Football (and likewise fantasy football) season is here! Many die-hard fantasy football players don't consider the preseason real football, but it is here and it is important. The preseason holds the keys to many in-season decisions (as well as many draft day decisions).
While you certainly want to know if someone is injured before heading into your draft, you also should be aware of someone who has battled injuries throughout the preseason. Soft tissue injuries (hamstring pulls, for example) are more than likely to crop up again, so buyer beware.
You can't predict if a player is going to be injured during the season, but you can be cautious drafting someone who will have a higher likelihood of re-injuring themselves.
Continue to watch the preseason to see if some of the guys on this list are able to play, especially in Week 3, which is typically the game that means the most in a preseason that doesn't hold much meaning to those not trying to win a roster spot on a real-life NFL team.
In the meantime, let's look at some of the more meaningful injuries that may affect your fantasy football team.
To start with, news broke that Kelvin Benjamin's "knee sprain," as originally reported by the Panthers, is actually a torn ACL. His season is over, but he should be back to 100 percent health and return in 2016. If you are in a keeper league and you have an IR spot you can use, he is worth holding onto.
The loss of Benjamin means rookie Devin Funchess is now the No. 1 receiver in Carolina. While Cam Newton did help to make Benjamin's rookie season a success, it's hard to say if Funchess is the same caliber of player as Benjamin. Funchess becomes a must-own, but don't reach for him in the early rounds of your draft (where you might have taken Benjamin).
Tight end Greg Olsen's value skyrockets as well, as Newton is going to be looking for someone, anyone, to throw the ball to, and a tight end is usually a quarterback's security blanket. Newton's fantasy value takes a hit, however, after losing his top receiver. Newton's ADP was the eighth quarterback off the board, but the Benjamin injury may knock him out of the top 10.
Here are the other fantasy-relevant injuries you need to know with three weeks of preseason games still to go.
Geno Smith, QB, New York Jets (broken jaw)
With a blow to the jaw, Smith is now sidelined for at least the first four games of the regular season. The Jets have a bye in Week 5, so odds are the earliest Smith would be on the field would be Week 6. Reports from Jets camp are saying that he is unlikely to be placed on the Physically Unable to Play (PUP) list, which would mean he would be out until at least Week 8. At this point, the starting quarterback job is Ryan Fitzpatrick's to lose. With Cleveland, Indianapolis, Philadelphia and Miami on the schedule for the first four weeks, it is possible that the Jets will want to turn back to Smith. However, in standard fantasy leagues, both quarterbacks can be left on waivers until someone has earned a spot on your roster.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills (hamstring)
McCoy made it through the first preseason game only to only to leave practice on Tuesday with a hamstring injury. He is scheduled for a MRI, but this is something to be concerned with if you are a fantasy owner. Even if the hamstring pull is said to be mild, it is something that is easily aggravated. McCoy will likely miss the rest of the preseason, but this injury will haunt him throughout the season.
The silver lining for McCoy owners is that all four running backs on the Bills' depth chart are currently injured. Fred Jackson is nursing a hamstring injury of his own, Anthony Dixon has a calf injury and Karlos Williams is out and has been in the hospital with an undisclosed ailment. At this point, be wary of drafting McCoy in the first round. Again, while you can never predict when injuries will occur, go with someone in the first round that isn't starting the season with a balky hamstring.
C.J. Spiller, RB, New Orleans Saints (knee surgery)
Last week, the Saints said that Spiller was dealing with a minor injury. This week, we learned that the minor injury was actually arthroscopic knee surgery. While this will cause him to miss the rest of the preseason games, this actually is a "better" injury than the hamstring pulls that are catching fire throughout the league.
Spiller is coming off a disappointing 2014 season, where he only played nine games and had 425 total offensive yards. While he is certainly capable of running the ball 200 times a year, the Saints have Mark Ingram to do that. Spiller will be the pass-catching back and has RB2 value in PPR leagues. At this point, don't let a knee scope affect his draft position too much.
Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans (groin)
In case you're just getting your injury news for the first time, Foster is included on this list. He had groin surgery and will be on the PUP list. While it is hard to say now what his timeline for recovery looks like, it is possible that Foster will be available for the second half of the season. It's a gamble for a player who is arguably a top-5 running back when healthy, but has yet to prove that he can stay healthy. He has had a history of suffering an injury in the preseason or early-season games and having it linger throughout the year. If you have an IR spot on your team, grab Foster in the middle rounds of your draft with the hope that he can help your team get into the playoffs. Just don't count on him too much.
Kevin White, WR, Chicago Bears (shin)
While the first-round draft pick may have been a promising rookie, in standard leagues, at this point, he can be left alone. White, who apparently was dealing with more than shin splints, is having surgery to have a rod inserted in his leg to help stabilize the shin as a result of stress fractures. He will begin the season on the PUP list, but it is not a guarantee that he will he see the field at any point this season.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears (calf)
While White is dealing with a long-term lower leg injury, Jeffery is dealing with a calf strain of his own. The Bears will likely keep him out of the rest of the preseason games, as he is the main focus of the receiver corps at this point. The calf strain isn't something to be concerned with as he should be fine for Week 1, but Jeffery did deal with ankle injuries last season as well, so keep that in mind when constructing your roster.
