Fantasy Football: Forgotten Players Returning From Injury in 2019
Injuries are an inevitable part of fantasy football, and every offseason it’s important to remember those players. There are always bounce back candidates who can help win owners win their league if they target the right players. Who should fantasy owners remember looking ahead to 2019? This article pairs perfectly with Episode #703 of The Fantasy Footballers Podcast: Forgotten Players + Gronk’s Smashing Career.
The 49ers QB only played in three games in 2018, suffering a torn ACL in his left knee in Week 3. With nearly an entire year to rehab, Garoppolo should be 100% once training camp rolls around in August. His injury is likely to make him a value in this year in drafts after the hype forced his ADP to rise into the 7th round.
Dalton played well early in the season, but his year was cut short after he suffered a right thumb injury in Week 12. He tore the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his thumb, a ligament that helps create stability for gripping. Due to the instability the injury creates, it often requires surgery, as was the case with Dalton. Reports indicate that he is already throwing, so Dalton is not in danger of missing Week 1, barring any setbacks.
By now, everyone is familiar with the gruesome injury Smith suffered in Week 11 when his right leg and ankle got caught underneath a defender. He suffered a fractured tibia and fibula as well as severe ligament damage to the ligament that stabilizes these lower leg bones. After complications due to infection following surgery, Smith now faces an uphill battle to ever play NFL football again. The Redskins are planning to be without Smith in 2019, and fantasy owners should do the same.
Other injured quarterbacks:
Cam Newton (right shoulder), 14 games played
Note: Cam Newton’s shoulder injury was discussed in details in a two-part series: Part 1 / Part 2
Carson Wentz (lumbar vertebrae stress fracture), 11 games played
Freeman had a lost season in 2018 due to injury, only playing in two games. He dealt with foot and knee injuries early in the year, but it was a groin injury that required surgery and ultimately sent him to injured reserve. The core muscle repair surgery should heal well, but the knee injury is a concern. He injured his MCL and PCL in Week 17 the year prior. The MCL has healed well by now, but the PCL, which sits inside the knee joint, is likely to linger this year. Personally, I don’t see how Freeman plays 16 games in 2019.
Guice tore the ACL in his left knee during the Redskins’ first preseason game and shortly after underwent ACL reconstruction surgery. An infection forced Guice to have three additional procedures to drain fluid from the knee, delaying his rehab by about three months. Now about seven months out from surgery, Guice is back to doing agility drills but is nowhere close to 100%. His infection can’t be taken lightly, as it did delay his rehab and recovery. He is likely to be ready for Week 1, but fantasy owners hoping for a workhorse back in 2019 will be upset. Guice is likely to perform much better in the second half of the year and will be a great buy-low candidate in 2020.
Ajayi’s “bone on bone” concerns in his right knee caused him to fall in the NFL Draft during his rookie year, but it’s his other knee that forced him to injured reserve in 2018. He tore the ACL in his right knee in college and tore the ACL in his left knee in 2018 during Week 5 against the Vikings. Ajayi now has multiple ACL surgeries in his history and is likely going to go on to develop arthritis in his left knee as well as the right knee. In addition, he is now at an increased risk for re-tearing his ACL in both his left and right knee. In order to be successful in 2019 and beyond, Ajayi will best fit with a team who uses him sparingly, as a full workload will shorten his career.
Jones only carried the ball 23 times in 2018, as he never really got a chance to be the lead running back in Tampa. He was also hampered by a hamstring injury, only playing in nine games. The Bucs didn’t spend any free agency capital on a running back, so depending on what happens in the NFL Draft, “RoJo” may get a chance to be more involved in Bruce Arians’ offense in 2019.
Green’s 2018 season was hampered by right foot and toe injuries. After originally injuring the big toe in his right foot in Week 8, Green returned to play in Week 13 but re-injured the toe and was sent to injured reserve shortly after. He underwent surgery to repair torn ligaments in his toe, and as a result, he’s a high risk, high reward player in fantasy football moving forward. Green is likely to deal with lingering foot issues throughout the remainder of his NFL career because of how much the big toe is stressed during the sprinting motion, something extremely important for an NFL wide receiver.
Kupp sprained the MCL in his left knee during Week 6 then tore the ACL in the same knee in a separate injury in Week 10. Now about four months out from ACL reconstruction surgery, Kupp is on track to be ready close to the start of the season, but he will be limited for the majority of the team’s offseason program.
Fuller tore the ACL in his right knee in Week 8 and underwent surgery shortly after to reconstruct the ligament. He also missed time earlier in the year (and has also missed time in previous seasons) due to a hamstring strain. Fuller has struggled to stay healthy throughout his NFL career, and that is likely to continue in 2019. Coming off the torn ACL, players are more likely to experience hamstring injury. In addition, players with a history of prior hamstring strains are at an increased risk for recurring hamstring injuries. Combine the two injuries together, and it’s recipe for disaster in 2019, especially for a guy like Fuller who relies on his speed to beat defenders deep.
Other injured wide receivers:
Keke Coutee (Hamstring), 6 games played
Marvin Jones (Bone bruise in knee), 9 games played
Geronimo Allison (Core muscle repair surgery), 5 games played
Marquise Goodwin (Quadriceps contusion), 11 games played
Paul Richardson (AC joint reconstruction), 7 games played
The details surrounding Howard’s 2018 injury have been sparse, but his 2018 was cut short due to ankle and foot injuries. He only played in 10 games last year, missing one game for an MCL sprain and five games for the aforementioned ankle and foot injuries. Entering his third year in the NFL, Howard will be hoping for a bounce back year in 2019, but he will have to avoid ankle injuries which have now affected him in each of his two seasons at the professional level.
Doyle’s 2018 season will be quickly forgotten due to the fact that he only appeared in six games while Eric Ebron stole the show on his was to 13 TDs. He suffered a subluxed (partial dislocation) of his hip and is reportedly undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in the hip. The labrum is a small piece of fibrocartilage that helps to provide stability in the hip joint. Doyle won’t be doing much this offseason and is no lock to be ready for Week 1. He also suffered a lacerated kidney late in the year after returning from his hip injury and required a procedure for this injury.
Walker injured his right ankle in Week 1 and was placed on injured reserve with a fracture-dislocation injury. For reference, this injury is very similar to that of Odell Beckham in 2017. Walker should be ready for Week 1, but he will be limited during the team’s offseason program. At age 34, his days in the NFL are likely numbered.
Eifert is a guy who has been riddled by injury throughout his NFL career. Unfortunately, that didn’t change in 2018, as he also suffered a right ankle fracture-dislocation during Week 3 and underwent surgery shortly after. Just 28 years old, Eifert has only played in a combined 14 games over the past three seasons. He will be back in time for Week 1, but will be one of the hardest players to trust in 2019, playing on a 1-year “prove it” deal for the Bengals.