Every year, fantasy owners make the mistake of falling in love with brand name players without paying attention to their durability and injury history.
Before Calvin Johnson (a.k.a. Megatron) retired, he was that guy. Megatron would give you a monster game and then sit out or be a non-factor in the next three due to some nagging injury. As a fantasy commodity, Megatron couldn’t be benched because of his potential, but in reality, Megatron was a huge liability week in and week out.
There are many Megatron’s in this year’s draft. Below are a few players that we have selected for the All-Injury Imp Team that you may want to pump the breaks on or try to flip early for other players.
Julio Jones is everything that you want in a WR1. Except for the fact that he’s not dependable. Far more often than you hear of Jones going off for a monster game, you hear that he hasn’t practiced for the week or is nursing a hip injury (or something other). Jones is big and fast, but believe it or not, this also works to his disadvantage. He may be able to go up and grab jump balls, but when he crashes down to the ground, he crashes hard. Over the past few years, Jones has had to play the role of decoy or sit out far too often than is acceptable for trying to win your fantasy matchup every week.
Jones is far from a bum receiver — he’s truly elite, no doubt! However, consistency is the name of the game in fantasy. Coming off of offseason foot surgery, coupled with his track record of injuries and the emergence of teammate Taylor Gabriel as a go-to target, it may not be a bad idea to rethink who you want to draft as your top wideout. We like Tampa’s Mike Evans more than Julio Jones, who can be had a pick or two later.
Owner Jerry Jones loves him some Dez Bryant, but that doesn’t mean that you should too. Aside from feeling like Dez never lives up to his potential, he’s always nicked up. For all intents and purposes, Dez is the ultimate competitor, which is evident when he barks at teammates on the sideline. He simply wants to win — that’s a good thing. However, to win, we need for Dez to be part of the bigger game.
To date, quarterback Dak Prescott hasn’t thrown it over the top to Dez that often, which is a concern. Dez has been more invisible to Dak than we’d like him to be. Hopefully, the team has worked something out over the offseason, though hope is not a strategy. The saving grace is that the Dallas Cowboys don’t have many other big play options in the wide receiver corps, so Dez is still the man. He’s more than a serviceable option if he can avoid foot and hamstring injuries. That being said, we do like Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas more than Dez Bryant, as well as Oakland’s Amari Cooper.
Keenan Allen is a beast when he’s right and Philip Rivers loves him as a target. The problem is that he’s never right. Unfortunately, Allen’s returning from an ACL injury that he suffered in week one of last year, which doesn’t even account for the all-too-often hamstring injuries or other dings he’s been prone to. Over the past two years, Allen has played in just nine games. That doesn’t scream consistency or dependability.
Perhaps the main reason to rethink taking Keenan Allen (unless he comes at a bargain price) is the emergence of the play makers surrounding him. Both Hunter Henry and Tyrell Williams diminish his value significantly. We like teammate Williams more than we like Allen.
When is Jordan Reed ever healthy? If he’s upright and on the field, then he’s a matchup nightmare. Therein lies the problem though, Jordan Reed is never upright and on the field. Last year, it was his toe. The year before that, it was his hamstrings. What will it be this year? To add another layer, Reed has a known history of concussion issues.
With the emergence of Jamison Crowder and the addition of Terrelle Pryor, Reed’s presence in the offense may not be as prominent as we’d like to think it is. Then again, there is the possibility that the two wide receivers open things up for Reed and relieve some defensive pressure. It’s also entirely possible that teammates Vernon Davis and Niles Paul steal time from Reed. The consistency just isn’t there yet. We recommend looking to San Diego’s Hunter Henry first.
We honestly can’t say not to draft Gronk, but it all depends on how you want to spend your high draft picks. The fact that the Patriots didn’t resign Martellus Bennett tells us something about Gronk’s health. Regardless, we’re still on the fence in drafting Gronk here at Perfect Lineup.
Gronk is the ultimate matchup nightmare. Tom Brady loves him like a blood brother and Bill Belichick likely has him inked as the first option on every play. However, Gronk goes hard — too hard for his own good. Gronk could either battle through injuries the whole season or break a leg in the second game. Gronk is a gamer that will produce if he’s on the field. The only question is, how long does he stay on the field?
Again, we can’t say not to draft Gronk, but we prefer taking a lower seeded tight end to use Gronk’s pick elsewhere. We like the strategy of holding off on Gronk and taking Cincinnati’s Tyler Eifert or former teammate and Green Bay Packer, Martellus Bennett.
(This article was originally published on August 8, 2017)