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During the first two weeks of training camp, the slew of injuries around the league was alarming. Fortunately, since our last update the injury bug has bitten a bit less frequently. As teams gear up for their first preseason game, here's a roundup of some key injuries you'll need to keep tabs on as you prepare for your fantasy draft.
Geno Smith, QB, NYJ
Analysis: Tuesdays in the NFL have been busy for the last few weeks. Two weeks ago news of the Brady and Bell suspension appeals came down. Last week, it was Arian Foster's groin injury that sent the fantasy world spinning. And just this week, drama ensued in Florham Park when news broke that Geno Smith's jaw was violently displaced by a teammate in the locker room. Smith was prepping for a make-or-break campaign and had been looking good in camp practices. But his newfangled broken jaw will reportedly keep him sidelined for 6-10 weeks. Fortunately the Jets have a more than capable backup in Ryan Fitzpatrick who will take the reins in Smith's stead. Our experts have repeatedly expressed the opinion that the fantasy value of the other Jets' skill players like Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker and Chris Ivory won't be affected by Smith's absence. In fact, Fitzpatrick could even be an upgrade as far as New York's receiving corps is concerned. Either way, Smith wasn't likely to be drafted in any standard leagues and nor will Fitzpatrick. Marshall, Decker and Ivory all remain great bargain picks at their current late-round ADPs.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, NE
Injury: Knee/MCL sprain
Analysis: After being carted off the field last week with a leg injury, it was reported that Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount had suffered a sprained MCL, which is a serious situation. But fortunately, he avoided complete disaster by not tearing any ligaments. Still, Blount will likely be sidelined until at least the start of the regular season (he's suspended for Week 1 anyway), and depending on his recovery timetable, could lose some playing time to Jonas Gray and the rest of the Patriots flock of running backs. As per the usual, the Patriots backfield is a situation to avoid in fantasy, but since Blount's current ADP in NFL.com leagues is Round 7, it's worth making note of. Injuries of this nature can linger and limit a player's production, even if they are healthy enough to return to the field.
Jeremy Maclin, WR, KC
Analysis: The Chiefs had a scare this week with their No. 1 wideout Jeremy Maclin, just two days after reports that he was building great chemistry with quarterback Alex Smith. Maclin apparently suffered a neck strain that was serious enough to require an X-ray. But according to Chiefs beat writer Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star, Maclin returned to practice on Wednesday and expects to suit up for his team's first preseason game at the Arizona Cardinals on August 13. "I'm good to go. I would assume [I'm playing]. I want to," Maclin said. Its good news for fantasy fans as Maclin represents a huge bargain in drafts with his eighth-round APD. He finished as a top-10 option at his position just a season ago, but concerns about Smith's ability to throw deep passes has fantasy enthusiasts shying away. According to NFL Media Columnist Jeffi Chadiha though, "The Maclin-Smith connection should thrill Chiefs fans who have been longing more electricity from this passing attack." Fantasy drafters should feel great about being able to steal Maclin as late as Round 8, as he brings low-end WR2 value to the table in Kansas City.
Kevin White, WR, CHI
Analysis:Bears rookie wideout Kevin Whitemade some progress this week in his recovery from a shin injury that landed him on the preseason PUP list. Just a week after concerns over his health bubbled over, the good news is that White was finally able to do some light running after a practice session earlier in the week. The bad news is that Chicago is still unsure if their first-round draft pick will get any preseason reps as he rehabs his injury. Fantasy fans need to be aware of White's ailment as his ADP remains in Round 8 on NFL.com as the 24th receiver being selected in drafts. If he can't get healthy by the time the season starts, his fantasy value could suffer immensely.
Todd Gurley, RB, STL
Analysis: When the Rams released their first preseason depth chart this week, there was a glaring omission at the running back position. Rookie runner Todd Gurleywasn't even listed. It makes sense since Rams coach Jeff Fisher said this week that Gurley likely won't play in the preseason and the rookie said himself that he isn't sure if he'll be healthy enough to play in St. Louis' season opener (the current thought is that he could miss one-to-three weeks). Yet, he is still being selected several rounds ahead of teammate Tre Mason in fantasy drafts. On NFL.com, Gurley is the 27th running back off the board (Round 9 ADP) while Mason is the 33rd back being selected (Round 12 ADP). Gurley, if healthy, has all the upside in the world but Mason's neglect by fantasy fans is a travesty. So don't pass on Mason if he's still hanging around that late. If you like taking risks, go for Gurley. I surely won't be that guy though.
Matt Franciscovich is an associate fantasy editor at NFL.com. His nickname around the NFL Media office is Franchise, and he's totally cool with it. If you're looking to kill some more time, be sure to check out his player rankings and follow him on Twitter for fantasy advice all season long @m_franciscovich.