Injury Discounts: Wide Receivers

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Injury Discounts: Wide Receivers

The “post-hype sleeper” discount. The “regression to the mean” discount. The “recency bias” discount. The “Freddie Kitchens is no longer my head coach” discount. Of all the potential fantasy discounts, none is more powerful than the injury discount.

The problem is, most fantasy players don’t really know what that word means, when to apply it, or how. Luckily, Scott Barrett is here to help. But, his problem is, well, he’s not a trained medical expert. Luckily Edwin Porras, a Doctor of Physical Therapy, is. He’s here too!

In this article, Scott (through the dark art of dank stats) will explain why he thinks a given player is an injury discount. Edwin will then make his own argument, relying on his own expertise and any relevant medical literature. Finally, The Honourable (that “u” makes it look so much more important) Joe Dolan will provide his ruling: “Yes, this player is an injury discount” or “No, this player should not be targeted in drafts” or at least “no, an injury is not pushing this player down the board.”

Let’s get to the WRs.

Note: This is Part III of a IV part series. You can read our articles on quarterbacks here, running backs here, and tight ends (coming soon).

Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens

ADP: Round 6, WR28

Scott:

Quoting an earlier article:

Marquise Brown was the first wide receiver drafted in 2019, and he probably had the best landing spot, but he finished the season just eighth in receiving yards among rookies (584). Sure, looking at the raw numbers, Brown’s rookie season might appear underwhelming, but on a per-route or per-target basis, his numbers were among the best in the league. And, I think that’s the larger story and something that needs to be prorated in a season marred by injury.

Following Lisfranc surgery in January of last year, Brown missed nearly all of Baltimore’s offseason (oftentimes a death knell for a rookie wideout), and then spent nine of 16 games on the injury report listed as questionable. During the regular season, he played on just 58% of Baltimore’s snaps when active. During the postseason, Brown finally appeared to be unleashed, playing on a season-high 85% of the snaps and turning 11 targets into 126 yards.

But it goes even farther than that. Last season, Brown:

  • played 15-20 pounds below his typical playing weight.

  • by his own admission, was playing without any “explosion” or “ignition” caused by an inability to push off of his big toe.

  • was in constant “demoralizing” pain.

  • lost over three miles per hour off his typical playing speed (23 MPH vs. <20 MPH), according to GPS tracking.

According to one teammate, he was playing at 50% of his typical ability. To another, 60%. Though less extreme, the medical research backs this up – “Lisfranc injuries reduce an NFL offensive players’ on-field production by an average of 21% in the first season following surgery.” Now, with two screws removed from his foot, he’s much closer to 100%.

And remember, despite the massive handicap, it’s not like he was bad. In fact, for a rookie, he was phenomenal, leading all 75 wide receivers in passer rating when targeted (134.4) and ranking 11th in fantasy points per route run. So, imagine if he received a full complement of the team’s snaps, rather than just 58%. And then imagine if he was operating at full health… rather than just 50-80%. How dominant might he have been in 2019? How dominant will he be in 2020?

Edwin:

Dominant. Yes. All of the Marquise Brown in 2020. Scott nailed the medical side of things, so I’ll focus on the exercise physiology portion. When it comes to physical health and fitness (and let’s be honest, life in general), no catch-all silver bullet exists. But if there’s anything that comes close, it’s effusive praise from coaches who have observed a new-found commitment to an evidenced-based strength and conditioning program and diet. The fact that Brown has reportedly put on 20lbs of muscle and is back to hitting 23mph in practice is a great indicator that he’s all-in and doing things the right way. That much lean mass on a 23-year-old who has yet to peak athletically has me ready for a breakout year.

Joe:

Brown is my most drafted player in all of fantasy to this point, and has been for months. The whole industry is on him, so it’s actually kind of surprising to me that he’s still available in the 6th round in many drafts. He’s defensible as a 5th-round pick. I think I’m a bit worried about volume, but I love the player and the spot. I’m still thrilled at the prospect of getting him in the 6th.

VERDICT: YES, INJURY DISCOUNT

Diontae Johnson, Pittsburgh Steelers

ADP: Round 7, WR35

Scott:

Quoting an earlier article:

Last season, according to PFF, Diontae Johnson was charted as open on 84% of his targets. That ranked second-best – behind only Michael Thomas – among all non-majority-slot wide receivers. Among all 63 wide receivers with an aDOT of 9.0 or higher, that led the league. According to Next Gen Stats, Johnson also led all wide receivers in average separation.

