Naming a list of ‘injury-risk’ guys is almost always a fool’s errand. Anyone that’s played fantasy long enough knows that anyone (old/young, rookie/veteran, proven guy/upstart) can get hurt, at any time, for any reason. That said, fantasy football is a numbers and percentages game, so we’re always looking for any slight advantage, especially on draft day.
Does me saying these guys might get injured make it so? Of course not – but I’ve examined their history, their ADP, and their relative team situation to make my determinations, and if you find yourself in a draft with me this year, you can be certain I’ll follow this to the letter. Without further ado, the players I feel are injury risks for 2015:
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I don’t really think this one requires much explanation. He’s 39 and likely is one huge hit away from being doneski. Peyton also picked up soft tissue injuries toward the end of the 2014 campaign, and his arm looked like a wet noodle from Weeks 14-17. Finally, he lost TE Julius Thomas, and I can’t quite see Virgil Green making up all those TDs. Eventually his body is going to quit on him – maybe this isn’t the year, but I’m hands-off on Manning unless he falls massively from his 4.01 ADP.
Is it possible to be an ‘old 26’? If so, Newton has made it there. His passing yards have regressed every year of his career, and his rushing TDs have followed them. Aren’t those two stats the main drivers of Newton’s value? Yep. Even with Kelvin Benjamin in the fold, Cam only managed 18 TD passes in 2014. If he’s not going to pass effectively, he has to run – and taking huge shots running the ball is taking it’s toll, no matter how big he is. Can we talk about how Cam finished 17th in QB scoring last year? Colin Kaepernick was better! Ugh – no thanks on Cam for 2015.
Romo is being taken around the middle of the seventh round this year, so to some degree, the price tag isn’t outrageous. There’s just going to be a lot more on Romo’s plate this year without DeMarco Murray around to dominate, and this worries me. Romo loves to ad-lib in the pocket, and as such he takes a ton of huge hits (to be fair, he avoids a ton too, but still…). He’s currently 35 years old (pretty old for the NFL, even for a QB), and while his offensive line is one of the best in the business, I’m more than worried about the ability of likely starting RB Joseph Randle to protect him. He’s shown the ability to play while hurt, which is admirable – I just don’t want my fantasy QB to do it.
The man is a walking injury risk. He’s been hurt so many times that it isn’t worth counting them any longer. Here’s what we need to know: With Palmer, the Cardinals could contend for the NFC West, their WRs have the capability to dominate and put up insane stats, and Palmer has the ability to be a low-to-middle-end QB1 in a given week. Without Palmer, they’re hot garbage. Trouble is, Palmer has made a career of being hurt, which isn’t helping you on draft day. He isn’t leaving draft boards early, so this is a consideration more for deeper and two-QB leagues.
You can call him AP, or All Day, or Purple Jesus, or anything you want. I call him an injury risk. The fact is that the man hasn’t played organized football in more than a year, and despite his natural abilities and chiseled physique, the gym version of in shape just isn’t the same as the football version. I’m worried about things like hamstring pulls, quad tears, and groin strains… things like that. Soft tissue problems that you know all too well if you’ve ever not gone running for like six months, and then busted out a five-miler. I worry too much about things like this, it’s true – but also, I think some worry is legit, and to find out if he’s the same guy as before, you have to take him inside the first five picks. To me, that’s the definition of risk, and I’m out on AP.
I’m actually in love with Gore’s potential this year – playing against soft boxes on an Indy team with plenty of weapons has to make any fantasy owner salivate. The chip on his shoulder should also motivate him to destroy teams unmercifully. But that doesn’t mean I’m not worried about him as well. For a player going in the fourth round, Gore sure does have a lot of mileage on his tires (2700+ career touches). He’s not been an injury risk throughout his career, but at the age of 32, I’m not betting on him to be a picture of health either. The 49ers have seen him his entire career, and I’d be willing to bet they knew it was time to let him walk. Either way, if he ended up on my team, I’d look to sell him high by perhaps week six, after a couple of strong performances.
This is a hunch more than anything else. Lynch has been nothing if not a workhorse, consistent and spectacular. He gets all the goal line carries (unless it’s the Super Bowl! Zing!) and is the main runner in an elite run-first offense. I’m a little worried about his age (29, nearing the mythical 30 for RBs) and his mileage (2200+ carries) and maybe most of all, his running style. Lynch seeks out contact, running opponents over with reckless abandon, which leads to his ‘BeastMode’ nickname. That is awesome to watch in the short run, but doesn’t bode well longevity-wise. I’m probably the minority here, but I feel like every year I’m just waiting for him to take one shot the wrong way and miss extended time.
Unlike Lynch, this pick is has some real, actual logic behind it. Specifically, Murray is coming off a season that saw him amass 440+ touches. Historically, RBs that handle that type of insane workload aren’t the same the next year, and several haven’t ever been right again. DeMarco was a RB noted for injury concerns previously due to his upright, physical running style, which hasn’t changed a bit – he just didn’t get hurt in 2014, and the Cowboys rode him the entire season. A year later, post-workload, and with a new team, I can’t see myself taking the plunge on Murray anywhere in 2015.
While playing during the fantasy season in 2014, I appreciated Edelman more than I ever had, since I owned zero shares. He destroyed me a couple of times, and I remember thinking “Man, I need to get in on that next year”. I think I was wrong. In a year where Tom Brady literally peppered him with targets, he still didn’t get to 100 catches. He didn’t quite get to 1000 yards receiving either, and he only scored 4 TDs. His 92 receptions gave him strong value in PPR, but in standard formats, I was just expecting to see better overall numbers. He’s no spring chicken at this point (29) and doesn’t carry a monster frame for a guy who routinely goes over the middle and takes huge hits (5-10, 200 lbs). His usage has gone way up each of the past two seasons, and he’s missed multiple games each of those seasons. All of which isn’t even taking into account the Tom Brady suspension factor, the resolution of which is as yet unknown. Add it all up, and I’m taking someone with more upside in round 5.
I truly do hope he comes back just fine and dandy – he’s one of the classier guys in the NFL, and I do appreciate a good salsa dance. But fantasy football is about mitigating risk, and I think Cruz is downright risky. He’s coming back off major injury, isn’t a huge monster of a dude anyway, and plays in the slot where he’ll routinely get smacked going across the middle. This is all assuming he continues without setbacks. It’s a lot to go right to justify a sixth-round selection, and you’ll have to count me out on Cruz for 2015.
Since he’s Kyle Rudolph, he’s always an injury risk – that’s unfortunately been the definition of his career. I have to admit that based on the 13th round price tag, I’m pretty bullish on him turning a draft-day profit, but expecting this guy to make it through a full slate of games is a fools errand. Take Rudolph for the upside, and then take another upside guy a round later to mitigate his injury risk, but make no mistake – the talent is there. The ability to stay healthy is a completely different story.