NFL fantasy football: Jason Witten’s injury hinders value

Preseason pain: Per’s Ian Rapoport, Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten suffered a spleen injury during preseason action against the Oakland Raiders on Monday. Though surgery has not been planned, it hasn’t been ruled out either. The veteran is expected to miss the rest of the preseason, and his status for the start of the season is now in question. Fantasy football owners might be forced to drop the Tennessee product down on their draft boards, given he was projected as a top-five fantasy tight end. The uncertainty with his health widens an already sizable gap between the elite players at the position and everyone else. Jermichael Finley and Vernon Davisstand to see their draft values rise as a result, so they could be taken earlier than the middle-rounds as originally expected.

Will Jason Witten be an elite fantasy football tight end in 2012? (Tom DiPace/Associated Press)

Welcome sight: Detroit Lions running back Mikel Leshoure returned to practice Wednesday, easing some of the worries currently plaguing the team at the position. With Kevin Smith as their lone proven and healthy runner to this point, the second-year pro at least provides some backfield security. Leshoure does come with plenty of risk given his Achilles injury which forced him to miss the entire 2011 season and his current suspension for the first two games this year. With the Lions backfield facing the second toughest strength of schedule among fantasy football running backs, consider Leshoure a No. 3 or 4 option in drafts.

Trade bait?:’s Albert Breer reports Seattle Seahawks quarterback Tavaris Jackson is actively being shopped by the team. The news further validates expectations Matt Flynn will ultimately be at the helm Week 1 of the regular season. Though he has been highly touted, Flynn carries little experience, starting only two games and attempting just 132 passes during his four-year career. Combined with a dangerously thin receiving corps, fantasy football owners should consider the LSU product no more than waiver-wire fodder until proven otherwise.

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