Although Johnson was getting separation at an elite level, Pittsburgh’s quarterbacks were playing at a Mark Sanchez-ian level, doing the rookie and his fantasy owners a grave disservice. Just 44% of Johnson’s targets were deemed accurate in 2019, which, in contrast to his expectation (based on aDOT), ranked fourth-worst of 82 qualifying wide receivers. With Ben Roethlisberger under center in 2020, look for target accuracy to improve, alongside all of Johnson’s other numbers.

Oh, and this is only looking at Johnson’s numbers before the catch. After the catch, once the ball was in his hands, Johnson led all wide receivers in missed tackles forced (18), despite ranking just 34th in receptions (59). Keep in mind, he did this as a rookie and oh my, will you look at that while playing through a sports hernia injury for the near-entirety of the season.

Edwin:

Sports hernia surgeries typically yield great outcomes for NFL players – players are fully expected to return to their baseline levels of athleticism after surgery. This is basically an Odell Beckham Jr.-lite situation on our hands from an injury/recovery standpoint. Scott nailed it. Imagine fading Diontae Johnson?

Joe:

I absolutely love Johnson this year. But he’s not a discount. Frankly, I’m surprised his ADP hasn’t risen further given the hype around the fantasy community, but maybe Hollywood Brown is eating up all of that brain space. Johnson is a premium target for me at his price, though, because I think the upside outweighs the downside by a lot.

VERDICT: NO INJURY DISCOUNT

JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers

ADP: Round 3, WR13

Scott:

Okay, we just laid out our case for Johnson, but at the same time, basically everything we just said for him also applies for JuJu Smith-Schuster – both were saddled with incompetent (but soon to be much-improved) quarterback play while also dealing with injury. Last season, Smith-Schuster spent six weeks inactive or on the injury report with toe, foot, concussion, and knee injuries. Up until his November 22 birthday, which coincided with a four-week inactive stint due to injury, Smith-Schuster had just set the record for the most receiving yards by any player before turning 23 years old (2,867) ever, closely ahead of Randy Moss (2,726). Smith-Schuster ranked 14th in FPG as a rookie in 2017 (14.1), and then ninth in 2018 (18.6), but now ranks just 13th by ADP.

Edwin:

I really do think it’s as simple as that – Smith-Schuster is an extremely talented player who was dealt an absolutely brutal hand in 2019. The only reason I’m not quite as enthusiastic about him is because of his concussion history. He’s had three since 2017. Even so, WR13 for Smith-Schuster is just about the definition of an injury discount.

Joe:

This one is easy peasy, maybe the easiest of the entire series thus far. JuJu is absolutely an injury discount, for both his own ailments and those of Ben Roethlisberger. This guy was a 1st-round pick at this point last year, and he’s still only 23. He’s available at the cusp of the 3rd and 4th rounds. No brainer.

VERDICT: YES, INJURY DISCOUNT

Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings

ADP: Round 4, WR14

Before officially breaking out, in 2016, Adam Thielen ranked 19th in yards per route run (1.94). The next season he ranked seventh (2.33), and then 11th (2.10), and then, prior to his Week 7 injury last year, 12th (2.22). Following that injury, however, he ranked among the worst wide receivers in the league, sandwiched in between Chester Rogers and Bennie Fowler, averaging just 0.87 yards per route run.

Prior to that injury, he had reached at least 12.5 fantasy points in 19 of 22 games, with an average of 18.5 FPG over this span. For perspective, 18.5 FPG would have ranked third-best at the position last year.

Is Thielen one of the most glaring injury discounts ever, ranking 14th by ADP? Or, at age 30, following a serious hamstring injury, someone to be cautious of?

Edwin:

From an injury perspective, I’ll have to disagree with you, Scott. But hear me out. It’s not that I believe Thielen is inherently a bad pick at WR14, I just look at him and see a 30-year-old WR coming off of a significant hamstring injury. “Significant,” as defined by the science, means he’s significantly at risk for another strain in 2020 — more specifically the odds are about 21% within the next calendar year.

