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Tough Break

Editor’s Note:  This analysis is the first contribution by Member Corner Author,  Ryan McDowell.

It is the phrase that all NFL players, as well as fantasy owners, never want to hear – season ending injury. One torn ACL to a stud player can derail a fantasy season and send owners into total rebuilding mode. In 2011, fantasy owners suffered through many gut-wrenching injuries, especially to running backs. There is good news, though. As dynasty owners, we do not have to let these top picks rot on the waiver wire among the Bernard Berrians and Matt Leinarts of the fantasy world – they still have value and we should plan accordingly for 2012. Here is a look at several of the players who ended their 2011 season on injured reserve, along with a tip of how I believe you should value them in your dynasty league.

Quarterbacks

The signal caller position had very few significant injuries this season. Of course,  it may not have felt that way to some owners, as one of the top names in all of fantasy football was lost for the year without ever taking a snap.

Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts

The Injury
Manning underwent what was first reported as a minor neck surgery back in May. Very quickly, all who had a vested interest in the Colts season expressed optimism that Peyton would be fine and that his consecutive games played streak would remain intact. The offseason (and the lockout) dragged on with little discussion of the surgery, but as the union and owners settled their differences and Manning was still not practicing, concern began to grow. The Colts remained confident and signed Manning to a five-year, 30 million-dollar deal in late July. In fact, the Colts seemed to be in such denial that Manning was never placed on the injured reserve list, costing the Colts a roster spot the entire season.

The Recovery
The timetable was first reported to be one-to-two weeks and has now grown to several months. In December, Manning began throwing passes again, but never returned to practice with his Colts teammates. Most experts seem to think he will be back and ready to start in 2012, the question is for what team?

What do we do now?
The window to buy low on Manning has passed. I expect his trade value and average draft position to rise as the 2012 season approaches. There is an assumption among fans and the media that it is only a matter of time before Manning finds himself on a new team. Washington, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Arizona? Wherever he lands, he will certainly have dynasty value, but how much?

Manning is the perfect type of quarterback to acquire for teams relying on a younger signal caller to break out. If you suffered through 2012 with Sam Bradford, go get Manning. If you were pleasantly surprised by the way Matt Ryan finished the season, but worry if he can maintain that pace, go get Manning. For the majority of teams though, the price will be too high considering Manning’s name value will outweigh the difference he makes in your weekly lineup.

Matt Schaub, Houston Texans

The Injury
Schaub suffered an injury to the Lisfranc joint in his foot on a quarterback sneak in week ten against Tampa Bay. Schaub did not come out of the game and few realized there was any trouble until Texans head coach Gary Kubiak dropped the bombshell during his weekly press conference. Like the Colts with Manning, this essentially signaled the end of Houston’s Super Bowl aspirations. Damage to the Lisfranc ligament is somewhat new to the NFL, but has affected numerous players the past few seasons, including Ronnie Brown, Darren McFadden and others. As team doctors and personnel learn more about these injuries, the recovery time and success seems to improve.

The Recovery
Soon after Schaub’s injury was revealed, there were rumors circulating that this injury could cue the end of his career. At this time, those rumors appear to be false, but it is a very serious injury that includes a long recovery from surgery. Schaub still cannot even put weight on his right foot, but he hopes to be ready for training camp.

What do we do now?
Schaub was already one of the quarterbacks on the QB1/QB2 border. He was an adequate starter, but did not provide fantasy teams with the weekly advantage the top tier QBs would. Although 30 is not considered old for a quarterback, when the injury is factored in, Schaub is a guy to avoid in dynasty. If you already have Schaub rostered, trying to trade him for an upside backup like Andy Dalton or Jake Locker might be a good idea.

Running Backs

Ryan Williams, Arizona Cardinals

The Injury
The Cardinals rookie running back tore his patella tendon in a preseason game and underwent surgery to repair his knee in August. He was placed on injured reserve and missed the entire regular season.

The Recovery
The timetable for Williams’ recovery was said to be 6-8 months, but other players, specifically wide receiver Mark Clayton, have had similar injuries. Clayton has never been the same and has had his own share of trouble getting back on the field. Williams is hoping to participate in minicamps in the spring, but with the severity of his injury, targeting a specific date for a return to the field will be difficult.

