2018 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Deshaun Watson, David Johnson, Odell Beckham among stars coming back from injury

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Imagine this Fantasy team prior to the 2017 season, and let's say you put it together in an auction. Andrew Luck at quarterback. David Johnson and Dalvin Cook at running back. Odell Beckham and Allen Robinson at receiver, with Julian Edelman at the flex. And Jordan Reed at tight end.

You were likely counting your Fantasy winnings if you selected this team before any preseason games. And then it happened.

Edelman was hurt in the third preseason game. Johnson and Robinson went down in Week 1. Cook and Beckham didn't make it past Week 5, and Reed was done by Week 8. And Luck never even made it on the field.

Injuries ruined many Fantasy teams in 2017, which unfortunately happens every season. But how do you approach players coming back from injuries, especially ones in prominent situations?

We're taking a look at several of these players here who are returning from stints on injured reserve. With that in mind, you won't see Aaron Rodgers on this list since he played last season following his broken collarbone in Week 6. We're also not going to focus on guys like Alshon Jeffery (shoulder) or Marlon Mack (shoulder), who had offseason surgery.

Jeffery and Mack will hopefully be fine for training camp, and we hope everyone on this list will return to their pre-injury form. The more healthy bodies we have, especially stars, the better off our Fantasy teams will be.  

Quarterbacks

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Deshaun Watson HOU • QB • 4
2017 stats - 7 games
CMP %6,180.0
YDS1,699
TD19
INT8
RUSH YDS269
RUSH TD2
  • Injury: torn right ACL
  • When hurt: in practice prior to Week 9
  • Latest update: not wearing a brace during June minicamp
  • Expected return: training camp
  • The Fantasy doctor says …: Watson is still not back to 100 percent yet, but he's trending in the right direction and should be full-go for training camp. And hopefully he will pick up where he left off prior to getting hurt. He averaged 35.8 Fantasy points in his final five games and has the potential to be a top-five quarterback in all leagues. I like him as the No. 4 quarterback behind only Rodgers, Russell Wilson and Tom Brady, and I would draft Watson as early as Round 5.
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Carson Wentz PHI • QB • 11
2017 stats - 13 games
CMP %6,020.0
YDS3,296
TD33
INT7
RUSH YDS299
  • Injury: torn left ACL
  • When hurt: in Week 14 at the Rams
  • Latest update: participated in 7-on-7 drills at June minicamp
  • Expected return: training camp
  • The Fantasy doctor says …: Like Watson, Wentz is on pace to make a full recovery in time for Week 1. If not, the Eagles have the luxury of using Nick Foles, who led Philadelphia to a Super Bowl victory last year. But Fantasy owners are hopeful Wentz is ready, and he was exceptional last season with at least 20 Fantasy points in 10 of 13 starts. He has the chance to be a top-five Fantasy quarterback, but I like him just outside that range at No. 6. He's worth drafting as early as Round 6.
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Andrew Luck IND • QB • 12
2016 stats - DNP 2017
CMP %6,350.0
YDS4,240
TD31
INT13
RUSH YDS341
RUSH TD2
  • Injury: right shoulder 
  • When hurt: in Week 3 of the 2015 season at Tennessee
  • Latest update: threw a football in June minicamp
  • Expected return: training camp
  • The Fantasy doctor says …: Luck was first hurt in 2015, played in pain in 2016 and then sat out all of last season. It's a good sign he was able to throw the ball in the June minicamp, but he still has plenty to prove. We hope he will make a full recovery in training camp, but Luck is better off viewed as a No. 2 Fantasy quarterback than a guaranteed starter. Heading into training camp, he's only worth drafting with a late-round pick in most leagues.
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Ryan Tannehill MIA • QB • 17
2016 stats in 13 games - DNP 2017
CMP %6,710.0
YDS2,995
TD19
INT12
RUSH YDS164
RUSH TD1
  • Injury: torn left ACL
  • When hurt: in Week 14 of the 2016 season vs. Arizona
  • Latest update: fully cleared for all activities and not wearing a brace
  • Expected return: training camp
  • The Fantasy doctor says …: Tannehill is ready to go after missing last season when he re-aggravated his knee injury in training camp. He gets a revamped receiving corps with Jarvis Landry gone, and he has new weapons in Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson joining Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker. Tannehill was playing well before he got hurt with at least 22 Fantasy points in three of his final five games in 2016. Still, he's just a No. 2 quarterback coming into this year. 

