You’re on the clock, and you’re wondering, “Should I draft Player X? He’s coming off that ACL injury, and I’m not sure he’ll stay healthy this year. Player Y looked good two years ago, but he missed all last season with a hamstring injury. Will he stay healthy in 2019?” Trying to answer these questions alone can be challenging and can make or break a fantasy football draft.
Fortunately, you don’t have to answer these questions alone. As a board-certified orthopedic specialist physical therapist and writer of the Ultimate Draft Kit Injury Report section, I’m here to help. Here are three players you can trust coming off of a 2018 injury that I’m trusting in 2019, and you should, too.
1. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
This past offseason, I spent time covering Cam’s injury in detail. I’ll spare you the exact specifics and the nitty-gritty, but if you’re looking for more details regarding the timeline of Cam’s shoulder problems, click here. Cam came out on fire in 2018, ranking as the QB4 in fantasy from Weeks 1-9. However, after the Panthers played the Eagles in Week 7 last year, Newton started showing up on the injury report with right shoulder soreness. He didn’t come off the injury report for the remainder of the year.
Clearly, Cam was limited from that point on, coming in as the QB21 in fantasy points from Weeks 10-15 prior to being shut down for the season. He couldn’t push the ball down the field, and his accuracy was being affected as well. Fast forward nine months and we find ourselves on the threshold of the season.
Cam had a busy offseason, undergoing surgery in late January to “clean up” the shoulder joint and address a small cartilage injury inside the shoulder joint. By definition, Newton now has arthritis in his shoulder. Coming off his second shoulder surgery in just over two years, it’s safe to say that he is likely not going to be a Tom Brady or Drew Brees type of player playing until his late 30s or early 40s. However, for 2019, you can trust Cam Newton as your QB1 in fantasy.
Reportedly, his rehab went very well this offseason, and Cam adhered to a new training routine and diet in order to optimize his performance on the field. The good news surrounding this surgery is that no tissues were repaired, meaning Cam was able to progress his rehab relatively quickly and truly get himself right for the start of the season. In addition, that leaves risk for re-injury relatively low.
*Update: the prior section regarding Cam Newton’s shoulder remains accurate and was written prior to Newton’s left foot injury in Week 3 of the preseason. He suffered a minor foot sprain, but he should be ready to go for Week 1. In the first couple of games, Cam’s mobility may be affected, but as of now, Newton should be available for fantasy owners in Week 1*
2. Phillip Lindsay, Denver Broncos
We can keep this quick. I have absolutely zero concerns regarding Phillip Lindsay’s wrist injury from 2018. He went down in Week 16 with a fracture in his wrist and associated ligament damage. After undergoing off-season surgery to repair the ligaments and stabilize the fracture, Lindsay is back too 100% entering the season. These types of surgeries do very well so long as rehab goes well the first time around and healing is complete.
Now about 9 months removed from surgery, Lindsay has been a full participant in training camp. His risk of re-injury is low, and this is not a situation where owners should be concerned about recurring problems. For reference, this injury is similar to that of David Johnson from 2017. In 2018, he played all 16 games, and I expect Lindsay to do the same.
3. Odell Beckham, Jr., Cleveland Browns
Odell Beckham Jr. is a bit of a hot topic when it comes to the ‘injury-prone’ debate. Personally, I don’t feel as though OBJ is injury prone simply because his injuries do not correlate. Here’s his injury history: hamstring strain in 2015, ankle fracture-dislocation in 2017, quadriceps contusion (bruise) in 2018. Has he missed a decent amount of time? Sure, especially considering his 2017 ankle injury required surgery. However, the injuries here do not correlate, and that’s what I tend to look for when examining injury-prone players.
In addition, his 2017 injury can’t be held against him whatsoever, as this type of injury is a ‘freak accident’ where the player’s ankle gets stuck either in the turf or underneath a defender, causing it to rotate and flex in the opposite direction. This can literally happen to any player on any play. Following surgery, this injury tends to do well and outcomes are favorable. In addition, muscle injuries do well with an entire offseason to heal, meaning his 2018 quad injury should be in the rear-view mirror.
It’s ironic that Beckham finds himself on this list given that he’s currently dealing with a minor hip injury in training camp. However, Beckham will be ready well before Week 1 and can be drafted with confidence in 2019.