Injury-Plagued NFL Stars to Avoid in Fantasy Football 2013
Injuries are fantasy-football killers. The sun rises in the east. Water is wet. The Pope is Catholic.
Every season, we hand-wring over drafting "injury-prone" players. What makes someone injury-prone? Injuries are unpredictable, so it is difficult to say. But it certainly seems like some players are cursed when it comes to the injury bug.
Here is a list of 10 players who might give you pause in fantasy drafts.
Danario Alexander, WR, San Diego Chargers
Nobody expected Danario Alexander's emergence last season. After all, Alexander was signed on a prayer, having dealt with some nasty knee issues throughout his career.
Yet, there he was, scoring fantasy points by the dozen until he petered out in the fantasy playoffs.
Hopefully, Alexander's injury woes are behind him, but they are a sinister reality for the talented receiver.
The only thing going for you if you choose to draft Alexander is that everyone seems to be sleeping on him. He certainly has potential to score oodles of points for you this season, but the risk is also there.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Maurice Jones-Drew has a history of overcoming physical obstacles.
A year removed from surgery that left him with a bone-on-bone condition, Jones-Drew led the league in rushing. The following season was cut short because of a foot injury that wound up knocking him out for the year.
Jones-Drew is also approaching the precipice of age for running backs. At 28, the clock is ticking.
Will the confluence of injuries and age bring him down from a fantasy perspective? Perhaps. The real question is whether you are willing to take that risk in the second or third round of your fantasy draft.
Danny Amendola, WR, New England Patriots
Things are looking up for Danny Amendola, as he becomes an integral part of an offense that runs on rocket fuel.
Tom Brady is certainly an upgrade at quarterback, and the frenetic pace the Patriots will run on the offensive side will afford plenty of opportunities for Amendola to score fantasy points. Just look at Wes Welker's totals over the years.
There is one problem, however: injuries.
Amendola has played in just 12 games over the past two seasons, thanks to a smattering of ailments, most notably a dislocated elbow. He is headed to New England, which has had the injury bug go around the offense a bit.
If he can stay healthy, Amendola could eclipse Welker's production. But that could be a big assumption.
Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers
It's tough to be a running back in the NFL when your bones are made of porcelain.
Ryan Mathews has appeared in just 38 of 48 games through the first three years of his career. That might not seem too bad, but he was also limited in plenty of those appearances.
Last season was almost a black comedy for Mathews, who broke his clavicle on his first touch of the preseason. He would later break that collarbone again to end his season, and he was not exactly lights out when he made it back.
It will be interesting to see how a new regime will handle Mathews—Norv Turner wasn't exactly running him into the ground—but he will have to stay on the field.
The good news for potential Mathews owners is that the risk is being baked into his average draft position. Depending on league size and where you are drafting, you can get Mathews for a late fourth- or fifth-round pick.
Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
Michael Vick has had his share of on-field issues, but he has also been off the field plenty since his return to the NFL.
The veteran quarterback has appeared in just 35 games over the past three seasons, thanks to various ailments.
He might not even open the season as the starter if Nick Foles beats him out, but it is difficult to believe Vick will start for the entire season, given his struggles and injury woes. Few are drafting him as a starter, but putting all your eggs in the Vick basket could prove fatal.
Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants
Hakeem Nicks possesses great talent, and he has been an incredible tease for much of his career.
The talented receiver has literally been on the injury report for half his career, according to KFFL. He has seemingly gone through most of that time without practicing in order to be able to play on Sundays—or Mondays or Thursdays.
It is a testament to his talent that he has seen such success during times where he couldn't practice, but he could have done so much more. Do you trust him to buck his injury issues going forward?
Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders
There is a poster somewhere with the words "injury-prone" on it. Darren McFadden is the poster boy.
The talented running back might be challenging Adrian Peterson for the title of "best running" back if he could stay healthy, but things have not panned out for him through five seasons.
McFadden's season-high in games played is 13, having appeared in just 57 of a possible 80 regular-season games since he entered the league. That is less than 72 percent of games.
Granted, McFadden was downright awful when he was healthy last season. The Raiders switched to a zone-blocking scheme, and it did not suit McFadden one bit.
Oakland's oft-injured running back averaged a league-worst 3.3 yards per carry among backs with at least 150 carries, and it would have been worse had he not broken one long touchdown run.
The Raiders have switched back to a power-blocking scheme, much to the delight of their running back. Even if he returns to form, however, it is difficult to condone drafting him in the first two rounds given his injury history.
DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys
Darren McFadden might be the injury king, but DeMarco Murray is rapidly becoming the prince.
Murray has played in just 23 of a possible 32 games in his career thus far. He has been hampered by a variety of ailments since his college days. It has gotten to the point where Murray had to vow to play all 16 games this season, according to Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
The offseason already got off on the wrong foot for the Dallas Cowboys running back as he tweaked his hamstring in OTAs. He has since made it back, but that is not the best omen for his potential fantasy owners.
Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins
It's hard to call Robert Griffin III injury-plagued after just one year, but this isn't his first rodeo.
Griffin tore his opposite ACL in college. This wouldn't be the first time a player has come back from ACL tears in both knees—Frank Gore has had a fine, injury-free NFL career, despite doing just that in college. But is this the beginning of an injury-plagued career for Griffin?
The ACL injury wasn't the only one during Griffin's rookie year. He was also knocked out of a game with a concussion, calling into question whether his style of play is sustainable in the heavy-hitting NFL.
It's going to be tough to gauge Griffin in the fantasy realm until the end of the preseason. He is already throwing the ball around, but that is a far cry from game speed against defenders looking for a piece of him.
Even if he opens up the season as the starter, there are few quarterbacks with injury concerns like Griffin.
Reggie Bush, RB, Detroit Lions
Reggie Bush shed the injury-prone label for the most part during his tenure in Miami, but if you look closely, he still dealt with injuries.
Most notably, Bush was knocked out of a game against the New York Jets last season, forcing him to miss the next week and ultimately hampering him the rest of the way.
Now he goes to Detroit, which hosts games on artificial turf. Why is that significant for Bush? Well, he once complained that the turf in New Orleans was the culprit behind his injuries during his tenure with the Saints.
Bush is now 28 years old, no spring chicken in running back terms. He might not have the mileage on his legs as some other backs his age, but the clock is ticking nonetheless.