Robert Griffin: Boom or Bust in 2013 Fantasy Football Drafts?

Jared SmolaContributor IIJanuary 17, 2013

Robert Griffin has damaged the ACL in his right knee twice over the past 4 years.
Robert Griffin has damaged the ACL in his right knee twice over the past 4 years.Win McNamee/Getty Images

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin figures to be one of the most polarizing players in 2013 fantasy drafts. The guy was leading all QBs in fantasy points prior to first injuring that right knee in Week 14. As a rookie, by the way.

But the durability concerns are real. Even before the knee problems, RG3 sustained a concussion in Week 5 and dealt with achy ribs in the middle of the season. As a wiry, 223-pound QB, he was an injury risk to begin with.

And now we have this right knee to chew on all offseason. Here's what we know: In Week 14, Griffin suffered an LCL sprain. He sat out the following game but returned for Week 16—against the better judgment of Dr. James Andrews. "I've been a nervous wreck letting him come back as quick as he has," the renowned doc said.

RG3 hobbled through wins against the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys to capture the NFC East crown. He re-tweaked the knee early in the Wild Card game against the Seahawks. Then the knee seemed to say "no mas!" in the fourth quarter, simply giving out when Griffin attempted to recover a fumbled snap.

The result was damage to the LCL, ACL, and meniscus. Griffin underwent surgery on January 9th. The procedure was called a "total reconstructive surgery." Also, Dr. Andrews took a patellar tendon graft from the healthy left knee to help repair the damaged right one. That means RG3 will be tasked with rehabbing two knees this offseason. And remember that this is the second time he's torn that ACL—the first coming while at Baylor in 2009.

A torn ACL is bad. A twice-torn ACL is worse. But worst still might be the cartilage in Griffin's right knee. According to a team source, that's the biggest concern at this point. RG3 doesn't have much cartilage left after undergoing two major surgeries. And that could eventually lead to a bone-on-bone condition—something that can wreck a guy's career.


So where does that leave us? Long-term, Griffin's future doesn't look quite as bright now as it did a few months ago. A smallish running QB with a bum knee isn't a good bet to enjoy a long NFL career. RG3 would be wise to rein in his game a bit—slide a bit more, get out of bounds when possible, take a few less hits each week.

Shorter term, Griffin will be in a race to be ready for the 2013 season-opener. A six-to-eight month timetable was mentioned by ESPN's Chris Mortensen. That seems optimistic to us, but only time will tell.

One thing we'd caution against is using Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's 2012 season as a barometer for RG3's 2013 prospects. Medical advancements have made returning from a torn ACL a more reasonable task. What was once a death knell to a guy's career is now more of a speed bump. But AP remains the exception to the rule. While plenty of guys are back on the field seven or eight months after ACL surgery, it still takes most 12-plus months to regain pre-injury form.

For Griffin, that means he's highly unlikely to match this past season's 815 rushing yards and seven TDs. And while he was impressive as a passer—racking up 3,200 yards and 20 TDs—it was his production on the ground that made him such a fantasy stud. In fact, a whopping 34 percent of RG3's fantasy points came from his rushing totals. Slice those in half—a realistic projection for 2013—and Griffin becomes just a low-end QB1.

And that's likely where he'll fall in Draft Sharks' preseason rankings this summer. Sure, RG3 has upside well beyond that. Like Adrian Peterson, he's a workaholic who could return quicker than normal from that shredded knee. And the fact that he's already gone through the rehab process should help. On top of that, Griffin could be ever better as a passer in his second NFL season.

But the risk is just as high as the upside. First and foremost, RG3 won't be a good bet to play 16 games. On top of that, we can't know how a twice-repaired knee will impact his running ability. Griffin averaged 58 rushing yards per game prior to first injuring that knee. That number dropped to 29 in three outings post-injury. Finally, RG3 will miss out on valuable offseason practice reps to get more comfortable in the offense and with his receivers.

We'll need to see where Griffin is coming off the board in fantasy drafts this summer. He'll be worth a gamble after the 6th or 7th round. But any earlier than that, we're staying away. And if you do roll the dice, you'll need to secure a high-quality backup within your next few picks.


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