Part one of this article featured Jay Cutler, Rob Gronkowski and Reggie Wayne. If you haven’t checked that out yet please give it a quick read. The basic premise of both articles is to get you to think outside the box when it comes to your upcoming draft -- spots where you can grab ‘value picks’ that other drafters might be hesitant to take because of uncertainties - among these uncertainties are previous injuries.
If you want to win, you absolutely have to hit on some of these players that may outperform their average draft position.
2013 ADP: First round, RB3. The injury: Torn labrum in shoulder in Week 7, missed rest of season. 2014 ADP: Early third round, RB12
If you aren’t familiar with the Doug Martin story, he was a 2012 rookie that put up 1459 rushing for 11 TD’s including five 100+ yard games. He also added a TD on 49 receptions. Fantasy players went crazy. Being drafted third overall in 2013, he ended up with a labrum tear in his shoulder in Week 7 and was done. For 2014, he is healed up and ready to go. The only issue with drafting Martin is not that you should be concerned about an injury, but most reports are indicating he’ll be in a timeshare with newly drafted Charles Sims. Simply put, this isn’t ideal for the ‘Muscle Hamster’, but when on he’s on the field he’s a stunning talent and a high level NFL running back. The value comes in because he has a chance to put up RB6 type numbers, especially with wide receivers Vincent Jackson and rookie Mike Evans on the outside to take pressure off the run game. If you want to take Martin it may be prudent to also grab Charles Sims in a later round. Although I don’t think we’ll see as much of Sims as everyone thinks, recent reports indicate they’ll be in a timeshare. FFToolbox ADP has Sims going off the board in the 13th round which is reasonably priced to grab him given the risk.
2013 ADP: First round, RB5. 2013 injury: Numerous over career, high-ankle sprain last year. 2014 ADP: Late third round, RB13.
In 2013 Spiller suffered a high-ankle sprain which caused him to be tagged as ‘probable’ many weeks and miss Week 8. Dating back to 2010 when he was a rookie, he has never had a season where he didn’t have some type of injury. This is the exact reason fellow running back Fred Jackson has been able to stay relevant in Buffalo for so long. The value comes in whereas Spiller is one of the unique players that both film watchers and stat-heads can agree upon; when he’s on the field, he’s one of the most explosive running backs in the league. He has a RB13 price tag with RB5 potential and is worth the gamble. As discussed, he doesn’t have a great record of staying healthy. You have two options here. The first is pick up Fred Jackson who already will have goal-line duties and can be had in the 12th round, or you can grab newly acquired Bryce Brown for an ultra cheap price of 14th round ADP. Both of these options are wonderful followups considering the talent going in these rounds are hit-or-miss. It may be better to insulate yourself in this situation.
From left to right: Roddy White, Percy Harvin & C.J. Spiller
2013 ADP: Third round, WR10. The injury: Pulled hamstring. High-ankle sprain. 2014 ADP: Fifth round, WR25
2013 was a dreadful year for White owners. It was constant watching of injury updates throughout the week and Sunday mornings to see if his ‘questionable’ tag would be upgraded or he’d be out. By week 8 he was finally out with an ankle sprain. When healthy, Roddy lights up defenses. in previous seasons putting up six 1000 yard seasons in a row that averaged 7.5 TD’s. The dude can flat out ball and will put up much better numbers than a WR25 in 2014. Wide receivers are typically not handcuffed because there is usually a shift of receivers from one position to the other. For Roddy White the best you can do is grab Harry Douglas in case you're really worried about White.
2013 ADP: Third round, WR9. The injury: Hip. Complications from surgery. 2014 ADP: Late fourth round, WR17
The better question to ask is: when isn’t Harvin injured? He’s only played one full season since coming to the league in 2009. Before the 2013 season he suffered a hip injury which required it to be surgically repaired. He tried to come back at the end of the regular season but ended up needing cortisone shots for the pain. There are two hopes here for Harvin: His 2014 Super Bowl performance was decent, showing off his versatility and speed that has given him notoriety throughout his career, returning a kickoff for a touchdown. Secondly, reports are slowly coming in that Seattle is taking every precaution to keep him healthy this offseason in training camp. This shows they are committed to him as their WR1 and doesn’t have much competition in Doug Baldwin or Jermaine Kearse. For Harvin, you can pick up Doug Baldwin if you'd like some insurance, who will be the biggest benefactor in the passing game if Harvin were to go down again. Just to reiterate, this are not the preferred option of handling WR injuries. Instead of handcuffing, you should have a solid bench option to plug-and-play.
2014 has already seen it’s fair share of injuries. Bills star linebacker Kiko Alonso tore his ACL during OTAs and will miss the season. Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee tore his ACL during OTAs. Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon tore his ACL during OTAs. Dolphins pro-bowl center Mike Pouncey tore a labrum in his hip which required surgery and will miss three months. These are mostly defensive stars so we are lucky, but training camp is right around the corner and as always, there will be even more injuries.
Your draft doesn’t have to be rigid and follow ours or any sites rankings or cheat-sheet system. As described in detail before, there is a certain combination of hitting waiver wire picks, trades, and good drafting. The beautiful part of fantasy football is winning a championship can be done in many, many ways that are left up to you. As always, use some caution and best judgement when drafting previously injured players. There is always inherent risk and this option is one draft strategy among the many.