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12 Players With Elevated Injury Risk

By Kevin English 9:28am EDT 7/7/22


The Draft Sharks Injury Guide is the most extensive database of NFL and college injuries on the internet. We then use advanced modeling to predict Probability of Injury, Probability of Injury Per Game and Projected Games Missed for every player.

Here are 12 fantasy notables popping as high injury risks in 2022.


QBs

Carson Wentz, Commanders

Probability of Injury: 77%

Probability of Injury Per Game: 8.3%

Projected Games Missed: 2.1

Wentz underwent left foot surgery early last August to fix a broken bone. He missed the preseason but returned for Week 1.

While the former 2nd overall pick managed to play all 17 games, that doesn’t mean he went unscathed. In fact, in the same Week 2 game, Wentz suffered a high-ankle sprain in his right ankle and a low-ankle sprain in his left.

Wentz was listed on the injury report for the following 2 weeks — but that was it.

Zooming out, Wentz’s noteworthy injuries include a concussion, a back fracture and a torn ACL/LCL. Those injuries came in 2020, 2018 and 2017, respectively.

For 2022, he leads all QBs in probability of injury in-season and probability of injury per game. There’s obvious 2-QB value here, but it’s tough to see him emerging as a reliable 1-QB streamer.


Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins

Probability of Injury: 73%

Probability of Injury Per Game: 7.4%

Projected Games Missed: 2.2

Tua hasn’t suffered any long-term injuries in the pros. He missed 1 game with a thumb sprain in 2020; 4 games in 2021 with finger and rib fractures.

You have to look back to Alabama to see the real damage. High ankle-sprains popped up in 2018 and 2019 — both of which required "tightrope" surgery. In November of ’19, Tua’s college career ended with a dislocated right hip and posterior wall fracture.

Per the Orthopaedic Trauma Association:

A posterior wall acetabular fracture is a specific break in the back part of your hip socket. This back wall of bone is important as it helps keep the ball of your femur in the socket.

He made a full recovery in time for training camp, but the Dolphins opted to limit his reps. Ryan Fitzpatrick started the opener; Tua didn’t debut as the starter until Week 8.

You know about his lackluster 2020. But Tua’s at least the healthiest he’s been entering an NFL season. Only 24 and with easily the best offensive environment around him to date, 2022 is a clear make-or-break year for Tua. We're circling him as a QB2 target with upside.


Joe Burrow, Bengals

Probability of Injury: 65%

Probability of Injury Per Game: 6.0%

Projected Games Missed: 1.5

Credit Burrow for a smooth recovery from tears to his left meniscus, ACL, MCL and PCL (November 22, 2020). Cleared in time for training camp, Burrow even handled a few preseason reps before suiting up for Week 1.

He missed the season finale due to knee soreness, but that was considered precautionary. With a QB7 finish, 2021 couldn’t have gone much better. Just wrap your head around the fact that he absorbed a league-high 70 sacks. (Fortunately, the Bengals took their O-line seriously this offseason.)

Now, in the Super Bowl, Burrow sustained a right knee sprain. But that injury healed with rest and rehab. Back to 100%, it’s stunning to think we might see an improved Burrow in 2022.


RBs

Dalvin Cook, Vikings

Probability of Injury: 94%

Probability of Injury Per Game: 15.3%

Projected Games Missed: 3.6

Cook’s medicals have been an issue since high school. Back then, he underwent left shoulder surgery.

At Florida State, he suffered two tears in his right shoulder (labrum) — one in 2014 and one in 2016.

In the pros, Cook suffered a torn left ACL in Week 4 of his rookie season (2017). Since then, he’s battled hamstring and groin strains, shoulder and ankle sprains, and most recently (November ’21) a left shoulder dislocation/labrum tear.

The 27-year-old (in August) missed 4 games last year and hasn’t played more than 14 in a season since entering the NFL. With 1,200 career touches and about 290 forecasted for 2022, Cook carries plenty of risk. But Cook should again perform like an RB1 when active.


Miles Sanders, Eagles

Probability of Injury: 94%

Probability of Injury Per Game: 15.3%

Projected Games Missed: 3.9

Let’s start with some candid words from Sanders himself.

“I’m going to be honest, there’s a lot of injuries in this sport that you can’t control. It’s a very physical sport,” Sanders said to NBC Sports. “Like a broken hand, you cannot control that. It happens. Ankles and stuff like that, that’s on me. But being healthy is… it’s going to get better. I can say that. A lot of stuff goes into playing this sport. Everybody does not stay healthy (the whole season). It’s just trying to stay healthy all throughout the year. You gotta do your best. Gotta be consistent with what you do every day.”

The broken hand and ankle injuries both happened in a one-month span starting late last November. He wound up playing 12 games — the same number as 2020 — after appearing in all 16 as a rookie.

The 4th-year pro hasn’t missed more than 3 games due to a single injury in his career. But it’s been a compounding effect that’s likely limited his workloads. Last year, in HC Nick Sirianni’s first season, Sanders saw 15+ carries only 4 times. His carries per game dropped from 13.6 in 2020 to 11.4 last fall.

Entering a contract year, we’re not expecting Sanders’ rushing volume to spike. But he’s at least due some positive scoring regression after posting 0 TDs on 163 touches.


