The Official 2015 Fantasy Football Injury Cheat Sheet

Now that the pre-season has officially begun and most people are excitedly preparing for their upcoming fantasy football draft, I think it would be a good time to introduce the first ever installment of my most important project yet: the 2015 Fantasy Football Injury Cheat Sheet. If you have played fantasy football for long enough, you have likely experienced the following scenario:

Player A is on the clock. For the sake of this story, we’ll call him “Tucker.”

Tucker: “I’ll take Geno Smith”

Player B: Hahahaha Tucker, Geno Smith is injured and out for 6-10 weeks.”

Tucker: “Ok never mind I actually want…”

 Rest of the league: “NO TUCKER YOU PICKED HIM AND NOW YOU HAVE TO KEEP HIM.”

What I’m trying to say here is, read this article and you will be (mostly) prepared to not be the Tucker of your draft.

Overview: Before we get started I want to give a bit of an overview of how this whole thing will go down. In general, I will include the injury, how long the player is expected to be out for, and my opinion on whether you should avoid drafting a player because of their injury. In addition to players who got injured this year, I will add in players who sustained season ending injuries last year and are still recovering.

Quarterbacks:

Geno Smith – I know that Geno isn’t much of a fantasy option in most leagues, but if you’re in a deep league and really desperate I guess someone could use him? For more on Geno’s injury check out this article from ganggreennation.

  • Injury: Broken Jaw
  • Out: 6-10 weeks
  • The Official Verdict: AVOID (for now). Once Geno’s fracture is healed he should be good to go.

Sam Bradford – Apparently a guy who has had two ACL reconstructions in the past two seasons is a guy that you trade for now? I’m glad the Ravens have Ozzie Newsome.

  • Injury: Torn ACL in 2014
  • Out: Should be ready for week 1
  • The Official Verdict: AVOID. I’m not going to lie, this one was kind of easy. Bradford has missed 31 of 80 games over his career due to injury and he’s never been one to put up consistent big games when he’s in. I’ll pass.

Carson Palmer – Another QB with a history of two ACL tears.

  • Injury: Torn ACL in 2014
  • Out: Expected to be ready for week 1
  • The Official Verdict: DRAFT. I know I said that I wouldn’t draft Bradford, but I think there’s a difference between these two guys. Palmer is a slow old QB who won’t want to leave the pocket and will try to avoid taking big hits. Bradford on the other hand, plays in the fast paced Eagles offense which sounds like an injury waiting to happen.
Robert Griffin III pre-season injury issues should raise flags for fantasy owners

Robert Griffin III – I’m really starting to feel bad for this guy. He has so much pressure on him to produce at a high level and then the Redskins head coach leaves him in a pre-season game to get demolished and wind up with a concussion.

  • Injury: Concussion (maybe)
  • Out: Expected to play again during the pre-season
  • The Official Verdict: AVOID. Did you see how poorly his offensive line played last pre-season game? I know that some of the starters were out but even if the o-line got a little better, RG3 may still get hit 20 times a game. The bottom line is that RG3 will always be injury prone because he is a mobile QB who makes plays with his feet.

Running Backs:

Arian Foster – Who here hasn’t drafted Foster in the first round and thought “If he could just be healthy for the whole year this is a great pick.” Well, breaking news, Arian Foster is injured.

  • Injury: Torn groin requiring surgery
  • Out: 4-8 weeks
  • The Official Verdict: AVOID. Plain and simple, Foster is hurt every year and any kind of surgery can make the rehab process slower and more complicated. (P.S. I say AVOID but I did draft him late in a keeper league. Don’t judge me ok?)

CJ Spiller – To be honest, I didn’t realize he was on the Saints until I started preparing for my draft.

  • Injury: Arthroscopic knee surgery
  • Out: Questionable for week 1
  • The Official Verdict: DRAFT. The information about Spiller’s knee surgery is so vague that it may have been as minor of a procedure as draining some fluid or removing some junk floating around. With that said, I would draft him, as Brees loves throwing to RBs, but be cautious about reaching for him.

Stevan Ridley – The Jets backfield is pretty crowded this year, but it’s possible that once Ridley is healthy he could breakout and become the feature back.

  • Injury: Torn ACL in 2014
  • Out: At least until week 6
  • The Official Verdict: AVOID. No reason to draft him. Once he comes back he should be fine and maybe could be worth a waiver wire pick up.
Joique Bell
The lions lack of information on Joique Bell paired with Ameer Abdullah’s emergence make Joique Bell a player to avoid

Joique Bell – I think of Joique as the “I wish I didn’t have to draft him but I guess I can settle with him” RB of the 2015 draft.

  • Injury: Minor knee and Achilles surgeries
  • Out: unclear
  • The Official Verdict: AVOID. The Lions really haven’t given out much information on what Bell’s injuries were and why he needed surgery, which makes my job here hard. Even with the little information I have I would still be concerned because Bell has yet to play a down this pre-season and may not be ready for week 1. On top of all that, it appears that Bell may eventually lose carries to Ameer Abdullah.

Todd Gurley – I actually almost forgot to add Gurley to this list because he was in college last year and barely played after suffering a torn ACL in the middle of the season.

  • Injury: Torn ACL in 2014
  • Out: 4-10 weeks (based on my estimate)
  • The Official Verdict: AVOID. Most likely it will take Gurley a full 12 months from the date of his injury (November 2014) to return to the field. Add in the fact that Gurley is a rookie and the Rams might be cautious with him and its possible that Gurley could miss more than half of the season.