What do we do now?
Reports were very positive on Williams before the injury and many expected him to take over as the starter in the Cardinals backfield. Despite his strong season, many fantasy owners still do not believe in the ability of Beanie Wells. Factoring in the now common trend of NFL teams playing multiple running backs and there is a strong case to buy on Ryan Williams in dynasty leagues. As with any player suffering a season ending injury early on, his price will continue to rise as owners have held him on their roster for nearly a year. In a startup draft, I would take a shot on Williams before the majority of backup running backs in the league, and even before a few of the starters.

Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh Steelers

The Injury
Mendenhall tore his ACL in a week 17 matchup against the Cleveland Browns. A torn ACL is, of course, a common injury among NFL players. Mendenhall’s tear is not the most severe variety.

The Recovery
Mendenhall only recently had surgery to repair his injury and with the timing, will be rehabbing throughout the offseason. The Steeler, who is in the final year of his contract, will be in danger of missing the beginning of the 2012 season and is a candidate for the PUP list.

What do we do now?
I have never felt Mendenhall was a special talent, nor have I viewed him as a RB1 in dynasty leagues. A major injury and an uncertain contract status only cloud the water for Mendy’s future. Despite that, Mendenhall is only 24 years old and could be a great RB2 or RB3 on a strong dynasty team. If the owner in your league is panicking about his future, now is the time to pounce. He could be had for a late 1st rounder, and you might even be able to acquire Isaac Redman along with Mendenhall. He will also drop somewhat in startup drafts, but I think he will provide better value in existing leagues.

Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders

The Injury
McFadden left the Raiders week seven tilt against division rival Kansas City with what was diagnosed as a foot sprain – that began a fantasy owner’s nightmare of a season. With many of the players mentioned here, an injury was suffered, that player was placed on IR and owners could make adjustments. In McFadden’s case, owners were teased on a weekly basis about his availability. After a few weeks, most assumed he would miss significant time, which is how the season played out. McFadden did not play another down in the 2011 season. The foot injury was later reported as a Lisfranc sprain.

The Recovery
Despite the weekly updates on his status and the hope he could get back on the field, McFadden never returned to practice with the Raiders. There is some optimism that McFadden’s injury will not require offseason surgery. Former Raiders coach Hue Jackson even speculated that McFadden would have returned to practice had the team made the playoffs. Considering the way Michael Bush played as the starter, I suspect this was just coachspeak from Jackson.

What do we do now?
McFadden was an odd case. Unlike many of the other players who suffered significant injuries this season, his dynasty value seems to have taken only a very light hit. He is already being draft early to mid-second round of startup dynasty drafts and his trade value seems nearly unchanged, even after missing the final nine games of the season.

Monitoring how the Raiders handle Michael Bush’s free agency will be key to assessing McFadden’s dynasty value. Many are speculating the team could use its franchise tag on Bush and even possibly dangle McFadden in trade talks. McFadden is a still young at just 24 years old, but does have a long list of injuries in his career. For the cost McFadden demands in both trades and startup drafts, I would consider other options like Trent Richardson.

Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints

The Injury
To conclude a disappointing rookie season, Ingram suffered a turf toe injury that cost him the final four regular season games, as well as the playoffs.

The Recovery
Ingram underwent surgery to help repair the toe injury in mid-January and is expected to fully participate in the Saints’ offseason workouts.

What do we do now?
Even with a disappointing rookie campaign and the strong play of other members of the Saints backfield, Mark Ingram is an ideal candidate to buy low on this offseason. He can possibly be had for a late first round rookie pick or a receiver in the 25-35 range in many leagues. It is too soon to give up on a first round talent like Ingram, especially one that the high powered Saints traded up for in the 2011 NFL draft. In a time share with Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles, Ingram was still able to manage nearly 50 rushing yards per game and five touchdown runs in ten games. As Thomas ages and moves on from the Saints, whether this year or a year from now, Ingram’s role will continue to grow.

Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs

The Injury
The Chiefs electric running back left their week two game against the Detroit Lions after injuring his knee during a sideline collision. The injury was soon diagnosed as a torn ACL, costing Charles almost the entire season.

The Recovery
Little information has been released about the recovery timetable for Charles, other than a brief comment from head coach Romeo Crennel stating that he remains on track in the recovery process. With the injury occurring so early in the season, it is safe to assume that Charles will be back at full strength in time to fully participate in training camp.

