JuJu Smith-Schuster rookie season was perhaps the best of all rookie receivers and perhaps the best of all offensive first-year players. For instance, Smith-Schuster was targeted 79 times and caught 58 passes for 917 yards, 15.8 yards per catch, and seven scores. He even put together a nice yard-after-the-catch average of 6.8, per Pro Football Focus.
Six of catches went for over 40-yards, which was more than anyone outside of players named Antonio Brown, Tyreek Hill, and Brandin Cooks. He was a key cog in the Pittsburgh Steelers offense and made a disappearing act out of Martavis Bryant. The Steelers felt confident enough in Smith-Schuster’s ability to trade Bryant away to the Oakland Raiders.
He also posted six catches of 40-plus yards, more than anyone but Tyreek Hill, Brandin Cooks and Antonio Brown, and a healthy Smith-Schuster proved himself to be an important part of the Steelers’ offense, and his ceiling is as an All-Pro.
He did get banged up a bit in 2017. His first injury came in the preseason opener (August 11th) when he left near the end of the 1st quarter with a concussion. The rookie wideout collided with a teammate while attempting to make a tackle after an interception by Steelers quarterback Joshua Dobbs. Smith-Schuster would not play the following week. It was also the first concussion of his college or pro playing career.
Three months later Smith-Schuster would again have a concussion (week seven). The Steelers would go on to win that game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Smith-Schuster would enter the concussion protocol and miss minimal time. He was ready to go the following week against the Detroit Lions.
Less than a month later Smith-Schuster would again suffer another injury (week 11) against the Tennessee Titans. This time a thigh hamstring sprain/pull. He would miss the following week in Green Bay. A ten-day separation between ball games. An injury that was nagging him for a few weeks even though he did not miss any more games.
It does not appear any of his injuries will keep him from having another opportunity to explode in his second season. Draft him with confidence.
Update: Smith-Schuster did not finish practice Sunday, July 29, because of an undisclosed injury. He returned to practice on Thursday, August 2.
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