Rondale Moore is an intriguing rookie with insane athleticism and a fantastic story. However, there are injury concerns for some who are looking to invest in fantasy football. To an extent, the concerns are valid as more games played in college correlate with a healthy NFL career. In all aspects of this game and analysis, context matters. In Moore’s case specifically, context is key. For even more context from a big picture perspective, be sure to read Injury Prone is a Lie Part I.
In 2018, Moore played 13 games as a freshman at Purdue and had no injury issues. Then, in 2019, it was speculated that he injured his hamstring, which Moore himself later confirmed. The injury was sort of fluke-ish and could have been discarded as a one-off. That is, until he returned to camp in 2020 (after initially opting out) and injured the same hamstring. Some crucial information about the three missed games in 2020 is that apparently the concern wasn’t his hamstring, it was his insurance policy that had not been cleared.
What it Means
Many factors are involved in the initial injury itself and in the recurrence. To begin, the 20% recurrence rate hamstring strains have in football players within a calendar year should be considered. Another consideration for the recurrence is his workloads and overall stress due to the pandemic. His body was, for lack of a scientific term, out of whack. That places athletes at greater risk for soft tissue injuries. The next concern with the initial injury is that there could have been partial fraying of the ACL that the public is unaware of. See, the hamstring muscles function as a restraint of the lower leg and prevent it from excessive forward motion. The muscles work synergistically with the ACL to do this so when the hamstrings are strained, in theory, so is the ACL. Add in the fact that partial ACL tears are actually quite common and that results in some concern that happened to Moore.
Before moving forward, it’s critical to emphasize that the discussion moving forward about this topic is theoretical in nature as there’s no report or knowledge that Moore suffered any ligament damage. However, it’s crucial as fantasy managers to discuss potential worst case scenarios to pain the floor of a player.
The literature shows that those who don’t need surgery — aptly named “copers” — tend to have no real day-to-day restrictions because of the tear. This would obviously place Moore squarely in that category. However, the science is still early and most definitely not applicable specifically to college athletes moving onto NFL games. The absolute worst case scenario is that Moore is at a higher likelihood to completely rupture his ACL at some point in the season. At this point though, any relevant ligament damage is extremely unlikely, but plausible. More realistically, the hamstring strain itself is likely to crop up again relative to the risk his uninjured peers possess. One of the biggest predictors for a hamstring strain is a previous hamstring strain and in rookies, this is all too common. I’ve discussed this concept before here and here, so I won’t belabor the point. Laviska Shenault is the most recent (and the first player off the top of my head) to exemplify soft tissue injuries in rookies.
Rondale Moore is an athletic freak who will likely find success in the NFL one way or the other if he can move past his hamstring injuries. It’s possible for him to do exactly that, but the previous injury, fluke or not, is something that can’t be ignored. However, it’s important to understand the context of his situation overall. In my Injury Volatility score for WRs from last summer, Moore would score a 3.75 and I would place him just outside of the Yellow Light Tier where the average score for those players is 4.3. I’m willing to give Moore a chance to prove it, but he’ll have to overcome historical rookie obstacles to do so. His best 2020 Injury Volatility comp would be Mike Evans. In summary, the risk for Moore in 2021 isn’t zero, but the data shows they’re overblown (surprise, surprise).