What do we do now?
Like McFadden, Charles seems to have lost very little dynasty value. He has been selected early in the second round of recent startup drafts and a case could be made to take him late in the first round. His trade value remains high, especially in PPR leagues. At only 25 years old and lacking the injury history of Darren McFadden, Charles is a good investment to add to your dynasty team, if you can acquire him at any type of discount. It would likely take a young running back like Mark Ingram or DeMarco Murray, along with a first round rookie pick, to pry Charles away.

Mikel LeShoure, Detroit Lions

The Injury
The rookie running back was expected to compete with Jahvid Best for carries in the Lions backfield, but never even made it to a preseason game as he was carted off the practice field early in August after suffering a torn left Achilles’ tendon. There was a rash of the same type of injuries last preseason, which many attributed to the lack of access to an offseason conditioning program.

The Recovery
With such a massive injury, LeShoure has undergone an extensive recovery and rehab process. A report in early December mentioned that he was still a long way from being cleared to run. It is unclear if LeShoure will be ready for training camp.

What do we do now?
With the recent news of concern about Jahvid Best, the Lions must address the running back position this offseason. Kevin Smith played well down the stretch, but he too has an extensive injury history. With nothing to show on his NFL resume, many have already given up on LeShoure ever having a contributing role in the NFL or on fantasy teams, but he is only 21 years old and the Lions have a major need in the backfield. If he can prove he is healthy, LeShoure will have a chance for a high number of carries on a strong offense. The young Lions running back is another guy who can be had cheaply, but the price will go up and up as the offseason continues. If you can acquire him now for a second round rookie pick in your league, he is likely worth the risk.

Jahvid Best, Detroit Lions

The Injury
Best missed the final ten weeks of the season and the Lions first trip to the playoffs since 1999 due to complications from a concussion.

The Recovery
Best has a history of concussions dating back to college with the violent hit he took against Oregon State as he flew into the endzone for a touchdown. There are conflicting reports about his future. Detroit general manager and Best himself have voiced optimism about his future in Detroit, while reports surfaced this week that some in the organization fear the young running back’s career is already over.

What do we do now?
There are no trade options involving Best. If you have him, you just have to hold onto him and hope he can safely return to action. If you do not own him, he is obviously a guy to avoid. The only way he would make it onto my roster is if an owner really gets anxious and prematurely drops him. In a startup draft, Best will likely fall into the mid teens. At some point, he is worth rostering, but it has to come at a very cheap price.

DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys

The Injury
Murray went down in week 14 with a broken right ankle. He had taken over as the starter and was running well. In fact, he was the #3 RB for a four-week period that saw his dynasty value spike.

The Recovery
Murray is another running back who suffered his injury late in the season, which could therefore affect his offseason workout schedule. Murray was quoted as saying he would only be 100% within two months. so he should be fully ready for training camp.

What do we do now?
This injury does not really affect Murray’s longterm value, other than adding to his list of nagging injuries through college and his short NFL career. He will fall somewhere around the fourth round in startup drafts and would likely cost you a high first round rookie pick or a top 15 wide receiver in a dynasty trade.

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

The Injury
In a week 16 matchup against the Washington Redskins, Peterson suffered a major injury – a torn left ACL and MCL, along with damage to his meniscus.

The Recovery
Surgery was performed earlier than expected, just a week after the injury. Peterson is already off crutches, but faces an extensive recovery time.

What do we do now?
Peterson will be 27 when the season starts and will likely not be ready week one. Being placed on the PUP list, and missing the first six weeks of the season is a strong possibility. Peterson’s value has taken a huge dent. In my opinion, he is a third rounder, at best, in startup drafts and is being valued in the RB12-16 range in current leagues. Trading him for a back like Mark Ingram, CJ Spiller or Jonathan Stewart and picking up an extra player or pick could be the best play.

Wide Receivers

Kenny Britt, Tennessee Titans

The Injury
The troubled Titans wide receiver tore his ACL and MCL in a week three game against the Denver Broncos.

The Recovery
Britt underwent surgery early in October and seems to be recovering well. He is yet another talented player to experience an early season injury, meaning he will likely be ready for Titans’ training camp.

What do we do now?
Coming into the 2011 season, there were glaring pros and cons to state the case of Britt’s dynasty value. He is one of the most dynamic, talented young wideouts in the game. The con, of course, is his multiple run-ins with the law.

