Running Backs most likely to get injured in 2014

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We’re going to do a four part series on our 5 most likely to get injured players by position. We are going to start with the 5 most likely running backs to get injured. We will also go a step further and talk about what kinds of injuries they are most susceptible to in order to understand the length of absence that they could possibly be missing.

Our patented Injury Predictor algorithm takes into account over 50 points of data to work out how likely each player is to get injured in the coming season. More on that here.


Arian Foster

The Injury Predictor has highlighted Arian Foster as one of the most likely players to across all positions to get injured this year.

Key analysis:

  • He picked up several injuries last year before the back injury took him out for the season. The hamstring and the calf issue that sidelined him for training camp all speak to a body that is in decline
  • His current work load is not helping his health outlook either. The Texans passed on drafting a Running Back with a high pick and let go of Ben Tate in free agency. They did bring in Andre Brown but he is coming off two surgeries to the same bone in less than a year and is definitely not a long term answer. The Texans are going to ride Foster until he breaks for good.

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Eddie Lacy

Lacy came into the NFL with injury/conditioning concerns (turf toe issues and pulled a hamstring on his pro day). He has enough upside to offset the injury risk that he carries but buyer beware.

Key analysis:

  • In a 6 month span Lacy fractured his hand, pulled his hamstring, suffered a concussion and severely sprained his ankle. Bad luck or a sign of things to come in 2014? Our algorithm has identified these injuries as playing a large factor in Lacy’s outlook for 2014
  • He is a sophomore year running back. Statistically rookies and sophomores have a far higher risk of getting injured
  • He played on an injured ankle for most of last season which could very well have caused more damage

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Ryan Mathews

Mathews’ appeared to be healthy in 2013 for the first time since he was drafted in 2010.  However this “healthy” 2013 season is misleading because if you look beyond the “Games Started” statistic you will see that he suffered a hamstring pull and a concussion that had him removed from 2 games. So while he did not miss any games he continued his record of being injured in every season he has played in.

Key analysis:

Ryan Mathews’ injury history contains several really severe injuries to his upper and lower body including:

  • Fractured collarbone (2007 and 2012)
  • Fractured foot 2008
  • Torn ligaments in ankle (2010)
  • 3 concussions
  • The concussions are a cause for concern as those tend to become cumulative over time, occurring more frequently and with less contact
  • Even though the algorithm does not predict how players respond to injuries one can observe that Mathews does not play through injury well due to the length of time he takes to get back on the field when reporting an injury.

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Andre Ellington

Ellington has very similar measurables to Chris Johnson (small, elusive and fast). The difference is durability as Chris Johnson has had fewer injuries than Ellington even though he has been in the NFL since 2008.

Key analysis:

  • Two surgeries in college (foot and ankle).
  • In 2013 he missed two games (week 1 concussion and week 13 with an MCL sprain)
  • He was unable to fully take part in the combine due to a pulled hamstring
  • Bruce Arians is talking up Ellington as a true workhorse back for 2014 – this only increases his likelihood of injury during the season

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Bernard Pierce

Pierce is projected to start in Baltimore with Ray Rice facing a multigame suspension.

Key analysis:

  • Pierce has yet to miss a regular season game but was pulled from a post season game in 2012 with a concussion
  • He missed at least 1 game each season at college
  • He has a history of shoulder problems that required surgery in college and the NFL
  • The potential increased workload factors into his increased risk. Should Rice return as the starter his risk (and upside) will take a dip

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