Running backs

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David Johnson ARI • RB • 31
2016 stats - played 1 game 2017
ATT293
YDS1,239
TD16
YPC4.2
REC80
REC YDS879
REC TD4
  • Injury: dislocated left wrist
  • When hurt: in Week 1 at Detroit
  • Latest update: fully recovered
  • Expected return: training camp
  • The Fantasy doctor says …: Johnson is headed toward a big bounce-back campaign, and his goal is 1,000 rushing and 1,000 receiving yards. He already has one season with 2,000 total yards in 2016, and he's capable of being a dominant Fantasy option again. Now, he has to stay healthy since he hasn't been able to finish his past two games after he suffered a knee injury in Week 17 in 2016. But he's healthy now and worth drafting in the first four picks in any format.
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Dalvin Cook MIN • RB • 33
2017 stats - 4 games
ATT74
YDS354
TD2
YPC4.8
REC11
REC YDS90
  • Injury: torn left ACL
  • When hurt: in Week 4 vs. Detroit
  • Latest update: participated in team drills during June OTAs
  • Expected return: training camp
  • The Fantasy doctor says …: Cook already appears ready to go, and hopefully he will pick up where he left off prior to getting hurt. He had double digits in Fantasy points in a non-PPR league in three of four games, and he was on pace for 1,416 rushing yards and eight touchdowns and 44 catches for 360 yards. Cook is being drafted in Round 2 in all formats, and he might prove to be a steal given his upside.
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D'Onta Foreman HOU • RB • 27
2017 stats - 10 games
ATT78
YDS327
TD2
YPC4.2
REC6
REC YDS83
  • Injury: ruptured left Achilles
  • When hurt: in Week 11 vs. Arizona
  • Latest update: still doing rehab
  • Expected return: hopeful for Week 1
  • The Fantasy doctor says …: There are a lot of ifs when it comes to Foreman this year. If he's not ready to play in training camp then he could end up on the reserve/PUP list. But if he's fine he could push Lamar Miller for the starting job. Foreman is worth drafting with a mid- to late-round pick in all leagues, but you might have to be patient with him given his recovery. There could be a big reward if he's ready to play in Week 1, especially if he beats out Miller for the starting job.
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Chris Thompson WAS • RB • 25
2017 stats - 10 games
ATT64
YDS294
TD2
YPC4.6
REC39
REC YDS510
REC TD4
  • Injury: broken right fibula
  • When hurt: in Week 11 at New Orleans
  • Latest update: still doing rehab
  • Expected return: hopeful for training camp
  • The Fantasy doctor says …: Thompson should be fine for training camp, and he's expected to return to his role as a change-of-pace rusher and work on passing downs. The difference for him this year will be his backfield mate since Washington drafted rookie Derrius Guice, who has the chance to be a star. Still, Thompson should excel in PPR leagues, and he's worth drafting as a flex option in those formats with a mid-round pick. In non-PPR leagues, draft Thompson late.
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Spencer Ware KC • RB • 32
2016 stats - DNP 2017
ATT214
YDS921
TD3
YPC4.3
REC33
REC YDS447
REC TD2
  • Injury: torn right LCL and PCL
  • When hurt: in third preseason game at Seattle
  • Latest update: participated in individual drills at June minicamp
  • Expected return: hopeful for training camp
  • The Fantasy doctor says …: It appears that Ware will be fine for training camp, and he should be the No. 2 running back for the Chiefs behind Kareem Hunt. We'll see how much work Ware gets because Hunt was dynamic as a rookie in 2017 when he led the NFL in rushing. If Ware is ready for Week 1, he's the handcuff to draft with Hunt, but only with a late-round pick.
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Kenneth Dixon BAL • RB • 30
2016 stats in 12 games - DNP 2017
ATT88
YDS382
TD2
YPC4.3
REC30
REC YDS162
REC TD1
  • Injury: torn left meniscus
  • When hurt: during training camp last year
  • Latest update: fully recovered
  • Expected return: training camp
  • The Fantasy doctor says …: Dixon showed promise as a rookie in 2016, and he should be able to find a role now that he's back at 100 percent. He will compete with Javorius Allen for the No. 2 job in Baltimore behind Alex Collins, but Dixon should prove to be the better option as the backup and could play on passing downs. He's worth drafting with a late-round pick in all formats, with his value slightly higher in PPR.

