Hidden Value or Damaged Goods: Assessing Injury Risk in Fantasy Drafts

When is it safe to draft Odell Beckham, Andrew Luck, Jordan Reed? How should you assess injury risk before your draft?

How to approach players with a history of injury

I'm not a fan of the term "injury prone." It's overused and incorrectly applied. 

Some players are undoubtedly prone to injury. Some have bone-on-bone conditions in their knee and are at risk of swelling and pain limiting their potential. Some have asymmetry in their biomechanics -- the quad muscles are weaker on one side or an ankle ligament is looser on one side. Some have a herniated disc or other degenerative back condition their medical staff is actively managing. Some aren't in peak physical condition. 

But it's really, really hard to know who those players are.

You can examine past injury histories and try to estimate the risk of injury. But there's no complete data set to generate a player's baseline risk of injury in the NFL. You cannot be certain you've controlled for every variable and arrived at an accurate estimate.

You have no idea whether the medical staff is more concerned than usual about a player's recent meniscus surgery or microdiscectomy or worried about the effects of a player's offseason attempt to lose or gain weight. It's highly unlikely you'll hear a coach or player or trainer discuss those factors.

Even if you could accurately estimate a player's risk of injury, you'd struggle to decide which game presents the highest risk or how to assess cumulative risks. There's good data on aggravation of hamstring strains -- 33% of high-level football players aggravate a previous hamstring injury within the first 7-10 days of returning to sport-related activity. There's good data showing players with a history of ACL tear are more likely to sustain another ACL injury than players who have never had ACL injury.

But those are general data points. They're difficult to apply to specific situations.

Which of the many NFL players with an ACL tear is more likely to sustain another ACL tear this year? When?

Which of the players fighting through a preseason hamstring strain is most likely to suffer an aggravation?

Every NFL team collects GPS data on their players during practice. It helps the medical staff discover subtle biomechanical differences and can suggest which players are fatigued and at higher risk of injury. But multiple teams admit they don't know how to use the data they have. Recent studies in Australian rules football players question whether the GPS data will be predictive.

Don't misunderstand. I think continued efforts to assess injury risk and improve player safety are critical. But it's a highly complex endeavor.

The NFL is more than a contact sport. It's a traumatic sport with multiple dangerous collisions every play.

The bottom line: Every player is injury prone.

Risk assessment in fantasy drafts

Labels aside, it's still correct to consider injury risk when drafting your fantasy roster.

First, understand your own risk tolerance. If you're risk averse, factor all past injury concerns more highly. If you're risk tolerant, examine each situation carefully and adjust your draft board -- if at all -- accordingly.

Second, recognize that some players are already injured or unlikely fully recovered from recent injuries or surgeries. Those players absolutely carry increased risk. 

With that in mind, let’s examine the players being drafted in the first 8-10 rounds of most drafts who are perceived – rightly or wrongly – to have the most worrisome injury risk-reward profile.

I’ll include each player's current overall ADP (using Footballguys consensus ADP list), positional ADP and the range in which they’re most likely to be drafted. After a profile of their injuries, I’ll provide a risk assessment and a recommendation of where I feel each player can be most sensibly drafted. If you’re willing to tolerate more risk, draft the player a little earlier than my recommendation. If you prefer safer bets in the early rounds, you might consider taking a few of these players off your board altogether.

NOTE: I’ll update this feature frequently over the next two weeks. Any additions will be dated and in red typeface. The date at the top will reflect the day of the most recent update, which will include ADP data.

Le'veon bell | reconditioning

  RB2 | ADP 2 | 1st Round

August 23: Bell is expected to end his holdout and return to the Steelers on Sept 1st. He's likely to be in good physical condition but his football condition isn't known. He'll have ten days to condition for Pittsburgh's Week 1 game but may only have a full week of practice as most NFL teams won't do much in the 48-72 hours after the final preseason game. Bell should be fully recovered from offseason core abdominal surgery but will be at some risk of a soft tissue conditioning injury when he returns.

Draft Recommendation: The separation between the consensus top two running backs and the rest of the running back field is significant. Pittsburgh's Week 1 matchup against Cleveland is a relatively soft landing spot. Should Bell suffer an injury between now and your draft date, you should re-evaluate his value then. For now, there's only minor risk. And I don't think I'd drop Bell below the top wide receiver tier.

