In the summer of 2022, just three months after being drafted, John Metchie III announced on social media that he had been diagnosed with Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APML). This devastating news meant that Metchie would miss his rookie season after being drafted as the 44th overall pick. Not only was Metchie expected to join a depleted wide receiver room in need of a boost, but more importantly, his health and life were at stake. Less than a year later, in April 2023, Metchie made a remarkable return to football by attending the Texans’ minicamp. This raises the question: what does this mean for his playing ability? In this essay, we will explore the basics of APML and analyze Metchie’s outlook for 2023.
What is APML?
APML is a rare subtype of Acute Myeloid Leukemia, accounting for approximately 5-10% of all AML cases. Although it can occur at any age, it is most commonly diagnosed in adults between 30 and 50 years old, with a slightly higher prevalence in males.
The exact cause of APML is not fully understood. It is believed to result from genetic mutations that occur in bone marrow cells, leading to abnormal growth and maturation of white blood cells called promyelocytes. These promyelocytes can accumulate in the bone marrow, causing a decrease in healthy blood cell production.
APML and its treatment can significantly impact an individual’s daily life. The disease itself can cause symptoms such as impaired oxygen exchange, prolonged bleeding, increased risk of infections, and anemia-related symptoms like fatigue, weakness, and pale skin. Treatment often involves intensive chemotherapy, which has its own side effects and can be debilitating, necessitating periods of rest and recovery.
In recent years, the prognosis for APML has significantly improved due to advances in treatment. With appropriate therapy, including all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) and chemotherapy, the overall survival rate for APML is relatively high, with cure rates ranging from 70% to 90%. However, individual prognoses can vary based on factors such as
age, overall health, specific genetic mutations, and response to treatment.
The risk of recurrence or relapse after initial treatment for APML varies among individuals. Regular blood tests and bone marrow monitoring are necessary for detecting any signs of relapse. In cases of disease recurrence, additional treatments such as stem cell transplantation may be required.
What does this mean for Metchie?
On April 27, 2023, the Texans’ team Twitter account announced Metchie’s return to the field as he attended one of the voluntary practices during the offseason minicamp. Voices in the front office echoed Metchie’s remarkable comeback, with praise coming from General Manager Nick Caserio and newly-appointed head coach Demeco Ryans. This year off not only allowed Metchie to recover from leukemia but also provided him with additional time
to heal from an ACL tear suffered in 2021. Studies have shown that wide receivers tend to recover well one year post-injury compared to running backs. In fact, some data suggests that being two years removed from injury can lead to advanced statistics comparable to pre-injury levels, including yards per target, yards per game, and fantasy points per game. Prior to being drafted, Metchie had a breakout season at Alabama, accumulating 1,142 receiving
yards and 8 touchdowns on 96 receptions, which earned him second-team All-SEC honors. Given the uncertainty surrounding the Texans’ wide receiver room, the team hopes that Metchie can provide the spark they need on offense and become a favorite target for their rookie quarterback, C.J. Stroud.
2023 Fantasy Outlook:
As mentioned earlier, limited information is available to the public regarding the intensity and progress of Metchie’s return to the field. While being cleared to play after leukemia is a significant milestone, there are still a few factors to consider for Metchie’s fantasy relevance in 2023. Reports from training camp will provide insights into his progress and whether he becomes a preferred target for Stroud, which could positively impact his outlook. In redraft leagues, monitoring camp reports will help gauge his involvement in the offense. Currently, his average draft position (ADP) places him at the end of the 12th round, making him a late-round flyer. At this stage of the draft, selecting a young, dynamic player from an uncertain wide receiver room can be a reasonable strategy, aiming for upside and potential flex or bye-week fill-in options. However, without concrete camp reports, it’s challenging to assess Metchie’s potential impact. From a dynasty perspective, Metchie becomes an intriguing trade target. His recent absence and the team’s drafting of Tank Dell (WR) may have lowered his cost. Additionally, uncertainty surrounding Stroud’s passing tendencies makes stashing Metchie on dynasty rosters an appealing option, especially considering the Texans’ investment in him as a second-round pick and their ongoing support during his absence,
indicating a plan for Metchie in their rebuild.