Hakeem Nicks, Giants — broken foot
In what could be devastating news to the Giants and fantasy owners, Nicks fractured the fifth metatarsal of his right foot at OTAs. He's expected to miss about 12 weeks, which would put his return in mid-August, and no one is stating he will miss any games — yet. Nicks has yet to complete a full NFL season as he enters his fourth year and has suffered multiple injuries to his lower legs previously. In reality Nicks is a candidate to post career numbers if he stays healthy as he enters a time where better-than-average wideouts begin to take their play to another level. The injury does give rookie Rueben Randle an opportunity to showcase himself and possibly steal the starting job until Nicks returns, if the injury lingers. That said, Ramses Barden and Jerrel Jernigan will see more reps, but Victor Cruz will see more double-teams. Without a proven No. 2 receiver, defenses will focus on Cruz, so this injury does not necessarily mean bigger numbers for him as much as more targets.
Andre Johnson, Texans — arthroscopic knee surgery
Johnson went under the knife in early May on his left knee. He is not taking part in OTAs but states he is fine and will be ready for training camp. Johnson is entering his 10th season, and any injury to a player who missed nine games in 2011 is of concern. He suffered swelling in the knee from a Week 12 injury when he hyperextended the knee against the Jaguars. Johnson’s talent is without question, but he has missed 12 games the last two years, and taking him in the first two rounds is risky. His age and recent injury history may make him too big a risk for some owners, me included.
Robert Meachem, Chargers — arthroscopic knee surgery
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Meachem underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee after the season after he injured it in the season finale and it had caused issues in the playoffs. It has not affected his offseason, and he remains a solid draft-day value as the Chargers' new No. 1 receiver.
Stevie Johnson, Bills — groin injury
Johnson had a nagging groin injury that he played through but finally decided to get it taken care of. He states the minor surgery was a success, with Johnson not expected to miss any workouts. Despite his talents he is inconsistent — partially because of quarterback play. However, while I like him, I will let someone else draft him because of that inconsistency.
Torrey Smith, Ravens — sports hernia
Smith dealt with a sports hernia most of last season and had it taken care of in February. He is now 100 percent healthy, and this news simply raises the belief that he can make another jump as he works toward being a legitimate No. 1 fantasy talent. Don’t expect a sophomore slump from him in 2012.
Sidney Rice, Seahawks — shoulders and concussion
Having surgery on both his shoulders to repair an injured labrum, Rice is now running but not engaging in contact drills. Another concern for fantasy owners is his multiple concussions and the potential for another, but if he can stay healthy, he will surpass his draft value. Despite having the fantasy talent of a No. 1 receiver, he’s a middle-round pick because in five seasons he’s only managed to complete one full 16-game schedule. Over the last two years he’s missed 17 games, and in those five years he has missed 23 games. The term "high risk, high reward" has great relevance when you refer to Rice.
Kenny Britt, Titans — ACL and MCL tears
Britt underwent minor knee surgery to his damaged knee but is still set to be ready in Week One. Any surgery to an already damaged knee should raise a red flag, but this was a cleanup done to speed the healing. Britt has been running straight ahead and has done some change-of-direction running, per Craig Peters of Titans Online. Britt is a talented wideout with elite potential but has struggled to stay healthy, missing 17 games the last two seasons. If he drops, he has value, but right now his perceived potential exceeds where he will go in most drafts. Once he begins practicing and training camp begins, we can better determine his value.
Injury quick hits
- Nate Washington, Titans (chipped bone in knee), underwent minor surgery in April and was back at OTAs in May. With the expected return of Kenny Britt, don’t expect 2011 numbers (74-1,023-7 on 121 targets), but he does bye-week and injury fill-in fantasy value.
- Ryan Broyles, Lions (ACL tear), suffered his injury in November as an Oklahoma Sooner and could start the season on the Lions' PUP list as he has yet to practice. His 2012 value is in dynasty or keeper leagues as he recovers and learns to play in the NFL.
- Johnny Knox, Bears (back), has lost 30 pounds since surgery to stabilize his vertebrae, and someone who weighed 185 pounds before that weight loss is not someone you can count on for 2012. He is in full recovery this year more than readying for the 2012 season.
- Michael Jenkins, Vikings (torn meniscus), stated he is 100 percent back from his knee injury, but with Jerome Simpson signed, he will lose his starting job after Simpson returns from a three-game suspension. Without the ability to separate, Jenkins has minimal fantasy value.
- Jordan Shipley, Bengals (torn ACL), has been cleared to play and is slotted as the team’s No. 3 receiver. In PPR leagues he may have some fantasy value, but missing most of the season did not help in learning the team’s West Coast offense. He's a late-round flier at best.
- Mike Williams, Seahawks (fractured fibula and ankle), has yet to practice and despite a solid 2010 season (65-751-2 on 110 targets), the team is deep at receiver, and he’s not a lock to make the final roster. Until he practices he has no fantasy value.
- Danny Coale, Cowboys (broken foot), was in the hunt for the No. 3 position to replace Laurent Robinson but will miss a month to heal and likely lose his opportunity to win the job. The injury causes the rookie to lose any fantasy relevance on draft day.
- Danario Alexander, Rams (hamstring), missed OTAs with his injury, and his inability to stay healthy, combined with a new regime, could mean that he won't make the squad. Regardless, he has no fantasy value entering 2012.
- Greg Salas, Rams (fractured fibula), is medically cleared to practice, and the second-year player is not out of the mix. He will compete for playing time, but being on a bad team that is learning a new offense and is deep with wideouts gives him minimal draft-day fantasy value.