Fantasy Football 2019: Cheat Sheet for Injured Players and Holdout Candidates

Michelle Bruton@@michelle_nflFeatured ColumnistAugust 13, 2019

Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown during NFL football minicamp Tuesday, June 11, 2019, in Alameda, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Eric Risberg/Associated Press

It's a fraught time of year for fantasy football managers. 

Between training camp injuries and big-name holdouts, navigating your draft board can feel more like navigating a minefield. How do you evaluate a player who has no set timetable for a return from injury? And where do you draft a superstar who is threatening to sit out the entire season if he doesn't get a suitable contract for his team?

And what on earth do you make of the current situation between Antonio Brown and the Oakland Raiders? 

In this fantasy cheat sheet, you'll find answers to all those questions and more, putting your mind at ease before you commit yourself to the squad that will take you all the way this season. 

Let's take a look at some of the biggest players affected by injury or holdout this offseason, and break down exactly how you should handle them in your upcoming draft. 


Injured Players and Holdout Candidates Cheatsheet

Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Antonio Brown, WR, Oakland Raiders (foot)

Antonio Brown's offseason saga has been a long and strange road, indeed. On August 7, ESPN confirmed that Brown suffered frostbite on his feet due to cryotherapy. It explained why Brown had missed a significant portion of the team's training camp. However, on Friday, Michael Silver published the bombshell Twitter thread detailing Brown's displeasure with the NFL's refusal to let him wear his old and since banned helmet model. This grievance appeared to be partially responsible for Brown's absence from the team. Brown lost the grievance, and ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that he'll be back at the training facility Tuesday.

Advice: Despite all of the above, stay the course; if you have the chance to draft Brown in Round 1, or you own him in a dynasty league, you simply can't pass up the chance to add a WR1 of his caliber to your squad.


Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers (holdout)

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

For the 2nd straight year, a running back holdout is a story in fantasy football and this time there are two of them... Ezekiel Elliott and Melvin Gordon both rank in the Top 3 in fantasy points by a RB over the last 3 seasons. The Fantasy Football Marathon is live on ESPN2. https://t.co/qdEGc2HRfa

Per ESPN Stats and Information, Melvin Gordon ranks in the top three in fantasy points by a running back over the last three seasons. Yeah, he's pretty good...which is why he thinks he deserves a hefty new contract. 

Gordon is entering the third week of his holdout and missed the team's first preseason game. Per ESPN's Eric D. Williams, the Chargers offered Gordon roughly $10 million annually, but the two sides have yet to reach an agreement. 

Gordon has indicated that if he doesn't get the offer he desires from the Chargers, he'll demand a trade. 

Advice: The Chargers have a history of paying to keep the players they've developed (see: Keenan Allen, Melvin Ingram). If you don't draft Gordon early in your fantasy draft, chances are one of your opponents will. 


Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys (holdout)

Similar to Melvin Gordon, Ezekiel Elliott has been one of fantasy's highest-scoring running backs over the last three seasons. Also similar to Melvin Gordon, Elliott thinks he deserves to be paid like a top back. 

Elliott's camp has told the Cowboys straight up that the running back will not suit up in 2019 without a new deal, per ESPN's Josina Anderson. As with any holdout situation, it takes some thoughtful reading between the lines to figure out what's a bluff and what's a promise. 

The Cowboys also have to re-sign Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper. 

Advice: You may have to watch Elliott languish on your bench a couple of weeks into the regular season, but, like with Melvin Gordon, it's hard to imagine Elliott's team isn't able to reach a satisfactory agreement with its star back. 


Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots (thumb)

Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Those fantasy managers who have Julian Edelman in dynasty leagues have had a hard go of it. After sitting out four games in 2018 due to suspension, Edelman is heading into the regular season nursing a broken thumb. 

However, it's not all bad news. With tight end Rob Gronkowski out of the picture, Edelman should have the best season of his career catching passes from Tom Brady. 

Advice: Per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, don't fret if Edelman misses the entire preseason. He should be ready to go for Week 1. Accordingly, draft him if you have the chance. His current ADP is 45th overall. 


A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (ankle)

The latest news on Bengals wideout A.J. Green is that he's undergone surgery and he's expected to miss "multiple regular-season games," per Rapoport via NFL.com. It's the second straight year Green will miss multiple games with an injury.

Advice: With Green's timetable for return being up in the air, let someone else in your league spend a too-high draft pick on him. If he falls in your league, try handcuffing him with teammates Josh Malone or Auden Tate, whose draft stock has been rising considerably in training camp. 


Trey Burton, TE, Chicago Bears (hernia)

The Chicago Bears have had a rough go of it at the tight end position recently, to say nothing of the players who have found themselves struggling to get back on the field for their team due to injuries. 

Trey Burton is "the guy" in Chicago, but he may not be the guy in Week 1. Burton had offseason sports hernia surgery, which kept him out of OTA workouts. The good news for Burton and fantasy managers both is that this is the first major injury of his NFL career, and everyone just needs to exercise patience as he works his way back.

Advice: If you're in a 12-team league, there are hardly 12 starting-caliber tight ends available in the draft this year. However, if you draft Burton and he misses time early in the season, you'll have to be comfortable keeping two tight ends on your roster as you wait for him to make his way back.