The Super Bowl comes to an end. It’s now the offseason and websites everywhere begin thinking about the following season. Then the draft comes along with free agency and the league starts taking shape and how each team is going to look. On every team, there will be a few very, VERY talented players that simply cannot stay healthy. When it comes to fantasy football, these are the players that we should look to avoid -- for the most part -- in our drafts.


Is there “Injury-Prone” Criteria?

What do you think of when you hear “injury-prone”? It’s really as simple as someone who is often injured. That said, there are plenty of injuries due to freak instances such as Steve Smith breaking his arm playing flag football or Brandon Marshall slipping and falling due to a McDonald’s bag, which are two players who were never considered to be injured very much. We compare them to Tyler Eifert who is seemingly built like a glass window as he’s suffered injuries from a separated shoulder, a series of back injuries that kept him down for multiple seasons and just recently a broken ankle. It’s not even a comparison, so don’t even try to make one.

This year specifically when we’re looking at the available players, there are so many that fit the bill as “injury prone”. First and foremost, the most obvious players that come to mind considering how high their ADP is Dalvin Cook and Leonard Fournette . Both were consensus first and second round picks in 2018 but now are second and third respectively based on ADP. Cook has played 15 games over his first two seasons in the NFL while Fournette has played 21-of-32 in his first two seasons. Nobody is denying their immense talent, but why seek out players with this high of risk when in the same range, Damien Williams has played 15-plus games in four of his five professional seasons and Devonta Freeman who played 14-plus in his first four seasons before a freak injury last year and will likely be available when you go to draft either Cook or Fournette.


When to Take Your Shots

If you are going to take a chance at drafting someone labeled injury-prone, don’t reach for them and don’t take them with the hope they’re going to be a core piece of your team. We’ve compiled a list down below of many guys considered injury prone, and a lot of them are extremely talented, so we’re not telling you to avoid talent completely. Take them as secondary options, a punt so to speak, and maybe they’ll break the narrative, stay healthy and lead your team to a championship.


Injury Prone Players

Here’s a list of some players that have spent most of the last few years battling injuries and have spent a lot of time away from the field.

Carson Wentz , QB, PHI - Considering we’ve now seen Nick Foles lead the Eagles playoff pushes the last two seasons while seeing Wentz miss extended regular season run, it’s approaching injury prone territory. That said, the Eagles must feel the complete opposite about things considering they moved on from Nick Foles and gave Wentz a four-year, $128M contract extension this offseason.

Dalvin Cook , RB, MIN - It’s been mentioned already, but Cook hasn’t been the healthiest player since joining the league. He hasn’t played more than 11 games in each of his first two seasons. He’s been electric when he’s been healthy, however, notching 4.7 YPC and being a dynamic pass catcher out of the backfield as he pulled in 40-of-49 targets last season.

Leonard Fournette , RB, JAC - The seventh overall pick just a couple of seasons ago already has his doubters considering his inability to stay on the field thus far. He had a really good rookie campaign, but still only played 13 games and then followed that up with only eight last season. With a new QB at the helm the offense will be leaning on Fournette heavily. Will he be able to handle the workload coming his way or will his body shut down on him like it has his first two seasons.

Derrius Guice , RB, WAS - Now this is a complicated situation because a lot of the time ACL injuries are freak injuries, but what if last year’s tear contributed to something dating back to his last year at LSU? That’s slightly worrisome, but he still is only 22 years old. He will be sharing a backfield -- for at least this year -- with Adrian Peterson to ensure the young back works his way all the back from the injury.

Jay Ajayi , RB, FA - Since his 2016 breakout season in which he rushed for 1,272 yards across 15 games, he’s played 18 games in three seasons. In ‘18 alone he tore his ACL and had a fracture in his back, a year after suffering a concussion in training camp that gave him trouble the entire season. Right at the end of his breakout year, he separated his shoulder after a 32-carry game, so maybe he just isn’t cut out to be a bell cow.

Chris Thompson , RB, WAS - As dynamic of a pass catching back Thompson can be out of the backfield, he’s missed six games in back-to-back seasons. He has a long list of injuries dating back all the way to 2011, but his most recent problems have been his ribs which kept him out on two separate occasions in ‘18. If you draft Thompson, expect he won’t be available for every game during the season.

Darren Sproles , RB, FA - How much is it that he’s injury prone? How much of it is because of his stature? And how much of it has to do with both PLUS he’s now 36 years old? We think it’s a little bit of each considering he played 15 or more games in 11 of his first 12 years in the league before playing nine combined the past two years. Advanced age and the NFL don’t mix very well for almost everyone who’s played professional football.

Alshon Jeffery , WR, PHI - In the beginning of his career this wasn’t the case, but Jeffery has only completed one full season over his previous four which obviously brings up the question; is he injury-prone? The potential is very high, but how many games will we get to use him for this year?

DeVante Parker , WR, MIA - It has been a painful start to Parker’s career thus far not playing 16 games in any of his first four seasons. He was always known to be able to get a deep ball, yet he hasn’t averaged more than 12.9 yards a reception in each of his last two years. Avoid, avoid and oh yeah...avoid!

Sammy Watkins , WR, KC - How can you trust Watkins...ever? Not only is he inconsistent as they come, but he hasn’t finished a season playing all 16 games since his rookie campaign. In two of his last three seasons, he hasn’t played more than 10. 

Tyler Eifert , TE, CIN - Who gets injured more? Honest question. Since playing 15 games his rookie year, he’s played one, 13, eight, two and four. The talent has always been apparent, especially in his 13 TD season back in 2015, but the risk is far too great to trust him as your TE1 headed into the year.

Jordan Reed , TE, WAS - It's a shame Reed made it to this list again. It really is. He was only able to get through 13 games in 2018 continuing his streak of not playing an entire season every year of his career. It’s an impressive streak to say the least. One we shouldn’t associate ourselves with by making him our TE1, despite how gifted of an athlete he is.