Fantasy Football

2021 Fantasy Football Players Returning From Injury

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With the 2021 Fantasy Football Players Returning From Injury, we’ll take a look at some of the top players who will look to bounce back from last year’s injuries.

Football is poetic; football is beautiful.

It’s also violent and ultimately one of the most dangerous sports on Earth.

Both sides of the coin are what make it such a popular sport. Just as much as fans love an acrobatic catch from a wide receiver, they also roar for a bone-crushing tackle from a gargantuan linebacker. In one breath, football is the Mona Lisa and the Roman Coliseum. 

This dynamic is what makes football—well, football.

Needless to say, when some of the fastest and strongest people in the world are flying around a field, there are bound to be injuries. It’s an inevitable part of the game and as a result, there are massive injury implications each year throughout the NFL. 

2021 Fantasy Football Players Returning From Injury

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Quarterback

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Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

  • Injury: Ankle Fracture
  • Games Missed: 11

One of the most devastating injuries came in Week 5 when Dak Prescott was carted off the field after sustaining a hit at the hands of the New York Giants pass rush. 

It was emotional and heartbreaking for fans of America’s team as well as fantasy owners. 

The Cowboys heavily relied on Prescott, who was leading the NFL with an average of 422.5 yards per game. Although Dallas had a historically poor defense, Prescott and a star-studded receiving corps put up powerful numbers. 

Heading into 2021, Prescott is seemingly healthy and finally reached a long-term deal. The $160 million contract makes the former fourth-round draft pick the second-highest-paid player in the league, behind Patrick Mahomes.

With a heavier wallet, fantasy owners should expect Prescott’s high-level play to continue. With CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, and Amari Cooper headlining the receiving group, the offensive fireworks should continue as long as Prescott stays protected.

Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Injury: Partial MCL tear
  • Games Missed: 0

Not only is Tom Brady the most prolific quarterback in the history of the NFL, but he’s also apparently one of the most tight-lipped players in the game.

A fact unbeknownst to the public, Brady recently revealed he played through an MCL tear en route to his seventh Super Bowl victory.

According to a report in the Tampa Bay Times, Brady, who never appeared on the Buccaneer’s injury report last season, underwent surgery to repair a torn MCL. At 43, it’s already impressive to win a Super Bowl. To do it on one leg just adds to the lore.

With an abundance of weapons at his disposal, fantasy owners shouldn’t expect last year’s injury to impede his ability. Whether he’s banged up by injury or not, you can never count out TB12.

Last season, Brady threw for 4,633 yards and 40 touchdowns. If he’s fully healthy, who knows what’s in store for 2021?

Running Back

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Saquon Barkley, New York Giants

  • Injury: ACL Tear
  • Games Missed: 14

A generational talent, Saquon Barkley is the most explosive running back to don the Giants uniform since Tiki Barber. In his rookie season, the Penn State standout posted an NFL-high 2,028 yards from scrimmage while scoring 15 touchdowns. 

Since then, he’s been plagued by injuries, including a season-ending ACL tear in Week 2 of the 2020 season. 

While he’s been cryptic as to whether he’ll be ready for Week 1 against the Broncos, fantasy owners should expect the fourth-year stud to be a game-changer.

He’ll be near the top of most redraft boards and with his dynamic ability as a pass-catcher out of the backfield, he should be.

Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers

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  • Injuries: High ankle sprain, quad & shoulder ailments
  • Games Missed: 13

Every time Christian McCaffrey touches the football, there’s a threat that he’ll go to the house. 



In 2019, McCaffrey became the first player since Marshall Faulk to join the 1,000/1,000 club. His dynamism as a well-rounded rusher and an elite receiving back led to one of the most impressive seasons in NFL history.

Last season, McCaffrey was hit with a myriad of injuries, limiting the former Pro-Bowler to just three games. The second-generation NFLer has claimed he’s back at 100% which is terrifying for opposing defenses.

Mike Davis filled in well for a hobbled McCaffrey last season, but his signing with the Atlanta Falcons points to McCaffrey picking up where he left off in 2019.

He’ll be in the MVP conversation as arguably the most dominant running back in the league when fully healthy.  Even though his injury history is problematic for prospective fantasy owners, the thought of a repeat of 2019 should leave those in a position to draft McCaffrey salivating like Pavlov’s dogs.

