Fantasy Football

2017 Fantasy Football Impact Players Returning From Injury


Every fantasy footballer knows how frustrating injuries can be. It is nearly impossible to make it through a season without one of your top picks going down for at least a couple of games. Last year was no different, with several fantasy studs going down nearly every week of the season.

With training camps starting up, there is going to be a lot of talk about those stars who went down in 2016. And fantasy researchers are going to be wondering who they should trust and who they should avoid in 2017. Using the Mock Draft Wizard will help you get an idea of who people are trusting and who they are not.

There is only so much you can do when evaluating an injured player. How old is he, is he injury prone and how likely is it to happen again? As drafters we must decide whether the reward is worth the risk, and at what value. Here are the six impact players to watch as camps open up to decide if they are worth the risk.

2017 Fantasy Football Impact Players Returning From Injury

Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Bills

When healthy, Sammy Watkins has proven to be one of the most dynamic wide receivers in football. As a rookie, he caught 65 balls for nearly 1,000 yards. And in 2015 he hauled in just 60 passes, but totaled up 1,047 yards in the process in 13 games. But last year Watkins missed all of training camp due to a broken foot. He returned to play the first eight weeks, although obviously hobbled until a second surgery forced him out for the final half of the season.

Looking forward to 2017, we know what Watkins can bring to the table. Even in an offense that prefers to run the ball, Watkins will remain the most targeted wideout for quarterback Tyrod Taylor. At his current draft position, Watkins is being taken as the 18th wide receiver off the board. Given his injury history, that is a fair spot. However, unlike some wideouts in the range, Watkins has shown the ability to drastically outperform this ADP. Drafting him comes with some risk, but the reward might just be worth it.

Update after Trade to the Rams

Unfortunately for Watkins, the move to Los Angeles delivers a significant hit to his value. Watkins floor and upside are both lowered with Jared Goff throwing him the ball. While a new offense is being implemented, it’s impossible to know if Goff will be able to present quality targets to Watkins.  Watkins should be looked at as a very high-risk WR2 or even a middling WR3 at this point.

Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers

Similar to Watkins, Keenan Allen is a wideout that has flashed WR1 potential when healthy. Unfortunately, health has not been kind to Allen. Due to a series of bad luck injuries, Allen has played just nine games in the past two seasons. Before a lacerated kidney in 2015, Allen was on pace to top 130 catches and 1,400 yards through eight games. And in 2016 he tore his ACL on a non-contact play in week one.

Given his proven capability as quarterback Philip Rivers top target, we expect Allen to be the Chargers undisputed No.1. And while the Chargers have some talent on the offensive side of the ball, none have the proven pedigree of a healthy Allen. The one concerning factor is the coaching change to the ground and pound style of Anthony Lynn. However, Allen will have no issues receiving the most targets on a team that projects to put up a lot of points. Allen is currently going one spot behind Watkins, and similarly has proven the capability to severely outperform his round 4 draft spot, health provided.

Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots

Each season that Rob Gronkowski has played at least 11 games, he has either caught 10+ touchdowns or received over 1,000 yards. . Needless to say, in each of those five seasons, Gronkowski finished as a TE1. Over the past five years, however, Gronkowski has missed 22 total games and played hurt in even more.

He is coming off of his third back surgery that caused him to miss the last eight games of the season in 2016. Reports about his offseason recovery are great, but doubt still remains, and with good reason. The Gronk has missed games due to a broken forearm, an ACL tear and three back surgeries. When he is on the field, he is undoubtedly the best tight end in football. According to, over the past six seasons, Gronk has ranked no worse than 15th in fantasy points per game, among wide receivers. He finished in the top 10 in four of those years. Gronkowski is being taken at the back end of the second round, which is a fair price if you believe in his health.

C.J. Anderson, RB, Denver Broncos

C.J. Anderson is another impact player who cannot seem to stay on the field. Dating back to 2013, Anderson has missed a total of 22 games. However, he has been effective when on the field. In 2015 he ran for 720 yards on 4.7 yards per carry in a timeshare while dealing with various foot injuries. In 2016 he was given the starting job and ran for 437 yards over the first seven weeks before tearing his meniscus. At the time Anderson had four games with 10+ fantasy points and three outings of at least 90 yards.

His outlook in 2017 looks similar to what it was in 2016. Second year back Devontae Booker will remain a factor.  However, he reportedly will miss six to eight weeks of camp and preseason due to a wrist injury.  With all the preseason reps going to Anderson, he will be getting a jump start on the lead back position.  In addition, Booker was not very efficient (3.5 ypc) when Anderson went out last year. And the Broncos brought in veteran Jamaal Charles, but he has only played in eight games the last two seasons. Anderson seems healthy again, and will get the first shot at the starting gig. If things do not go well though, the Broncos may be headed for a committee. His current ADP is falling in the middle of the fifth round. At that point, with potential for RB1 touches, Anderson is worth a look.

Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals

Tyler Eifert is essentially a middle- class Rob Gronkowski. The Notre Dame product has scored 18 times in his last 21 games for crying out loud. The problem is that he cannot stay on the field. Eifert has missed 27 games over the past four seasons due to neck, elbow, shoulder, head, ankle and back injuries. So basically his entire body. Eifert most recently missed half of the 2016 season due to offseason ankle surgery and a back injury in week 15. Eifert had surgery in late December and is expected to return healthy in 2017.

With a loaded Bengals offense, there should be plenty of points put up. Even with targets spread around, Eifert remains a proven touchdown machine. In the eight games he played in 2016, Eifert was second in fantasy points per game among tight ends with 8.7 with five scores. Eifert is currently being draft as the sixth tight end and the start of the seventh round. If he stays healthy for a full 16, he should finish in the top-5.

Ameer Abdullah, RB, Detroit Lions

As a rookie in 2015, Abdullah ran for 597 yards on a modest 4.2 YPC. He then came into the 2016 season with expectations to be the lead back in Detroit. A Lisfranc tear in week two then quickly derailed his season. The Lions subsequently used a committee the rest of the season, relying on a combination of Zach Zenner, Dwayne Washington and Theo Riddick, who combined for a 3.5 YPC. Though Riddick remains the biggest threat as the solidified third- down back, Abdullah should take control of the lead back position.

Even with a small sample size, the Lions are expecting Abdullah to lead them in 2017. He’s proven more than capable as a pass- catcher, receiving 25 balls in his rookie year. And the competition for the two- down role is fairly weak. The downside to Abdullah is Detroit’s commitment to passing. Dating back to 2009, the Lions have ranked no lower than 11th in pass attempts. In addition, they have ranked in the bottom three in rushing attempts in each of the past two seasons. Abdullah is falling in the fifth round, as the 28th running back. For a starting running back, despite the offense, that is a reasonable spot to draft him.

2017 Fantasy Football Position Previews
QuarterbacksRunning BacksWide ReceiversTight Ends

For more F6P preseason coverage please visit our 2017 Draft Kit section.

About Trent Smith

I am a huge sports fan, and even bigger fantasy football addict. After competing in fantasy leagues for a number of years I decided to get into the industry myself as a writer.

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