Wide receivers

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Odell Beckham NYG • WR • 13
2017 stats - 4 games
TAR41
REC25
YDS302
TD3
  • Injury: broken left ankle
  • When hurt: in Week 5 vs. Chargers
  • Latest update: participated in individual drills at June minicamp
  • Expected return: training camp
  • The Fantasy doctor says …: Beckham appears on track for training camp, and it doesn't seem like his contract situation will be a problem. When healthy, Beckham is a top-five Fantasy receiver, but he has to adjust to playing with the best supporting cast of his career now that the Giants have Saquon Barkley, Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard as complementary options. We expect Beckham to be just fine, and he's a sure-fire first-round pick in all formats.
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Allen Robinson CHI • WR • 12
2016 stats - played 1 game 2017
TAR151
REC73
YDS883
TD6
  • Injury: torn left ACL
  • When hurt: in Week 1 at Houston
  • Latest update: limited participant in OTAs
  • Expected return: training camp
  • The Fantasy doctor says …: Robinson is expected to make a full recovery in time for training camp, and we hope he performs like he did in 2015 when he was a Fantasy star. He had 80 catches, 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns on 152 targets that season in Jacksonville, but his production declined severely in 2016 (73 catches, 883 yards and six touchdowns on 151 targets) before getting hurt last year. He should be the clear No. 1 option in Chicago's passing game, and he's worth drafting as a No. 2 Fantasy receiver in Round 4.
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Julian Edelman NE • WR • 11
2016 stats - DNP 2017
TAR158
REC98
YDS1,106
TD3
  • Injury: torn right ACL
  • When hurt: in third preseason game at Detroit
  • Latest update: participated in team drills during June minicamp
  • Expected return: Week 5 after being suspended four games for PEDs
  • The Fantasy doctor says …: I was excited about Edelman's return before his suspension was announced in June, and we'll see if it's reduced on appeal. But even though he will likely miss four games, he should still return as the No. 1 target for Tom Brady. Over the final 12 games of the season, Edelman should perform like a No. 2 Fantasy receiver in all leagues, and he has top-15 potential in PPR. He's worth drafting in Round 6 in non-PPR leagues and Round 4 in PPR.
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Pierre Garcon SF • WR • 15
2017 stats - 8 games
TAR67
REC40
YDS500
TD0
  • Injury: non-displaced fracture in neck
  • When hurt: in Week 8 at Philadelphia
  • Latest update: fully recovered
  • Expected return: training camp
  • The Fantasy doctor says …: Garcon was on pace for 80 catches for 1,000 yards last season before getting hurt, and he never got the chance to play with Jimmy Garoppolo. So far this offseason, the two appear to have developed a solid rapport, and Garcon should be the No. 1 receiver in San Francisco. Garcon is a No. 3 Fantasy receiver in non-PPR leagues, but he's a potential No. 2 option in PPR. He's an excellent receiver to target with a mid-round pick. 
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Cameron Meredith NO • WR • 81
2016 stats - DNP 2017
TAR96
REC66
YDS888
TD4
  • Injury: torn left ACL
  • When hurt: in third preseason game at Tennessee
  • Latest update: participated in individual drills at May OTAs
  • Expected return: training camp
  • The Fantasy doctor says …: Meredith will be the No. 3 option in the Saints' passing game at best behind Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara, and he will compete for targets with Ted Ginn and Benjamin Watson as well. He should benefit playing with Drew Brees, and we hope he can build off his 2016 campaign with the Bears before he suffered a torn ACL last year. He's on track for a full recovery in training camp, and Meredith is someone to target with a late-round pick in all leagues.
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Quincy Enunwa NYJ • WR • 81
2016 stats - DNP 2017
TAR106
REC58
YDS857
TD4
  • Injury: bulging disc in neck
  • When hurt: during training camp last year
  • Latest update: participated in individual drills at June minicamp
  • Expected return: training camp
  • The Fantasy doctor says …: It would not be a surprise to see Enunwa lead the Jets in receptions this year, and his main competition for targets will be Robby Anderson, who could be suspended, and Terrelle Pryor, who is once again dealing with an ankle injury. Enunwa was an unheralded member of the standout 2014 receiver class, but he played well in 2016 and is worth drafting with a late-round pick in all leagues now that he's healthy again.
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Terrelle Pryor NYJ • WR • 1
2017 stats - 9 games
TAR37
REC20
YDS240
TD1
  • Injury: right ankle
  • When hurt: Week 10 vs. Minnesota
  • Latest update: no longer wearing a walking boot
  • Expected return: hopeful for training camp
  • The Fantasy doctor says …: Pryor was a huge bust with the Redskins last year, and his ankle injury could have been a reason why. His last game with the team was in Week 10, but he was reportedly dealing with the injury for several weeks. He underwent another surgery this offseason after signing with the Jets, and we'll see if he can return in training camp. Even if he does, he has a lot to prove to Fantasy owners this season and is only worth a late-round flier in most leagues.
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Brandon Marshall SEA • WR • 15
2017 stats - 5 games
TAR33
REC18
YDS154
TD0
  • Injury: left ankle
  • When hurt: in Week 5 vs. Chargers
  • Latest update: pain free
  • Expected return: training camp
  • The Fantasy doctor says ...: Marshall shouldn't have to worry about the ankle injury from last season, but he does have to deal with Father Time. He's 34 now, and he struggled with the Giants last season before getting hurt. Going to Seattle was a good destination for him given the Seahawks lack of depth at receiver behind Doug Baldwin, and they have to replace 101 catches for 1,223 yards and 16 touchdowns on 178 targets from last year with Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson gone. Still, Marshall is just worth a late-round pick in most leagues.  

