While the offseason is a time for improvement, many players are
focused on improving their health instead of their footwork or
physique. Below you will find a list of fantasy-relevant NFL quarterbacks
and running backs that have injury concerns for the upcoming 2015
season. With training camp just around the corner, the NFL season
will be hear before we know it, which means fantasy football drafts
are approaching. Equipping yourself with up-to-date injury analysis
will enhance your chances of winning that championship.
Palmer appears to be further along in his
ACL recovery than fellow quarterback Sam Bradford.
After starting in five games and producing an equal number of
productive fantasy weeks last season (Palmer averaged 277 yards,
2.2 TDs, and 0.4 INTs per game), the Cardinals quarterback tore
his ACL in his sixth start. This was just three days after signing
a $50-million extension with the team. The non-contact injury
affected his left knee, which is the same knee Palmer previously
suffered a torn ACL and MCL on eight years ago. His graft was
taken from his patellar tendon this time around (the standard
choice for ACL tears as it is one of the strongest grafts, but
patellar tendonitis is a high risk), as opposed to a cadaver’s
ligament in his first injury. Palmer was enjoying his best touchdown-to-interception
ratio as a professional in 2014 and had his highest quarterback
rating since 2005. Though Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd are
still around (not to mention burner WR John Brown, who will be
in his second year), many fantasy analysts currently doubt Palmer
will return to be a starting fantasy quarterback (QB1). Cardinals’
coach Bruce Arians set a realistic goal of July 1st for Palmer
to return to action back when the injury occurred, but Palmer
has been going through drills in a progressively intense fashion
since early May. At training camp he’s expected to be a
Injury Severity: High
Outlook: Plans to be full participant
in training camp
Recovery Speed: Faster than Expected
Fantasy Take: Palmer may be ranked lower due to his injury
last season. Doubters point to his age (35) and his past injury
history (ACL/MCL ‘06). Given that the Cardinals paid Palmer a
hefty three-year contract extension just before his injury, along
with his remarkable recovery process at this age, it’s a safe
bet that Palmer will be leading the Cards in 2015 just as he did
a year ago. Palmer should be the 12th-16th quarterback drafted
off the boards when August rolls around assuming no setbacks in
his recovery, providing great value for a low price.
In mid-January, we learned that Manning was playing on a torn
right quadriceps muscle from December 14th (vs. San Diego) until
the end of the season. While the tear itself came as a surprise,
Manning’s poor play and limited mobility in the pocket indicated
a leg injury of some degree. Manning’s injury required several
weeks of rest, but he played through the injury eventually getting
the much-needed rest at the start of the offseason. Manning is
back to practicing but head Coach Gary Kubiak wants to limit Manning
this offseason given his age and recent injury history. In early
March, Manning took a pay cut of $4-million, primarily so that
Demaryius Thomas could be locked down to a long-term deal.
Injury Severity: Moderate/Low
Outlook: Fully recovered, will fully
participate in training camp
Recovery Speed: Normal as Expected
Fantasy Take: Manning is getting
older and many feel that this quad tear is just the first injury
of many that will ultimately send Manning into retirement. At
age 39, Manning is the oldest starting quarterback in the league.
Last year, despite his dismal last quarter, Manning still finished
fourth among fantasy quarterbacks. There are a number of younger,
more dependable options that should be taken before Manning on
draft day. Demaryius Thomas will likely sign soon, but his situation
needs to be monitored as we approach the season, as it could mean
Manning may lose his top target. Meanwhile, wide receiver Wes
Welker (free agent) and tight end Julius Thomas (traded, JAX)
are no longer on the team. If you feel like Manning has another
stellar (and injury-free) fantasy season ahead of him, you wouldn’t
be alone. But, it’s hard to deny that his health will likely get
the best of him this year or next.
Bradford, like Palmer (above), is rehabbing an ACL tear for the
second time in his career. However, Bradford’s previous
injury was torn in his seventh regular season game of 2013, whereas
Palmer’s was torn eight years prior. Bradford’s second
ACL tear forced him to miss the entire 2014 season since his injury
occurred in a preseason contest. His recovery has been relatively
slow-paced, but the good news is that there have been zero setbacks.
They have eased him back into drills from the beginning of June,
but he is still limited. This has allowed Mark Sanchez to take
first-team reps throughout the offseason. Bradford ensured the
media that he will be ready for training camp. The former first-overall
pick has only played a full season in two of his five years in
the league and is considered a serious injury-risk going forward.
Bradford left St. Louis this offseason, a place where he was sacked
120 times in 49 games behind the Rams’ unimpressive offensive
line. The argument could be made that Bradford’s supporting
cast (or lack thereof) has contributed to his long list of injuries.
The Eagles don’t have the top offensive line in the league,
but it will be a tier above what Bradford is used to.
