2021 Injury Diss-counts

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2021 Injury Diss-counts

“Edwin — who are some players in drafts I can take with a great ADP that others are ignoring because of injury?”

Everybody loves to know who the Injury Discounts are and I love finding the values myself. However, the flip side of the conversation is also important. In my short time doing this, I’ve found that many fantasy managers wrongly assign injury value and injury optimism. For this article, I’ve identified players who are, right or wrong, facing physical volatility/health obstacles that could make it difficult to beat ADP or in some cases completely tank a roster. And just like that, the Injury “Diss”-count was born.

This article is not advising to fully fade these players. Instead, I’ll look at the medical/performance nuances of each individual situation and contrast that to their ADP. There will be instances in drafts where you might have no choice but to take one of these guys. Other times, you’ll be able to go another direction with a player in the same tier. The goal of this article is to help identify exactly when those times might arise. Some of these players will end up disappointing. Let’s find out who.

Dalvin Cook (RB, Min), ADP: 1.02

Cook is far from a discount and that linked article will dive deep into why. The common argument against Saquon Barkley is “I’d prefer safety with my first round pick.” With that logic, taking Cook at the 1.02 is inherently unsafe. That’s not to say Cook can’t finish as the RB1 given his undeniable talent. This is, however, a discussion about his history of shoulder dislocations and as the research shows, there’s about a 47% re-dislocation rate in NFL players. Cook has a history of three shoulder dislocations since high school and despite his 2020 season, more exposures leads to higher risk. That’s not up for debate. What I’m not saying is don’t draft Cook. What I am saying is that, as the 1.02, Cook is not a slam dunk to stay healthy. It’s best to view this from an overall exposure perspective. If I have 10 1.02 picks, I’m likely mixing in Alvin Kamara at 3-4 times to minimize my risk.

Antonio Gibson (RB, Was), ADP: 2.03

Gibson is a tough nut to crack. In June, Gibson commented on his turf toe injury from December of 2020. He mentioned the fact that he wasn’t 100% which is a surprising admission and uncommon. Since then, Ron Rivera has done some clean up, but the can of worms is open. Clinically, tissue healing should be done by now given the fact that surgery wasn’t indicated. That means an issue from December that was lingering in June has a good chance to still be a bother in August. After a few weeks of NFL game action, it’s certainly reasonable to assume it will still be a bother in November. This doesn’t mean Gibson is a full fade — far from it. However, much like another RB later discussed in this article, it could lead to workload management and more of a committee than fantasy managers want to see. What gives this situation even more gross-factor is Gibson’s usage and the fantasy community’s assumption he’ll dominate that backfield. What if The Team manages Gibson’s volume to prevent a setback? What if Gibson does have a setback mid-season and misses a drive or — fantasy gods forbid — an entire game? What if the toe is just enough of a bother to cap his (admittedly astronomical) ceiling? Remember, this article isn’t about totally fading any one player. The purpose is to identify ADPs that exhibit more than a little doubt to exceed expectations. This could end up being nothing, but generally speaking every year there are likely a handful of lingering issues we never hear about that end up impacting performance and/or availability. So when we have this information, it’s reasonable to apply it intelligently. Below I list out the most likely scenarios for Gibson. Here’s a podcast in which I discussed this situation earlier this summer. For me, that means mitigating any Gibson exposure from a big picture perspective and considering other players in his tier.

{{TWEET|

The Slim Thicc Narrative: when a player publicly or privately declares they’ve simultaneously lost weight and gained weight implying they now possess greater muscle mass. https://twitter.com/fbinjurydoc/status/1400451894221234183?s=21

>August 6, 2021

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A.J. Brown (WR, Ten), ADP: 2.12

Adam Schefter reports that Brown “should be ready for Week 1” which is… fine … but there’s cause for concern considering Brown had two non-descript knee surgeries in January. Those surgeries aren’t alarming independently but the fact that he had two does theoretically increase the chance of compilations. Was this August knee injury a complication? Was it nothing? Will the injury crop back up in Week 7? What if the surgery didn’t stick? We have more questions than answers on Brown. The bottom line here is that he’s an elite talent but, again, for the “I want safety early” drafters, there’s just enough doubt clouding Brown to shy away from him for another player in his tier. Personally, I would go Terry McLaurin or Keenan Allen instead if they’re there.