Thielen’s advanced age and recent history of a massive tear (on MRI) predisposes him for another injury in 2020. Obviously, injuries are not completely predictable, and the argument could be made that all WRs are at risk for a hamstring strain, but Thielen’s risk is semi-quantifiable and when the numbers are available, we should apply them. If he misses a few games (2-3 is average for a hamstring injury) then any current discount will be somewhat negated. What cements him just outside of the value category for me, is that since 2016, the average age of top-10 PPR WRs is tightly between 24 and 28. That’s why I have trouble viewing Thielen as a value, though he’s probably closer to appropriately priced than anything else.

Joe:

Man, great debate here. For fantasy purposes, I look at Thielen very similarly to how I look at Davante Adams — a potentially target-dominant receiver on a low-volume passing game. And he’s available more than two rounds later than Adams. Of course, Edwin seems to think that’s justified. I’ll take the risk here and target Thielen aggressively at his ADP — while understanding why Edwin is hesitant to do so.

Man, the kind of hubris it takes to disagree with a doctor just because I have a guy on my dynasty team…

VERDICT: YES, INJURY DISCOUNT

Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys

ADP: Round 3, WR12

Scott:

*takes a very deep breath*

For much of the preseason, Amari Cooper was dealing with an “intrinsic muscle strain” in his foot, which almost put him in jeopardy of missing Week 1. In Week 3, Cooper suffered an ankle injury to his opposite foot. This kept him limited in practice until late Week 5. In Week 6, he played on just three snaps before a quad injury / bruised thigh knocked him out of the game. The ankle and quad were still bothering him in Week 7, but he played anyway. Cooper suffered a knee injury in practice heading into Week 9, and then re-aggravated it during the game. He was diagnosed with a bruised knee, and that (alongside the ankle) kept him limited in practice until Week 12, and at less than 100% for some time after. He re-injured it again in Week 13.

In spite of all of this, somehow, he played all 16 games. And, excluding his three-snap performance in Week 6, he averaged 16.4 FPG, which would have ranked eighth-best at the position. He currently ranks 12th by ADP, and most important of all, he’s no longer vegan.

Edwin:

Cooper’s propensity to no-show in any given week and then follow it up with an inevitable 50-point performance is truly perplexing. Some of it is likely psychological, but it’s important to understand that plantar fasciitis is a chronic condition that Cooper has dealt with since college. This irritation of the bottom side of the foot is sharp, stabbing, and can be debilitating. It also doesn’t resolve easily once it rears its head. That’s to say that his inconsistency and overall injury concern is non-zero. However, he was also dealt a terrible card in 2019 in terms of injuries and fell victim to the fact that only 2.3% of all NFL games are injury free. Although the variance is naturally high for Cooper, he could end up paying off big at WR12 given his talent in this offense.

Joe:

I’m not targeting Cooper at his ADP, which doesn’t seem to be depressed by injury or the presence of CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup. I’m glad Edwin thinks his injury problems shouldn’t hamper him, but his injuries aren’t why I’m passing on him.

VERDICT: NO INJURY DISCOUNT

Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs

ADP: Round 2, WR4

Scott:

In Week 1, Tyreek Hill played just 13 snaps before suffering a clavicle injury which knocked him out of the game and kept him off the field for the next four weeks. In Week 11, Hill spent all but seven snaps on the bench, after suffering a minor hamstring injury. Excluding those two games, where he played less than a full quarter before suffering an injury, Hill would have jumped from 10th (15.7) to third in FPG (18.4).

Edwin:

As literally the fastest dude in the league, Hill’s risk of another hamstring injury isn’t non-zero as type II muscle fibers (known as “quick twitch” fibers) have been shown to be a risk factor. It’s not enough to scare me off, but it should be noted.

Joe:

There’s no discount here — Hill is a 2nd-round pick and didn’t exactly perform to that level last year. I still like him at this price though, as he’s the most explosive receiver in the NFL’s most explosive offense.

VERDICT: NO INJURY DISCOUNT

DJ Moore, Carolina Panthers

ADP: Round 3, WR10

Scott:

Similarly to Hill, DJ Moore finished the 2019 season 16th in FPG (15.4). However, if we exclude Moore’s six-snap performance in Week 16 (concussion), he would have averaged 16.4 FPG, which would have ranked eighth-best. He currently ranks 10th by ADP.

Edwin:

It can’t be ignored that as a WR, Moore is at an elevated risk of another concussion. However, many receivers such as DeAndre Hopkins, Davante Adams, and Julian Edelman have been able to overcome concussions early in their career. Like with Hill, it should be noted, but at WR10 there’s minimal risk risk.

