Another week, another (potentially) devastating injury to a top NFL and fantasy wide receiver. The preseason usually isn't this brutal, but 2015 has shown that at any given time, any given player can go down with an injury. Hopefully fantasy football owners have not yet had their draft, as the guy that went Jordy Nelson/Kelvin Benjamin in the first two rounds is now likely without a WR1 on his team.
During the Packers’ preseason game against Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon, Nelson went down with a non-contact knee injury. He was helped off the field, and the initial reports out of Green Bay are that it is feared that he tore his ACL.
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said he would wait until Nelson underwent further tests before commenting further, but for the sake of fantasy owners looking for answers, let's assume that Nelson is now out for the season. Non-contact injuries are rarely good, and this has shades of Benjamin's injury written all over it.
If Nelson is out, Randall Cobb moves up to be the No. 1 receiver for the Packers, although he often lines up in the slot. Davante Adams will actually be the biggest beneficiary of Nelson being out. Cobb may get a few extra passes, but Adams will take over the role that Nelson played, lining up out wide.
Last season, in his rookie year, Adams had 38 receptions for 446 yards and three touchdowns. However, those numbers are slightly skewed, as he had a 6-121-0 effort in Week 13. (Both Nelson and Cobb did play in that game). In the three games following that breakout game, Adams totaled four receptions for 29 yards.
He does have the potential for success in such a high-powered offense, so he now jumps to a WR2 for fantasy purposes with upside. Another player to watch is Richard Rodgers, the starting tight end for the Packers. He may be worth a late-round flyer if he ends up getting some red-zone looks in Nelson's absence.
If you are in deep leagues or are just looking for another late-round pick, grab Jeff Janis. He would be next in line behind Cobb and Adams, and the likely receiver to line up when the Packers go three-wide. Rookie Ty Montgomery also is worth draft consideration in very deep leagues.
Lastly, don't get concerned yet, but Aaron Rodgers was spotted with his right (throwing) arm wrapped after he came out of Sunday’s preseason game. The focus after the game was on Nelson, but just be sure to monitor Rodgers' status as well. Assuming he is not injured, he is still a top-3 quarterback, although without his top receiver, calling him the No. 1 option at his position may now be arguable.
Other Injuries Around the League
Roddy White, WR, Atlanta Falcons (elbow)
White will turn 34 during this season, and it appears that his age is catching up with him. He is set to undergo minor surgery on his elbow, although the Falcons say he should be ready for Week 1. Keep in mind this is a player that had his knee drained in the offseason and will likely need to have his knee drained again during the season. The elbow injury didn't keep him out of practice and may just be a similar maintenance procedure. However, when drafting White, don't expect 16 games out of him. He's played 14 games in each of the past two seasons and has failed to reach 1,000 yards receiving. At this point, he's a WR3, but don't expect consistency from him.
Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins (head)
RG3 reportedly suffered a concussion during Washington’s Thursday night preseason game. He also suffered a shoulder stinger, but that has checked out fine. By Sunday, RG3 was cleared and back on the practice field and the plan right now is for him to start the Redskins’ third preseason game on Saturday. But the concern for RG3 isn’t so much the injuries; it’s that his offensive line can't protect him at all. With no time to get out of the pocket, move around or complete accurate throws, RG3's fantasy value is tanking (as is the receivers around him). In standard leagues, RG3 shouldn't be drafted, and DeSean Jackson's value is dropping as well. Even though he's the No. 1 receiver on the team, he should be drafted as a WR3 at best.
Nick Toon, WR, New Orleans Saints (ankle)
While Toon may not have been on many draft lists, his position mate Brandon Coleman may not be such a sleeper any more. Brandin Cooks and Marques Colston are the two top wide receivers in New Orleans, but a battle was ongoing through the preseason between Toon and Coleman for the No. 3 job. Toon suffered a high ankle sprain in the second preseason game, which should pave the way for Coleman to land the job. The rookie was praised by head coach Sean Payton for his performance during training camp, which is always a good sign. A tall (6-6), rangy target, Coleman could emerge as a key red-zone option or Drew Brees especially with Jimmy Graham now in Seattle. No longer a sleeper, Coleman should be drafted as a WR4 with huge upside.
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.