Fantasy Football Injury Risks

Looking at which big names you can draft with confidence and which players you need to stay away from.

Josh Helmuthby Josh Helmuth

The best advice I’ve read — in terms of playing fantasy sports –has been from none other than the ‘Talented Mr. Roto’ himself, Matthew Berry.

Simply put, Berry says when trying to determine who to draft, trade for, or pick up from waivers, the first question you need to ask yourself is, ‘what is most likely to happen?’ And he’s 100 percent right.

There are more injuries suffered in football than all of the other major sports combined, so when drafting, it is critical to know who is completely healthy and who is likely to have setbacks. Below is a list of the major stars coming off injuries from the 2011 season and my percentage grade given to each player based upon how much faith I have in them performing well in 2012 – zero percent being no faith at all, and 100 percent being all the faith in the world that they’ll play tremendously well and be 100 percent healthy.

Make sense brainiacs? Good, great, grand. Let’s get it started.

Rob Gronkowski – TE, Patriots

He had surgery following his high ankle sprain he suffered during the Super Bowl. Not only did he not let it affect his ‘summer of Gronk,’ as everyone has called his incredible run of off-season excapades, but it looks like he won’t let it set him back for the 2012 season either. Bill Belichick says he is ‘all right,’ while Wes Welker was impressed with him at training camp, stating, “He looked good out there, he looks really good. Those young guys heal up pretty good.”

He’s young. He’s big. He’s fast. He had the best season ever in the history of tight ends.  – 90%


Antonio Gates – TE, Chargers

Ah, on to my all-time favorite tight end, and for the past two seasons, my fantasy Kryptonite –as Mr. Berry calls it. Gates hasn’t played more than half a season since 2009 due to foot problems – Plantar fasciitis to be exact. I know it sounds like something Italy would be into during WWII, but it’s actually an incredibly painful foot condition that is almost impossible to completely heal; especially over a short time span. Norv Turner says he’s healthy and that he’s had his best minicamp ever, but I’m a little skeptical. That being said, Gates is also a potential Hall-Of-Famer if he can string together a few more good years.

He’s elite. Plantar fasciitis is brutal. – 75%


Andre Johnson – WR, Texans

He could be the best wide receiver in football… if he could stay on the field. His hamstring kept him out for three months last season and then he had an off-season knee scope. Matt Schaub told the Houston Chronicle that “Andre looks great. He’s also 100 percent and ready to go.”

He’s now 31 years old. His skill set might be the best in receiving.  – 85%


Hakeem Nicks – WR, Giants

He began OTAs looking sharp but gained nothing but a foot fracture requiring surgery. He was recently put on the PUP (Physically Unable To Perform) List and is questionable for week 1 against Dallas. Since his surgery was May 25 and the timetable for his return is 12 weeks, as long as he doesn’t have any setbacks, he should be a reliable fantasy asset.

Good to go, but watch carefully. – 90%


Kenny Britt – WR, Titans

He had ACL surgery, which required knee scopes afterwards. Not only his is health in question for week 1, but so is his eligibility. Britt was arrested for a DUI in Kentucky on July 20.

Too much trouble for too much risk. I would rather draft Bill Cosby. – 10%


Stevie Johnson – WR, Bills

All signs say he is good to go following a surgery of the groin from last spring. He was back by mini-camp.

No signs of trouble. – 95%


Adrian Peterson – RB, Vikings

He tore his left ACL and MCL in week 16 – late in the season. He says he’ll be back by week 1, but everyone thinks it’s a stretch considering such a devastating injury. Heck, some commentators question if he’ll ever be able to run the same ever again. He’s on the PUP list for week 1. Regardless, the Vikings are going to be careful with him.

He’s elite, but will be worked lightly. – 50%


Jamaal Charles – RB, Chiefs

“I’m doing great. I know I’m ready to play… Even though we we’re dong minicamp and all that, just getting my body rested up so when real training camp starts up, it’ll be ready to go,” Charles told the Washington Post. Just like Peterson, he tore his ACL, but did it much earlier in the season.

He’s had almost a year to recover. – 80%


Darren McFadden – RB, Raiders

This guy just can’t stay healthy.  He misses time every year, but when he actually stays on the field he’s one of the best running backs in the game. According to an ESPN beat writer for the Raiders, McFadden is 100 percent healthy and the team likes the fact that Carson Palmer is taking snaps; his talent should ease the load of the running game.

Always an injury risk, but team likes the new direction and leadership. – 95%


Peyton Manning – QB, Broncos

They say his neck fusion is solid. But anytime I hear the word ‘neck,’ followed by ‘fusion,’ I’m still a little concerned; I don’t care if you’re name ends with Manning – you haven’t taken a snap in almost two years. On the other hand, they say the four-time MVP has looked good in off-season workouts and everyone surrounding the team seems confident in the 36-year-old.

He’s 36 and coming off a neck-fusion. He is also Peyton Manning. – 75%


Matt Schaub – QB, Texans

Sam Bradford – QB, Rams

Matt Cassel – QB, Chiefs

All three of these studs had injury issues that forced them out of play in 2011, but all reports from OTAs say they’re good to go.

Draft with confidence (in healthy, not necessarily in play) *wink face – 100%

Josh Helmuth is the editor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JHelmuth or subscribe at

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