Fantasy Football 2022: Advice on Jameis Winston, Top Players Returning from Injury
Injuries will undoubtedly impact your fantasy football season over the course of the 2022 NFL season.
In fact, you'll encounter them already at your league draft, as some of last season's injuries still cast a cloud of mystery over the next campaign.
That sounds ominous, and it might be in certain cases. In others, though, it's actually the knock of opportunity and the chance to uncover a draft-day discount. If there aren't reasons to worry about lingering effects, then the injury and subsequent statistical damage done could unnecessarily send someone to the clearance section.
Each player is different, though, so let's take a closer look at the right way to approach three different players returning from injury.
J.K. Dobbins, RB, Baltimore Ravens
J.K. Dobbins was a popular breakout candidate heading into last season before a torn ACL cost him the entire campaign. Now that he's back on the gridiron, should fantasy managers expect that breakout to commence?
Maybe, but be careful about investing too early, since it's far from a guarantee.
To be clear, he is supremely talented and has a good chance of taking control of the Ravens' backfield. He could absolutely deliver a monstrous season. You just don't want to stake your draft strategy around it. As ESPN's Eric Moody relayed, Dobbins has yet to play any 11-on-11 drills, and his Week 1 status is up in the air.
While you shouldn't avoid Dobbins at the draft, you should have a reliable backup plan in place in case his recovery takes longer than expected. If he's the second running back you select, don't wait long before grabbing a third—and a fourth, honestly.
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers
Rostering Christian McCaffrey has been no fun the past two seasons, which is a huge bummer, since rostering his fully healthy version was previously one of the biggest advantages in fantasy football.
Still, he has managed a total of 10 appearances over the past two seasons. He went on injured reserve twice in 2021, ultimately shutting things down after Week 12 with an ankle injury.
Even amid the injury disruptions, though, his talent has shined through. His average output during the 2020 and 2021 seasons included 66.7 rushing yards, 49.2 receiving yards and 0.8 touchdowns.
A healthy McCaffrey is probably the best player in fantasy, so you can't just give him "do not draft" status. You'll need at least a top-five pick to draft him, which is an accurate reflection of his ability and upside. Still, you'll want to handle your bench accordingly, as recent history suggests you might need a McCaffrey replacement for multiple weeks.
Jameis Winston, QB, New Orleans Saints
Jameis Winston has long been a polarizing fantasy player—and real-life player—for reasons that run well beyond the injury report. He plays a high-risk, high-reward style, which sometimes manifests in a boatload of touchdowns and interceptions (30-plus of each in 2019).
Having said that, he has cut down on his giveaways and upped his efficiency across his two seasons with the New Orleans Saints. He had almost zero weapons at his disposal and still put up 1,170 passing yards with 14 touchdowns and only three interceptions before a torn ACL sidelined him after seven games.
Because of his injury and turnover-happy history, he shouldn't cost a premium at your draft. Ideally, he's a high-end QB2 to pair with a low-end QB1, as the risks are just great enough to not want him as your weekly starter but not so great to stop him from forcing his way into that role over the course of the campaign.
Winston could be a great value this season. His ACL recovery is complete—he looked great in his preseason debut—and his supporting cast is in much better shape thanks to the return of Michael Thomas and additions of Jarvis Landry and rookie first-rounder Chris Olave.