Fantasy Football Injury Report - Season Review
Michael A. Stein reviews some of the season's biggest injuries in 2015.
Super Bowl 50 is now over as we conclude an exciting yet tumultuous fantasy football season. There are significant injuries every year, but it seems that 2015 was especially devastating for fantasy owners on a weekly basis. In fact, havoc was wreaked even before the season started with impact players going down just as drafts were being conducted. We will put a cap on the 2015 season now by going through some of the biggest and most impactful injuries that took place throughout the year. Fantasy owners who won their leagues or at least competed to the end deserve credit for managing their rosters despite the carousel of injuries. So without further ado, here is the next edition of the fantasy football walking wounded.
Jordy Nelson (WR-GB)
It was devastating news to learn that Jordy Nelson would never step foot on a field this whole season before the season even began. He tore his ACL last summer and missed the entire year which had a ripple effect on many players. The Packers seemed to function just fine over the first half of the season, but as time went on it was apparent that Nelson’s absence was crippling Green Bay’s offense. Randall Cobb was on an island because no other receiver asserted himself, and the lack of a consistent running game gave opposing defenses ample opportunity to prevent Aaron Rodgers from unleashing his vaunted aerial attack. Nelson has already been running at full speed so he will be back at full strength for 2016 which is great news for fantasy owners.
Kelvin Benjamin (WR-CAR)
The sophomore wide receiver was expected to do big things in 2015 after coming off a stellar rookie season in which he caught nine touchdowns and surpassed 1,000 yards receiving. He was commonly taken within the first five rounds as a WR2 but suffered a torn ACL last summer which ended his season before it ever began. The Panthers and Cam Newton dominated the NFL all season without Benjamin, but it would have been interesting to see whether Benjamin’s presence in the Super Bowl would have made a difference for Newton who was completely overwhelmed and devoured by a dominant Denver defense. Benjamin is expected back at full health for training camp over the summer.
Andrew Luck (QB-IND)
Luck was likely the first quarterback taken off the board in almost any draft in 2015. However, he was inconsistent and sloppy through seven games before he was shut down for the season with a lacerated kidney. At first it seemed he might be back after a month or so off, but as time went on it was apparent the Colts were not going to take any chances with their franchise quarterback and such a serious injury. Luck has recovered by now and is fully expected to be ready for training camp. It will be interesting to see whether this injury affects his draft value in 2016 because he could become a great value pick if fantasy owners are skeptical.
Dez Bryant (WR-DAL)
Bryant recently underwent a second surgery on his injured foot which never fully healed by the time he returned in October. The elite wide receiver suffered the foot injury in Week 1 and had an operation with the hopes of making a quick recovery. He did come back sooner than expected but he was never the same as his speed and endurance were severely hindered. Bryant admitted he came back at less than 100 percent healthy so his statistical performance in the nine games he played was abysmal thanks in part to his health and also due to horrendous quarterback play by the Cowboys’ backups. Look for him to be fully healthy in 2016 with Tony Romo back throwing to him as well.
Tony Romo (QB-DAL)
It was a disastrous season for Romo and the Cowboys as injuries completely decimated them all year. Romo was knocked out of the second game of the season with a broken collarbone, the same injury he suffered a few years ago which cost him several months. He did come back later in the year but re-injured his clavicle and was shut down just as Dallas was essentially knocked out of contention in the pathetic NFC East. Romo will likely undergo surgery later this winter on his collarbone but is expected to be at full health for training camp.
Jamaal Charles (RB-KC)
Perennial first-round pick Jamaal Charles played in only five games this year before suffering a season-ending knee injury. He underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL and is expected to be ready for training camp in 2016. Charles was averaging over five yards per carry and had rushed for four touchdowns before getting injured. At 30 years old, he is on the downside of his career but will still likely be one of the top running backs drafted next season assuming he does not suffer any setbacks in his recovery.
Le’veon Bell (RB-PIT)
Fantasy owners who drafted Bell with their first pick knew he would be missing the first couple games of the 2015 season due to a suspension. However, they didn’t bank on having Bell for only six weeks after that as he tore both his MCL and PCL. Bell underwent surgery and is hopeful to be ready for Week 1 in 2016. However, the injury to his knee is considered severe so his rehab and recovery will have to be closely monitored throughout the offseason to determine his status by the time draft season starts next summer.
Marshawn Lynch (RB-SEA)
Beast Mode has announced his retirement after missing almost the entire season with abdominal injuries and hernia surgery. Lynch played in only seven games running for just 417 yards and three touchdowns. He was one of the top running backs in the league for several years and a dependable fantasy option as well. However, he gave fantasy owners little to root for in 2015 as his season was derailed early on. His replacement in Seattle, Thomas Rawls, also suffered a season-ending injury so his progress and recovery in the off-season should be closely monitored while also watching to see whether Seattle imports another running back through free agency or the NFL Draft.
Ben Roethlisberger (QB-PIT)
Big Ben had a volatile 2015 season dealing with multiple injuries at various points in the season. He injured his shoulder, foot and knee on top of a concussion issue which cost him a total of four games. Roethlisberger is at the helm of one of the most explosive and dynamic offenses in the league, so his absence had devastating effects on other Steelers’ players like Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant. He is expected to be fully healthy for 2016 and should be considered one of the top quarterback options thanks to his arsenal of weapons he has at his disposal.
Julian Edelman (WR-NE)
Edelman has become Tom Brady’s No. 2 receiving option over the past few seasons and rewarded fantasy owners with solid statistical production in both PPR and non-PPR leagues. He suffered a broken foot earlier in the year which cost him the final seven games of the season. Edelman did return for the playoffs but that didn’t help fantasy owners who lost consistent and valuable production from the Patriots’ receiver. He will be fully healthy for 2016 and should once again fit in well with New England’s offensive scheme led by the ageless Tom Brady.
Jimmy Graham (TE-SEA)
It was a tumultuous year for Jimmy Graham who was shockingly traded from the Saints to the Seahawks last year. Fantasy owners had to expect a dropoff in performance and statistics simply because of the vast contrast in offensive systems and schemes that are run in New Orleans and Seattle, respectively. However, Graham was not much of a fantasy factor in the 11 games he played catching only two touchdowns before suffering a torn patellar tendon which required season-ending surgery. His lack of production and significant injury made him a huge bust for fantasy owners when compared to where he was taken in many drafts.
Carlos Hyde (RB-SF)
After the first week of the regular season, fantasy owners thought Carlos Hyde was the next coming of Emmitt Smith. He shredded Minnesota’s defense and looked to be an incredible value pick as an up and coming elite running back. But it was all downhill from there. Hyde never replicated his opening day performance and then suffered a stress fracture in his foot which essentially destroyed his season. He tried playing through it and lasted only seven games before the 49ers finally shut him down. He underwent surgery and should be good to go for training camp this summer.
Michael A. Stein, Esq. is the Chief Justice of Fantasy Judgment, the industry's premier dispute resolution service, and is also the co-host of the Fantasy Alarm podcast. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook and Twitter (@FantasyJudgment).