Joe:

If there’s a discount here (there isn’t), it’s because Moore is in a new offense with a new QB in Teddy Bridgewater.

VERDICT: NO INJURY DISCOUNT

DJ Chark, Jacksonville Jaguars

ADP: Round 5, WR21

Scott:

Like Hill and Moore, this one’s pretty simple. DJ Chark picked up a bad ankle sprain late in the season, keeping him off the field in Week 15, and then sapping him of his typical effectiveness in Weeks 16 and 17. Before that, however, he ranked eighth in FPG (16.5). Though, now he ranks just 21st by ADP.

Edwin:

Yup! I don’t have any concerns with Chark in 2020.

Joe:

Well, that’s pretty definitive Edwin. Chark is one of the players I love at his ADP and is a major WR target. I think there’s obviously a discount element here.

VERDICT: YES, INJURY DISCOUNT

Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns

ADP: Round 3, WR11

Scott:

Quoting an earlier article:

Odell Beckham is the ultimate injury discount. In his own words: “Before the season, I kind of had the hernia thing going on. End up at the end of the season, torn abductor, torn rectus abdominis on the right… So pretty much, I was just f—ed up the whole year… [But], I would honestly say this is probably going to be one of my best seasons. Bigger, stronger, faster…”

Even just the sports hernia would affect a receiver's ability to accelerate/decelerate and get into and out of breaks. This was something he really should have had surgery on before the season (as he later admitted), but instead, he tried to play through it. On top of this, and then all of the other injuries that followed, he also dealt with what was arguably the league’s toughest cornerback schedule.

If one is willing to discount or entirely throw out Beckham’s outlier-ish 2019 season due to injury, it’s clear he not only offers unrivaled upside, but his baseline average – and even downside (when healthy) – would exceed all but a few player’s best-case scenario. Beckham averaged just 12.6 FPG last year, but prior to that, he averaged 20.6 FPG throughout his full career. And, across his worst consecutive 16-game stretch with the Giants, he still averaged 18.2 FPG. For perspective, those numbers would have ranked second- and fourth-best at the position last year.

Edwin:

See the Diontae Johnson section and/or read my full breakdown on Beckham here. From a physical health perspective, OBJ should be ready for liftoff.

Joe:

Look, OBJ killed me last year. He killed a lot of people. And some people might like messing with his, let’s say, mindset on their fantasy teams. But I’m totally with Scott — he’s now a 3rd-round pick and is much healthier and has a much easier schedule. It’s a lot easier to swallow a pick at this ADP, because there’s a lot of the downside of the new offense — low passing volume — already baked in.

VERDICT: YES, INJURY DISCOUNT

Jarvis Landry, Cleveland Browns

ADP: Round 7, WR32

Scott:

Beckham Jr. wasn’t Cleveland’s only wide receiver to play hurt all of last season and then later regret not having surgery in the preseason. Jarvis Landry was diagnosed with a fractured sacrum last Spring, which caused a nagging hip problem and left him at only “75 to 80 percent” of his typical effectiveness. Still, he pushed through it, finishing 12th among wide receivers in total fantasy points, after prior finishes of 18th, 5th, 14th, and 8th. Following surgery to ”shave down some cartilage and remove two pieces of bone embedded in the labrum of his left hip”, Landry seems like a ridiculous injury discount as just the 32nd wide receiver off the board, though maybe not if he misses the start of the season as some reports estimate.

Quick Aside: Of course, since both Beckham and Landry are injury discounts, by extension so too is Baker Mayfield. He's currently being drafted 15th among quarterbacks, though, at the same time last year, he was being drafted 10 spots higher (ADP: QB5). This is also true for Lamar Jackson, as his top two receivers Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews spent a combined 15 games on the injury report. Daniel Jones would also qualify, as Evan Engram, Golden Tate, and Sterling Shepard each missed at least five games last season.

Edwin:

As Scott points out, Landry had bone fragments successfully removed and his labrum repaired arthroscopically. This procedure typically causes NFL athletes to miss about six months of time. Given his February surgery, Landry has absolutely no wiggle room for a setback if he aims to be back by Week 1. He’s currently on the Active PUP (physically unable to perform) list which means he can’t practice with the team until he’s activated. Conversely, that same study shows that this surgery has no impact on “offensive player rating” which is calculated almost identically to fantasy points. So, essentially, we shouldn’t expect this injury (or subsequent surgery) to impact his fantasy performance when on the field. Personally, I feel good enough with Landry (and his health) for fantasy.

