Fantasy Baseball Injury Update: Ranking the top 30 IL stashes as long-term cases like Justin Upton, Mike Clevinger and Giancarlo Stanton make their way back

If my goal is to go 30 deep with these rankings, now may be my last chance for a while. Things are suddenly looking a whole lot healthier.

Suggesting as much may reveal some level of naivete. The resolution of past injuries doesn't put a moratorium on future ones, after all. But it just so happens that nearly a dozen impact players, including several we've been waiting all season to see, are making their way back at about the same time, perhaps as early as this week.

In fact, two, Mike Clevinger and Justin Upton, already came off the IL in time for Monday's game. Giancarlo Stanton is expected to follow Tuesday. Clevinger, you may remember, was doing superhuman things before straining his back in mid-April, building off last year's breakout with even better velocity this year. With reliable starting pitching being so difficult to find, his return couldn't come fast enough, and it's worth pointing out he'd be third on this list if he still qualified.

Upton means a great deal to a great number of Fantasy GMs as well, and it's hard to imagine a scenario in which he wouldn't be of some use to everyone. But in his absence, the player pool has become all the more replete with power hitters in what's shaping up to be another record-breaking season, to the point that another 30-homer guy with strikeout problems and a middling batting average won't necessarily be reshaping the standings. He might rank only 18th on this list, if he still qualified, and it's possible, at least in a three-outfielder league, that whoever stashed him away all this time may not have a spot available for him now. 

And therein lies the downside to a returning IL stash: It presents you with an immediate roster complication. You have to find some fat to trim somewhere, and in leagues where less than 300 players are rostered, it can be especially painful. I'd say each of the top 23 here will be must-own when healthy, so stashing them is a no-brainer if you have the IL spots to use. But the Upton Line — right around 20th, let's say — is where you might have to punt if you don't.

Fortunately, among the others gearing up to return this week, there's little reason for debate. Jose Altuve and Aaron Judge are already on rehab assignments. Scooter Gennett, out since spring training, is set to begin one. Joey Gallo and Hunter Dozier could return as soon as this weekend, and Noah Syndergaard and Caleb Smith figure to miss only one or two turns in the rotation. In each of those cases, whatever you've used as a replacement almost certainly doesn't compare in terms of upside, and so carving out a spot on your active roster doesn't require a second thought.

Top IL stashes
1
Jose Altuve Houston Astros 2B
strained hamstring
2
Aaron Judge New York Yankees RF
strained oblique
3
George Springer Houston Astros RF
strained hamstring
4
Noah Syndergaard New York Mets SP
strained hamstring
5
Joey Gallo Texas Rangers CF
strained oblique
6
Giancarlo Stanton New York Yankees LF
sore shoulder
7
Carlos Correa Houston Astros SS
cracked rib
8
Luis Severino New York Yankees SP
strained lat
9
Tyler Glasnow Tampa Bay Rays SP
strained forearm
10
Hunter Dozier Kansas City Royals 3B
chest tightness
11
Scooter Gennett Cincinnati Reds 2B
strained groin
12
Corey Seager Los Angeles Dodgers SS
strained hamstring
13
Caleb Smith Miami Marlins SP
hip inflammation
14
Kyle Hendricks Chicago Cubs SP
shoulder inflammation
15
Carlos Carrasco Cleveland Indians SP

16
Corey Kluber Cleveland Indians SP
fractured forearm
17
Ken Giles Toronto Blue Jays RP
elbow inflammation
18
Domingo German New York Yankees SP
strained hip flexor
19
Jameson Taillon Pittsburgh Pirates SP
strained elbow flexor
20
Luke Weaver Arizona Diamondbacks SP
strained forearm
21
Hunter Pence Texas Rangers DH
strained groin
22
A.J. Pollock Los Angeles Dodgers CF
elbow infection
23
Mitch Haniger Seattle Mariners RF
ruptured testicle
24
Andrelton Simmons Los Angeles Angels SS
sprained ankle
25
Jon Duplantier Arizona Diamondbacks RP
shoulder inflammation
26
Jordan Lyles Pittsburgh Pirates SP
strained hamstring
27
Alex Wood Cincinnati Reds SP
sore back
28
Sean Manaea Oakland Athletics SP
torn labrum in shoulder
29
Nathan Eovaldi Boston Red Sox SP
loose bodies in elbow
30
Hunter Strickland Seattle Mariners RP
strained lat
Senior Fantasy Writer

Raised in Atlanta by a board game-loving family during the dawn of the '90s Braves dynasty, Scott White was easy prey for the Fantasy Sports, in particular Fantasy Baseball, and has devoted his adulthood... Full Bio

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