Injuries happen, we’re all familiar with the pain of a lost season, but as we enter the doldrums of the off season, it’s as good a time as any to talk about the players who didn’t finish the 2018 season due to injury, and what we can expect for 2019.
Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers
It may be easy to label Garoppolo as injury prone after his second significant injury across 10 total NFL starts, but it wouldn’t be fair. What is fair is questioning if Jimmy G was worthy of all the hype going into the 2018 season. A quick peek at the ADP data shows that folks were drafting him ahead of names like Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers, and NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes. Did his numbers to that point in his career justify a QB1 draft position?
I’d argue no.
While Garoppolo was impressive down the stretch for a 49ers team that was out of it early in the year, his 2017 numbers were propped up by schedule that included games against poor defenses and playoff teams packing it in. Even then, the numbers were good, not great. Extrapolating his numbers shows that despite relatively high yardage (280 or so yards comes out to about 4,500 yards) but his scoring numbers remained mediocre as his 7 TDs and 5 INTs comes out to 22/16.
Early ADP data suggests drafters are concerned for his production coming out of the injury, and this much is fair. As the 16th ranked QB, he’ll hardly cost a premium, but the range of outcomes for a Garoppolo season is nerve wracking. Sure, he could realize the potential that had Kyle Shannahan salivating over his skill, but a sub 4,000 yard season with middle of the road scoring numbers could leave him as waiver wire fodder.
The Dr.’s EARLY Predictions: 14 Starts, 3640 Yards, 24 TDs, 13 INT
Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles
Much like Garoppolo, Wentz has a growing injury history that has to have fantasy owners questioning if his ability is worth the risk. Of course, the production was there right out of the gates when he returned to the field in 2018 as evidenced by the QB1 numbers he put up through his first 7 starts (an average of 20 points per game, good for QB11).
Still, a second straight season ended due to injury stung as Nick Foles managed to bring the Eagles back from the brink and into the playoffs by going on an improbable run. It’s unlikely Foles is back with the Eagles, so Wentz starting position is all but guaranteed, but the likelihood of an injury has to be considered higher than for most QB’s of his age and skill level. His current status is “questionable for OTAs” but I’d expect him back for week 1, and as long as he’s on the field, he’s worth starting .
The Dr.’s EARLY Predictions: 12 Starts, 3,375 Yards, 23 TDs 6 INTs, 120 Rushing Yards.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
Dalton is unlikely to be a highly coveted fantasy commodity in 2019 even if he is still the starting QB for the Bengals, but the fact remains that he’s been a pretty consistent across a career that’s seen him start 16 games 6 times in 8 years. The bigger question surrounding Dalton isn’t his health, but the rumors that Cincinnati may be looking to move on from the Red Rocket going into 2019.
First, he’s been a fantasy mirage most years, having a few good games before fading back into the pack, and he’s never really been an elite, must-start option, so expecting things to change next year may qualify under “the definition of insanity.”
Of course, if he lands elsewhere through trade or release, then we may be having a different discussion. Teams like the Dolphins and the Giants may be a landing spot for the veteran signal caller, and each situation presents it’s own pro’s and con’s. Of course we can’t assume either scenario when making our too-early predictions, so for now let’s assume he’s back in Cincinnati.
The Dr.’s EARLY Predictions: 15 Starts, 3,390 Yards, 24 TDs, 15 INTs
Honorable Mentions: It never ceases to amaze me how Cam Newton can be constantly injured but consistently produce in terms of fantasy production. With D.J. Moore continuing to improve and an offense that’s slowly shifting to Christian McCaffrey, we hope Newton will find better health in 2019. Unfortunately for Alex Smith it’s unlikely health will allow him to play. We’re expecting him to miss the entire 2019 season after finishing 2018 on IR with a broken leg.
With the offseason well underway, and the NFL draft looming in the distance, the time is now to evaluate the many moves that went down following the start of free agency. Over the next week, we’ll evaluate each position individually, and attempt to break down the impact of each move to this point.