Odell Beckham | Left high ankle sprain

  WR3 | ADP 5 | 1st Round

August 23: Beckham sustained a scary hit to the left leg during the Giants' third preseason game. He limped off the field and collapsed in the tunnel, prompting concerns about a season-ending injury. Had Beckham's foot remained planted in the turf at the moment he was hit, a season-ending injury would have been more likely. Thankfully, after further evaluation and multiple scans, Beckham reportedly sustained only a minor ankle sprain. The injury mechanism suggests a high ankle sprain and the Giants wouldn't discuss specifics after the injury, saying only that their star wide receiver was in treatment.

Beckham returned to the sideline in the second half, was not in a walking boot or on crutches, jogged off the field after the game ended, and there are no reports from local or national media suggesting his injury is significant. It's very likely his high ankle sprain is low grade. Stiffness and swelling will still be limiting factors and reports of Beckham's soreness the following morning have media observers temporizing the early optimism. Beckham has nearly three weeks of rehab and recovery time before the Giants' Sunday Night Football game.

Draft Recommendation: Based on current information, I think we'll see Beckham rest and rehab for two weeks then participate in limited practices leading up to Week 1. We'll then have a better idea of his Week 1 status. A slow recovery or aggravation cannot be ruled out either. Beckham is in a tight top tier of receivers with Antonio Brown and Julio Jones. I think it's safe to keep him ranked as the WR2 or WR3 overall. However, more risk averse owners should drop him down alongside A.J. Green until Beckham officially returns to practice.

September 2 Update: Beckham has yet to return to practice. That's not surprising. His practice participation ahead of Week 1 will provide a clearer indication of how limited he will be in the early weeks. The risk of aggravation or compensatory injury remains, but I still believe he belongs in the top tier of wide receivers. There's been no recent news to suggest Beckham won't be available in Week 1.

Footballguys will have all the injury angles covered for you during the regular season. In addition to our daily wiki of players in the news and current injuries put together by Clayton Gray and Mark Wimer each week, we'll have a review of the week’s injuries on Monday, updates after the daily injury reports are released on Wednesday and Thursday, and an assessment of the fantasy expectations of all the key injured players on Sunday morning. My twitter feed -- @JeneBramel -- will also be active throughout the week with breaking injury news and analysis.

Devonta Freeman | Concussion

  RB5 | ADP 9 | 1st Round

Jay Ajayi | Concussion

  RB6 | ADP 12 | Late 1st - Early 2nd

August 23: Ajayi has been cleared to return and played in the Dolphins' second preseason game. Freeman has yet to be officially cleared but there are no indications of a prolonged absence. Ajayi's concussion prompted many questions in my Twitter mentions about how to value running backs with concussions. Specifically, should a player who suffers a preseason concussion be downgraded in drafts.

It's a tough question to answer. Players who suffer a second concussion within a few weeks of the first are very likely to be moved through the return to play protocol more slowly out of caution. But there's no reliable data on the risk of a second concussion in the same year. Most of the data on recurrent concussion is confounded by players who were returned to play before fully recovering from their previous concussion. Theoretically, the precautions included in the return to play protocol mitigate that risk.

Draft Recommendation: I don't see enough concern to move Freeman down much, if at all. Ajayi reportedly had symptoms that lasted over 48 hours and extended the time he spent in the protocol. He will be at high risk of missing a week (or more) of action if he suffers another concussion. Though he's already returned to practice and live action successfully and has no known prior history of concussion, that may be enough to push him down within his current tier.

September 2 Update: Freeman returned to practice this week and has had no recurrent symptoms. He remains safe to draft at his current ADP.

Leonard Fournette | Foot injury

  RB11 | ADP 26 | Late 2nd - Mid 3rd

August 23: Fournette is a polarizing player. Often vilified for missing games with an ankle injury at LSU, two sources I trust told me multiple NFL teams had concerns about the stability of his ankle. Jacksonville didn't, so we'll never know if Fournette may have fallen in the draft. Fournette told reporters his current injury is unrelated to those ankle concerns, hinting that involves a toe. The Jaguars elected to rest Fournette for two weeks and it's still unclear whether he'll return to practice or play in any more preseason games.

On one hand, the extended rest is reassuring. The longer Fournette rests, the less likely he'll suffer an aggravation or put himself at risk of a lingering injury. On the other hand, the need for the extended rest is itself concerning -- especially with toe injuries. Fournette is talking to the media frequently and adamant he'll be ready Week 1.

