Let’s talk about a guy that many are high on this year (again) but he hasn’t been able to stay on the field enough the past couple of years – Devonta Freeman. Now in his age 27 season, Freeman was a Miami area high school product after helping his team win the 2010 Class 6A state championship where he secured the MVP after rushing for 308 yards on 36 carries (in 1 game)! Considered a four-star recruit by Rivals.com, he was rated the best running back in the nation, and attended Florida State. During his time at FSU, Freeman improved during each of his 3 seasons. His junior year he rushed for 173 times for 1,016 yards (5.9 YPC) and 14 TDs, adding in 22 catches for 278 yards and another TD.
Drafted in the 4th round by the Atlanta Falcons of the 2014 NFL Draft, he ran a 4.58 second 40-yard dash at the Combine. During his rookie season, he was part of a crowded backfield with Steven Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers and Antone Smith but still managed to carve out a role where he accumulated 248 yards on 65 carries, adding another 225 receiving yards on 30 catches, with 3 combined TDs. Despite missing about 10 days of practice, and the entire preseason due to a hamstring injury, 2015 was Freeman’s breakout season. Then age 23, he rushed for 1,056 yards at 4.0 YPC and 11 TDs as well as caught 73 passes on 97 targets for 578 yards and another 3 TDs. That year he also missed one game with a concussion.
In 2016, Freeman played in all 16 games and had similar production to his 2015 season, combining for 1,541 rushing and receiving yards as well as 13 TDs. He suffered a hip pointer injury midway through the season but it didn’t cause him to miss any time. Before the start of the 2017 season, Freeman signed a 5 year, $41.25M contract extension to make him the highest paid RB in the NFL. Statistically Freeman took a step back this season, as his YPC dropped from 4.8 to 4.4, as he rushed 196 times for 865 yards, 7 TDs (down from 11 the previous year) and caught 36 passes on 47 targets for 317 yards and 1 TD. Injuries played a role in Freeman’s performance in 2017, as he suffered 2 concussions, one in the preseason, and a second in November, then suffered a Grade 2 (partial tear) of his right MCL and PCL. These are two of the major four ligaments in the knee. The MCL is commonly injured, usually by taking a hit to the outside of the knee. The PCL is the thick ligament that crisscrosses with the ACL, and is important in stabilizing the knee. It essentially serves to counteract the forces of the ACL, and is not commonly injured. Typically landing hard on the ground with a flexed knee is the most common way to cause a PCL sprain. Grade 2 PCL sprains rarely require surgery but take several months of rehab before the person is comfortable running again. The person may describe their knee as unstable, or ‘loose.’
Heading into the 2018 NFL season, Freeman spent the majority of the offseason recovering from his right knee MCL/PCL. Despite ending his season prematurely with the 2 major knee ligament injury, Freeman was being drafted in the mid-second round in PPR leagues, as the 12th RB off the board. In one word how did Devonta Freeman’s 2018 season go? Awful. It’s easy to forget that. Let’s review why. He suffered a right knee injury (the same knee as he injured about 9 months prior) in Week 1 and was forced to miss the next 3 games. In his first game back, Week 5 against the Steelers, Freeman sustained foot and groin injuries in that game. During the 2018 season many people’s mid-second round pick rushed for a TOTAL of 14 carries, caught 5 passes and then underwent season-ending sports hernia surgery in October. Wow. So now he has 4 separate issues that he is dealing with: a bum right knee, a foot injury, a groin injury, and sports hernia that required surgery. Don’t forget about his history of 3 concussions (that we know of).
The good news is that Freeman has since recovered from surgery and was able to fully participate in training camp and OTA’s, earned praise from head coach Dan Quinn for his “energy” and “mental toughness.” Looking at 2019, Freeman really doesn’t have to worry about his sports hernia, as those rarely get reinjured after surgery, but the same can’t be said about his right knee issues, foot injury as well as a history of multiple concussions. Those I’m concerned about. He is entering his age 27 season, and should lead the Falcons backfield ahead of Ito Smith, Qadree Ollison, Brian Hill and Kenjon Barner. There have been rumblings that 5th rd rookie Qadree Ollison will help out in the short-yardage situations, where the Falcons struggled without Freeman last year.