Melvin Gordon, Broncos

Probability of Injury: 92%

Probability of Injury Per Game: 13.8%

Projected Games Missed: 4.5

Gordon was placed on the injury report last year with hip, leg, thumb, shoulder and ribs injuries. He missed a single game — Week 13 — with the hip.

Now 29, Gordon’s appeared in a full season only once. And he enters September with nearly 1,800 career touches. Among active RBs, only Zeke Elliott (1,938) and Mark Ingram (2,042) have more NFL touches.

The former Charger at least won’t be asked to handle a large role — at least as long as Javonte Williams stays healthy. Gordon profiles as a matchup-based FLEX and a likely RB1 if Williams misses time.


WRs

Allen Robinson, Rams

Probability of Injury: 93%

Probability of Injury Per Game: 14.5%

Projected Games Missed: 2.8

Robinson played all 16 games in 2019 and 2020. In a major letdown season last year, the nearly 29-year-old battled an ankle issue and sat out 3 games with a hamstring injury.

He also missed 2 late-season games on the COVID-19 list.

While there’s risk that Robinson has passed his prime, the reverse could also prove true. And that’s even if Robinson isn’t the type of smooth mover he was earlier in his career. Note that the Rams have ~165 vacated targets — mostly from Robert Woods and Odell Beckham. With Matt Stafford and Sean McVay in his corner, Robinson’s environment is ripe for a bounce-back.

Fantasy drafters certainly aren’t overweighting 2021, as Robinson’s ADP currently sits in Rounds 4-5.


Mike Williams, Chargers

Probability of Injury: 93%

Probability of Injury Per Game: 14.5%

Projected Games Missed: 2.9

Williams did well to miss zero games due to injury last year. (He did sit out 1 on the COVID list.) In training camp, the former first rounder missed a brief time with a hip injury. In-season, he battled knee and heel issues.

Look back to 2020, and you'll see more severe problems: a sprained back, a grade 2 hamstring strain and a sprained A/C (shoulder) joint.

A big target at 6’4, 218 pounds, Williams is no stranger to hard contact (both with defenders and the ground). His role as a jump-ball winner only adds to those risky, elevated targets.

Still, a healthy Williams carries clear top-12 upside. Recall that he ranked as the top scoring fantasy WR through the first 5 games of last season.


Tee Higgins, Bengals

Probability of Injury: 91%

Probability of Injury Per Game: 13.2%

Projected Games Missed: 3.1

Higgins has 3 recorded hamstring injuries dating back to Clemson. But the real headliner here is the left shoulder (labrum) injury that he played with for most of last season. It required surgery after the Super Bowl.

Higgins managed the pain well, missing only 2 early-season games due to the shoulder. He was sidelined for Week 18, but only for rest purposes.

While the former Round 2 pick missed the offseason program, he’s on track for training camp this month. We’ll follow his progress closely upon returning.


TEs
Evan Engram, Jaguars

Probability of Injury: 92%

Probability of Injury Per Game: 13.8%

Projected Games Missed: 3.8

Engram sat out the first 2 games of the 2021 season with a calf strain. While the on-field results weren’t helpful for fantasy, injury-wise, it was smooth sailing from Week 3 on.

Engram even played a full slate of games in 2020. However, from 2018-2019, he missed 13 games with a foot sprain, 2 MCL sprains and a pulled hamstring. He also suffered a concussion in August of ’18 — the 2nd such injury of his career.

While his reliability is suspect, Engram’s a low-risk fantasy pick because of his TE21 ADP.


George Kittle, 49ers

Probability of Injury: 92%

Probability of Injury Per Game: 13.8%

Projected Games Missed: 2.8

Kittle missed 3 games in 2021 with a calf strain. He’s now missed at least 1 game in 4 of 5 pro seasons.

2020 turned up a career-low 8 appearances. The culprits? A fractured foot and an MCL sprain — both on the left side. The 28-year-old also battled a right hamstring strain in training camp.

As a busy run-blocker, Kittle certainly takes his lumps. Through 5 seasons, he’s run or pass-blocked on a whopping 1,897 snaps, per Pro Football Focus. Outside of his half season in 2020, Kittle’s ranked 8th, 2nd and 2nd in TE blocking snaps since becoming a full-time player in 2018. And that’s with 5 missed games in the sample.

Beyond the injuries, Kittle will likely need to attain high efficiency to deliver as a high-end TE1. Trey Lance's play, Deebo Samuel's likely shift back to a primary WR and a full-season of unleashed Brandon Aiyuk are key topics for fantasy managers to consider.

Of course, Kittle can overcome those factors (and more) because he's a top talent. With 2.42 career yards per route run, he’s arguably the best TE league-wide. History says there simply remains an elevated level of risk here.


Zach Ertz, Cardinals

Probability of Injury: 89%

Probability of Injury Per Game: 12.2%

Projected Games Missed: 4.6

Beyond a minor Week 1 hamstring tweak, Ertz stayed injury-free in 2021. A look back to 2020 shows 5 missed games due to a high-ankle sprain, though. He also has a pair of documented concussions.

Going into his age 32 season, Ertz profiles as a low-end, low-ceiling TE1. He’s not one of our top targets at the position.


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