Joe:

Eh. This one is kind of tough to figure out. I think people just don’t like Landry in general because of his tendency for “boring” production, and the new offense under Kevin Stefanski could be problematic for someone who has often produced with volume. I think Landry is a fair price at his 7th-round ADP, and I like him there, but there’s not much of a discount here, in my opinion.

VERDICT: NO INJURY DISCOUNT

Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks

ADP: Round 5, WR23

Scott:

From Weeks 1-9, Tyler Lockett ranked third among all wide receivers in fantasy points, averaging 19.0 FPG. In his next game, he suffered a “severe” lower leg contusion and was forced to spend the night in the hospital. It’s hard to guess at how long this injury might have plagued him, but his numbers certainly suffered until Week 15. From that point on, and including the postseason (five games total), he averaged 16.8 FPG. So, excluding that middle bulk of our sample, he averaged 18.2 FPG over 14 games, which would have ranked fourth-best at the position. He’s a glaring injury discount to me, priced as just the 23rd-most expensive wide receiver by ADP.

Edwin:

As a senior at Kansas State, I watched Lockett absolutely ball out and help lead us to a 9-4 season. I’m definitely a homer and will root for him through basically anything, but through my homerism stands some reason. His first game back after being injured (Week 12) he averaged fewer snaps, routes, and targets. He repeated this drop again the following week, after nursing an undisclosed illness all week. After the loss in Week 13 Lockett, who is generally upbeat and bland during interviews, responded to the reporters “I just want to go home and sleep.” I’m not worried about his health, honestly.

Joe:

I don’t have a whole lot of Lockett at this stage, but after reading this assessment from both Scott and Edwin, I really need to get in on it. Also keep in mind that he and Russell Wilson combine for arguably the single most efficient QB-WR linkup in the entire league. There is a lot of upside at this price, but I also wonder if the presence of DK Metcalf has people struggling to figure out what to do with Lockett.

VERDICT: YES, INJURY DISCOUNT

Will Fuller, Houston Texans

ADP: Round 7, WR33

Scott:

In 2017, before Deshaun Watson’s season-ending ACL injury, Will Fuller averaged 21.0 FPG (four games). In 2018, Fuller averaged 15.2 FPG (seven games), and that’s despite leaving two games early due to injury and spending two additional games on the injury report listed as questionable (with a hamstring injury which plagued him for weeks). In 2019, Fuller averaged 15.9 FPG (six games), before a hamstring injury held him to just three snaps in Week 7. That injury would plague him for the remainder of the season (along with a groin injury that would limit him to just 19 snaps in Week 16). In total, he’d spend all but one of his final 11 games on the injury report with hamstring or groin injuries. Reportedly, Fuller is “doing great” now following January surgery to repair two tears in his core muscle.

Listen, I get it – the guy can’t stay healthy. But that’s more than built into his ADP (WR33), and especially now that DeAndre Hopkins leaves behind 150-plus vacated targets. Yes, he’s risky, but “Upside Wins Championships” and with a Round 7 pricetag, Fuller is all upside with very little risk.

Edwin:

I don’t disagree that Fuller has upside — but I don’t know that I agree he’s underpriced, or that I could ever start him with confidence. His history of soft tissue injuries is significant, and the sports hernia, although repaired, isn’t inspiring. Hopefully the ACL (2018) that was sandwiched in between two hamstring injuries (2017 and 2020), were all related in some way, and he can break free of the injury chains, but he’s got to show some major change in training and diet first (see: the Marquise Brown blurb). Furthermore, Fuller has long been one of the league’s most volatile (measured by standard deviation) and inconsistent wide receiver on a week-to-week basis. So, although Fuller has a sky-high weekly ceiling, he might be just as likely to lay a goose egg. In fact, he did just that by scoring 4.0 fantasy points or fewer in 36% of games last season.

Bringing it back to the hamstrings now, Fuller played through a hamstring “Q” tag twice in 2019. The first time, he scored 175% of his seasonal average in fantasy points. The second time, he scored 86% of his season average. Now, why is an injury doc doing calculus in an injury discount article? Because the entire point I’m making here is that his health is undoubtedly the primary reason for his massive splits. Yes, I want upside. But I also want to know when I can confidently deploy that upside.

