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Fantasy Impact of WR Injuries

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Carolina's Steve Smith and Tampa Bay's Antonio Bryant are apparently on the shelf for the rest of the preseason because of injury.

After hurting his right shoulder in practice on Monday during a collision with a teammate, Smith spoke with reporters on Tuesday wearing a sling. X-rays were negative, but the Panthers have not revealed the severity of the injury or if Smith has a shoulder separation.

Bryant, meantime, has a torn meniscus in his left knee, and he'll have surgery "to clean that thing out," Bucs Coach Raheem Morris told reporters on Monday.

Both players may be ready for their regular season openers on Sept. 13, but for fantasy owners, that simply isn't enough assurance. With drafts taking place over the next three weeks and both players highly ranked, owners need more concrete information on the nature of the injuries to Smith and Bryant.

For an expert opinion on realistic return times from those injuries, Fantasy Check turned to A. Brion Gardner, staff orthopedic surgeon at Camp LeJeune and frequent contributor to The League.

While not addressing the specifics of the injuries to Smith or Bryant, Gardner said it is in fact reasonable to expect athletes with similar ailments to be back in relatively short order.

According to Gardner, a torn meniscus that does not need to be repaired but only debrided can be ready to go in three to four weeks. That's right on target for Bryant and the Bucs' opener against Dallas.

As for Smith, his odds of playing in the opener depend on the degree of his injured shoulder. If it's a strain, he'll be back almost for certain.

But suppose Smith does have a separation. What then?

Gardner told me there are six types of shoulder separations. Types I and II are the least severe and require on average two to four weeks of recovery time if treated with proper rest and medication.

"Type III is an in-betweener," Gardner said. "Usually takes longer to heal and stop being painful. Fifty percent of the time it requires surgery. Some people might be able to play out the season and get surgery later."

In any of those cases, range of motion and pain tolerance are the limitations.

For Type IV through VI separations, surgery is required, and recovery time is estimated at four to six months.

Unless Smith, who is as tough a player as there is in the NFL, has a Type IV through VI separation, count on him being on the field for the Panthers' opener against NFC power Philadelphia.

By Gene Wang  |  August 11, 2009; 3:31 PM ET  | Category:  Fantasy Football Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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