Tight ends

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Jordan Reed WAS • TE • 86
2017 stats - 6 games
TAR35
REC27
YDS211
TD2
  • Injury: left hamstring
  • When hurt: in Week 8 vs. Dallas
  • Latest update: participated in individual drills at May OTAs
  • Expected return: hopeful for training camp
  • The Fantasy doctor says …: Reed was sent to injured reserve last season because of his hamstring, but his toe problem was the bigger issue. He required a "procedure" on his toe this offseason, and hopefully that solved the problem. When healthy, Reed is an elite tight end, but that's been a rarity for him in his career. In 2015, Reed had 87 catches for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns in 14 games, and we hope he can return to that level. He's worth drafting with a late-round pick.
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Tyler Eifert CIN • TE • 85
2017 stats - 2 games
TAR5
REC4
YDS46
TD0
  • Injury: back
  • When hurt: Week 2 vs. Houston
  • Latest update: Uncertain for start of training camp
  • Expected return: unknown
  • The Fantasy doctor says …: Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said he didn't know if Eifert would be ready for training camp, and this sounds like another setback for him, which is problematic. He was great in 2015 when he had 52 catches for 615 yards and 13 touchdowns in 13 games, but he's appeared in just 10 games since then over the past two seasons. At this point, Eifert is a dart throw with a late-round pick, and hopefully he can stay healthy for more than 10 games in 2018.
Senior Fantasy Writer

Jamey Eisenberg has been a Senior Fantasy Writer for CBS Sports since 2006 with a focus on Fantasy Football. A University of Florida grad (class of '98), Jamey got his start in the newspaper business and... Full Bio

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