Fantasy Football Injuries: Jason Witten, Rashard Mendenhall

      August 17, 2012 @ 17:14:20 PDT

Injuries are a big part of real-life and fantasy football. Planning for them is impossible to do, but working around them is a constant struggle, even during the preseason.

If you've already had a draft, you may be regretting some of your selections. If you have one upcoming, say, this weekend, you'll need to tweak your rankings and tinker with your positional tiers frequently right up until the kickoff to your draft.

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Isaac Redman
Don't fret yet, Redman owners

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten injured his spleen after being hit by Oakland Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain in the preseason game this past Monday. His Week 1 availability is in question, depending on a couple of things; he'll need surgery if internal bleeding continues. If surgery is required, the star tight end will be out indefinitely. That's not something you want hanging over your head if you select him as your No. 1 tight end.

Right now, the Cowboys are optimistic that he won't need surgery, but regardless, he's sitting out the rest of the preseason. Even if he doesn't need surgery, he won't get back onto the field until just before Week 1, and if he plays, he probably won't be the Witten we (and Tony Romo) know and love for at least another couple weeks.

If surgery is required, it could be a lost season for him. He would return at some point in the middle of the year most likely, but at that point he wouldn't be anything more than a weak backup. Knowing that there is potential for a huge letdown if you draft him, his stock has dropped drastically. Why take the chance if you don't have to?

Witten should be downgraded to at least the second tier of tight end options once the elite names fall off the board, but even then, Jermaine Gresham, Tony Gonzalez and Brandon Pettigrew are more appealing now. Witten's replacement, John Phillips, should be ignored.

The Pittsburgh Steelers activated Rashard Mendenhall off the Physically Unable to Perform list today, which was rather surprising. Don't take this as an endorsement to move Mendy up your draft boards, though; the move is rather perplexing, considering he's already been ruled out for the start of the season, and he'll most likely miss at least the first six games.

Initially, it seemed like Pittsburgh was panicking, with Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer both banged up. But Redman's MRI results were favorable, and he and Dwyer should both be back at practice next week. It seems to be a very strange procedural move to allow Mendenhall to practice during the preseason.

With Mendy less than eight months removed from a serious surgery, I'm not sure that's the wisest of moves. If anything, this could be better news for Redman, if he can stay healthy through the rest of the preseason. Consider Mendenhall a RB5 at best; if he comes back around midseason, he might not be back to full strength until near the end of the year, at which point he won't be very useful for fantasy purposes.

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About Keith Hernandez

Keith, an editor with KFFL, joined the team as a Hot off the Wire analyst in 2008 and has been playing fantasy sports since 2005. He is involved in MLB, NFL and NASCAR content. He graduated from the University of California-San Diego in 2005 with a B.A. in Communications and was a four-year starter as a member of the baseball program.

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