The problem I have with Freeman this upcoming season is that I simply don’t trust him and his right knee. Freeman is a classic boom-or-bust RB in 2019. On one hand, he is healthy and is the starting RB for one of the best-projected offenses in the league. The RB depth chart is favorable as just mentioned and he is just 2 seasons removed from finishing as the RB6 (PPR) and has fewer career touches than similarly aged players such as Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon. On the other hand, the pass-happy Dirk Koetter returns as the Falcon’s OC, the same position he held in 2014 during Freeman’s rookie season (and worst fantasy season, outside of 2018). Given the above, as well as his durability concerns, I don’t believe that Freeman can be trusted as an every week RB1. He is currently being drafted in the late 3rdround, in between Marlon Mack and Derrick Henry, before rookies Josh Jacobs, David Montgomery and Kerryon Johnson. Personally I’d rather have all 5 of those RBs before I draft the 27 y/o RB coming off 2 injury-riddled seasons.
Injury Risk: High. 7/10.
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Top Players Returning From Injury That Need To Be Monitored
2020 NFL Draft Guide w/ Injury Predictor
This Draftguide will contain every piece of injury information you need to know about all the key players heading into the 2020 Fantasy Football season. There will be over 65 profiles, one profile for each player. The profiles will be comprised of tons of information to help you make the best decision whether or not you should draft a certain player.
Each profile will have 2 videos breaking down each player, one discussing their injuries, the other their performance and expectations (using PFF data) heading into 2020. Additionally there will be a review of the player’s injury history, the importance of these injuries as it pertains to future injuries, an injury ‘risk score’ (yes!), the player’s 2019 effectiveness (data review), complete player outlook as well as team stats to support the player’s outlook for 2020. Wow, that’s a lot of information for EACH player.
The profiles will help you answer important questions like:
How risky is this player heading into the 2020 NFL Season?
Is (insert player name here) fully recovered from his (insert injury here)?
How much will X injury in 2019 after this player in 2020 (from a Sports Medicine Doctor’s perspective)?
Can you give me a ‘Risk Score’ to compare the players to each other?
Is a certain player ‘Injury Prone?’
How well does this player project in 2020 based on new additions and 2019 performance?
Well guess what? I’m Dr. Jesse Morse, a Board-Certified Sports Medicine Physician, a member of The Fantasy Doctors, and I’ve written an all-inclusive Draftguide, along with some colleagues, to help you answer all of these questions and more.
We have collaborated with Sports Injury Predictor, whose massive NFL injury database provides us all the important details that are hard to find on the Internet. I see orthopedic and elite athletes during the day, and enjoy discussing and analyzing NFL players’ injuries at night and on the weekends! As an avid fantasy football player for over 2 decades myself, I know how to translate this into clear advice about whether or not to draft someone, or even start someone on a given week given the information that we know. I can help to cut through the medical mumbo-jumbo and provide a clear understanding of the injury, whether the player will be able to play, and how effective they will be on the field. Its like you have your own cheat sheet!
I’ve made this easy for you this year, you have 2 choices here. Either you purchase the whole draftguide, with over 65 player profiles or you decide you really only want one specific profile, and you buy just that one. Your choice!
You want a SAMPLE of one of the profile’s videos? Well, watch the videos below. Still not convinced? Keep scrolling down and get The Rashaad Penny profile for FREE!
Matthew Stafford injury video profile
Matthew Stafford performance video profile
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[FREE] Draft Profile- Rashaad Penny
Compiled by Dr. Jesse Morse & Mike Valverde
Rashaad Armein Penny just turned 24 years old and was born in Norwalk, California. His older brother Elijhaa is a fullback for the Giants. Rashaad had a very productive senior season at his local high school rushing for 2,004 yards and 41 touchdowns on 216 carries. He also caught 21 passes for 665 yards and another 10 touchdowns. 51 touchdowns is a ridiculous season. He chose to play his college football at FBS San Diego State University over BCS schools Boise State and Colorado State.
His freshman year, 2014, Penny did not get any rushing attempts, finishing the season with only two. In his sophomore year, he played in 14 games, rushing 61 times for 368 yards and 4 touchdowns. He finally started to get more opportunities in his junior year, rushing 135 times for 1,005 yards and 11 touchdowns, adding 15 receptions for 224 yards and 3 more scores.
Finally in his senior year, 2017, Penny rushed 289 times for 2,248 yards, a very impressive 7.8 yards per carry and 23 touchdowns. He also caught 19 passes for 135 yards and 2 more tds.
Penny measured in at 5‘11“ tall and 220 pounds, running a 4.46-second 40-yard dash. The Seattle Seahawks chose Penny at the end of the first round in the 2018 NFL Draft. Penny played in 14 games as a rookie, rushing 85 times for 419 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also caught nine passes for 75 yards as well, missing two games with a knee injury.