Joe:

This is the second time I’m disagreeing with a literal doctor in an injury discounts piece, which I think is fair given Edwin is rambling off fantasy stats (that’s our job!). I understand the concerns, but given Fuller’s relationship with Watson and their massive statistics when on the field together, you could make an argument that Fuller would be a 2nd-round pick without his medical rapsheet. That rapsheet is indeed massive, but I don’t see the downside in taking him in the 7th round.

VERDICT: YES, INJURY DISCOUNT

TY Hilton, Indianapolis Colts

ADP: Round 6, WR28

Scott:

TY Hilton was balling out – averaging 18.1 FPG through his first five games (fifth-most) – before calf and quad injuries derailed his season. In total, Hilton would spend 10 games on the injury report, missing six. After the hot start to the season, he’d play just four games and on just 54% of the snaps in those games. Before last year, Hilton had finished 13th, 38th, 7th, 30th, and 11th in FPG. Or, excluding seasons in which Andrew Luck missed over half the year, 13th, 7th, and 11th. Hilton is turning 31 this year, and this certainly isn’t the first injury-plagued season of his career, but he does represent a pretty big injury discount as just the 28th wide receiver off the board.

Edwin:

Hilton is 30 years old and hasn’t played a full season since 2017. Additionally, he’s already had hamstring issues and the season hasn’t even begun. He’s no doubt a warrior — but I have my worries about that offense and a soon-to-be 39-year-old Philip Rivers under center.

Joe:

Hilton is someone I’m avoiding this year. I don’t like that he already has hamstring issues at a time in which he’s barely practiced. I think this is going to be a low-volume passing offense. Even factoring in injuries, I don’t know why Hilton is being drafted before Will Fuller.

VERDICT: NO INJURY DISCOUNT

AJ Green, Cincinnati Bengals

ADP: Round 6, WR29

Scott:

Across his last seven seasons, AJ Green has finished 12th, 12th, 2nd, 11th, 13th, 7th, and 10th in FPG. Now, fully healthy, after missing all of last season following surgery to repair torn ligaments in his ankle, Green could be a top injury discount as just the 29th wide receiver off the board by ADP. Or, at 32 years old, and following a lengthy injury history (29 missed games over the past four seasons), is Green an injury trap?

Edwin:

As I’ve explained elsewhere, Green – even before considering the ankle reconstruction – is far more a trap than a discount. There is no doubt he’s one of the best wide receivers of the past decade, but since 2009, he’s missed a total of 29 games (16 of which came in 2019). He’s battled connective tissue injuries his whole career (turf toe specifically) and hasn’t played an NFL snap since midway through the 2018 season (due to an especially bad hamstring strain). This is a problem because it disrupts the balance between short-term and long-term physical workloads in a significant way (i.e. primarily rehab with no NFL games for two years to game-speed practices and games). When this happens to athletes, they are three to six times more likely to sustain a soft tissue injury — yet another risk factor for injury that Green has struggled with in the past. Green’s age isn’t something to ignore either because the only receivers in the league older than him are Emmanuel Sanders, DeSean Jackson, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Ted Ginn, and Larry Fitzgerald. To be clear, none of these factors are standalone death sentences, but it does help paint the full picture of everything working against Green in 2020, and it isn’t particularly a pretty one. So, even if he does stay healthy, I’m of the belief that Green’s athleticism and upside is limited.

Joe:

I’ve very much struggled with Green this year, but I’ve basically gotten to the point where I much prefer his teammate Tyler Boyd at his very similar ADP. Edwin’s comments here are reinforcing that for me. I’ll probably continue to shy away.

VERDICT: NO INJURY DISCOUNT

Jamison Crowder, New York Jets

ADP: Round 9, WR41

Scott:

Here’s another simple one. Jamison Crowder didn’t spend a single week on the injury report due to injury, but Sam Darnold did miss three games with mononucleosis. Exclude those three games, and Crowder would have jumped from 35th (12.4) to 26th (14.0) in FPG. Keep in mind, he currently ranks 41st in ADP. Adam Gase’s history with slot wide receivers is well-known, and Crowder is an especially strong pick in best ball leagues – he reached 18.5 fantasy points in six games last season, which trailed only Davante Adams and Michael Thomas.

