Sammy Watkins among injured players to monitor

Injuries are a part of life in the NFL, which makes them a part of life in fantasy football. As we get closer to the start of the regular season it becomes more imperative to keep an eye on which players are banged up and how it will affect their availability for their respective teams. That is certain to have an impact on their draft stock.

For instance, Colin Kaepernick's uneven performance in 2013 has fantasy enthusiasts questioning how high to take the 49ers quarterback in 2014 (he has a current eighth-round ADP on NFL.com). Then comes word that Kaepernick played much of the season with a foot injury. That's a big blow for a player who makes a portion of his living as a runner. His return to health combined with a healthy return for two of his main targets could be reason to consider him a touch earlier.

That brings us to some guys who are dealing with their own injury issues leading into the all-important third preseason game. Sammy Watkins enters the season with big expectations, though he's yet to fully show up in his first two preseason outings. Now he's working through a rib injury that could keep him out of Saturday's game against the Buccaneers. The Bills don't consider the issue to be serious, but any time missed puts another notch in the "Robert Woods-as-sleeper" column.

Things are a lot less encouraging for Odell Beckham, Jr. The Giants rookie still has yet to be a full participant in practice as he continues to nurse hamstring injuries. Beckham was supposed to be an immediate impact player, but that seems to be dwindling in importance over just getting him on the field. It's enough to get coach Tom Coughlin a little bit testy. We've spent so much time talking about rookie receivers who could contribute; Beckham's nowhere near that list at the moment.

There's better news in Houston where Arian Foster and Andre Johnson were back working with the first team on Wednesday. That makes it a little more optimistic that both players will see action this weekend against the Broncos. It's also a reassurance about two veterans who have dealt with nagging injuries in the past.

Quick outs

» Steelers running backs Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount were taken into custody for marijuana possession Wednesday. While any legal, team or league discipline has yet to be determined, the duo is expected to play in tonight's preseason game against the Eagles per NFL Media reporter Aditi Kinkhabwala. Stay tuned for what could be to come with this pair.

» The Detroit Lions have a new offensive coordinator this season in Joe Lombardi which leaves plenty of people wondering exactly what the offense will look like this season. One of those people is Calvin Johnson. Yep. Megatron says he's "as curious as anybody else" as to what his role will be. While it's a eyebrow-raising statement, we'd be more concerned if it was anyone other than Johnson. As the NFL's (and fantasy's) preeminent receiver, Johnson will see plenty of targets regardless of the offensive scheme. What it means for everyone else remains to be seen.

» Pierre Thomas is expecting a new role for the Saints this season. After spending 2013 as New Orleans' lead back, Thomas says he expects to give way to Mark Ingram this season while working as a pass protector and pass-catcher. Last season Thomas was a boon to PPR fantasy owners by leading all NFL running backs with 77 catches. He might not catch as many this year, but he'll still have plenty of PPR value in 2014.

» Steve Smith has been predictably vocal since joining the Baltimore Ravens and the veteran receiver thinks his new team's offense will create a scenario in which opponents "will have to pick their poison." Smith cited an abundance of weapons, which might cause an equal amount of fantasy consternation. Torrey Smith has struggled to be a consistent fantasy producer while Steve Smith is past his prime. Add the potential backfield committee of Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce and there might be too many conundrums for fantasy enthusiasts to wade through.

Marcas Grant is a fantasy editor for NFL.com. Follow him on Twitter @MarcasG.

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