Injury Severity: High
Outlook: Needs Watched Closely
Recovery Speed: Slower than Expected,
Fantasy Take: Bradford’s second
ACL tear in as many years is concerning. His slower recovery is
also leaving the door open for Sanchez to impress in practice.
Bradford is still a few weeks from fully returning, and will need
to quickly gel with his new teammates once he gets back on the
field. The Eagles, under head Coach Chip Kelly, should be a high-powered
offense this year and whoever gets the nod at quarterback will
have a great opportunity to produce solid fantasy numbers. We
will monitor the situation closely.
Romo (Dallas Cowboys) played through a back injury and broken
ribs for part of the 2014 season, but seems to be healed fully.
He participated in OTAs for the first time in three years and
is primed for a strong year without DeMarco Murray.
Nick Foles (St. Louis) suffered a broken clavicle that forced
him to sit out the second half of the year in 2014. It typically
takes three months for this injury to heal, and Foles is no different.
He’s been practicing in OTAs. A bigger shot to his fantasy
stock may not be his injured clavicle but instead his transition
to the offensively challenged St. Louis Rams.
The bad news: Arian Foster’s nagging injuries allowed him
to play in only eight games in 2013 and 13 games in 2014. His
injury laundry-list throughout his career includes a herniated
disc in his back (2013), a serious calf strain (2013), and a pulled
hamstring (2014), not to mention his knee and shoulder injuries
which each required surgery in his collegiate years. The good
news: Foster has participated in each of the team’s OTAs
this offseason. Also, Foster is in a contract year. Just as the
Dallas Cowboys got all they could out of DeMarco Murray last season
in his contract year, the Texans may use a similar approach with
Foster. Foster is healthy right now, but those who draft him should
expect him to sit at least a game or two given his injury history.
Injury Severity: Low
Outlook: Fully healed, practicing
Recovery Speed: Normal
Fantasy Take: Foster, age 29, is
getting old for a running back in the NFL. There is no denying
that when healthy, Foster is a fantasy stud. In his 13 games last
season, he accumulated over 1550 total yards, 13 TDs, and a yards-per-carry
average of 4.8. He doesn’t need to play a whole season to warrant
being valued as a fantasy RB1, but a 16-game season should be
considered a bonus.
St. Louis drafted the Georgia product with the 10th pick in the
2015 NFL draft. Gurley suffered a torn left ACL last November.
He is still on schedule in his rehab; his goal is to participate
on a limited basis at the start of the Rams’ training camp
on July 21st. He currently has not been involved in any team practices
and has just started his eighth month of rehabilitation. Typically,
ACL tears take closer to six months of recovery, but it seems
the Rams are in no rush to push Gurley back. They have capable
reserves, including Tre Mason that will fill the void while their
first-round investment recovers. Gurley is still questionable
for camp and there is a strong chance he will be placed on the
PUP list until he’s ready.
Injury Severity: High
Outlook: Expected to return during
Recovery Speed: Slightly slower
than normal, no setbacks
Fantasy Take: Dr. James Andrews,
Gurley’s surgeon, is going to give an update on Gurley’s knee
within the next three weeks. He will either clear Gurley for practice
or not. Gurley’s knee may limit him in training camp, but he should
be ready for the start of the season, barring a setback.
Ridley (New York Jets) had surgery to repair his torn ACL
and MCL over seven months ago. The Jets and Ridley are noncommittal
as to whether he will be ready for training camp. His chances
of beginning camp on the PUP list are similar to Gurley’s (above),
if not higher.
McFadden (Dallas Cowboys). It would be a crime not to include
McFadden on an injury report, of course but it should be noted
that the former Raider finally played a full 16 games for the
first time in his seven-year NFL career. McFadden pulled his hamstring
earlier this June and, after resting it for two weeks, is back
to practicing on a limited basis. His injury has allowed Joseph
Randle to solidify his role as the Cowboys’ starter. However,
the latest report is that McFadden “feels like a rookie again.”
Run DMC will be given ample time to rest his hamstring so that
it doesn’t become a nagging injury.
Ellington (Arizona Cardinals) was limited last season with
a split tendon in his left foot, and then missed the final four
games due to a hernia. Team reports state that Ellington’s foot
is 100% healed and the hernia is no longer an issue. Despite the
fact that Arizona selected running back David Johnson in the third
round of the 2015 draft, Ellington is expected to be the featured
back with Johnson as insurance in case of injury.
Rashad Jennings (New York Giants) missed time last year with
a knee injury (Week 5) then battled an ankle injury during the
month of December. He is no longer rehabbing the ankle this offseason
and is fully healthy. The Giants added running back Shane Vereen
in the offseason, whose premier pass-catching ability will allow
him to steal snaps from Jennings this season.