Kirk Cousins Signs With Vikings:
With the ink drying on Kirk Cousins’ 84 million dollar contract, the fantasy community stirred in it’s offseason slumber. While too many unanswered questions rest between here and fantasy drafts, this represented the first major offseason domino in many to come. The question remains, though; what does this mean for fantasy owners?
A top 5 season is a general expectation, especially considering that Cousins finished 6th in standard ESPN leagues last year. Minnesota’s roster is litered with game breakers, and a more consistent run game should mean a more consistent threat to score for the Vikings new signal caller. With their sights set on the super bowl, the Vikings should be a great source of fantasy contributors, and Cousins should be a target for anyone.
Alex Smith Signs with Washington:
Replacing Cousins in Washington will be Alex Smith, the notorious game manager previously starting for the Kansas City Cheifs. His track record is far from inspiring, but surprisingly enough he managed to finish as the fourth highest scoring quarter back in standard ESPN leagues last year.
Much of that can be attributed to the lack of healthy QB’s, but Washington presents a unique challenge in terms of predicting success. No longer stocked with weapons like Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, Smith will instead be throwing to a stable of unproven youngsters and oft-injured tight ends. Whether or not he’s a target come draft day depends on what the community suggests his average draft position is. A low end QB1 is as good as I’ll give him at this point, but may not select him as anything but flier in the later rounds, assuming he falls that far.
Case Keenum Signs With Denver:
Continuing the trend of displaced QB’s, Minnesota’s surprising star Case Keenum moves on to Denver after a season that witnessed him outscore superstars like Matt Ryan, Derek Carr, and Jameis Winston. While it’s fair to question the validity of those numbers, as Keenum was viewed mostly as a backup to this point, there’s not a lot of drop off in terms of talent around him going to Denver.
Elite wideouts Demarius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders should help him continue to produce, and an elite defense should give him plenty of opportunity to score points. While I won’t say he’s ready for prime time, another top 15 finish isn’t out of the question.
Tyrod Taylor Traded To Cleveland Browns:
While it’s with a great deal of consternation that I even include a Browns QB in this article, the truth is that Taylor has been a very productive fantasy QB over the last few years, and should have plenty of opportunity in Cleveland with the weapons surrounding him. Elite wide outs Josh Gordon and Jarvis Landry present a major upgrade to what he found himself working with in Buffalo, and two capable pass catchers out of the backfield in Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson mean Taylor’s ability to run will be on full display as teams will be forced to respect the weapons around him.
Does this mean I’ll be reaching in drafts to select a Browns QB? Absolutely not, but as a back end top 10 QB, Taylor may have the moxie to bring fantasy success to teams in the middle to late rounds thanks to what has become the curse of playing for Cleveland.
Sam Bradford Signs With Arizona Cardinals:
The biggest risk in the NFL in terms of fantasy quarterbacks has got to be the always injured Bradford. Every year it’s the same thing; superlative starts make way to lengthy DL stints and surgery. While my personal opinion is Bradford is no more than a last round flyer, the Arizona Cardinals present an opportunity for him to bounce back into fantasy owners good graces.
With enough weapons to be successful, and a run-first scheme that may help him stay healthy, Bradford should be on your radar in the preseason as a backup candidate. When healthy, he’s a top 15 QB, but I’d be willing to bet we’ll be seeing an Arizona backup by week 6.
Honorable Mention: Jimmy Garoppolo signed a massive deal to stay in San Fransisco, and the fantasy community is chomping at the bit to see what he can do with a full seasons worth of reps. Teddy Bridgewater, the least impactful of the Minnesota triumverate that departed in the offseason, finds himself in the Jets’ backfield as a potential starter. The talent is there, but questions surround his surgically repaired knee. Andrew Luck has resumed throwing, and while there’s plenty of concern that his career may never get back on track, the pedigree is there for the man to be a top 5 QB again. With less risk in late rounds, he’s a nice bounce back target that costs nothing if he never returns to form.