Hoping to form a tandem with Chris Carson heading into the 2019 season, Penny was not given as many rushing opportunities as many had hoped. He struggled with injuries, injuring his hamstring in practice ahead of week three, and ended up missing three games as a result. Then, unfortunately, in Week 14, Penny suffered a torn ACL ending his season, discussed here.
Unfortunately, running backs who suffer torn ACL‘s (especially if they do it in the NFL) do not have the best return rate, at least in their first season back. Look at Dalvin Cook‘s 2018 season, and then compare to his 2019 season. Everyone always wants to point out how dominant Adrian Peterson was after his return from his torn ACL. But it is important to note that Peterson is the exception and not the rule.
Most running backs struggle in the first year after tearing the ACL. I think this is a combination of physical and mental. Regaining confidence in this newly built ligament takes time. The knee simply doesn’t respond as well as before the injury.
Some athletes describe a little bit more wiggle or ‘play’ with the new ligament. As good as modern medicine is, the ligament is never as good as the original. It’s not as tight, strong, or as flexible.
With the demands of the ACL in the modern NFL as a running back, often, these athletes struggle with the confidence to be able to cut with the aggressiveness that they will need to be effective. Suffering a torn ACL is not a deathblow to a running back’s career, but there are examples of players that struggled to return to form, including Jamaal Charles (at the end of his career), Darren Sproles, and Bishop Sankey.
The jury is still out on Derrius Guice, and they will be out for Penny as well. While WRs, QBs, and defensive players return to a level similar to their pre-injury effectiveness, RBs often struggle to return to full form.
When the Seattle Seahawks chose Rashaad Penny in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, they never thought that their 2017 seventh-round decision, Chris Carson would outperform him. However, that has been the situation. Penny has also struggled with injuries.
Even through difficult times, Penny has been a stable running back. His season total of 370 yards on 65 attempts while averaging 5.26 yards per carry (3rd) and a 2.05 YAC (11th) among 52 running backs with 150 carries or more.
After a Carson fumble and an expanded role in Weeks 12 and 13, Penny would put up 14-129-1 and 15-74-1, but unfortunately, Week 14 put an end to any progressions he was making when he tore his ACL.
Now in 2020, Penny could see the PUP list to start the season. He is only 24-years old, so his injury return time could be less. Even if he does return before Week 1, he will not only have to battle Carson but Carlos Hyde and rookie DeeJay Dallas. Throw in Travis Homer for good measure.
The Seahawks offensive line isn’t much better than it has been over the last few seasons. They will have three new starters. BJ Finney, at the center position, will compete with Joey Hunt. Damien Lewis, a third-round decision out of LSU, will step in for DJ Fluker. Seattle did sign Brandon Shell from the Jets, and he will replace Germain Ifedi. They run a gap-power offense.
Even with Russell Wilson working his magic, the Seahawks like to focus on the run. Whoever has the ball in their hands should be successful. However, there are just too many road bumps in front of Penny to make him a high priority or even a low one when it comes to draft day.
Sports Injury Predictor calculates that Penny has a 53.8% chance of injury in 2020, which translates to missing about one game.
My injury risk for him is significantly higher, a 7 out of 10. Penny may struggle with a lack of burst and confidence in his knee.
Currently being drafted as the RB58, there is a chance that Penny surprises this year, as his backfield mate Chris Carson is also coming back from an equally significant injury, a hip fracture. I (Dr. Morse) would not be surprised if the Seahawks turn to a more passing offense as a result of these injuries.
The ACL plays such a significant role in the lower legs’ mobility and running that so many other issues and injuries can develop as a result of the decreased strength, range of motion, and confidence.
Hamstring injuries, meniscal tears, and MCL sprains are not uncommon as a result of a reconstructed knee. Data demonstrates that Penny is still at an increased risk for a second torn ACL. Up until two years from injury, the data shows that he has a 9% chance of re-tear of his recently repaired/built ligament and a 21% chance of tearing the opposite ACL.
There’s simply too much risk in Penny in 2020 for me (Dr. Morse). I’d much rather roll the dice with names in his range like Antonio Gibson, Chase Edmonds, Darrynton Evans, and Damien Harris. Cross Penny’s name off your draft board, and save yourself the trouble.
At this point (June 22), Penny is the RB56 and 182nd player off the board overall. The translation is that he is an RB5 or basic dart throw. Keep an eye on when or if he can make it back before the start of the season. For the most part, I (Mike) would leave as waiver wire fodder.
Injury Risk: High, 7/10.
Injury Video Link: https://youtu.be/YXPhr8g29kY
Performance Video Link: https://youtu.be/dR-EogvgAWQ
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