Percy Harvin, WR, Buffalo Bills (hip)
It's not clear what the hip injury is that Harvin is dealing with, but he has received an injection for the pain. This is a concern because Harvin has had a history of hip problems — he missed the entire 2013 fantasy season because of a hip injury and subsequent surgery. At this point, this raises a red flag for Harvin's fantasy stock in 2015. Given the injury bug that is going around Buffalo, the team may rest him through the preseason in order to give him time to heal, but pay attention to his practice status over the next week or so.
Michael Floyd, WR, Arizona Cardinals (hand)
Floyd had a pretty gruesome injury where he dislocated three of the fingers on his left hand pretty badly, according to reports. He had surgery on the hand in early August, and no official timeline has been given. The Cardinals don't have a reason to rush him back for a preseason game, so odds are that you won't see Floyd until Week 1 of the regular season, assuming his recovery goes well. This is an injury that shouldn't affect him throughout the season, as long as everything heals properly.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Washington Redskins (shoulder)
Jackson suffered a separated shoulder in early August and the initial reports were that he would only miss a couple weeks. Jackson won't play in this weekend's preseason game, but the Week 3 game may be a possibility. He's a WR2 after putting up 1,169 receiving yards and six touchdowns in 2014. The shoulder injury shouldn't be lingering; the inability for Robert Griffin III to get him the ball will be a bigger issue.
Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys (hamstring)
Bryant pulled his hamstring at the beginning of August and has been taking it slow since. The Cowboys likely want their top receiver to rest and get to full health for the regular season. He knows the playbook, he's familiar with Tony Romo, so there is no need to rush him back. Be aware, however, that if the hammy isn't completely healed, it is easy to pull it again. After scoring a career-high 16 touchdowns in 2014, Bryant inked a contract in the offseason that makes him the second-highest paid wide receiver (behind Calvin Johnson). Don't worry as much about the hamstring; worry about Bryant keeping his head in the game now that he has his paycheck.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Denver Broncos (hamstring)
Similar to Bryant, Sanders pulled his hamstring in early August and has not returned to practice. He is coming off a breakout 2014 season where he had 1,404 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. While his numbers may not be that high again in 2015, watch to see when he returns to practice or game action. Be aware, like with Bryant, that if the hamstring doesn't heal, he can easily re-pull it and have to miss regular season action. Currently about the 14th receiver off the board, this ADP may be a little high given the hamstring injury.
Breshard Perriman, WR, Baltimore Ravens (knee)
The rookie was on many expert's sleeper list, but he has been dealing with a knee injury. He had an MRI, which revealed no structural damage. Reportedly, he is still dealing with swelling, which is keeping him off the field. If Perriman cannot play in the third preseason game, his draft stock should drop, as he is missing out on important time to work on his game. As a rookie, he needs to learn the playbook and be able to run the routes in game situations. His current ADP is about 110 overall, but this may drop.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Cleveland Browns (hamstring)
Like the other wide receivers on this list, Bowe is battling a hamstring pull. He missed the first preseason game, and he likely will miss the second as well. As Cleveland's No. 1 receiver, he should get in some reps with the new-to-him offense. Bowe currently has an ADP of 148, or the 59th receiver off the board. If you can, avoid drafting the soon-to-be 31-year-old receiver who hasn't had more than 1,000 yards in the past three seasons.
Marquise Lee, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (hamstring)
Another wide receiver, another hamstring injury. Lee injured his hamstring at the beginning of August and is still expected to be out for another couple weeks. Perhaps he'll be available for the start of the regular season, but after missing much of the offseason, he should be off the fantasy radar. This offense doesn't have a lot of promise to begin with, and Lee is slowly finding himself buried on the depth chart.
Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins (hamstring)
Reed is known as being injury-prone, but the starting tight end job is his now that Niles Paul has been ruled out for the season. In his two seasons in the league, Reed has played in nine and 11 games respectively, for an average of 482 yards a season. He had three touchdowns in his first season and none last year. He's being drafted as the 22nd tight end off the board — a bye week fill-in, if he stays healthy enough through the bye weeks.
Julius Thomas, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars (hand)
Thomas has a broken hand, but will avoid having surgery. He should be out for the entire preseason, but the Jaguars are expecting him to play in Week 1 of the regular season. He will have to wear a protective covering on his hand, but should not be hindered by it. Thomas, coming off back-to-back 12-touchdown seasons, won't repeat on that success now that he's in Jacksonville. The hand injury will heal; the fact that he's in Jacksonville is what is hurting his draft stock. His ADP has him as the eighth tight end off the board and being drafted in the ninth round.
Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles (groin)
Being drafting just after Thomas is Ertz, even though he recently had groin surgery. The Eagles are saying he will be ready by Week 1, but missing the entire preseason is tough. He has played in all 16 games in the two seasons he's played in the league, but be wary of him this year. He's coming into the season not completely healthy, and while the Eagles do focus on maximizing health, it's going to be tough for him to be 100 percent. Look for a decrease on last year's 702 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
— 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.