Similarly, Kenny Golladay ranked 9th in FPG (17.4) before Matthew Stafford’s injury last year, but only 26th (13.6) after. He’s not much of a discount, however, ranking 7th in ADP.

Edwin:

Be careful of Crowder’s age (27) as it increases risk of hamstring strains, something he’s struggled with in the past. He’s also had a history of ankle and hip issues, but overall, the concern is minimal.

Joe:

This is a semantics battle. I think Crowder is a discount because he’s a slot receiver who plays for the Jets, not because of Darnold’s mono battle last year. Hey, we’ll take a discount any way we can get it, but Crowder is not an injury discount. I agree he’s a great pick at price, though.

VERDICT: NO INJURY DISCOUNT

Marvin Jones, Detroit LIons

ADP: Round 8, WR36

Scott:

Speaking of Detroit, Stafford, Golladay, and Marvin Jones played in nine games together last year. Golladay only barely out-targeted (7.8 to 7.1) and out-scored Jones (17.4 to 16.5) over this span. Jones ranks only 36th by ADP this year, despite finishing 14th, 27th, and 20th in FPG over the last three seasons. Though, of course, he’s also 30 and coming off of back-to-back season ending IR stints.

Edwin:

Jones has had several ankle injuries and surgeries since coming into the league, and that’s something that could catch up to him at any point in the form of symptomatic arthritis.

Joe:

I didn’t even remember Jones was hurt last year… I don’t know if that says more about him, me, or the Lions. Regardless, he’s one of the most consistently underpriced receivers in all of fantasy, and I don’t think it’s because of injuries. He’s just a guy who gets drafted as a boring WR4 and constantly produces like a boring WR3 (or better). It’s a Marvin Jones discount, not an injury discount.

VERDICT: NO INJURY DISCOUNT

Julian Edelman, New England Patriots

ADP: Round 7, WR34

Scott:

Julian Edelman spent a whopping 13 of 16 games on the injury report listed as questionable, with chest, shoulder, and knee injuries. He played with partially torn rib cartilage from Week 3 on, a separated AC joint in his shoulder from Week 11 on, and knee tendinitis from Week 14 on. The shoulder injury, which ultimately required surgery after the season, was the worst of the three. Before that injury, Edelman ranked third among all receivers in receptions (63). In spite of all of this, he still finished 11th in FPG (15.7) and now looks like a strong value, ranking just 34th in ADP – albeit, without Tom Brady, at age 34, and following an extensive injury history.

Edwin:

What If I told you there was a 34-year old NFL wide-receiver still in the league who recently underwent shoulder surgery? That he’s now reportedly scheduled for knee surgery, his second in less than three years? What if I told you that since entering the league, this player has had four concussions, several foot/ankle fractures and surgeries, and an ACL tear in 2017? What if I told you that the only quarterback he’s ever had success with is gone?

To his credit, I don’t know how Edelman has done it for this long. He’s a tough SOB. However, given his age, the crazy-long list of interrelated injuries, and recent surgeries, I shouldn’t have to explain too hard why I’m not actively acquiring him. The long and the short is that I’m willing to miss out on another year of production from Edelman because he will have to overcome tremendous odds. To me, he’s no more than a flex-type player with a middling ceiling due to his declining health and age. Similar to AJ Green, I just think Edelman’s upside is capped due to age/athleticism and injury history.

Joe:

There are so many factors going into this one, but they amount to Edelman being fairly priced, for me. I have to admit I’ve upgraded the entire New England offense because of the Cam Newton acquisition, but Edelman still hasn’t been a player I’ve gone out of my way to get. I don’t know how he’s still put together.

VERDICT: NO INJURY DISCOUNT

Mohamed Sanu, New England Patriots

ADP: Round 20, WR85

Scott:

The notoriously stingy Bill Belichick paid a steep price for Mohamed Sanu in 2019 – a 2020 second-round draft pick – but didn’t get much in return. Sanu was initially eased into playing time, playing on just 54% of the snaps in his first game as a Patriot. The next week he was unleashed, playing on 100% of the snaps, and turning 14 targets into 10 catches, 81 yards, and a score. Unfortunately, in their next game, Sanu suffered a high ankle sprain, which plagued him for the remainder of the year, before ultimately requiring surgery.

