When one prepares to draft a fantasy football team, myriad criterion should be considered in evaluating who to target, and, likewise, who to avoid. One word bouncing around just as frequently as anything else during said evaluation? Injury. Maybe a guy was injured for several games last season, maybe he suffered a season-ending injury or maybe he's just an injury-prone guy. This affects the value of players on draft day.
Let's check out the value of 10 guys with injury concerns, and judge whether or not they are up to the task for 2009.
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots - The polarizing quarterback entered 2008 with unfinished business. He put together a record-setting 2007 season in which the Patriots went undefeated, but then lost in the Super Bowl. Any plans he had at retribution in 2008 were derailed in Week 1 when he shredded his ACL. Reports from the New England area have him in good health. Plus, we saw Philip Rivers put up a career year in 2008 following ACL surgery, and Brady's had a lot more time for recovery.
Value Check - He's fine as an elite QB1. Draft him with confidence and enjoy the huge stats. He's back.
Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals - Palmer played only four games during the 2008 season, due to issues with his right (throwing) elbow. When he did play, he was bad -- a 69.0 quarterback rating compared to a career rating of 88.9. The Bengals lost T.J. Houshmandzadeh to free agency in the offseason, but did manage to salvage Laveranues Coles as his replacement. Also, Chad Ochocinco appears to be extremely motivated for a bounce-back season.
Value Check - I'd like to see something from him early in the season before confidently starting him as my fantasy quarterback. If you can get him as a backup to a lower-tier QB1like Jay Cutler or Matt Schaub, you'll be very safe and could end up with two stud passers (a.k.a. trade bait!).
Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles - For two glorious seasons, Westbrook was an elite fantasy player. Last season he took a step backward. Now, the Eagles have better receiving options for Donovan McNabb, they drafted a running back in the second round (LeSean McCoy) who has a similar skill set -- meaning he won't be a "change of pace" guy -- and Westbrook's recently undergone surgery on his ankle. He could still be fine, but that's a lot of question marks, especially for a guy who has never played 16 games in one season.
Value Check - Not very good. His name is likely to get him drafted in the first round. First-rounders need to be reliable and he's just not going to be this season.
Steven Jackson, RB, Rams - When he's healthy, he's a monster. Reports from the St. Louis area have Jackson being motivated and strong in workouts. Plus, the Rams did some work on the offensive line in the offseason.
Value Check - Pretty solid. Questions about his health could slide him into the second round, and he's better than that.
Reggie Bush, RB, Saints - He was having a huge season before tearing his meniscus in Week 7. Reports from Saints' OTAs said that Bush appeared to be fully recovered. The Saints will likely use Bush as they did his rookie season with Pierre Thomas in the role once portrayed by Deuce McAllister.
Value Check - That all depends: Do you get points for receptions? If so, Bush has good value. If not, he's basically going about where he should in most drafts (ADP* of 20 among RBs currently).
Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders - McFadden went way too high in most drafts last season because many people believed they were getting the '08 version of Adrian Peterson, without factoring in any other variables. Toe injuries hampered him, but he still averaged 4.4 yards per carry and scored four touchdowns in limited action. The only game he received 20-plus touches, he had 164 yards rushing and a score.
Value Check - Incredible. According to reports, he's got his explosiveness back and is primed for a breakout season. You can get him in the fifth round of most drafts for various reasons -- "the Raiders suck," the fact that Justin Fargas and Michael Bush are around, "he sucked last year," etc. Just let your league-mates believe all that irrelevant banter.
Marques Colston, WR, Saints - Drew Brees became just the second quarterback in NFL history to throw for over 5,000 yards, and it was with his best receiver hurt for much of the season. Colston did appear in 11 games, but he wasn't really himself in 2008. Well, until the end. Look at the last three games -- 22 catches for 306 yards and four touchdowns. He's healthy, motivated to prove he's still a star, and is only 26 years old.
Value Check - He's actually about where he should be (ADP* of 10 among wideouts). If he falls into the mid-teens, you're getting yourself a steal.
Brandon Marshall, WR, Broncos - Marshall has put up significant numbers in the past two seasons. You can't dispute that. Heading into 2009, though, he's coming off hip surgery and demanding a trade because he effing hates Denver. To top things off, his quarterback went from a strong-armed, accurate deep passer to a bearded noodle-arm who was referred to as "Captain Checkdown" in Chicago -- due to his penchant to overly rely on the tight end and running back on passing plays instead of throwing downfield. Oh, and he could also get arrested and suspended at a moment's notice.
Value Check - Terrible. I wouldn't touch this guy in any league right now. Things could change before the season, but right now I'm avoiding him at all costs.
Derrick Mason, WR, Ravens - The 35-year-old just keeps chugging along. He's had over 1,000 yards in seven of his last eight seasons. He had surgery on his shoulder in the offseason and he's still not back. There is actually no timetable for his return. Plus, he's getting old.
Value Check - Not great. I'd hold off. His reliability was his calling card, and the injury concerns erase that. I see him going before Michael Crabtree, Devin Hester and Ted Ginn on ADP* charts. I'd rather take the upside when you're looking at receiving depth.
Kellen Winslow, TE, Buccaneers - Only made eight starts last year due to injuries and his numbers per game suffered due mostly to quarterback inconsistency. He has been traded to the Buccaneers, where they will likely have, you guessed it, quarterback inconsistency.
Value Check - Tough call. He's getting drafted before Chris Cooley and Greg Olsen on ADP* charts. I'd rather have either one, because their situations are much more conducive to numbers. Winslow has more talent, though, and could easily outscore either of them. At gunpoint, I'd say he's going too high, but the upside is the reason for it.
*ADP = Average Draft Position at Mock Draft Central.
Ready to join the fun against fellow football fans? Sign up for FREE and EASY Fantasy Football with Fleaflicker.com.
Get Your Own Team Today!