Returning From A Season-Ending Injury: Wide Receiver Edition 2018

By Armando Marsal
Armando Marsal

If you have been playing fantasy football for many years, one of the biggest fears is losing one of your top picks and/or players to an injury. The thing is that injuries are part of the game and there is no way to predict them. Last season, there were multiple notable players that went down with a significant injury, knocking them out for the season. When that happens, fantasy owners could be hesitant to draft the player the following year and that is totally understandable. However, a lot of factors have to be considered when making that decision and one of the more important ones is the type of injury that the player suffered. Another important thing to consider is when the injury actually occurred. Was is at the beginning of last season? In the middle? Towards the end? This could give you a general idea of what type of health to expect a player to be in at the start of the season when weighing in the recovery timeframe. With that said, let’s go over some wide receivers that suffered season-ending injuries last season and what we could expect this year.

Odell Beckham, New York Giants
Beckham suffered a foot injury in Week 5 last season that ended up in season-ending surgery for him. The surgery occurred in early October, so he should be ready to roll at start the season barring any setbacks. He played in just four games last year, since he missed the season opener with an ankle injury. In those four games, he caught 25 passes for 302 yards and three touchdowns. It was the first time in his NFL career that he did not eclipse 1,300 receiving yards. Recent reports suggest that he will not play in preseason games and that is to be expected, as the Giants want to make sure that he is as close to 100 percent as possible when the season starts.

Beckham is one of the top receivers in the NFL and has shown that since entering the league. He is someone that has dealt with injuries throughout his career, but even when he is dinged up, he finds a way to get on the field (he played 15 games in 2015 and 16 in 2016). There is that injury risk factor when drafting him and the fact that he is coming off of foot surgery, but the reward is worth the risk. He was WR 4 in 2016, WR 5 in 2015, and WR 7 in 2014 (rookie season). There are some issues regarding his contract and he said he would sit out, which is something to monitor. That said, if all that is sorted out, Beckham should be one of the top receivers taken on draft day.

Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
Robinson tore his ACL in Week 1 of the 2017 season, forcing him to miss pretty much the entire year. He finished the season with one catch for 17 yards, but he did not appear to be on the same page as Blake Bortles during the preseason and even going back to the 2016 season. After a phenomenal 2015 campaign where he caught 80 passes for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns, Robinson only caught 73 passes for 883 yards and six touchdowns the following year. Something that stood out to me was that his catch rate dropped five percent from 2015 season to the 2016 season. The poor quarterback play certainly affected Robinson. The Jaguars announced that they would not franchise tag Robinson, so he is expected to be a free agent. There are few landing spots that would bring his fantasy value down, but many that could increase it. It is definitely something worth monitoring. As far as the injury is concerned, Robinson believes he will have no trouble passing any physicals and expects to be at full health at the start of the season.

I am a big fan of Robinson and have high expectations. For now, I want to see his landing spot before taking a hard stance on him. With that said, I am will likely be very bullish on him at his current ADP in PPR formats (fifth round, WR 24). While it is concerning that he is coming off of an ACL injury and he was not playing all that well, I still think Robinson is a very talented receiver with top 10 upside and the price is fair.

Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
Edelman missed the entire 2017 season after suffering an ACL tear in a preseason game. The most recent reports suggest that he will be ready for the start of training camp, which makes sense considering the injury occurred in August of last year. Chances are that the Patriots will take it easy on him until the start of the regular season, but barring any setbacks he should be suited up in Week 1. In three of his last four seasons, he has caught at least 92 passes, has eclipsed 900 receiving yards, and has finished as a top 20 fantasy WR. The one season that he did not accomplish any of those was in 2014, where he caught 61 passes for 692 yards and seven touchdowns. However, if you break it down by week, he was on pace for a 108 reception, 1,230 receiving yards, 12 touchdowns, and 306.7 fantasy points. That would have been a top 10 season for him from a fantasy standpoint. He also led the Patriots in targets and receptions in 2016, 2014, and 2013, while coming in second in targets and third in receptions in 2015 despite missing seven games.

Even with the additions of Brandin Cooks and Kenny Britt to this offense, Edelman should step right back into his role assuming he is fully healthy to start the season. As I mentioned above, ACL injuries are concerning, but his current ADP is just too low for the type of production we have seen out of him in his last four seasons. He is currently being drafted in the eighth round in PPR formats as the 41st wide receiver. I would be more than willing to pay that price because you are essentially getting WR 2 upside, in PPR formats, at a WR 4 price.

Quick Notes On Some Other Receivers With Season Ending Injuries

Cameron Meredith, Chicago Bears
Meredith missed the entire season in 2017 following an ACL tear that occurred during a team scrimmage in the preseason. He is entering his fourth season in the league, but has only played in two of them. In 2016, he was a big surprise to fantasy owners as he led all Bears receivers in targets, receptions, yards, and touchdowns. He finished that season as the WR 40 in PPR formats and became a reliable fantasy option. He is expected to be back to full health to start the season, but the concern here is all the changes that have occurred for this offense. Since 2016, there have been coaching changes and quarterback changes, as well as some personnel changes, which could have an impact on Meredith’s role/production. While it can go either way, it is tough to really gauge what to expect from a receiver in this situation and coming off of an injury. He is currently being drafted in the 10th round as the 45th WR. That is fair value, but there are other receivers in that same range with as much, if not more, upside, and in better situations.

Brandon Marshall, New York Giants
Marshall suffered a season-ending ankle injury that required surgery. He appeared in five games for the Giants last season and caught 18 passes for 154 yards, having little impact for the team. Marshall will be 34 years old at the end of March and is coming off of a season-ending injury, so this is a sticky situation. Not to mention, the Giants have not ruled out cutting Marshall, which is something to keep an eye on. I have been a big fan of Marshall since he entered the league, but taking everything into consideration, his prime fantasy days are behind him and at this point in his career, there is not much appeal. Since 2014, Marshall has had fewer than 800 receiving yards and has scored fewer than three touchdowns in three seasons. He is currently being drafted as the 73rd WR in the 14th round, so he is not costing you much if you want to draft him.

If you want to chat football, you can find me on the Twitter machine @Armando_Marsal.