Allen Robinson (WR, Chi), ADP: 3.05

Robinson, sneakily volatile in the health department, has had the worst overall career QB luck dating back to college; this is a well-known fact. Well, add in yet another two new QBs to the mix in 2021 in addition to a new history of concussions (increases likelihood of another concussion within a calendar year) and a hamstring issue which also can follow him into the year. If A.J. Brown’s physical volatility is murky, Robinson’s is muddier compared to somebody like Robert Woods, whom I would personally prefer at that spot. This is a case where injury history is the perfect tiebreaker.

D’Andre Swift (RB, Det), ADP: 3.09

This groin injury has already become a headache to keep up with. I’ve gone from fading Swift as an anchor RB candidate to only within-tier fading him a few times now. Here’s the full history on Swift. Given that this is an ongoing issue since 2018 and he’s been managed throughout camp, it would not shock me in the slightest to see Swift’s volume be capped given that Jamaal Williams is more than capable and Detroit went out of their way to sign the Frozen fan in the first place. Furthermore, and this is complete conjecture, doesn’t Man Dan Campbell seem like a guy who has no problem splitting carries between RBs? Anyway, forget re-injury or capped performance, if there’s potential for Swift’s volume to be managed (and there is) it might behoove some managers to consider a different option with a higher raw volume ceiling. I understand in that range, Swift seems like a value, but there are objective obstacles in his way to reach his peak.

Amari Cooper (WR, Dal), ADP: 4.02

Cooper had January ankle surgery to remove bone spurs but was still dealing with inflammation … six months later. Cooper has a history of foot/ankle issues and more specifically plantar fasciitis.There’s no evidence that’s the specific issue he’s dealing with these days but considering 89% of individuals with plantar fasciitis also have bone spurs, it’s not unreasonable to assume the two are related. But what does that mean? Well, the surgery had complications for one. Secondly, it would seem that on the surface the surgery was, at best, a lateral move and it’s unknown if removing the spurs will help his chronic issues. Cooper is known for complete no-show games and in addition to execution and scheme, I personally believe there are days where Cooper is playing with his foot on fire. The bottom line? Cooper had a foot surgery that should have been minor and taken six weeks for recovery, but instead lingered for six months. Unless there’s a significant tier break at WR in drafts, I’m mitigating the amount of Cooper I’m drafting. He’s healthy now, but the grind of an NFL season could lead to another episode of pain/swelling. Again, not a complete fade, but a definite within-tier fade.

Raheem Mostert (RB, SF), ADP: 7.04

I discussed Mostert’s weird pre-season ailments in detail in the sister article Injury Discounts, so we’ll stick to the bottom line. I totally understand the fact this is a 7th round pick and consequences are slightly mitigated. But what if the investment itself never comes to fruition? Throughout his career, Mostert has struggled to stay on the field due to connective tissue injuries and 2020 was no exceptions. Plus. he’s definitely still explosive, but at 29, is he able to continue providing splash plays? Listen this pick could be fine, but as Scott Barrett always tells us upside wins championships. I can’t see Mostert proving that type of upside.

Honorable Mentions

Odell Beckham Jr. (WR, Cle) — Coming off an ACL at 29 years old with a history of soft tissue injuries and/or durability concerns, the thrown off workloads could lead to further soft tissue injuries. However, his ADP seems to bake in this risk.

Kenny Golladay (WR, NYG) — In 2020, we barely saw Golladay at all. That’s likely what led to this camp hamstring strain. Well, 71% of hamstring injuries recur within a calendar season so it’s possible this crops up again. Given all of this, in addition to the offense he’s in, Golladay is a tough call.

Michael Thomas (WR, NO) — A player who should never come off the board before starters are filled (at the earliest) is coming off the board in some drafts prior to Tyler Boyd, Deebo Samuel, and DeVonta Smith. Thomas won’t be back at best until Week 5, the added layer of animosity and miscommunications with the Saints organization makes it questionable Thomas even returns at all. Now, after starters are filled, I have no problems with taking a swing, but I would absolutely not reach.

Edwin completed his Doctorate of Physical Therapy education in 2020. His expertise is in all thing’s orthopedics, injury recovery, and he has a special interest in human performance. Edwin’s vision is to push injury advice past simple video analysis and into the realm of applying data from the medical literature to help fantasy players make informed start-sit decisions.