Inside Injuries has the latest on top RBs who continue to recover from season-ending injuries and offseason surgeries.
Dalvin Cook MIN: torn ACL
Dalvin Cook is making great progress in his recovery from a torn ACL and should be close to 100% by Week 1. His HPF (Health Performance Factor) is already back at Peak. With a Low Injury Risk, he is deserving of an early second round pick in drafts this year. Cook’s knee injury was an isolated tear, so there was no additional ligament or cartilage damage, which can slow down and complicate recovery. He is already a full participant at training camp and isn’t wearing a brace on his surgically-repaired knee.
Cook looked like a star through his first four games in the NFL and should build on that in his second year. There’s also no more competition from Jerick McKinnon, who left for San Francisco, and Kirk Cousins is taking over at QB. It might not be a huge upgrade, but it certainly shouldn’t hurt this offense. Cook has the talent to be the top fantasy RB at the end of the year, especially in PPR leagues. Draft him with confidence.
D’Onta Foreman HOU: torn Achilles
Foreman landed on IR with a devastating Achilles tendon tear last season and continues to work his way back. This can be a tough injury to recover from, and some players never return to 100%. While Foreman has a shot to play Week 1, it typically takes at least a year to feel comfortable on the field again. He could even start the year on the PUP list depending on how things progress at training camp. His Injury Risk remains at a concerning level (Elevated- 23%), and his HPF is nowhere near Peak Performance.
Before the injury, Foreman was slowly eating into Lamar Miller’s workload and was close to stealing the starting job. With uncertainty surrounding his health, it’s hard to judge his fantasy value right now. Foreman’s ADP is hovering around 140. This is the type of player who may be not useful early in the year but carry you late in the season if he can get healthy. Just know that drafting him is a huge risk, so don’t plan to use him in the first month or two.
Spencer Ware KC: torn PCL & LCL
When Spencer Ware went down in the preseason with a season-ending PCL and LCL tear, Kareem Hunt really stepped up for the Chiefs. That’s going to be the biggest road block for Ware and his fantasy owners. Our algorithm is showing a Low Injury Risk with a Peak HPF, so he should be fully recovered almost 12 months removed from surgery.
If Ware continues to prove that he is healthy and Andy Reid decides to split carries, he could end up being a steal in the later rounds. But for now the starting job is Hunt’s to lose. Ware has RB1 potential if something happens to Hunt, and he should be healthy enough to contribute.
Darren Sproles PHI: torn ACL & arm fracture
Darren Sproles suffered two serious injuries on the same play last year, ending his season. Many expected a retirement announcement, but that wasn’t how he wanted to end his career, so he’s back for a 14th season. The torn ACL is a bigger concern going forward than the arm fracture, and age certainly isn’t on his side (he will be 35 when the season starts). He only missed three games in the previous four seasons, so injuries haven’t been a major concern throughout his career. But he now sits at an Elevated Injury Risk.
The Eagles also have quite a few running backs on their roster. Sproles should see more time on passing downs, but he is going to have a hard time seeing enough touches to have value in standard leagues. Jay Ajayi will handle lead back duties with Corey Clement fighting for more carries. Despite his past success, Sproles should be viewed as a late round flier in PPR leagues only.
Chris Thompson WAS: fibula fracture
Chris Thompson admitted that he isn’t 100% as he recovers from a season-ending fibula fracture that required surgery. It likely included some significant ligament damage to the ankle as well. He’s going pretty early in drafts (ADP is in the top 100), but there’s reason to be concerned here. His Injury Risk still sits at Elevated. If he is playing tentatively and continues to struggle mentally, he is putting himself at a greater risk of injury. That could mean aggravating a past injury or suffering a new injury. This injury also takes around 12 months to fully recover from, so physically he isn’t fully recovered yet either.
Don’t draft Thompson with the expectation that he can be a flex option most weeks. He won’t be a consistent contributor due to his health,
Devonta Freeman ATL: PCL sprain
Freeman spent much of the offseason recovering from a fairly serious PCL sprain that he played through late in the year and into the playoffs. Surgery was an option, but he chose to go with rest and rehab to allow the ligament to heal. Despite being six months removed from the injury, Freeman’s Injury Risk still sits at 21%. That’s Elevated, but not too far off from High Risk. Freeman also has a concerning injury history that includes multiple concussions. Using a second round pick on a guy like this is a big risk, so don’t consider drafting him unless he drops to the 3rd or 4th rounds, which is unlikely. Tevin Coleman will also provide competition and could steal touches from Freeman if he can stay healthy.
Kenneth Dixon BAL: torn meniscus
The Ravens were very excited about Dixon entering the 2017 season, but he didn’t see a single snap after landing on IR with a torn meniscus. He underwent surgery to repair the damage instead of trim it. Therefore his recovery came with a much longer 3-6 month timeline. He should have been ready to go to start the 2018 season, but he is already battling a new injury. This time it’s a hamstring strain that is keeping him from practice. While it isn’t overly serious, the injuries are piling up. His Injury Risk currently sits at Elevated. He could eventually work his way back to fantasy relevance as Alex Collins is his only competition at this point, but he needs to get healthy and stay healthy if that’s going to happen. Consider using a late round pick on Dixon, but don’t plan to use him early in the season.