Fantasy Reaction: J.K. Dobbins Questionable for Week 1 (Fantasy Football)

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On Monday afternoon, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport discussed Baltimore Ravens RB, J.K. Dobbins, and his recovery from ACL surgery, reporting that “He’s no sure thing to make Week 1. In fact, based on an estimate I was given by someone I trust, there’s certainly a possibility that he is not ready for Week 1 and actually, could get on the field a couple of weeks after that.”

RapSheet also goes on to confirm that in addition to the ACL injury, Dobbins suffered an injury to his meniscus and to the “lateral side of the knee.” At the time of injury in August of 2021, there was concern that Dobbins did damage his LCL, and this report confirms that speculation. Unfortunately for Dobbins, this significantly changes his 2022 fantasy outlook, as the recovery from a multi-ligament injury is more cumbersome and complex than an isolated ACL injury.

Dobbins himself refuted the report in this tweet, so it’s certainly not a foregone conclusion that Dobbins won’t be ready for Week 1. After all, no one knows his own knee better than Dobbins. As fantasy players, we love to see the athlete confident in his recovery and his return, but the return to play is a decision among three key team members – the player, the coaching staff, and the medical team. If any of those three members deem the player unfit or unsafe to return, the comeback is delayed. While Dobbins is optimistic, the data across the board demonstrates that return to play and return to performance are delayed with these more complex injuries. As a result, even if Dobbins is “active” for Week 1, it does not mean he will be 100%.

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This study from 2022 looked at NFL players who tore their ACL from 2013 to 2018 and found that within the first 3 years post-injury, players played in fewer games, started in fewer games, performed worse than pre-injury levels, and had decreased snap counts. More specifically, they found that running backs were most affected by the injury in terms of performance. Given this data and the significance of Dobbins’ multi-structure injury, fantasy drafters should be mindful that if Dobbins is effective early in the season, he’ll be an outlier.

The team signed veteran free agent Mike Davis and drafted rookie Tyler Badie to provide running back insurance behind Dobbins and Gus Edwards, who is also recovering from a torn ACL. No doubt, Dobbins and Edwards’ recovery will be crucial to monitor when the Ravens open training camp on July 28.

Looking for more analysis on players recovering from 2021 injuries? Be sure to check out the Injury Report of the 2022 Ultimate Draft Kit for analysis on Christian McCaffrey, Chris Godwin, Saquon Barkley, and more.

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