Injuries have altered player draft values

Training camps haven’t even been open for a full two weeks, and a number of big-name players have already suffered some worrisome injuries. Here’s a look at how fantasy leaguers should be dealing with them.

Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos: Moreno suffered a right hamstring injury on Sunday and needed to be carted off the field. A league source told NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora that Moreno pulled the hamstring and will be out at least two weeks. Based on his status as a major breakout candidate in fantasy circles, this is a situation that needs to be monitored. Coach Josh McDaniels is very tip-lipped about injuries – much like his mentor Bill Belichick – so Moreno will come with some level of risk in drafts until he’s healthy enough to get back on the field.

Monatario Hardesty, RB, Browns: A deep preseason sleeper on, Hardesty has lost some of his luster due to the knee ailment he suffered in camp. The injury isn’t considered serious, but it could cost him around two weeks of camp. That’s a tough break for a rookie who’s looking to overtake a veteran for a starting role. It’s also a reminder that Hardesty had three knee surgeries in four years at Tennessee, so there are concerns with his durability. Until he can return, Jerome Harrison will have more than his share of opportunities to grab hold of the top spot on the depth chart. I still like Hardesty’s upside, but this battle could be drawn out late into the preseason.

Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings: Like Daniels, Rice has been placed on the active/physically unable to perform list as he continues to deal with a lingering hip injury. While the ailment is cause for some concern, insider Steve Wyche believes “there is little concern that [Rice] won’t be ready for the season opener.” Rice actually did some work on a side field which included straight line running. Wyche added that he “wouldn’t be shocked to see Rice’s progression into serious football work coincide with [Brett] Favre’s return to the team in mid-August.” Rice, who has had his share of injuries at the NFL level, remains a borderline No. 1 or 2 fantasy wideout in drafts.

Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys: Bryant, the most prized rookie wideout in fantasy football, suffered a high ankle sprain last week and will miss four to six weeks. There’s a chance that he could be back in time for the team’s preseason finale, but it will be hard for Bryant to pass Roy E. Williams on the depth chart during the start of the regular season. I’d still draft the rookie ahead of Williams based on upside alone, but he shouldn’t be seen as more than a No. 4 fantasy wideout in seasonal leagues. Williams is no more than a No. 5 option.

Owen Daniels, TE, Texans: Daniels suffered a setback in his return from ACL surgery and was placed on the active/physically unable to perform list last week. However, coach Gary Kubiak still believes his veteran tight end has a chance to be back in action in time for Week 1. Daniels has a better knowledge than most when it comes to returning from ACL injuries. He suffered a torn left ACL in high school and a torn left ACL and MCL in college, so this rehab is nothing new. Still, this latest news is a reminder that Daniels is a major risk-reward option in drafts. Despite his statistical potential, he shouldn’t be seen as more than a low-end No. 1 tight end.

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