Draft Recommendation: Fournette's current ADP feels like the top of his range. If you strongly feel his ceiling is higher than Isaiah Crowell or Todd Gurley, you shouldn't adjust your draft board much. If you had questions about Fournette's fitness or the Jacksonville offense before his two-week absence, you should drop him to the bottom of that tier.

August 27: Fournette returned to practice over the weekend. The Jaguars remained cautious and held him out of Thursday's preseason game but Fournette is trending in a positive direction.

September 2: Fournette had no difficulty in practice this week and is rapidly progressing through the reconditioning period without concern. Keep his injury history and possible toe injury in mind while drafting but it need not be a major part of your draft calculus.

Jordan Reed | Toe injury

  TE4 | ADP 48 | Late 4th - Late 5th

August 23: I wrote extensively about my concerns on Reed after he told reporters his injury involved a fractured bone two weeks ago. Since then, Washington has activated Reed from their PUP list. That suggests he continued to make progress with his custom shoe insert and the team has little concern he'll need further treatment before the season begins.

But if my speculation is correct and Reed's toe injury involves a sesamoid bone fracture, he will be at risk of an aggravation and limitation all season long. As recently as three weeks ago, Reed was concerned enough to make a trip to see a specialist in person and requires the orthotic to keep his cleats from causing pain to the affected area. It's not a reassuring situation.

Draft Recommendation: Reed's ADP already reflects significant concern across the fantasy community about Reed's stay on the PUP list and his injury history. I don't have a concern with Reed's positional ADP. Tyler Eifert (TE5) isn't without risk and Reed's upside is significantly higher than anyone below Eifert or Jimmy Graham. But paying a 4th or 5th round price for Reed's risk is tough to sign off on. Unless you don't like any of the later tight end options or have no other attractive options at running back or wide receiver in the 4th, 5th, or 6th rounds, I would let someone else take the risk in those rounds. And I wouldn't fault anyone for redlining Reed on their draft board altogether.

Spencer Ware | Knee injury

  RB20 | ADP 50 | Late 4th - Mid 5th

August 26: Andy Reid told reporters Ware suffered a right knee sprain Friday night. Replays do not show a clear mechanism of injury, though consensus reporting among national media members is that the Chiefs are concerned for a PCL sprain. Ian Rapoport went further, noting the pending MRI will help decide whether Ware's MCL or meniscus may also be involved. It's impossible to put a timeframe on Ware's injury without more specifics.

An isolated PCL injury would not require surgery and could mean a 1-2 week return. Higher grade PCL sprains are tricky and sometimes linger into the 4-8 week range. Lower grade MCL injuries are grade dependent and commonly fall into the 1-4 week range. Complete MCL tears requiring surgery are rare. Meniscus injuries usually require surgery, with a 3-6 week timetable versus a 4-6 month timetable depending on the type of surgery involved. Multi-ligament injury or a complicated ligament/meniscus injury would likely mean a minimum four-week absence. I think it's more likely Ware has a lower grade injury but Rapoport's note suggests the initial exam may not be clear. Imaging will better define Ware's situation.

Draft Recommendation: Without a clear report of season-ending injury (ACL tear, PCL tear requiring surgery, meniscus tear requiring repair), Ware is draftable but nowhere near his current ADP. Best case scenario here is limited early season for a week or two and then no further issue. But this could easily be a 4-6+ week injury after the MRI defines the injury. Until more is known, draft Ware only when you believe he represents very strong value (likely RB3- range or later).

Late August 26 Update: Ian Rapoport tweeted Ware "suffered damage to his LCL and PCL." A multi-ligament injury means that Ware's knee joint isn't stable. Many injuries in this area are tricky recoveries and the Rapoport's source tells him Ware's MRI was "inconclusive" and more tests are coming. The next steps with Ware depend on how unstable his knee is -- and that may require arthroscopic surgery to determine.

With two ligaments involved, the likelihood that Ware's knee is unstable enough to require reconstruction of one or both ligaments increases. The Chiefs may also be worried about other surrounding structures -- nerves or tendons in the area.

I expect to see more reports on Ware's injury soon but I think a reasonable first expectation is for Ware to miss a minimum of 4-6 weeks if his knee is stable enough to rehab. If additional tests show additional concern, reconstructive surgery would mean Ware would miss the season.

It's unlikely the additional testing will happen quickly. We may not know more about Ware's status until early next week.

August 27 Update: Per head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder, the Chiefs are concerned for a torn PCL with associated injury. As noted above, Ware will likely need season-ending reconstructive surgery. Expect that announcement to come after his second opinion early this week.