The 2011 season added both a new pro and con to the list. The small sample size that was his 2011 season was outstanding, as he posted 14 grabs for 271 yards and three touchdowns. Many are extrapolating those statistics and now rank Britt as a top ten, or even top five dynasty WR. The latest con, of course, is the serious knee injury. I cannot recommend buying Britt at top five WR value, but if the owner in your league is concerned about the injury and his off the field issues, pounce and offer a wide receiver like Marques Colston or Steve Johnson.

Sidney Rice, Seattle Seahawks

The Injury
Rice’s disappointing season ended five weeks early due to a concussion – his third in a calendar year. He has since had surgery on both shoulders, one for a turn labrum. The shoulder injury cost Rice the first two games of the 2011 season.

The Recovery
Little is known about the recovery from his shoulder surgery, as it has only recently occurred. What we do know is Rice now has a growing list of medical concerns including hip issues, shoulder problems and concussions.

What do we do now?
Rice is the wide receiver version of Jahvid Best. The concussions are mounting and his dynasty stock is plummeting. He should not be a dynasty target despite a likely low asking price. His draft position in a startup dynasty draft is likely tenth round or later and he should be on your list of players to avoid.

Editor’s Note: You can find more terrific analysis and opinion like this on the DLF Forum. If you are not already a member of the forum, you are missing out on connecting with the most knowledgeable and active fantasy football community on the internet.  So join us on the DLF Forum today. It’s free, and it doesn’t suck.

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Ryan McDowell
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Dave
10 years ago

I like buy low lists like this. I’m pretty good at wr and am looking to move one for a rb. I have roddy, nicks, vjax, Antonio brown, Crabtree, Greg little, Titus young, gettis and Cobb. Who should I offer and do you think I should go after someone on this list at all?

Reply to  Dave
10 years ago

Target Charles. Offer Roddy or Vjax along with any of the others except for Nicks or Brown. This should get it done and you’ll be happy with Charles.

Eric
10 years ago

Nice article. I don’t know if the window has passed on Manning yet. I think his situation is still very dicey.

Ryan McDowell
Reply to  Eric
10 years ago

Good point Eric. I woke this morning to a John Clayton report that Manning plans to retire. No matter what happens, I would not be willing to give up much for the Colt legend at this point.

Marcus
10 years ago

how about knowshon moreno?

Ryan McDowell
Reply to  Marcus
10 years ago

Hey Marcus,
I initially had Moreno on my list, but ultimately left him off. His price is VERY low and you might be able to get him for a 3rd round rookie pick. I think he is worth a shot at that cost.

tebow
10 years ago

great piece,i picked lashoure off of waviers the last week of the season and plan to stash him until the last minute. i hope to hype him up and deal him

Ryan McDowell
Reply to  tebow
10 years ago

Good thought Tebow. With the Best injury, if LeShoure looks strong in camp, his value could skyrocket and he would be come a sell high.

Ryan McDowell
10 years ago

Hey Dave, thanks for reading. You are certainly strong at WR and have many of my favorites on your squad. The one guy you have that you might try to move in Michael Crabtree. I think his value would be close to Mark Ingram or DeMarco Murray. Good luck!

Sensai_John_Kreese
10 years ago

There are a few guys im specifically targeting this year to buy low. One would definitely be Jeremy Maclin. I strongly suspect that DJax wont be returning to Philly, and someone has to be the beneficiary. Austin Collie is another one of these guys. Whether it be either Manning or Luck, someone will be catching passes in Indy. Garcon is most likely gone, and Wayne is 33 years old. Im actually surprised that im not seeing more press on Collie. He is 26 years old and I dont think i need to give anyone a history lesson on good this guy was with Manning in there, and he can be had for almost nothing. I also would be targeting Jake Locker and Jared Cook, if i didn’t already own them.

Great article, Ryan

The Doctor
Reply to  Sensai_John_Kreese
10 years ago

I think the one thing you are forgetting is Collies brain is mush at this point. Another concussion and he’s calling it a career. I think Garcon stays specifically for that reason, and Garcon won’t come with a huge price tag.

BTW – nice shout out to the CofC legend.

Sensai_John_Kreese
Reply to  The Doctor
10 years ago

CofC?

College of Charleston? Maclin went to Missouri, Djax -California, Wayne went to Miami, Collie-BYU, Jake Locker-Washington and Jared Cook went to South Carolina.

I’m confused. But then again, i’m just the villian from the first karate kid movie, what do i know?

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