Wide Receiver

Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos

  • Injury: Torn ACL
  • Games Missed: 15
  • Courtland Sutton’s 2020 season was over before it had a chance to get off the ground.

After breaking out in 2019 with 1,112 yards and six touchdowns on 72 receptions a torn ACL wiped out any chance of a repeat in 2020. Sutton played just 31 snaps last season.

Even as a former Pro-Bowler, Sutton might go overlooked by fantasy managers because of last year’s ailment. He could provide excellent value for those in the know. His current ADP sits at around 80 in standard leagues, which is insanely low for someone who butchered secondaries in his sophomore season, averaging 15.4 yards per catch.

Of the 72 receptions Sutton caught in 2019, 50 of them were for a first down. He’ll continue to be relied upon to make plays in 2021. Now that fellow receiver Jerry Jeudy has a full year under his belt, Sutton should have a little more room to work against defenses.

A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans

  • Injury: Knee ailments
  • Games Missed: 2

In 2020, A.J. Brown played through injuries missing just two games due to knee issues.

After Week 2, Brown revealed on social media that he pack it in for the season. Brown opted to push through the pain, securing 70 receptions for 1,075 yards and 11 touchdowns. Brown battled through injuries to receive Pro-Bowl honors for the first time in his career.

This past offseason, the Ole Miss alumnus underwent surgeries on both of his knees, which leaves his status in Week 1 cloudy. Despite the uncertainty, Brown is on track to hit the 1,000-yard milestone for the third time in as many years in the league.

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Possibly one of the largest offseason signings landed future Hall of Famer, Julio Jones, on the Titans. While signing Jones can certainly take away from Brown’s target share, it will definitely split the attention of opposing defenses. This, combined with Derrick Henry’s dominance as a bruising rusher might be exactly what Brown needs to become a household name.

Brown has scored 20 touchdowns in just 30 regular-season games played. Expect him to be a magnet in the redzone once again. 

Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints

  • Injury: Ankle ligament damage, torn deltoid
  • Games Missed: 9

Michael Thomas holds the NFL record for most receptions by a player through their first five seasons with 510. In 2019, he broke the record for most receptions by a player in a single season with 149. 

Last season, however, was one to forget for Thomas. 

Appearing in just seven contests, Thomas reeled in just 40 catches for 438 yards. He also scored zero touchdowns. A lingering ankle injury kept the Pro-Bowler out for a majority of the season.

In the two previous seasons, Thomas dominated the league with a total of 3,130 receiving yards on 274 catches with 18 touchdowns. 

In 2021, Thomas won’t have Drew Brees slinging him the pigskin, but without much competition at the wideout position, Thomas should be in for another big year. While I’m not sold on Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill as starting QB’s, Thomas’ track record should leave fantasy owners enthused if he’s available to draft. 

Expect Thomas to be a solid WR1 in 2021.

Tight End

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George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

  • Injury: Broken Foot, MCL sprain
  • Games Missed: 8

George Kittle is among the elite tight ends in the NFL. After Kittle, Travis Kelce, and Darren Waller, the talent pool at TE drops off a cliff. Sure, Gronk is an all-time great, but he’s no longer the game changer he used to be in New England.

Last year, Kittle went down with numerous injuries. First, an MCL sprain in Week 1 left him sidelined for the next two games. Then, in Week 8, after making a catch, Kittle landed awkwardly, breaking a bone in his foot and holding him out of the subsequent six weeks.

Although he came back for the final two games of the season, Kittle’s two-year streak of hitting over 1,000 yards was already out of reach.


Despite being on a run-first offense, Kittle commands a large target share. Over the last three seasons, Kittle has averaged 8.5 targets per game. Unless the injury bug rears its ugly head, Kittle should be among the NFL’s premier tight ends once again.


If you enjoyed the 2021 Fantasy Football Players Returning From Injury article, please check out the rest of our 2021 Fantasy Football content from our great team of writers!

About Tyler Mulligan

Tyler is a multimedia sports journalist from Toronto, Canada. He's a contributor for Fantasy Six Pack and an analyst at Pro Football Focus. His main areas of focus are football, hockey and basketball, but his heart lies in fantasy sports.

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