Draft Recommendation: I would not draft Ware until it is confirmed he has an isolated ligament injury. I think it's likely Ware will require reconstructive surgery if his injury involves both ligaments. At a minimum, if he has a multi-ligament injury and doesn't have surgery, he'll face a tricky rehab that could last longer than expected. Take him off your board.

September 2 Update: Additional opinions were in agreement. Ware will have surgery and miss the 2017 season.

Julian Edelman | ACL tear

  WR26 | ADP 55 | 5th round

August 26: More on Edelman in Monday's Injury Rounds article but the Patriots fear he tore his ACL Friday night. Imaging studies almost always confirm suspicions when examination suggests ACL injury. MRI studies are done to look for associated injuries as much as to confirm the examination.

Update: Multiple reports now. MRI confirmed Edelman's injury. He will not play this season.

Draft Recommendation: Take Edelman off your draft board. 

Andrew Luck | Right shoulder labrum repair

  QB12 | ADP 88 | 7th-9th Round

August 23: It's looking more and more likely Luck won't be ready for Week 1. We're now less than 20 days from the Colts' opening game. Realistically, the team needs to have a game plan in place for Week 1 within ten days. Though Luck has reportedly been throwing for three weeks without a setback, he's still on the team's PUP list and has yet to throw in individual or 7-on-7 team drills. It's still possible Luck does individual work by the end of this week, earns clearance for team drills next week, then begins practicing with the team in preparation for Week 1. But there is little optimism that's likely from local writers.

I don't think Luck starts on the PUP list without a setback. If he's not available Week 1, it should be soon afterward. The Colts travel to Los Angeles in Week 1 then come back home for two games. Travel to the west coast seems unlikely but one of the two home games seems a soft landing spot. You can also expect Luck to need some time to build arm strength, accuracy, and stamina in live game action after he returns.

Draft Recommendation: I'm wary of recommending Luck as an elite option over the first month of the season. But there's been no indication of a setback and it's reasonable to expect him to return to form at some point this season. If you take Luck at his ADP, you're likely to have an elite quarterback at some point this season. You'll need a viable second quarterback to float your starting lineup early. And you'll have to accept the risk of a late setback and inseason PUP designation. But it's possible Luck will be in form by midseason, if not sooner.

September 2 Update: The Colts activated Luck from their PUP list. There remains no timetable or official statement on when he will begin practicing, but this move is an indication the Colts believe he will return sooner than 6-8 weeks. Expect Luck to need 2-3 weeks of practice before he can return to play. The soonest we'll see him is Week 2 at this point but there are no guarantees.

Ty Montgomery | Sickle cell trait

  RB18 | ADP 40 | Mid 4th - Early 5th

Tevin Coleman | Sickle cell trait

  RB25 | ADP 63 | Late 5th - Mid 6th

John Brown | Sickle cell trait

  WR48 | ADP 126 | After 10th

August 23: Many of my Twitter followers have asked for an explanation of sickle cell trait this summer. I'll keep the discussion relatively short. Skip to the draft recommendation for the bottom line on these three players.

Sickle cell trait (SCT) is the carrier state of sickle cell disease, a blood disorder in which oxygen carrying red blood cells can deform and cause multiple types of illness. Those with SCT are generally healthy and at little risk of complications with routine exercise. Unfortunately, some with SCT have higher amounts of susceptible red blood cells and are at risk of complications with prolonged conditioning and extreme exercise. In those situations, the red blood cells may deform (become crescent shaped rather than disc shaped) and cause damage to muscle tissue. 

Football players with SCT are at higher risk of these complications. Prolonged conditioning workouts and extreme exercise are common and often exacerbated by dehydration and heat exposure. Not all players with SCT experience symptoms, which are generally described as a different kind of muscle cramping where the muscles feel heavy and fatigued rather than tight and painful. Others are even more unlucky and experience symptoms that those with sickle cell disease might -- like obstructed blood vessels due to deformed and sticky red blood cells that can cause splenic injury (Ryan Clark) or other illness.

Babies are now routinely tested for red blood cell disorders, including sickle cell trait and disease, at birth. The incidence of SCT in African-Americans is generally felt to be between 7-10%, with a recent study of newborn screens reporting 7.3% (and 1.6% in the overall population regardless of ethnicity). Many adults don't know their status, however, and many colleges and the NFL are testing for these disorders upon arrival in the football program or at the combine.

