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Using The Injury Prone Label

The “injury prone” label is used constantly in fantasy football. No doubt you hear things at your draft every year like, “That guy can’t stay healthy” or “He’ll never play a full season.” Many owners are scared to death of so-called injury prone players. Make no mistake, injuries happen in pro football and no one is immune. Injuries can cripple a fantasy team, so it’s no wonder many owners are hesitant to pull the trigger on a player they feel will be watching the game from the training room. You can use this to your advantage.

First, let me say that I don’t believe in the term “injury prone.” No player tries to get injured and most injuries occur from normal events that take place on the field. They are not the fault of the player, who many times is just in the wrong place at the wrong time. This will sometimes happen to the same player a couple of years in a row and they are instantly tagged with the dreaded label. Owners and even some fantasy experts will swear that these players have a black cloud of injury hovering over them and that their bones are somehow made of peanut brittle. They will avoid these players on draft day like the plague. The savvy owner willing to roll the dice can find bargains because of this.

The list of players labeled as fragile is long and distinguished, but we’ll just look at a few. Who can forget “Fragile” Fred Taylor who had injury problems early in his career missing 23 games between 1999 and 2001? Despite a world of talent, no one in fantasy would touch him. He then went on to miss only 12 games over the next seven seasons. Then there’s fellow former Philadelphia Eagles Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook. From 2002-2006, McNabb played 10 games or less three times in that five-year span, causing his value to plummet, but he has been solid the last three seasons. As for Westbrook, before an injury-shortened 2009 he had failed to play less than 13 games only once in his career (12 in 2005), but he was perceived as being injured all the time. After missing nearly the entire 2004 season with an injury, many owners were hesitant to grab Steve Smith in 2005 drafts. He went on to deliver a monster fantasy season. One of the best examples from last season is Matt Schaub. After managing just 11 starts in each of his first two years in

he was hit with the label. Despite being on sleeper and breakout lists of about every fantasy publication last year, his stock on draft day dropped because of injury fears. I took him in every league I could and reaped the benefits when he not only stayed healthy but delivered superb fantasy numbers.

There is risk involved in drafting a player coming back from an injury, but there is risk involved with every player. Do some research. Find out what kind of injury the player had (some injuries have lingering effects). What has that player been doing during the offseason? (surgeries, added or lost weight, etc.) Will that player have a featured role or has his injury allowed someone else to slide in? A lot of fantasy owners won’t ask questions and will simply view players with an injury history as damaged goods. Perception is powerful and it could equal draft day value for you.

How about a couple of players in that situation this season?

Michael Turner.
His value hasn’t dropped dramatically but for a player who was the second pick in most drafts last season he is going late in the first round in many 10-team drafts this year. All reports indicate he has lost some weight, is in fantastic shape and is hungry to have a great season. He is also the centerpiece of a run-first attack on a rising team. He is a touchdown machine and could make you happy to have a late pick this year.

Felix Jones.
This guy is going in many ten team drafts in the fifth to seventh round range. Are you kidding me? Despite being named the starter on a very talented team with Super Bowl aspirations, he has been banged up his first couple of years and that has led to the perception that he can’t handle a heavy load. Some research shows he has bulked up his upper body this offseason while maintaining his ridiculous explosiveness. He stands at 6-foot and 218 pounds – the same size as Adrian Peterson and only a couple of pounds less than supposed touchdown vulture Marion Barber. This guy will outperform his draft position by several rounds. Many owners prefer to make “safe” picks on draft day. Use their fears against them and swing for the fences!

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