Robert Griffin III
The Redskins quarterback exploded onto the scene last season, electrifying football fans and rewarding fantasy owners who gambled on the rookie. Unfortunately, his year ended following a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and lateral collateral ligament (LCL) in his right knee, sustained in Washington's playoff loss to the Seahawks. Normally the timing of an injury of this magnitude would be devastating and have a carryover effect into the following season. However, like Adrian Peterson and Wes Welker before him, Griffin has aggressively attacked rehab and is redefining the recovery timeline.
It should be mentioned that the adjusted rate of recovery established by these three individuals is not the new norm for ACL reconstructive surgery. They are physical freaks who reportedly have unmatched work ethics. They all had world-class individuals aid them throughout the rehab process and access to elite training facilities. Furthermore, Griffin had the distinct advantage of knowing the routine having previously torn the ACL in this same knee. All these factors played a role in the quicker than normal recoveries.
Griffin is already participating in training camp but has been limited to individual and 7-on-7 drills. He is expected to begin full 11-on-11 drills this week. He appears fluid and unencumbered, but these workouts are not at full speed and several red flags still exist. With Coach Mike Shanahan insisting that RG3 won't play during the preseason, we won't have a chance to see the quarterback moving at game speed. Additionally, playing quarterback is different than wide receiver or running back, so comparing him to Peterson or Welker is difficult. Griffin won't have the advantage of having another back to spell him or the opportunity to sub out based on the desired package, meaning he has to be physically ready to take every single snap.
All this being said, it's still very likely Griffin is the starting quarterback Week 1. However, for fantasy purposes every angle needs to be considered. An early bye week (W5) will offer some early season respite but the expectations for his first four weeks should be scaled back. While Peterson was still worth taking in the first two rounds of last year's draft, Griffin's current ADP is 121, and he's the 12th quarterback coming off the board. This appears to be a good, safe spot and could provide opportunistic fantasy owners with plenty of upside.
Jamaal Charles, Malcom Floyd
Overshadowed by Peterson's performance, Charles had a productive season of his own despite coming off an ACL tear. However, he's once again showing up on the injury report after sustaining a foot injury in practice. Charles' injury is the perfect example of the dangers of Twitter and other social media outlets. Since Charles went down, conflicting reports have surfaced calling his foot injury a sprain or a strain. While there's only a letter difference in the word itself, the two injuries are significantly different. A sprain is damage to a ligament while a strain is an injury to a muscle or its tendon. Depending on the severity of the damage done, sprains are often more difficult to manage. The difference is exaggerated in the foot. A midfoot sprain can be extremely limiting (just ask Maurice Jones-Drew or Darren McFadden owners). X-rays were negative, indicating his bones were intact, but further testing, specifically an MRI, could be conducted to determine the exact nature of the injury. While the conflicting descriptions are still being reported, Coach Andy Reid said the Chiefs are treating the injury like a minor sprain. On the bright side, the team seems optimistic that Charles won't be limited and could be back at practice soon. Keep a close eye on the situation the next few days as more information surfaces.
A similar situation happened in San Diego as receiver Malcom Floyd was carted off the field. Early reports called the injury a knee sprain and hinted it was a season-ending ACL tear. However, after an MRI was performed a strained was diagnosed. He likely will be out several weeks and his availability for Week 1 is a big question mark. However, with Danario Alexander already lost for the year, this has to be seen as good news.
Le'Veon Bell: Bell did not play in Pittsburgh's first preseason matchup due to lingering soreness in his left knee. He continues to practice and his draft stock shouldn't be affected by what appears to be a minor issue.
Ahmad Bradshaw: The Colts have activated Bradshaw from the PUP list after missing the first few weeks resting his problematic foot. It will be nice to see him in pads, but give him a week or two to show his foot is no longer an issue before drafting him with confidence.
Eddie Lacy: The Green Bay rookie remains hampered by hamstring tightness, making his battle for the top running back spot considerably more difficult. The injury benefits both Alex Green and Johnathan Franklin who will get more opportunities to impress the coaching staff. It was reported Lacy recently underwent tests on the ailing muscle but the reports of the test have not been released.
Hakeem Nicks: Nicks has been a limited participant in camp and preseason, nursing a minor groin strain. The move is being described as precautionary, but the Giants receiver needs to see reps to earn the confidence of fantasy owners after last season's injury-plagued campaign.
Cecil Shorts: A minor calf strain has the Jaguars receiver sidelined, and it appears as though Jacksonville will take a justifiably conservative approach with his rehab. The calf plays a vital part in running and jumping and any limitation would severely limit a wideout. It is also a key component of lower leg biomechanics, so rushing Shorts back would be unwise.
Geno Smith: The rookie quarterback is dealing with a minor right ankle sprain suffered in the team's first preseason game. Despite some lingering soreness, Smith was seen taking the majority of reps with the first-team offense and the injury shouldn't be an issue.