During the course of an NFL season, many players get banged up, injured, miss games or end up on the injured reserve missing the rest of the season. This article will focus on offensive players that are returning from injured reserve for the 2002 season. The players you should be watching as they currently have the most upside for the 2003 season are QB Kurt Warner STL; RB’s Correll Buckhalter PHI, Doug Chapman MIN, DeShaun Foster CAR, and Anthony Thomas CHI; WR’s Az-Zahir Hakim DET, David Boston SD and Ike Hilliard NYG; and finally PK Morten Andersen KC. While some of these players will become sound fantasy football players others may never climb back up the depth chart and should never occupy a start on your roster. Some of these guys are just another injured player away from moving up the depth chart.
Trent Dilfer SEA
Returns from torn Achilles tendon that caused him to miss 10 games last season. Will only see action if Hasselbeck falters or is injured.
Chris Redman BAL
Although he was not put on IR, he missed the last 10 games last season, due to a back injury. He has recovered from back surgery six months ago, projected as the starter; rookie Kyle Boller may push him for the starting job. You could do much better for a starting QB.
Kurt Warner STL
Returns from a hand injury that resulted in him missing the final four games off last season, but early training camp reports indicated that he is back to his old form.
RB Brian Allen IND
Missed all of last season with a knee injury. Projected as one of the backup RB’s behind James.
Michael Bates CAR
An ankle injury caused him to miss all of last season. Little to no fantasy value as his main job is returning kicks.
Correll Buckhalter PHI
Missed all of last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Is expected to compete with Duce Staley for the starting RB position. With Staley’s absence from training camp watch how this situation plays out.
Shawn Bryson DET
A free agent acquisition from Buffalo, returns from a knee injury that caused him to miss all of last season, he is in competition as the James Stewart’s backup.
Doug Chapman MIN
Returns from an abdominal injury that forced him to miss 10 games last season. Chapman and rookie RB Onterrio Smith will battle for the starting RB position with starter Michael Bennett possibly lost for the season. Whoever does win the starting job will lose some carries and TD’s to RB Moe Williams.
Najeh Davenport GB
Backup to Ahman Green, went on to the injure reserve last season after injuring a bone next near his left eye socket. Owners of Green may want to pick him up as insurance.
DeShaun Foster CAR
A knee injury caused him to go on Injured Reserve. After microfracture surgery he has been limited to practicing one a day in training camp. If he recovers fully from the knee injury he could move up the depth chart and take some carries away from Stephen Davis.
Travis Jervey ATL
Returns from a torn ACL, will be competing for backup RB spot behind Dunn and Duckett. He has little to no fantasy value.
Jamar Martin (FB) DAL
A knee injury placed him on IR last season. He will serve as a backup to FB Richie Anderson.
Tony Richardson (FB) KC
Missed the final 2 games last season with a shoulder injury. Holmes hurts his fantasy value.
Dominic Rhodes IND
Missed all of last season after tearing the ACL in his right knee. Projected as a backup RB.
Josh Scobey RB ARI
Missed all of last season with a thumb injury. Battling for a backup RB position behind Smith and Shipp. Don’t expect much fantasy production unless he can move up the depth chart.
Luke Staley DET
Missed all of last season with a knee injury, competing with Bryson, Pinner and Cooper to backup Stewart.
Travis Stephens TB
Went on injured reserve with a toe injury last season. Was projected to be the teams kick returner this season. Stephens will see a lot of action in the preseason, as the team wants to see what he can do. The Tampa Bay backfield is a mess; watch who to see who emerges from the pack.
Anthony Thomas CHI
Went on IR with a finger injury late last season, fell into sophomore slump. Could lose his job or carries to Adrian Peterson. Watch how this plays out in the preseason.
Antwoine Womack NE
Rookie that missed all of last season with a knee injury he was projected to compete for backup RB position, but has not been practicing due to an undisclosed injury.
Derrick Alexander MIN
A knee injury kept him out of the final 8 games last season. Should keep his role as a backup WR after taking a pay cut this off-season. Don’t expect much as his fantasy production has been horrible the past 2 years.
David Boston SD
He is fully recovered from season ending surgery to repair a torn tendon in his knee. He should be Brees’s best receiving option.
Chris Cole DEN
Returns from a wrist injury, in competition for backup WR position.
Tim Carter NYG
Went on the injured reserve and missed 6 games last season from a torn Achilles’ tendon. Should hold his job as a backup WR. Don’t expect much fantasy value, as there are too many options in front of him.
Oronde Gadsden MIA
A wrist injury kept him out the final 9 games last season. Projected as a backup WR and his stats will suffer unless he can move back up the depth chart, currently sidelined from ankle sprain.
Bryan Gilmore ARI
A broken leg kept him out of the final 7 games last season. He should win one of the backup WR spots. Arizona’s WR Corp is a mess, with many players having little game experience competing for starting positions.
Az-Zahir Hakim DET
Returns from a hip injury, projected as the third WR behind Schroeder and Rogers. Will see some action as he has great speed, but is he fully recovered from the injury.
Ike Hilliard NYG
Returns from a shoulder injury that kept him out of 10 games last season. Will keep his number 2 WR position. There are much better receiving options available.
Sylvester Morris WR
Morris missed the past 2 seasons with knee injuries, projected as a backup WR, currently sidelined with a hip injury that will keep him out of action for the next few weeks.
Jake Schifino TEN
Missed all of last season with a hamstring injury, he is in the mix for a backup WR position.
Brandon Stokley IND
A foot injury caused him to miss the last 8 games of the season with Baltimore. With Harrison and Wayne in front of him he won’t see much action.
David Terrell CHI
Returns from a foot injury that caused him to miss the last half of the season, is in competition with Dez White for the number 2 WR position.
Sean Brewer CIN
Has finished the last 2 seasons on the IR. Returns from a knee injury, projected as a backup TE.
Keith Heinrich CAR
Went on the injured reserve with a foot injury, backup TE in a mix of many, watch to see who emerges during training camp.
Missed the final season game with rib injuries that placed him on IR. Early reports out of training camp indicate that he has looked impressive, but Christian Fauria is still the starting TE.
Dustin Lyman CHI
An ACL injury placed him on the injured reserve for the last month of 2002 season. He is supposed to see some action in 2 TE sets this season, but never produces significant points.
Jeff Robinson DAL
Special teams player who returns after missing all of last season with a knee injury he has no fantasy value.
Robert Royal WAS
An ankle injury placed him on injured reserve for the 2002 season. Will compete with Zeron Flemister for playing time. Stay away from any of the Redskin TE’s until they start producing some points.
Aaron Shea TE CIN
Went on IR with an ankle injury halfway through last season. Used mostly for his blocking ability, he has little to no fantasy value.
Hayden Epstein MIN
Missed the final game of the season after suffering a torn ACL. Is the leading candidate to win the PK job. Also in the mix are Aaron Elling and Todd France, watch to see how this plays out in the preseason.
Morten Andersen KC
A knee injury kept him out of the last 2 games last season. He appears to be fully recovered and back to his old form.
John Kasay CAR
Returns from a hernia injury, but could lose his job to younger and cheaper Shayne Graham. He hasn’t had a good fantasy season since 1996.