Three current offensive players are known to have SCT -- there are undoubtedly others -- Montgomery, Coleman, and Brown. Most often, the condition comes up when a player with SCT travels to Denver and the thin air increases the risk of complications. 

Coleman was put to a tough decision when he traveled to Denver last year. Montgomery had a recent leg strain that raised questions about whether SCT was playing a role in his injury and recovery. But the highest profile recent case has been John Brown, whose frequent muscle strains and difficult recovery have again highlighted concerns with SCT in the NFL.

Brown has had multiple muscle injuries thought to be related to SCT. Last season, Brown struggled through hamstring problems. When an MRI showed no torn muscle fibers, further testing showed Brown had SCT. This season, a slow-to-heal quad strain has Brown frustrated and coach Bruce Arians suggesting to reporters that the team may not trust Brown to stay healthy. While the Arizona medical staff continues to closely monitor Brown's hydration and exertion, he's been able to manage only limited repetitions.

Draft Recommendation: Montgomery's strain has not been reported to be SCT-related. He has recovered and returned to practice. Coleman's only SCT-related concern has been his trip to Denver. Both present little injury-related risk. Brown's illness is of higher concern. He has had multiple muscles involved and is known to recover slowly. The Cardinals have expressed concern about Brown's availability throughout the summer. He may finally put his muscle issues behind him when cooler weather prevails but it's hard to trust him to remain symptom-free. Draft Brown with caution.

August 27 Update: Ty Montgomery traveled to Denver and played. That's extremely reassuring against short and long term concerns about SCT-related conditions. John Brown made a strong statement about his improving health in his return on Saturday, playing 29 snaps and hooking up with Carson Palmer for two touchdown passes.

MIke Gillislee | Hamstring strain

  RB26 | ADP 65 | Late 5th - Mid 6th

August 23: Gillislee struggled with a hamstring strain during offseason workouts then admitted he "tried to burst" on a play early in camp and aggravated his injury. He told reporters he was 100% earlier this week and has been cleared to return to individual drills. Aggravations are common during the first 7-10 days after returning to sport-related activity and Gillislee has already had one setback this offseason.

Draft Recommendation: It's always difficult to read the New England running back situation. With a glut of options on the depth chart and Gillislee unable to show his potential value to the Patriots' offense, it's difficult to handicap touches. I'd feel better taking Gillislee at -- or above -- his ADP once he proves he's outside the aggravation window. For now, buyer beware. Of note: David Dodds has Gillislee projected within the mid-30s at the running back position. Sigmund Bloom has him ranked as his RB25. Our Footballguys consensus staff ranking has him RB32. Expect all those rankings to creep up with any positive injury or depth chart news this week.

August 26: Gillislee played in the Patriots' third preseason game and had eight rushes on 13 snaps. With another week of healthy practice, Gillislee will be outside of the usual aggravation window. He's rapidly approaching the moment when your decision should depend more on your view of the distribution of touches for the New England offense than concern about his lingering hamstring strain.

Cam Newton | Right rotator cuff repair

  QB6 | ADP 66 | 6th - 7th

August 23: Newton rested his arm for nearly two weeks after experiencing soreness. He's since returned to team drills and looked comfortable throwing the ball downfield. The Panthers haven't yet decided whether Newton will participate in this week's preseason game but the fact he may be available at all is strongly reassuring.

Draft Recommendation: Newton is safe to draft around his current ADP.

Brandon Marshall | Shoulder injury

  WR30 | ADP 68 | Late 6th - Mid 7th

August 23: Marshall suffered a shoulder injury during the team's second preseason game. X-rays were negative and multiple sources report the injury is minor. Some shoulder injuries linger and limit receivers and Marshall has yet to return to practice. Still, the Giants seem more cautious than concerned here.

Draft Recommendation: Marshall is firmly within the WR3 tier. He's safe to consider at his current ADP.

Donte Moncrief | AC sprain

  WR39 | ADP 103 | After 10th

August 23: Moncrief continues to practice in a non-contact jersey -- but he's practicing. The Colts have been cautious with their injured players throughout the offseason and there's no reason to risk a lingering injury by exposing Moncrief to contact during preseason practices. If they were concerned about his status, they wouldn't put him in practice situations at all.

Draft Recommendation: Moncrief is safe to draft at or above ADP.

