Injuries & Hold Outs
Player values in fantasy football fluctuate more during the NFL pre-season than any other time of the year. Fantasy owners preparing for their drafts need to be up-to-date on the latest news, injuries and the status of holdouts. Spending a few minutes researching injuries or the latest news on a fantasy stud holding out can save you from wasting a valuable pick on draft day or help you draft a stud at a bargain price. The following players that this article will take a look at are missing significant time this pre-season due to injury or holdout; we assess how their status will affect their draft day position and value. For the latest news all pre-season, stay tuned to FFToolbox.com.
The key to winning in fantasy football is minimizing risk and selecting the best players based on what is most likely to happen. So why would anybody be concerned about investing a late first round pick on Maurice Jones-Drew, a bonafide stud running back who led the NFL in rushing last season and has eclipsed 1,300 yards in each of the past three years? The answer is that a contract dispute and subsequent holdout that has caused him to miss all of the pre-season has led to Jones-Drew's draft stock slipping in all fantasy leagues.
His average draft position according to Myfantasyleague.com has dropped to 12th (1st-2nd Round), which shows that fantasy owners are concerned that he will either not be on the field Week 1 or will not be the usual consistent "Pocket Hercules" we are all accustomed to seeing due to missing all of training camp. The proverbial "down year" happened to Chris Johnson after he missed all of training camp last year and while there is reason to think it could happen to Jones-Drew, I would doubt it because he has been one of, if not the most constent fantasy back out there over his six-year career. All indications are that Jones-Drew will be on the field for Week 1 at Minnesota, which means that fantasy owners should target Jones-Drew at a discounted price on draft day.
It is worth noting that there is no guarantee that Jones-Drew will be in pads and ready to go on Week 1, which makes him a somewhat risky first round investment. His holdout significantly improves the fantasy stock of his backup, Rashad Jennings, who has averaged 5.4 yards per carry over his two-year career. Jennings missed an opportunity to step up when Jones-Drew was injured last season due to injuries of his own, but will be ready to answer the bell if Jones-Drew isn't back for Week 1. Jennings is an excellent late-round value with an average draft position of 163 (13th Round).
Ryan Mathews suffered a broken clavicle (which required surgery) on his first carry of the pre-season last week, which begs the question: What good is owning a Ferrari if you can never take it out of the garage? There is no question that Mathews is the complete package: elite talent and skill set, opportunity to produce at an elite level with no competition in a great offense and division, but he has yet to put it all together due to injuries in his first two seasons.
Mathews eclipsed 1,000 yards last year and has scored 13 touchdowns in two seasons, but has yet to live up to lofty expectations thanks to having been drafted in the first or second round in each of his two years by fantasy owners. Mathews has off the charts upside and potential, but the reality is that while Mathews told a radio station in San Diego that there is "no doubt" that he will be on the field Week 1, nobody is sure just how long this injury will keep him out. It is also worth noting that if he comes back too early and re-injures his clavicle, he could miss the entire season. That seems like an awful lot of risk to take in the first round of fantasy drafts. Fantasy leagues are won by taking chances and Mathews could pay off if he gets healthy and stays that way, however that is a big if.
Adrian Peterson, who returned to practice last week, is coming off a devastating ACL and MCL injury suffered in December last season, but believes that he will be ready for Week 1 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Peterson will not be the explosive powerful downhill runner we are accustomed to seeing right away and it is unlikely that the Vikings will want to rush the face of their franchise back too early, which means that they will lean on backup Toby Gerhart heavily in the early part of the season.
Peterson is still being drafted in the second round of fantasy drafts (20th overall according to Myfantasyleague.com), but is a big risk in the second round. In order to justify a pick that high, Peterson will have to produce at an elite level and if he is limited early in the season, it is unlikely he will meet those expectations. Gerhart, who looked solid filling in for Peterson last season and is going in the 10th round of drafts (average draft position:124), appears to be a solid value pick with upside in the middle rounds.
Three words that fantasy owners in any sport never want to hear: Dr. James Andrews. Trent Richardson, the Cleveland Browns highly touted rookie running back had his left knee scoped last week to remove loose cartilige and while no timetable has been announced for his return, Richardson is expected to be ready to go by Week 1.
It is easier to come into the NFL as a rookie and have a fantasy impact at running back as opposed to quarterback or wide receiver, so missing time during the pre-season shouldn't stunt Richardson's development. It is a cause for concern that the injuries are an issue already, however. The Alabama product should become the face of the Browns offense, but the injury concerns combined with the lack of other impact weapons in Cleveland are legitimate worries.
Fantasy owners should avoid overpaying for Richardson's services on draft day. I may be completely wrong, but my gut is telling me that I would rather have fellow rookie Doug Martin in the fourth round (average draft position: 43) than Richardson in the second (ADP: 18) based purely on the value. If Richardson slides due to injury concerns, I have no problem taking him, but don't be the one in your league to reach on draft day, because you will overpay and be disappointed if he underperforms.
Sports Illustrated's Peter King reported that he expects Dwayne Bowe to report to the Kansas City Chiefs and end his holdout later this week. Bowe was franchised by the Chiefs during the offseason, but has yet to sign his one-year tender and report to camp. While it is not surprising that Bowe is holding out, there is reason for concern that he will not be up to speed once he returns (which could hurt his production in the early part of the season). On the other hand, it is a contract year for Bowe and he has a couple million reasons to play hard and produce at an elite level.
Bowe's production, along with the rest of the Chief's offense, dropped last season as the stud wide receiver saw his touchdowns fall from 11 the year before to just five. He may struggle again this season after missing all of the pre-season in which the Chiefs installed a new offense under first-year coordinator Brian Daboll, but he is talented enough to overcome the delayed start and shouldn't have too much trouble getting up to speed.