Injuries & Hold Outs
Hakeem Nicks, who broke a bone in his foot during organized team activities on May 24 and underwent surgery, was activated from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list earlier this week and has returned to practice with the New York Giants. Nicks hopes to be ready to go Week 1 against the Dallas Cowboys and all signs point to him being on track to meet that goal. With Mario Manningham no longer in the picture, Nicks and fellow superstar Victor Cruz will see even more targets this season and will be relied upon to carry the Giants offense in 2012. Unless Nicks suffers a setback in the coming weeks, he appears to be a solid bet to be a top-10 wide receiver this season.
The Mike Wallace holdout saga took an interesting turn when the Pittsburgh Steelers rewarded fellow wide receiver Antonio Brown, not Wallace, with a five-year $42.5 million contract. Wallace, who has yet to report to camp, has not signed his one-year restricted free agent tender worth $2.7 million. Wallace led the Steelers with 72 receptions for 1,193 yards and eight touchdowns, but was outperformed by Brown late in the season and his fantasy draft stock has taken a hit due to his holdout.
Wallace certainly could go the route that Vincent Jackson took two years ago when he held out for 10 games, but the latest buzz from Steelers camp seems to indicate that they expect Wallace back when the games start to matter. Wallace has little leverage in this holdout considering the fact that the Steelers have control over his contract for the next two seasons. Pittsburgh can re-sign him as a restricted free agent once again in 2011 and has the option to franchise him in 2012. All signs point to Wallace returning to the Steelers and fantasy owners should not hesitate to grab him in the early rounds of your draft.
Jason Witten hopes to be ready for the Cowboys' regular season opener, but after suffering a lacerated spleen, surgery could be in his future depending on how an evaluation next week goes according to reports. Witten is one of the most consistent and durable tight ends in all of fantasy football who has missed just one game in his entire nine-year career, but there is no way to play through this type of injury.
Pending an evaluation next week, Witten should be able to return sooner rather than later and should still be drafted as a top-10 tight end in fantasy football. If you end up with Witten, be prepared to have a backup plan early in the season and monitor the latest news in the coming weeks.