Name: DeShaun Watson
Age: 22 years old (turns 23 in September)
Team: Houston Texans
2017 Stats: 7 games, 1699 yards passing, 19 TD, 8 INT. 36 rushes for 269 yds, 2 TD.
2018 Projections: 16 games, 3,692 yards passing, 26 TD, 16 INT. 77 rushes for 456 yds, 3 TD.
Projected 2018 Fantasy Rank (FantasyPros): QB2
Injury: DeShaun Watson was setting the NFL on fire starting on October 1 against the Titans, where he threw for 283 yards and was responsible for 5 TDs (4 pass, 1 rush), and mind-you he was replaced by Tom Savage in the 4Q in a blowout win. The following week he accounted for another 5 TDs against the Chiefs. He was becoming a star right in front of our eyes. Then, on November 2nd, Watson was added to the injury report with a ‘sore knee,’ hours later reports surfaced that Watson tore his ACL in practice. And just like that, Watson’s season was over. Done. What a tease. Everyone was in disbelief, but that’s the nature of the vicious NFL game we all love.
At Clemson, Watson tore his left ACL. This time he tore his right ACL. I mentioned when discussing Allen Robinson that there is a 94% success rate after ACL reconstruction surgery, meaning there is a 6% re-tear rate. That a study from 2014 shows there is a 6x increased risk of a 2nd ACL injury when compared to healthy subjects. 30% of athletes suffered a 2ndACL injury within 24 months of return to sport, within those 21% had a contralateral ACL tear, and 9% had a graft re-tear. Watson did just that; he tore his contralateral ACL. Watson had his ACL reconstruction surgery on November 7, 2017, so fast forward 9 months, that is early August. Realistically I think Watson can return for the entire 2018 NFL season without rushing his rehab. He’s young, so at least has that going for him. Young people heal faster than not-so-young people.
So what does the data say about QBs who suffered ACL tears? There’s a good article from the USA Today in 2016 that discusses the injuries to Donovan Mcnabb, Tom Brady, RGIII, and Sam Bradford (who suffered 2 ACL tears) among others. The data is pretty consistent; there is an expected drop in performance after an ACL tear, especially in players who are mobile – like Watson is. Watson’s most impressive attribute is his ability to extend the pocket due to his mobility.
Is Watson at increased risk to tear his ACL again (a 3rd time)? Yes, especially since he’s a mobile QB unlike Carson Palmer and Sam Bradford, both of which tore their ACLs twice.
2018 Health Outlook: After tearing his ACL in November, Watson should be good to go for the start of the 2018 season. My primary concern is that he has stated he won’t change his style of play, and while you like to hear this from a player of his caliber, he needs to play smarter. Another ACL tear could be career-ending. If Watson uses his legs to get separation from would-be sackers and then uses his arm to make the plays, then Watson has a very good chance of completing the season healthy. However, if he continues to run a great deal, like Russell Wilson does, Watson may end up cutting his career short.
Risk of Re-Injury: ~ 50% risk of having another ACL tear within 2 years.
Recommendations: Reports out of Texans camp have been all positive when it comes to Watson returning and that is great news. I love Watson’s potential. He could have easily finished as the #1 QB last season if he continued his torrid pace and didn’t get injured. He didn’t lose any weapons, as he still has DeAndreHopkins, Will Fuller, Lamar Miller and a couple healthy tight ends. I love Watson’s upside, as I think he has the highest ceiling of any QB this upcoming season. Draft him with confidence, as I think he will likely finish as a top 5 QB, but make sure you draft a backup QB just in case.
2018 NFL Injury Guide: Kareem Hunt
Name: Kareem Hunt
Team: Kansas City Chiefs
2017 Stats: 16 games, 272 rushes for 1,327 yards, 8 TD. 53 rec for 455 yards, 3 TD
2018 Projections: 16 games, 249 rushes for 1,112 yards, 8 TD. 53 rec for 425 yards, 2 TD
Projected 2018 Fantasy Value: RB7
Injury: Hunt sustained a hamstring injury during OTAs in June, which led to him taking time off OTAs and minicamp. While he did miss time, it appeared to be more for precautionary reasons and doesn’t appear to be more than a mild strain of the hamstring. Strains are graded on a 1-3 scale, with a grade 1 being a mild overstretching of the muscle fibers, grade 2 being a partial tear, and grade 3 being a full thickness tear. Based on Hunt’s progression, he’s likely to have suffered a very low grade 2 strain. Barring a setback, he should be 100% ready to go for the 2018 season.
