Fantasy Football Today - fantasy football rankings, cheatsheets, and information
A Fantasy Football Community!

 Log In  | Sign Up  |  Contact      

Who is Injury-Prone and Who Has Been Falsely Accused?

By Steve Schwarz | 7/4/24

Basketball is a contact sport.

Football is a collision sport.

Injuries will happen and that’s a guarantee. It’s even more of a sure thing with owners lengthening the season from 12 games (through 1960) to 14 games (1961-1977) to 16 games (1978-2020) then to 17 games (2021- present) and eventually to 18 contests. Don’t be fooled by their reduction of the preseason… your fantasy players didn’t play in them… or at most played a couple of series.

In preparation for this, you draft quality backups to your starting lineup. Or sometimes, we try to avoid guys we think get more than their fair share of injuries. We call them “injury-prone.”

We hear that about the 49ers’ Christian McCaffrey. But “CMC” began his career playing all 48 games over his first three seasons. Then he suffered injuries in two straight seasons before playing 33 of 34 games the last two seasons. So he has been a workhorse in five of seven seasons. Is he “injury-prone?” Many say yes, but he really only had two disappointing fantasy seasons due to injury. It’s just they were consecutive and at a point where fantasy owners expected elite statistics.

Indianapolis Colts rookie Anthony Richardson was injured after four games last season and some fantasy owners will shy away from drafting him because they are scared of re-injury due to his physical running style. That’s a big gamble on a young man who averaged 24.4 FPts/G over his three full games and played in 12 of 13 games in his final college season.

So what are we talking about here? Based on the past, what is the average number of games a starting QB should be expected to play? Or a running back? Or a receiver?

Of the 32 starting quarterbacks in Week 1 of 2023, 14 missed time due to injury (44%). They missed an average of 4.7 games, though the average doesn’t give a clear view. Five missed one-to-two games and five missed seven or more games. Twelve missed time due to a coaching decision. Of those five were sat down in Week 18 in preparation for the playoffs and seven were a middle-of-the season change in team direction choices.

 Quarterbacks - Games Played
Player Team Gms Coach Injury
Joshua Dobbs 2T 13 x
Desmond Ridder ATL 15 x
Lamar Jackson BAL 16 x
Josh Allen BUF 17
Bryce Young CAR 16 x
Justin Fields CHI 13 x
Joe Burrow CIN 10 x
Deshaun Watson CLE 6 x
Dak Prescott DAL 17
Russell Wilson DEN 15 x x
Jared Goff DET 17
Jordan Love GB 17
C.J. Stroud HOU 15 x
Anthony Richardson IND 4 x
Trevor Lawrence JAC 16 x
Patrick Mahomes KC 16 x
Justin Herbert LAC 13 x
Matthew Stafford LAR 15 x x
Jimmy Garoppolo LV 7 x x
Tua Tagovailoa MIA 17
Kirk Cousins MIN 8 x
Mac Jones NE 11 x
Derek Carr NO 17
Daniel Jones NYG 6 x
Zach Wilson NYJ 12 x
Jalen Hurts PHI 17
Kenny Pickett PIT 12 x
Geno Smith SEA 15 x
Brock Purdy SF 16 x
Baker Mayfield TB 17
Ryan Tannehill TEN 9 x
Sam Howell WAS 17

Looking at the top-50 running backs, we see that only 20 played in every game they were asked to be in uniform. The rest of the backs missed a total of 86 games or 2.9 games per running back. So would injury-prone be guys who missed more than 2.9 game in more than half their years? Alvin Kamara missed more than three games in two of the last three seasons, but overall he’s played in 100 of 115 possible games. Not injury-prone.

McCaffrey has played in 91 of 115 games and at least 16 games in five of seven – not injury-prone.

Saquon Barkley missed 24 of 93 games and one by coach’s decision in 2022, but missed at least three games in four of six seasons – injury-prone.

James Conner has played in 89 of 115 games, but missed at least three games in six of seven seasons – definitely injury-prone.

D’Andre Swift has played in 56 of 67 games but missed at least three games in three of four seasons, though he did show up when asked in every game last season. Still… he’s injury-prone.

Jonathan Taylor has played in 53 of 67 games, missing six and seven games the past two seasons, but it was only one injury which caused him to miss the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023. I’m saying not injury-prone.

Aaron Jones, what many might call the poster boy for “injury prone,” but he’s missed two or fewer games in four of the last five seasons. He’s missed at least four games in three of seven seasons. Too frequently, however, he gets injured or plays injured and receives less than normal usage as coaches try to protect him. We fantasy owners would rather he sit than have us start him and watch him get seven carries for 29 yards and four catches for 17 yards. Injury-prone.

Dalvin Cook started his career by missing 17 of his first 32 games. Since then he’s missed two or fewer games in four of five seasons. Not injury-prone, but his productivity has consistently dropped over the last few seasons.

The Browns’ Nick Chubb began his career playing in 36 consecutive games, but since then he’s missed 23 of 67 games (34.3%). Was a workhorse, but I’m concerned enough to fade him this season. With Jerome Ford showing his skill set last season, I’m afraid management will work to protect Chubb at the expense of fantasy owners.

Trey Sermon, currently listed as the No.1 backup to Taylor in Indianapolis, has missed 26 of 51 games over his three-year “career” and I can’t even recommend him as the handcuff. If you are searching for the Colts’ handcuff after selecting Taylor, better watch preseason closely as see if Evan Hull or Tyler Goodson can make a splash, because you can’t depend on Sermon.

