Injured players poised to make solid comebacks in '07
Posted: Monday June 25, 2007 5:21PM; Updated: Monday June 25, 2007 5:21PM
Edgerrin James did it in 2002; Steve Smith followed suit in 2005. Javon Walker, Carson Palmer and Deuce McAllister did the same in 2006. They all returned from devastating season-ending injuries the previous season to return to the top of their respective games. A fantasy owner's worst nightmare is seeing the star player carted off the field. The aforementioned stars all share that one horrible moment in common, but they also give the following players hope. Below are guys who ended the 2006 season nicked up. Some hope to bounce back from season-ending injuries, while others simply try to avoid the nagging ones that prevented them from staying on the field.
Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins: Less than three minutes into the first preseason game of 2006, Portis' season took a turn for the worst after laying out Cincinnati's Keiwan Ratliff following an interception. Portis suffered a shoulder subluxation (a fancy word for a serious dislocation) on the play. He missed the rest of the preseason and played in six of the team's first seven games with his partially dislocated shoulder, before a broken left hand in Week 10 finished his season. He played well when healthy, racking up 693 total yards and seven TDs in seven games.
Since his premature departure in 2006, the 26-year-old Portis has been fantasy football's forgotten man. He was a borderline consensus fourth OVERALL projection in mocks prior to his mishap. Now, he's being projected as low as a fourth- or fifth-ROUND pick, due to the phenomenal play of Ladell Betts during the second half of last season, and whispers of possible tendonitis in his knee this off-season.
Portis is still in his prime, he has never suffered a major injury to any part of either of his legs, and the 'Skins don't see the tendonitis as a major issue. Don't let Portis pass you by at the end of round two of seasonal drafts. Despite Betts' presence, Portis is still a main weapon in Al Saunders' offense, meaning therešs a very good chance he could return to 1,300-1,500 yard rushing status in 2007.
Kevin Jones, RB, Lions: Ah, the dreaded Lisfranc fracture. Jones was on pace to finish the season with 919 rushing yards, 693 receiving yards and 11 TDs when he went down in Week 14 against the Vikings. There have been conflicting reports out of Detroit ever since the injury -- some say Jones will never fully recover, and others saying he'll be 100 percent by training camp. Jones has begun running and cutting on his injured foot. He's a gamer who'll play through injuries and he fits in well with Mike Martz's offense, having caught 61 balls in just 12 games last year. On the other hand, it's a tell tale sign that Detroit brought in Tatum Bell and T.J. Duckett in the offseason for insurance, and there have been rumors that KJ will start the season on the PUP list. The prognosis is simple: if you're a dynasty owner of KJ, don't sell him low -- he will be back to full health, just not in 2007. He's still young enough to bounce back and pick up where he left off in 2008. Seasonal owners can take a chance on him toward the end of their drafts and hope that his rehab accelerates in the coming months.
Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles: News out of Eagles' organized team activities is that McNabb, who blew out his knee in Week 11 against Tennessee, has looked and felt great while running through basic passing drills -- a great sign that he can return to his top-three fantasy QB status in 2007. Yes, Philly took Kevin Kolb with their first pick in the draft, but all that did was put a huge chip on McNabb's shoulder. He lost a weapon with Donte' Stallworth's departure to New England, but gained one with the signing of speedy Kevin Curtis. The nine-year veteran was on pace for 4,644 passing yards and 31 TD passes when his season came to an end. Those totals would have blown Peyton Manning and Drew Brees out of the water statistically. Can he stay healthy, after failing to finish two straight seasons? Absolutely -- and when he does, he'll easily be a top-three fantasy QB in 2007.
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