Wide Receivers:

Michael Floyd – Who knew that a few dislocated fingers could lead to this (don’t worry, its not graphic).

  • Injury: Dislocated fingers requiring surgery
  • Out: May return week 1
  • The Official Verdict: DRAFT. I know that getting surgery on your hands isn’t really ideal if you’re a receiver in the NFL, but as long as Floyd has full range of motion in his fingers he should be able to regain the strength and ability to make tough catches.

Roddy White – Probably my favorite “guy who might be getting too old to have a big year but you’re still going to take a shot on him any way” guy in this year’s draft.

  • Injury: Unspecified elbow injury requiring surgery
  • Out: Should be available for week 1
  • The Official Verdict: DRAFT. Seems like a small procedure and doesn’t sound like his elbow will slow him down over the course of the year.

Kevin White – With the 7th pick in the 2015 NFL draft the Chicago Bears select Kevin White. Welcome to the NFL Mr. White, here’s your new locker, aaaaaaaaaaand now you’re injured and maybe out for the year.

  • Injury: Stress fracture in L tibia (shin).
  • Out: At least until the middle of the season
  • The Official Verdict: AVOID. If someone is going to be out for at least half of the season you probably weren’t going to draft him anyway.

Alshon Jeffrey – Here’s a good conspiracy theory for people. Maybe Alshon Jeffrey and Kevin White don’t want to play with Jay Cutler so they are both trying to get hurt… probably not though.

  • Injury: Calf strain
  • Out: Should be ready for week 1
  • The Official Verdict: AVOID. I know he is probably going to be ready to start the season but I don’t like my WR’s starting a year off with a calf strain. To run and jump at full speed you need to utilize your calf muscles a lot and I’m worried that if Jeffrey plays through some calf soreness early it could eventually catch up to him and keep him out for an extended period of time.
Jordy Nelson
Widely considered a top fantasy WR, Jordy Nelson’s season came to an end with a torn ACL in week 2 of the preseason.

Jordy Nelson – And this is why pre-season football sucks.

  • Injury: Torn ACL
  • Out: Entire 2015 season
  • The Official Verdict: AVOID. Duh.

Kelvin Benjamin – See above.

  • Injury: Torn ACL
  • Out: Entire 2015 season
  • The Official Verdict: See Above.

Brandon Lafell – Trying to find injury information about a Patriot’s player is almost impossible. So I called in my friend Ted Wells to do some investigating for me and he found that its more likely than not that there’s a chance that Brandon Lafell could miss a game or 6.

  • Injury: Some sort of foot injury
  • Out: 0-6 weeks
  • The Official Verdict: AVOID. There is just no way to know how bad Lafell’s foot injury is. WEEI in Boston reported earlier this week that they wouldn’t be surprised if Lafell started the season on the PUP, however, that still doesn’t give us any information on when he will actually be back.

Julian Edelman – See above

  • Injury: Leg injury (that’s actually the most specific information I could find)
  • Out: Unclear
  • The Official Verdict: DRAFT. I have no good information on what Edelman is dealing with but it seems like he would be playing through this if the games meant anything.

Victor Cruz – Before everyone became enamored with Odell Beckham Jr., the Giants had Victor Cruz and his smooth moves.

  • Injury: Torn Patella tendon 2014
  • Out: Expected to be ready for week 1.
  • The Official Verdict: DRAFT. Cruz has had plenty of time to rehab from his torn patella tendon in October of 2014. Although it is possible he may have lost a step or a few inches on his vertical because of the injury, Cruz is still relatively young and should still be a productive player.

Desean Jackson – Has any team had a worse pre-season than the Redskins?

  • Injury: Sprained AC Joint
  • Out: Expected to play week 1
  • The Official Verdict: DRAFT. Although a sprained AC joint is definitely painful, it is an injury that Jackson may have even played through if it happened late in the season during an important game. I wouldn’t be too concerned about Jackson’s shoulder going forward…but I’m sure opposing CBs wont mind taking an extra shot or two at it over the course of the season.

Mike Evans – Too bad he plays in Tampa Bay, otherwise I think more people would realize how good he really is.

  • Injury: Hamstring strain
  • Out: Expected to be back week 1
  • The Official Verdict: DRAFT… but cautiously. Evans is kind of similar to Alshon Jeffrey in that I just don’t like it when a WR has a hamstring injury this early in a season. With that said, I think that the Bucs are just shutting him down for the rest of the pre-season to let him heal, and that he will be back to 100% when the season starts.

Tight Ends:

Julius Thomas
Julius Thomas is healthy and good to draft – that is if you don’t mind drafting Jaguars players.

Julius Thomas – Hmmm interesting career move for Thomas to leave Peyton Manning and go to Blake Bortles. Lets see how this plays out for him.

  • Injury: Broken finger
  • Out: Expected to be ready for week 1
  • The Official Verdict: DRAFT. It appears that Thomas is being given adequate time for the bone to heal and it shouldn’t affect him once it does.

Zach Ertz – I don’t really have anything to say about Zach Ertz. Seems like a nice guy though.

  • Injury: Sports hernia
  • Out: Might play in week 1
  • The Official Verdict: AVOID. Any type of soft tissue injury to the abdomen or core can be very hard to fully recover from. I’m not saying the Eagles training staff isn’t going to get him as prepared as possible for the season, but sometimes these injuries can nag a player throughout a year.

By David Schwartz

Images: Arian Foster,  Robert Griffin III, Joique Bell, Jordy Nelson, Julius Thomas

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