Preseason Injury Ramifications

Jeremy Funk

As we soak in the off-season reports about player performances in camp, we tend to become inundated with information that sways how we build our dynasty, redraft, and MFL10 teams. As players fall to injury, we are often left scratching our heads and hoping these players will produce when it counts, the regular season. Well, I am here to help. In this study, I used a retrospective cohort to determine how injuries in the pre-season affect a player’s performance in the upcoming season. Additionally, I will seek to determine how injury before week one affects the likelihood they will become significantly injured in the regular season.

In a prior work of mine, I determined preseason injuries hold a high correlation with significant injuries in the regular season in wide receivers. This finding held true as my five of the six players I displayed concern for their risk of re-injury missed over a quarter of the season. While this study was insightful, I failed to extrapolate to the other fantasy-relevant positions. Below, you will find the Pearson-Correlation matrix showing how pre-season injuries changed the outlook of an upcoming season from 2012-2016.

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Based on these results, preseason injuries show a moderate correlation with the reduction of fantasy production. This result might not come as a surprise, but no studies to my knowledge have confirmed we should expect a decrease in fantasy points based upon a player’s exposure to an off-season injury. It is also important to note fantasy points were also negatively impacted by exposure to the injury report. Though the relationship appears to be weak to moderate in strength, the relationship is highly significant. In short, this finding continues to support my ideas towards the tempering of expectations as players become injured through the season.

So, what do we now?

The most important note one should take from this research project is the strong correlation seen between off-season injuries and missing four or more games in the regular season. This likely explains why preseason injuries were found correlated with a fall in the upcoming season’s fantasy production. Apparently, this won’t hold for each case of injury, but we as fantasy owners can begin to adjust our MFL, redraft, and “win-now” rosters for the upcoming season.

In conclusion, this opens up a discussion that allows for us to retrospectively analyze preseason injuries as a possible explanation for unexpected dips in production. An excellent example of this would be Donte Moncrief’s 2016 turf toe injury. Though it failed to feature much recognition within the majority of media outlets, Moncrief struggled with his recovery from turf toe injuries suffered in the last week of the 2015 season. While Moncrief had off-season surgery to repair the damage, he fought to frequent the practice field during the offseason. While he was able to play week one, Moncrief visually lacked lateral explosion despite finding a stable role are a red zone fade route technician. This reduction in maneuverability paired with a fractured shoulder blade is largely to blame for the events leading to his staunch criticisms this offseason. While Moncrief’s ADP has failed to decrease significantly, players like Sammy Watkins, Kevin White, John Brown, and Josh Doctson have all become undervalued despite exposures to preseason injuries. Take advantage of this short window by buying into the current values of these players. They’ve all had time to be healthy and all have shown to be dynamic and explosive playmakers (though White and Doctson are still works in progress). Use this study and the context it provides to gain an edge on your opponents as they are likely to buy into the senseless narratives. The chart below could show some palatable ADPs of these players now that they’ve had time to recover and some have painted their value into a corner.