Who knows what might have happened had he stayed healthy, but even with Tom Brady gone, Sanu feels like a massive value at ADP (WR85), even if he is an unexciting one. Per reports, Sanu is now "faster, quicker, leaner and in better shape now than prior to the surgery" and is "way ahead" of doctor’s expectations following the surgery.

Edwin:

Sanu has only a minimal history of injuries that shouldn’t set him back in 2020.

Joe:

Talk about a boring pick, but one I’m in on. I will be looking to add Sanu as my final WR in a ton of Best Ball drafts, especially since Cam Newton likes throwing to bigger-body receivers. Patriots fans certainly want that premium pick paid for Sanu back, but he might give them more than they think in 2020.

VERDICT: YES, INJURY DISCOUNT

Preston Williams, Miami Dolphins

ADP: Round 12, WR53

Scott:

DeVante Parker ranks 25th among wide receivers in ADP, while Preston Williams ranks 53rd. This makes Williams seem like a tremendous injury discount – Williams was actually out-targeting (59 to 48) and out-producing (428 yards to 400) Parker prior to tearing his ACL. Keep in mind, he not only led the team in targets over this span, but all rookies as well. It’s not guaranteed, but he is at least “on schedule” to play in Week 1.

Edwin:

The only concern with Williams is whether he’ll be ready by Week 1 or Week 2 of the season. The good news is that Williams didn't start on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list. This means he can use team facilities and attend meetings but cannot practice during camp. (You can read more about the details of the PUP here This lines up with the fact that Williams is 8.5 months removed from his ACL surgery and not quite operating at full speed (the average return to sport time after ACL surgery is 10 months). However, the limited work in a brand-new offense means Williams may not be anywhere near as productive (if active) in Week 1, and keep in mind this is his second ACL tear since high school.

Joe:

I think a lot goes into this — Williams fell out of the NFL Draft because of character concerns, has just a half season to his name, and is coming off a serious injury. That said, with the Dolphins losing both Allen Hurns and Albert Wilson to opt-outs, I love him at this price.

VERDICT: YES, INJURY DISCOUNT

DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles

ADP: Round 13, WR57

Scott:

DeSean Jackson is one of the best swing-for-the-fences late-round picks you can make in 2020 drafts. He played in just one full game in 2019 – Week 1, where he turned a team-high nine targets into a whopping 35.4 fantasy points – before seeing his season derailed by a core muscle injury which ultimately required surgery. In 2018 something similar happened. He played the whole season with a thumb injury, but re-injured it badly in Week 11 and then he spent the final six weeks on the injury report (missing four of those games). Before that re-injury, Jackson was averaging 14.9 FPG, which ranked 23rd. He currently ranks 57th in ADP, though he’s reportedly “100% healthy” and "expected to be the Eagles' top receiving threat."

Edwin:

Jackson had sports hernia surgery, which we’ve already established is as wildly easy surgery to come back from. Considering the fact that his primary role from a physical standpoint is to stretch the field, and that his only significant non-rookie competition for targets (Alshon Jeffery) is recovering from a late season Lisfranc surgery, DJax feels like an absolute steal in Round 13.

Joe:

I can’t quit you, DeSean. He was my most drafted player in Best Ball drafts last year. He’s close to it this year. He’s virtually free. The upside is massive. Let’s just hope he works to change his moronic and damaging opinions as he pushes forward to the 2020 season.

VERDICT: YES, INJURY DISCOUNT

Parris Campbell, Indianapolis Colts

ADP: Round 16, WR65

Scott:

This one’s simple. In July of 2019, Parris Campbell ranked 40th among wide receivers by dynasty ADP and 52nd by redraft ADP. In July of 2020, he ranks 58th and 65th. After suffering a preseason hamstring strain, an abdominal strain in Week 4, a hand fracture in Week 10, and then a broken foot in Week 14, Campbell never really stood a chance. As such, his rookie season should be entirely written off due to injury, and, now at 100%, represents a glaring injury discount.

Edwin:

Draft Campbell. He had offseason hernia surgery and the fracture was quite fluky.

Joe:

This is the injured Colts receiver I want, not TY Hilton. And Campbell is 10 rounds cheaper! I know the situations don’t align perfectly, but could Campbell present a similar second-year breakout to another AFC South WR who was forgotten after an underwhelming rookie season? I’m talking of course about DJ Chark, who was regularly available in the final round of Best-Ball drafts in 2019.

VERDICT: YES, INJURY DISCOUNT

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