By Brian Pickering: Sports Health

It’s that time of year again. I have my first fantasy football league draft coming up at the end of the week. For fantasy football owners, one of the biggest fears is having top players go down with injuries. For some players who may be drafted in higher rounds, one concern is how they may be impacted by injuries that sidelined them for significant time last season. There are several big-name players coming back from serious injuries or surgeries in 2015. Below is a short synopsis of injuries/surgeries that may impact draft decisions for fantasy football owners.

Let’s start locally for the first one. The health of the Minnesota Viking offensive line must be considered when drafting Adrian Peterson and other skill players. John Sullivan looks to be back from two spinal surgeries in the past year to anchor the line at center. In addition, there will probably be a new right tackle with the retirement of Phil Loadholt, who missed all of last season with a torn Achilles tendon. Also keep in mind the health of left tackle Matt Kalil, who has dealt with chronic knee injuries the past few years. My conclusion: Drafting Peterson is a safe bet. He should be a top-three pick in most drafts. He led the league last year in rushing with a makeshift offensive line. For other skill players, anticipate similar statistical output to last year as the line hopes to have improved with the addition of Alex Boone at left guard and the return of Sullivan.

Sliding east, Green Bay Packers fans are excited about the return of wide receiver Jordy Nelson in 2016. Nelson tore his anterior cruciate ligament in a preseason game last year. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers never seemed to get in rhythm without him last year. Nelson is an elite offensive weapon and should provide another option for Rodgers this season. My conclusion: Nelson should be a top 10 receiver this season. He has an elite quarterback throwing to him in Rodgers. The return of Nelson should also help Rodgers and Randall Cobb as well.

Andrew Luck was the first quarterback selected in many drafts last year after an outstanding 2014 season. Luck had a terrible 2015 season missing time with shoulder and kidney problems. It is hard to say that a quarterback with shoulder problems shouldn’t be a concern, but the shoulder is probably a non-factor when compared to the play of the Indianapolis Colts offensive line. My conclusion: If you can get Luck later in the draft (the 6-8th quarterback) then take him. I have concern with his health, the offensive line of the Colts (even with the drafting of North Dakota State lineman Joe Haeg), and the short passing game I have seen from the Colts this preseason. There are better options at quarterback. If you do take him, consider a backup option shortly after.

Finally, we will finish with America’s Team. Dez Bryant and Tony Romo both missed large parts of last season, but look to return and lead the Dallas Cowboys back to the playoffs. Bryant has had two surgeries on his foot since the beginning of last season. His foot has looked healthy this fall, but it was just announced that he will miss the remainder of the preseason with a concussion. Romo had off-season surgery on his clavicle (collarbone) that has been broken three times as a professional. He has been throwing without issue this fall. My conclusion: Bryant has the potential to be a top five receiver and should be drafted as such as long as there are no signs of the concussion keeping him out of the early season. Romo is a borderline starter in 10-12 team leagues. He could be a surprise this fall and turn into an every week starter.

Do you have a question about sports medicine you would like addressed in this space in the future? Send your inquiry to SportsMed@lrhc.org, and it may be featured in an upcoming article.

Load comments