As players across the country start digging into the data and looking at the latest expert's draft advice, there's one factor that's going to keep coming up: injuries. Sure, I'm biased since this is my beat, but while
This season, looking through SI's top 100-rated players, we're confronted with more injury risk than ever. All five of the top five players have some injury risk or are rehabbing from injury. That's not some fluke -- seven of the top 10 have the same level of danger, 12 of the top 25. There's some parallel between workload and injury risk, axiomatic since the best players get the most touches.
While we should all know the
A lot of people forget that Tomlinson ended his season standing on the sidelines questioning his quarterback while LDT was the one with the less significant knee injury. Less significant doesn't mean insignificant by any stretch and LDT's MCL problem is one that could push him down the draft board. If you have the first pick, don't let that happen. Tomlinson showed no lateral deficits in his limited work in minicamp and while he won't get much work in preseason games, that's normal for him. RBs come back from MCLs without much problem, and there's little reason to think that it will be different for the most consistent back in the NFL. The one real risk is that Tomlinson didn't appear to understand how to adjust his game and play at less than 100 percent. That could remain an issue going forward. On a final note, if
This time last year, we were all wondering if Peterson could stay healthy enough to be a good platoon back in the NFL. That answer: yes. At least for one year. One great year and a bunch of highlights later, Peterson is no less risky. In fact, he could be more risky having pushed his draft stock so high. All those college injuries, his upright running style, aggressive nature and the torn LCL that kept his gaudy rookie campaign from being historic can't be hidden behind all the magazine covers he's getting. Yes, he's that good, but yes, he's that risky. He almost has to be paired with
Westbrook has gone from a guy who can't stay healthy to the MVP candidate that no one knows. Just a couple years ago, we had a pretty vicious debate about who to take from Tomlinson,
If you designed a RB, he'd likely end up looking a lot like Jackson. Maybe not the hair, but the speed, power, chiseled body, big legs and receiving ability make him the guy that ought to be the prototype. He missed some time last season to a lower back injury that was called back spasms, but wasn't treated that way. Anything disc related should be a huge red flag, but there's no evidence that it was more, just speculation. His workload should go up in the new
For a guy who lives in the film room anyway, missing training camp raises some interesting possibilities. Will he spend the extra time breaking down the weaknesses in opposing secondaries or will he lose timing with his receivers? Will
Gore is Steve Austin. Not the wrestler, but the guy who could be rebuilt bigger, faster, and stronger. He's always hurt but doesn't just come back well; he plays through injuries. Last year's 1,500 yards rushing was done on a high ankle sprain, so even the downside risk comes with some upside. There's really nothing left to break on Gore, and in a
I've always wondered -- is it Portis who's injury prone or is it Southside Jerome? Maybe Choo Choo is the one with a bad shoulder. Probably not, but Portis, when healthy, is good. It's just that "when healthy." You're going to pay '07 prices, not '06 on him with the downside risk. His brute force pass blocking might be the issue, so moving him from protection to weapon might actually see an uptick in his value, something
I warned you last year that you didn't want to stand in the way of the Curse of 370. If you listened to me then, listen to me again. Johnson's a worn down, aging back with a bad line, no QB to keep guys from loading up the box and a coach who doesn't know the meaning of "ease up." Johnson carried the team, almost literally, to the playoffs in '06, but may have sacrificed having a long career for one that got him that one big payday. The foot fracture is something he should be able to come back from, but another year of heavy work might take away any gains he got from rest and recovery.
Of the three Johnsons who'll be at the top of many WR lists, Andre's the one with perhaps the best upside. That's hard to believe, I know, but is a function of the other two (Calvin and Chad) having such wide variances in their projections. Andre's going to come back from the knee sprain and put up the best numbers of the trio, but that's really about it. He doesn't scare corners the way the others do and he hasn't meshed with
So which Maroney are we going to get? The one that missed the first half with shoulder and leg problems, or the second-half one who looked like the dominant runner? Some of that second-half surge has to be put into context since
Running backs can come back from ACL tears, especially given modern techniques and improved rehab. It's a predictable progression, but for Brown, knowing that lateral "shake and bake" moves are the last to come might hold him back more than most. He's not a power runner in the traditional mode, and seeing a regular eight in the box, unless the Fins develop a real QB, is going to be more of a problem if he can't cut or bounce it outside. What makes this even more difficult is that Brown became a receiving threat last season, albeit on dump routes and screens. If getting him outside on passes helps free him up to be linear with the ball, that could be a big plus. I just don't see it working and would push Brown way down on my board. Let someone else take the risk here with a recovering back on a terrible team.
Gates is coming back from the first major injury of his career. It's nice to be durable, but it makes it hard to tell how fast someone heals or how well they'll rehab. Gates is a workout junkie, so everyone expects -- and reports match up -- him to be pounding out the workouts. The toe is still keeping Gates from running, so it's unlikely he'll be at full speed for camp or even for the first game. Gates can lose half a step and be very good, but it likely keeps him from putting up big yardage. The interesting concept is that it could turn him into a big red zone target with his big body (and with tall
He's a soldier, he's a warrior ... whatever. He's fragile and that's really all that should matter to fantasy owners. If he's healthy, he's probably a bit above Gates and
Is it smarter to worry about Cutler dealing with diabetes this season or should we just marvel at what he's accomplished along the way to a diagnosis? One executive mentioned that Cutler's decision making was affected late in games, perhaps due to exertion causing problems with his blood sugar. I'm not sure that's the case as most of his INTs came against tough backfields. I like his chances to come back due to proper medical care, a better diet, and that oh-so-amazing arm strength that lets him put balls where everyone else simply can't. He's not Manning or Brady, but he's got the tools to be up with them soon.
Stewart went to Oregon, not Oregon State, but get ready for the Steven Jackson comparisons. Same size, same body, same speed score -- all he needs is dreads. The only downside on this possible rookie of the year is that he'll share carries with
The Rule of 370 doesn't really have a college component. So what does X number of carries, even at a mid-major do to a guy? In Smith's case, it gets him noticed and drafted into a situation where he's going to have a pretty good chance to get the starting job in a bad offense.
McAllister has done this before. A couple years ago, McAllister came back from an ACL repair and was a linear runner for the first half of the season. It worked well, since
Secret surgery got him to the AFC Championship game, but Rivers has more than a simple ACL tear to deal with. No, he's got the full boat, an
I don't know either. Harrison will end up with an ADP anywhere from the second round to undrafted, with much of that variation based on the date of the draft. If you've got that kind of pull, have your draft as late as possible. Then again, the uncertainty about Harrison could make him a steal in early drafts if you guess right and he comes back from knee surgery on both sides and the mysterious problem he had last year. My sources tell me it was a stress fracture that came after a meniscal tear, not unlike what