Dynasty Impact of 2016 Injury Comebacks

In 2015 my IDP dynasty team suffered nine…count them…nine injured players that went to IR.  This included Marshawn Lynch, Thomas Rawls, Justin Forsett, Jimmy Graham, Jordy Nelson, Sen’Derrick Marks, Jordan Hicks, Stephon Gilmore and Eric Weddle.  As the clock turned to 2016 some of these players came back to fantasy relevance (Jimmy Graham, Jordy Nelson, Jordan Hicks, Eric Weddle), some were reinjured (Thomas Rawls, Stephon Gilmore) and for a variety of reasons some faded away forever (Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett, Sen’Derrick Marks).  It made me realize that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to review last season’s injured players and provide and update on where they stand, their chances of being fantasy relevant in 2017 and their chances of being dynasty relevant in the future.  So, in no particular order:

Eric Decker – Decker is turning 30 soon and coming back from both shoulder and hip surgeries.  At this point it is believed he will be back by training camp, though undoubtedly he will be eased back into practice.  There is little risk that he produces in 2017, both injuries are not considered long recovery injuries, though together they take a bit longer.  The question is, will he be a Jet?

Keenan Allen – Only 24, but hasn’t finished any of the last three seasons.  There is no doubt Allen is talented but coming back from an ACL is tough and the first year is usually not uber productive (sans Jordy Nelson of course).  From a dynasty standpoint, Allen is probably at his lowest value so if you can get him cheap, he’s a good buy low.  With the injuries mounting though, it’s hard to say he won’t lose some game.

Kevin White – This year will be like Kevin White’s rookie season. For a talented but raw player, that is not necessarily a good thing.  Can he run routes?  Nobody knows. Will he have rhythm with his QB? Doubt it.  Dynasty wise he still has time to develop and be productive.  It’s a crap shoot whether he does it in 2017 or not.

Keith Marshall – His rookie year was redshirted with an elbow injury.  He wasn’t showing much in training camp, so I doubt he’ll be ready for primetime in 2017.  That said, he’s a talented runner and with Matt Jones and Rob Kelley in the backfield, an opening could come sooner rather than later if Marshall gets his act together.

Teddy Bridgewater – Ugh.  This is a tough one.  Work out of Minnesota is that Teddy may not even play in 2017.  Even if he did, Sam Bradford is still in town and he wouldn’t start most likely.  He’s too young to give up on for dynasty purposes, but you’re going to have him on your bench for a while because he’s useless for 2017 most likely.

Vincent Jackson – 34 and coming off an ACL injury is not a great position to be in.  Most likely Jackson has lost his fantasy relevance and could be out of the league within a year or two.

Earl Thomas – Thomas’s leg injury mid-season was the straw that broke the camels back for Seattle in 2016.  Going on 27, Thomas has talked retirement but it seems that was injury motivated talk.  He should be ready for training camp and should be fantasy relevant in 2017 and for several more seasons.  Assuming that retirement talk was nonsense.

Ameer Abdullah – Injury-prone and losing his grip on playing time, Ameer Abdullah is on thin ice.  He has yet to show he can stay healthy in the NFL and his lack of size does not help that perception.  No doubt he has speed that kills, but in 2017 he most likely will be sharing the backfield with several others.  Dynasty wise he can play a while but is a risk to produce big numbers.

Jamaal Charles – At the end of the line most likely.  Despite his incredible fantasy stats he has very little left in the tank.  Dynasty wise he no longer has value.  That’s most likely true for 2017 too.

Adrian Peterson – See Jamaal Charles.

Josh Doctson – A complete unknown after a redshirt rookie season.  Doctson has the talent to develop into a quality NFL wide receiver and will have the opportunity in the Redskin’s offense.  2017 he should produce WR2/3 type stats.  Dynasty wise he is definitely worth a hold.

AJ Green – At 28, Green is in the prime of his career.  The hamstring injury that landed him on IR at the end of last season was unfortunate.  The Bengals were protecting him since they were out of the playoff hunt.  He will be 100% for training camp and will resume his elite status in 2017 and beyond.

Rob Gronkowski – It’s fair to ask if Gronk has enough in the tank at this point to get through a full season un-injured.  He’s 27 and taken a beating for a while now.  Back injuries are also hard to overcome and can flare up at any time.  If he’s on the field he’s elite, the question is how long will he be on the field?

Ben Watson – at 36 and coming off an Achilles injury, it’s hard to see Watson being fantasy relevant in 2017 or beyond.

JJ Watt – As I mentioned with Gronk, back injuries are tough for NFL trench players.  Watt is 27 and seems to be ready to resume his stellar career in 2017.  I would use caution if you want to nab him though.  Pay too high a price for him and if the injury lingers you’ll only be buying a name.

NaVorro Bowman – Bowman tore his Achilles early in the season in 2016.  Currently he has no timetable to return but he has noted that his rehab is going well.  At 28 and as the best LB on the 49ers roster, there is no doubt he can come back and be fantasy relevant in 2017.  Keep an eye on that rehab.

Reshad Jones – Jones put up linebacker numbers in 2015 and was in the midst of another great season when he was put on IR due to a shoulder injury.  All signs point to his return in 2017 and I would suspect he’ll be racking up the tackles in no time.

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