2018 Health Outlook: Hunt enters the year as the primary ball carrier and should be 100% heading into the season. While hamstring strains do have a tendency to linger or reoccur, he appears to have had more than enough time to rest, rehab, and recover to head into the new season fully healthy.
Risk of Re-Injury: 10%
Recommendations: Draft Hunt with maximum confidence as your RB1 as he heads into his second year as the clear lead back. With backup Spencer Ware attempting to come back from a multi-ligament knee injury, Hunt should be in line for more touches this season. Hunt heads into the 2018 season with minimal injury worries.
2018 NFL Injury Guide: Keenan Allen
Name: Keenan Allen
Team: Los Angeles Chargers
2015 Stats: 8 games, 67 rec for 725 yards, 4 TD
2016 Stats: 1 game, 6 rec for 63 yards, 0 TD
2017 Stats: 16 games, 102 rec for 1,393 yards, 6 TD
2018 Projections: 16 games, 96 rec for 1,250 yards, 7 TD
Projected 2018 Fantasy Value: WR6
Injury: Allen returned last season from an ACL tear that cut his 2016 season short as he missed the last 16 weeks of the season. He returned last year and dealt with minor injuries to his shoulder (Week 7 during practice) and his low back (during Week 15 game), both of which were minor enough to not cause any missed time. Allen has had a history of small, nagging injuries that have slowed him down from time to time, but he appears to have shown no ill effects from his ACL reconstruction 2 years ago. Oftentimes, players do extremely well two years after an ACL tear, requiring that extra year to really achieve true comfort level with their reconstructed knee.
2018 Health Outlook: Allen enters the 2018 season fully healthy and ready to go. With Hunter Henry expected to miss all of 2018 after tearing his ACL, Allen will serve as the center of the passing game for quarterback Philip Rivers. Last season, Allen proved he could be the go to guy in a high powered offense. Expect more of the same from him this season.
Risk of Re-Injury: 10% for his knee, 0% for the shoulder and back
Recommendations: Draft Allen with full confidence. He’s currently going as fantasy teams’ WR1 and is coming off the best season of his career as the focal point of an explosive offense. With Allen being 2 years removed from ACL reconstruction, this shapes up to be another exciting season for the Chargers stud wideout.
2018 NFL Injury Guide: Terrelle Pryor
2018 NFL Injury Guide: Terrelle Pryor, Sr.
Team: New York Jets
2016 Stats: 139 targets, 77 receptions, 1007 yards, 4 TD’s
2017 Stats: 37 targets, 20 receptions, 240 yards, 1 TD
2018 Projections: 35 receptions, 432 yards, 2 TD’s
Projected 2018 Fantasy Value: WR82
Injury: During Week 2 of the 2017 season, Terrelle Pryor sustained an ankle injury during a game against the Los Angeles Rams. Though he managed to play through Week 9, he was eventually forced to shut down his season early and underwent arthroscopic ankle surgery on November 20, 2017 to repair torn ligaments in his ankle.
After signing with the New York Jets in the offseason, Pryor sustained another ankle injury during training camp in May. This time it was an ankle fracture that required surgical fixation and likely required him to stay off the injured leg for about 2 months. As of this week, Pryor stated that he is finally pain-free and is practicing at full-speed. He will not play in this week’s preseason game against his former team, the Cleveland Browns, and it remains to be seen if he will return to game action this preseason.
2018 Health Outlook: Although promising that Pryor is pain-free and back at practice, his conditioning and chemistry with his new teammates likely suffered as a result of his rehabilitation from ankle surgery in May, which likely required an extended period of no weightbearing. This is a similar injury to what Odell Beckham suffered last year, and the results are generally excellent when surgery is done to restore the normal anatomy. The procedure that he had in November of 2017 is the same surgery that Cam Newton underwent in 2014. Nevertheless, two injuries requiring surgery on the same ankle in a 6-month span make for a difficult recovery, especially this close to the start of the season. It remains to be seen whether he will have any residual instability in his ankle during game action.
Risk of Re-Injury: Moderate