The injury bug and your draft strategy

Carson Palmer's left ankle has made him miss time during preseason.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - I have said it many times, that the only thing I pay attention to during the NFL exhibition season is injuries. It's hard enough for these guys to play an entire 16-game schedule when they start the season healthy, let alone beginning the year hurt.

With that in mind, lets take a look at those "fantasy-worthy" players who will enter the 2009 regular season at less than 100% healthy.

Carson Palmer, Cincinnati - Palmer missed most of last year with an elbow problem, but during preseason it's been a left ankle which has cause him to miss time. If Palmer isn't 100%, then not only does his value drop, but so does receivers Chad Ochocinco, Laveranues Coles and Chris Henry.

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh - Roethlisberger has been limited by a right heel/Achilles problem he suffered during practice on August 20th. Although "Big Ben" is only a borderline fantasy starter, his effectiveness has a bearing on Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward.

Kurt Warner, Arizona - Warner had left hip surgery in March which normally takes about one year to fully recover. He's playing, but you would be wise to have a back up plan.

Tom Brady, New England - While Brady may own the record for most consecutive times on the "Injury Report" while still playing on Sunday, he did land hard on his right shoulder in Friday night's third exhibition game with Washington and didn't play in the second half. It didn't look too serious, but check for updates to make sure before you draft him with your first-round pick. The Brady-to-Randy Moss combination looked unstoppable, scoring twice in the first half.

Willie Parker, Pittsburgh - Parker is battling a hamstring problem which could elevate Rashard Mendenhall's ADP.

Justin Fargas, Oakland - Fargas is dealing with a hamstring problem which could leave Darren McFadden with an opportunity to become a more valuable fantasy property. McFadden's RapidDraft numbers have improved from 43.1 on June 15th to 40.5 on Monday while Fargas' numbers hover around 154.

Jonathon Stewart, Carolina - If Stewart continues to struggle with his Achilles problem, DeAngelo Williams (2008 TSN Fantasy Football Player of the Year) could be a top-five value instead of middle of the first-round as his RapidDraft ADP of 6.8 suggests. Interestingly, Stewart's numbers haven't fallen, in fact he had a 51.9 RapidDraft ADP on June 15th and has a 50.8 ADP as of August 24th.

Pierre Thomas, New Orleans - It's unlikely that we'll see Thomas before the start of the season as he is dealing with a sprained MCL (right knee). The team doesn't seem too worried, but I'm concerned about spending a third or fourth- round pick on him.

Reggie Bush, New Orleans - Bush had his left knee surgically repaired since we last saw him on the field and along with a right calf problem in preseason has left us with little to go on before drafting him. He is injury prone and not an every down back, so draft him at your own peril.

Brian Westbrook, Philadelphia - Westbrook has yet to get on the field which makes it tough to spend a late first-round pick on him despite how good a running back he can be. If you do draft him, you must also draft LeSean McCoy or you could be in for big problems.

Roy Williams, Dallas - People are expecting a lot from the former Texas Longhorns star. It almost ended before it started as rumors were that he broke his collarbone. X-rays were negative, so he's still an option for opening day. It'll take a fifth-round pick to get him.

Calvin Johnson, Detroit - Johnson is working with a sprained right thumb, but should be ready for opening day. He's a top-five receiver despite a weak offensive line and a rookie quarterback. Still, get a report from Saturday's game against Indianapolis before spending a second-round pick on him (RapidDraft ADP 16).

Bernard Berrian, Minnesota - Brett Favre's No.1 target is dealing with a right hamstring problem. This won't help the late-arriving quarterback and the wide receiver to get "in sync." Beware of a slow start for Berrian, who has an ADP of 83.9.

Donnie Avery, St. Louis - Avery should be the team's No.1 receiver, but he has missed most of training camp and the exhibition season with a stress fracture of the left foot. Quarterback Marc Bulger is also hurting, meaning they probably won't be a ready to help your lineup early in the season.

Terrell Owens, Buffalo - "Turf Toe" has destroyed many fantasy teams, including those who drafted LaDainian Tomlinson No.1 overall last year. Owens is not running at full speed and I'd be wary of drafting him too high. His current RapidDraft ADP is 38.3, but his toe along with his quarterback will likely have me passing on him unless he drops into the fifth round.

Steve Breaston, Arizona - The Cardinals' No.3 receiver has been struggling with a right knee problem which might keep him from being ready on opening day.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.