Two Injury Risks Worth Buying in 2015

By Jake 6:09am EDT 9/3/15

A buddy of mine never spent more than $200 on a car all through college. So long as he could drive it off the lot he was happy with it. It made for some very funny outings and getting stuck in some pretty random situations but he would drive these cars until they broke down and then instead of fixing them he would just buy another one for $200. Basically he realized that if he accepted his car was not going to last but was very functional for a period of time he could save money while still get from point A to point B.

In a similar way there are very fine low cost options at Running Back that will take you where you need to be for certain parts of the season even though they are destined to break down in the near future. Their draft outlay has been set relative to how likely they are to maintain health for the duration of a full season but because they’re so cheap it’s actually fine when they do break down. Perhaps you can stash a few of them knowing that its unlikely they break all at the same time. Or maybe you stash some rookie RBs and play your cheapo due-any-time-to-break-down RB as you wait to see which of your rookies are going to take off.

You see this phenomenon of cheap RBs whose value is kept down because of injury concerns who return value every year. The method we followed to get the table from below was Running Backs from 2010 – 2014, age 27+ who had more than 50 yards from scrimmage. We then only included those whose ADP was 5th round or later based on injury concerns (real concerns or the usual crap of age + previous workload).

Old RBs Table Two Injury Risks Worth Buying in 2015

While some of these guys were nice to have’s – 2010 LT, 2011 & 2013 Fred Jackson and 2011 & 2012 Willis McGahee were winning you weeks.

We have three Running Backs this year who are cheap and in great situations that could return a ton of value.

Jonathan Stewart (ADP 5th Round)

Stewart has been hobbled by ankle and knee injuries since he 2012 missing 20 games in the last three seasons. He seemed to be ok once he returned from an MCL sprain early last season and was able to put together a surprisingly strong campaign to finish the year.

He has an injury probability of 67% making him our 8th most likely RB to get injured. However his 5th round ADP on a team that lost their primary receiving option and with no one to compete with him for touches makes him a bargain on draft day.

Darren McFadden (ADP 10th Round)

Perpetually injured since entering the league he has become the poster child for disappointment in Fantasy Football. There is no need to dive into his injury history as it’s very well documented and I am sure that at some point you have felt the bitterness of drafting him early only to have him get injured in week 6 and never return.

DMC has a few things going for him this year that make him VERY attractive at his 10th round ADP.

  • He is running behind the best offensive unit in the league and has the best QB and receiver he has ever played with. He will not be facing stacked boxes like he did throughout his Oakland career and he will have some big holes to run through if given the chance.
  • The “starter” on the team weighs 205lbs when wet and was unable to eat into Murray’s huge workload last year. The Cowboys would not have fed Murray that way if they thought they had someone who was capable behind him to help him with the load. All signs point to a lack of confidence in the organization with Randle (his 3.5 yards per carry in the preseason have definitely not got anyone excited about his potential). This kind of feels like Bradshaw playing behind Trent Richardson in Indy last year.
  • I know it’s just the preseason but McFadden looks good. Really good. He has started with ones in the games he has played in averaging 5.9 yards per carry and hitting the hole with the confidence and anger he displayed in his younger days.

There is a lot of research that has been done into the shelf-life of RBs in the NFL. The cutoff age is 28. With the injuries he has suffered up to this point he should not be playing. Most other RBs with that kind of injury baggage hang up their cleats long before they reach 28. But McFadden has not gone away. Within all the injuries he has suffered there is a durability in a sense that has surfaced by his refusal to quit.

His injury probability of 73% makes him the 7th most likely RB to get injured. I am confident that he will not play a full complement of games. But similar to Ahmad Bradshaw last I’m buying him wherever I can find him in the late rounds because the upside is absolutely there.

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