 Running Backs - Games Played
Player Team Gms Coach Injury
James Conner ARI 13 x
Bijan Robinson ATL 17
Tyler Allgeier ATL 17
Gus Edwards BAL 17
Justice Hill BAL 16 x
James Cook BUF 17
Chuba Hubbard CAR 17
Miles Sanders CAR 16 x
Khalil Herbert CHI 12 x
Roschon Johnson CHI 15 x
Joe Mixon CIN 17
Jerome Ford CLE 17
Kareem Hunt CLE 15 x
Tony Pollard DAL 17
Javonte Williams DEN 16 x
Samaje Perine DEN 17
Jaleel McLaughlin DEN 17
Jahmyr Gibbs DET 15 x
David Montgomery DET 14 x
Aaron Jones GB 11 x
AJ Dillon GB 15 x
Devin Singletary HOU 17
Zack Moss IND 14 x
Jonathan Taylor IND 10 x
Travis Etienne JAC 17
Isiah Pacheco KC 14 x x
Austin Ekeler LAC 14 x
Kyren Williams LAR 12 x x
Josh Jacobs LV 13 x
Raheem Mostert MIA 15 x x
De'Von Achane MIA 11 x
Alexander Mattison MIN 16 x
Ty Chandler MIN 13 x
Ezekiel Elliott NE 17
Rhamondre Stevenson NE 12 x
Alvin Kamara NO 13 x
Saquon Barkley NYG 14 x
Breece Hall NYJ 17
D'Andre Swift PHI 16 x
Kenneth Gainwell PHI 16 x
Jaylen Warren PIT 17
Najee Harris PIT 17
Kenneth Walker SEA 15 x
Zach Charbonnet SEA 16 x
Christian McCaffrey SF 16 x
Rachaad White TB 17
Derrick Henry TEN 17
Tyjae Spears TEN 17
Brian Robinson Jr. WAS 15 x
Antonio Gibson WAS 16 x

For the guys standing out wide, the receivers, they usually collide with smaller guys and that may account for their lower rate of absence. Twenty-one of the top-50 played in all 17 games, two more played in 16 of 17 when they were asked to sit in Week 18 to wait for the playoff game and the remaining 27 wide receivers missed a total of 54 games or an average of two games per injured wideout.

When it comes to wide receivers being “injury-prone” most people immediately think of the former Charger - Mike Williams. He missed four games in 2022 and 14 games last season. Yet, he actually played 15 or 16 games in each season from 2018-2021. His “partner-in-crime” on the other side, Keenan Allen, missed four games last season and seven games in 2022. It’s no wonder Chargers’ management has moved on from both of them. The No.1 ability is availability and neither was helping young quarterback Justin Herbert while in street clothes.

Also, beware of Cooper Kupp, he of the record-setting 2021 season, but also the wideout who has missed eight games in 2022 and four games last season due to injury (also sat out Week 18 due to coach’s decision).

Marquise Brown has missed eight games the past two seasons in Arizona after missing just two games in his rookie season in three years for Baltimore. I’m guessing, now back on a contender in Kansas City, with an All-Pro quarterback who won’t throw him into trouble, his missed time will be significantly reduced. Not injury-prone.

Finally, Odell Beckham Jr., is definitely on my “injury-prone avoidance list.” When he was in New York he missed four or more games in three of five seasons. The last three seasons he’s missed nine, three and three games. He’ll be the third or fourth option for Tua Tagovailoa with the Dolphins and someone will draft him too high because of his “name.” It won’t be me.

 Wide Receivers - Games Played
Player Team Gms Coach Injury
Drake London ATL 16 x
Zay Flowers BAL 16 x
Stefon Diggs BUF 17
Gabe Davis BUF 16 x
Adam Thielen CAR 17
D.J. Moore CHI 17
Ja'Marr Chase CIN 16 x
Tyler Boyd CIN 17
Amari Cooper CLE 15 x
CeeDee Lamb DAL 17
Brandin Cooks DAL 16 x
Courtland Sutton DEN 16 x
Jerry Jeudy DEN 16 x
Amon-Ra St. Brown DET 16 x
Jayden Reed GB 16 x
Romeo Doubs GB 17
Nico Collins HOU 15 x
Tank Dell HOU 10 x
Michael Pittman Jr. IND 16 x
Josh Downs IND 17
Calvin Ridley JAC 17
Christian Kirk JAC 12 x
Rashee Rice KC 16 x
Keenan Allen LAC 13 x
Puka Nacua LAR 17 x
Cooper Kupp LAR 12 x
Davante Adams LV 17
Jakobi Meyers LV 16 x
Tyreek Hill MIA 16 x
Jaylen Waddle MIA 14 x x
Jordan Addison MIN 17
Justin Jefferson MIN 10 x
Chris Olave NO 16 x
Rashid Shaheed NO 15 x
Darius Slayton NYG 17
Garrett Wilson NYJ 17
A.J. Brown PHI 17
DeVonta Smith PHI 16 x
George Pickens PIT 17
Diontae Johnson PIT 13 x
DK Metcalf SEA 16 x
Tyler Lockett SEA 17
Jaxon Smith-Njigba SEA 17
Brandon Aiyuk SF 16 x
Deebo Samuel SF 15 x
Mike Evans TB 17
Chris Godwin TB 17
DeAndre Hopkins TEN 17
Terry McLaurin WAS 17
Curtis Samuel WAS 16 x

Draft Buddy - Fantasy Football excel draft spreadsheet