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We have now reached the point of the summer where the vaunted third pre-season games are being played. These are the games where the starters usually play the most during the preseason, so tensions will be high as fantasy GM’s pray that their players do not get injured. However, that is not even a full-proof plan because players are just as susceptible to injuries just practicing with their own team. This week’s list includes some elite names that will be off the board very early on in drafts. So without further adieu, here is the next installment of the walking wounded for fantasy football.
LeSean McCoy (RB-PHI)
Earlier in the week, there was concern for LeSean McCoy having a minor version of turf toe. But he suited up for the Eagles third preseason game against Pittsburgh and was highly productive scoring on a 22-yard touchdown pass. However, he was sent to the locker room right after he scored and underwent x-rays on his right thumb. Fortunately the x-rays came back negative, but it is unknown yet whether there is any ligament damage. Any time an elite running back is dealing with a toe or finger injury it should strike fear into the heart of fantasy GM’s. As of this writing, do not hesitate to take him with the first overall draft pick. But be aware that he is dealing with a potential issue with his thumb that needs to be closely monitored.
Jamaal Charles (RB-KC)
Jamaal Charles has been suffering from a bruised foot which caused him to miss practice earlier in the week. However he was able to return to the practice field on Thursday which is a great sign. Kansas City had intended on him not playing during their third preseason game, but that was before he made it back onto the field. Fantasy GM’s would probably prefer that Charles not play this weekend and I think Andy Reid will most likely oblige. Charles has a significant injury history so Kansas City will want to protect their star running back as much as possible. The bruised foot should not be cause for concern, so continue taking him with one of the top four picks in fantasy football drafts.
Rob Gronkowski (TE-NE)
Rob Gronkowski has vowed to play all 16 games this season. In other news, monkeys might fly out of my butt (thanks Wayne and Garth). Gronkowski started participating in teams drills earlier this week and absorbed some minor contact for the first time. He is coming back from yet another major surgery but believes he will be ready for Week 1 and will remain on the field all year long. There is no question that he is one of the most talented and valuable tight ends in the NFL, but it is hard for fantasy GM’s to trust him enough to invest such an early round pick for him. If you believe he will remain healthy, then go ahead and take him in the second or third round. But if you are skeptical like me, bide your time and take a much safer tight ends many rounds later.
Colin Kaepernick (QB-SF)
It was recently revealed that Colin Kaepernick played the 2013 season with a chipped bone on his forefoot and a ruptured capsule in the ball of his foot. That could certainly explain the inconsistency in his production last year. He appears to have healed from those injuries which is a good sign and is also a strong indicator that he could have a breakout season in 2014. I expect San Francisco to throw the ball a lot more this year, so Kaepernick should have every opportunity to reach 4,000 yards passing while also racking up rushing yards of his own.
Maurice Jones-Drew (RB-OAK)
It is already a running joke about the Raiders two running backs and the fact that they have more initials than projected games played this year. Maurice Jones-Drew is looking for a fresh start in Oakland after a few injury-marred seasons in Jacksonville. Unfortunately, he sustained a finger injury during the Raiders’ last preseason game against Detroit. He had shared duties with Darren McFadden with the first team, but all things being equal MJD will end up with the starting job. The biggest question for him is whether he can stay healthy. Oakland believes that Jones-Drew will play in their next preseason game, so the injury does not appear to be serious as of now.
Emmanuel Sanders (WR-DEN)
Emmanuel Sanders could arguably take one of the biggest leaps forward in terms of fantasy value as compared to 2013. He signed with Denver to essentially replace Eric Decker and is expected to be a big part of the Broncos’ prolific aerial attack. He has been dealing with a quad injury for the past several weeks and his status for Denver’s upcoming preseason game is questionable. Since I have drafted him on a couple of my fantasy teams already, I would prefer that he not play and risk any type of aggravation of the injury. Once the regular season rolls around, I have no doubts that Sanders will be on the field becoming the next beneficiary of working with Peyton Manning.
Michael A. Stein, Esq. is the Chief Justice of Fantasy Judgment, the industry's premier dispute resolution service, and is also the co-host of the Fantasy Alarm podcast. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook and Twitter (@FantasyJudgment),