Corey Davis | Hamstring strain

  WR45 | ADP 118 | 9th - 11th

August 23: Davis left practice on August 3rd and has now missed three weeks of action. Mike Mularkey has said the team expects Davis to participate in a preseason game. But he'll need to practice before there's any chance of that happening. Now less than three weeks from pre-Week 1 practice, Davis needs to enter the reconditioning phase of his rehab soon.

Draft Recommendation: Davis' current ADP means you're getting him at a high upside depth or late WR3 price after you've already secured multiple other players in the first 7-8 rounds. Aggravations are a known risk here, but Davis' ceiling makes that a worthwhile gamble.

September 2 Update: Davis returned to practice last week. In need of multiple practices to recondition, Davis must avoid reconditioning injuries and aggravation. He could be available in a limited role in Week 1. If the next two weeks progress smoothly, Davis could be an integral part of the Titans' offense before the end of October.

Eric Ebron | Hamstring strain

  TE12 | ADP 123 | 10th - Later

August 23: This is why hamstring recoveries are tricky to project and there's a reasonable argument to avoid all players with an offseason/preseason hamstring strain that results in more than a week of missed practice. Aggravations are common. Ebron strained a hamstring early in camp, missed over a week of practice, returned to individual drills, immediately left the field, and has missed another week of practice since. The Lions are very tight-lipped with injury information and there's no way to know whether Ebron is dealing with a high-grade aggravation or the team is overly cautious with a vital offensive starter.

Draft Recommendation: Ebron is in tight end purgatory right now. It's impossible to trust him over higher ceiling options in the TE8-10 range. So why take the risk unless you can get him as your TE2 at a value spot in your draft.

September 2 Update: Ebron returned to practice last week. I'm now more comfortable with him as a late TE1 but his multiple aggravations still argue it's risky to draft him at his current ADP.

Joe Flacco | Herniated disc / Muscle spasm

  QB22 | ADP 161 | After 12th

August 23: The Ravens will continue to label Flacco's injury as muscle stiffness and soreness. But players don't miss over a month of practice with muscle spasm -- unless that spasm is related to a more worrisome injury. That's what is happening with Flacco, who almost certainly has a herniated disc causing his symptoms and prompting his extended rest. The Ravens remain silent on when Flacco will return to practice but have maintained that he'll not participate in preseason games but will be expected to practice and play in Week 1.

Draft Recommendation: Flacco is under consideration as a QB2. Unless you're stuck for options in a 2QB or superflex league, Flacco's injury risk and offensive surrounding cast kill any upside he might have had.

September 2 Update: The Ravens expected Flacco to return to practice before the end of the preseason and he narrowly reached that goal last week. He may not be in full form immediately but Flacco looks likely to play in Week 1.


Jamaal Charles (RB51) -- Charles will finally make his preseason debut this week. The Broncos have severely limited his training camp snaps at times and observers haven't been impressed with his movement. He's being drafted as an RB5 but I don't see enough upside to roster him until he proves himself capable of more than 5-8 effective touches. August 27: Charles handled the ball six times in Saturday's preseason game and Broncos' coaches were impressed enough to confirm Charles would make the final 53-man roster.

Matt Forte (RB42) -- Forte missed multiple weeks with a hamstring injury, has more than capable competition in Bilal Powell, and is saddled with a brutal offense. The risk of aggravation or more knee trouble this year is bad enough. Those additional factors make him a do-not-draft until he proves otherwise.

Breshad Perriman (WR67) -- Perriman has a mid-high grade hamstring strain and has yet to practice this preseason. This is yet another offseason of missed reps. Wait until Perriman returns to practice and successfully avoids an aggravation, then consider adding him off the waiver wire.

Mike Williams (WR75) -- It may be another 4-6 weeks before Williams is cleared to practice. The Chargers recently said his earliest return would be in October. Already on his second steroid injection to calm a herniated disc, Williams will be headed to surgery if his symptoms don't fully resolve. Avoid in redraft leagues until he's cleared to practice, then consider adding off the waiver wire. September 2: The Chargers moved Williams to the active roster, a strong sign his rehab is progressing well enough to meet the goal of an October return.

Will Fuller V (WR82) -- Fuller is likely to be placed on injured reserve, then designated to return later in the season. Unless you're in a league with very deep rosters, Fuller is a monitor and add player.

Check back for more injury analysis throughout training camp and the regular season. Also, follow on Twitter @JeneBramel for breaking injury news, commentary, and analysis of this injury and others around the NFL.