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Dr. Budoff and the Fantasy Football Injury Cheat Sheet for 2019 – Key Players to Place on Your “Do Not Draft” List

We all have them. There are players we want, and then there are those that we just don’t. Sometimes, we just don’t believe the hype that everyone else seems to, and they for more money than you’re willing to pay in auction drafts.1

Sometimes a player’s injury history lands them on your “Do Not Draft” list. That’s what I’m focusing on here — those players I’m personally avoiding because their past or present injuries give me a queasy, semi-nauseated feeling whenever I think about rostering them.

Every player has value at a certain price. However, realistically speaking, when the price I’m willing to pay is far enough below ADP that I don’t have a realistic chance of landing them, they’re effectively full fades.

Do Not Draft

So, in no particular order, here is my individual injury-related fade list:

Leonard Fournette

I don’t like big men with loose ankles. His ankle ligament issues go back to college. When someone as big and strong as Fournette runs fast and cuts hard, he only has one leg on the ground at a time. And the narrowest part of that leg is the ankle. If you’ll remember back to high school physics: Stress = Force/Area. High force/low area = high stress. High stress on a joint that’s vulnerable due to laxity of its stabilizing ligaments = risky. Last year, Fournette dealt with hamstring injuries. Is he done with his ankle woes? Possibly. But for my four or five highest-drafted players,2 I’m interested in floor > ceiling. I try to avoid risky players. I acknowledge Fournette’s high upside/ceiling. But personally, until proven otherwise, I consider him too risky for my teams. 

Julian Edelman

I like Edelman. And I think he’ll have a good year. But his injury history is too long to list here and still keep this article’s length manageable. Older players tend to get injured more and heal more slowly.3 I’d rather save my money for Brandon Cooks or Chris Godwin. Or Robert Woods. Or Stefan Diggs. (How could I write for Rotoviz and not mention Diggs at least occasionally?) You get the point. I’ll roster him, but there are too many other good, safer players going around Edelman for me to roll the dice.4

Derrick Henry

I don’t really have a problem with Henry, but I don’t like to draft injured players. I made an exception last year, because I really really really liked Doug Baldwin. I thought he was gonna smash! And we all remember how that turned out. I know that Henry’s expected to be ready for Week 1, but calf injuries have relatively high rate of recurrence. That, plus I don’t think he’s going to spend an entire season reliving the last four games of 2018. So I’m off of him. And I’m mentally prepared to live with myself if he crushes my championship dreams and leads one of my braver league mates to the title.

Kenyan Drake

He was in a walking boot with a foot injury and missed two preseason games. I like Drake as a player and I’d be happy to roster him cheap but, despite the above, someone else was always willing to pay retail for him in my auction drafts. So I don’t have any redraft shares (or best ball shares since his injury occurred).

Todd Gurley

Remember my discussion on Fournette when I discussed not taking on too much risk with my four to five most expensive players? That applies even more to Gurley. There are two related, but separate, issues here. First, Gurley’s knee. I wish I could remember who pointed out that, when Gurley had two weeks in between games at the end of last season, he did well. When he had to play in two consecutive weeks, he had poor production in the second game. That’s an important point that, to me, tells the story of a knee that doesn’t want to handle heavy loads more than a couple of times a month. After an off-season of rest, I think Gurley should have a good September. I don’t have him on any of my teams, but if I did I’d be looking to trade him after a big game in Week 1, 2 or 3 at the latest.

Second, Sean McVay’s thoughts on Gurley’s knee. The Rams are the reigning NFC champions. No doubt McVay wants to get back to the Super Bowl and win it this time. His odds of doing that are much better with a healthy Gurley in the playoffs. So: Is McVay really going to work Gurley any harder than he absolutely has to during the regular season? McVay seems like a bright guy, so my money is on “No.” I think he’ll rest Gurley early in games that he gets ahead in and believes he can win using Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson in the backfield. This unpredictability is more than my fragile psyche can handle, so I’m avoiding this headache.

Anthony Miller

I like Miller as a player, but he came into NFL recovering from a Jones fracture in his foot. In his rookie year he dislocated a shoulder multiple times. His labrum was repaired this past off-season, and his shoulder should be fine. I had a number of best ball shares of Miller, but then he missed over two weeks of training camp with an ankle injury. And my view of Mitchell Trubisky’s passing game is that he needs all that time to develop chemistry. Miller’s expected to be ready for Week 1, but I moved him down just enough that I missed out on him in my redraft leagues. Or maybe I just didn’t leave myself enough money to win him at the end of my auction drafts. Either way, his third recent injury gave me enough pause that he’ll be playing against my teams in 2019. 

A positive player note

I looked up Dalvin Cook’s injury history. It’s not as bad as many pundits make it seem. In college, he fell on stairs and dislocated his shoulder. It hasn’t been a problem in the NFL, and this issue should be behind him. During his rookie season (2017) Cook tore his ACL, then had a almost-certainly related hamstring issue last year. This knee injury should also be behind him in his second year after surgey (which was in October, 2017). He’ll have a good year, fingers crossed.

Image Credit: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Derrick Henry.

  1. The only way to draft.  (back)
  2. Rounds 1 to 4 or the five most expensive players in auctions.  (back)
  3. He turned 33 in May  (back)
  4. Having said that, I do a lot of best ball leagues, and have some Edelman in that portfolio. But I don’t lose sleep over my best ball teams like I do over my lineup management teams, so they don’t contribute to my ulcer risk.  (back)

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