Odell Beckham Jr.
WR, Cleveland Browns
OBJ’s offseason was filled with controversy after being traded from the New York Football Giants to the Cleveland Browns for Jabrill Peppers along with a 1st & 3rd round pick. What’s important is that Beckham received a HUGE upgrade at QB, with Baker Mayfield slinging him the rock now. Reunited with his college buddy, Jarvis Landry, who should settle peacefully into a less attention-filled slot role could set up monster numbers for OBJ on the outside. He also joins David Njoku, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in what might be a top 10 offense in 2019.
What about OBJ’s 2018 season? Well, despite playing with a quickly deteriorating Eli Manning, OBJ still managed a line of 77/1,052/6 in 12 games. He’d top 100 yards and/or a TD in 8-of-12 games.
Realistically, OBJ could likely have played in 15 of the Giants’ 16 games if they weren’t out of playoff contention. Beckham was dealing with a quad injury and usually these are not overly concerning. This one in particular will definitely not have a long-term impact on the Browns #1 wideout. Unlike the hamstring, which has a tendency to re-injure and linger (see Leonard Fournette), quad injuries heal relatively quickly with little long-term concern to pair. OBJ has, and probably will get banged up routinely, but I don’t consider him ‘injury prone.’ I personally expect OBJ to be a top 5 WR in 2019, still only 26, and now on a potential sneaky playoff contender. First-round talent, draft as such!
WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Green left the Bengals’ Week 13 contest against the Broncos after going down with a non-contact injury to his foot. Remember he was dealing with a similar issue to this same foot since Week 8 and had just returned to the field. It sounds like he unfortunately returned too quickly, despite missing over a month. He was diagnosed with torn ligaments in his toe, also known as turf toe. This is a complicated and serious injury. My suspicious is that in Week 8 he initially suffered the injury and this was deemed stable, and could/was treated non-surgically. However, when he returned in Week 13 this injury became unstable. He essentially further injured his previously injured ligaments in his big toe. The ligament, and any possible associated fractures, need to be repaired. This is not a quick or easy recovery, usually at least 6, sometimes up to 9 months to return to play. So now we are talking June 2019. How important is the big toe, especially to a dynamic WR? Super important. You need the big toe to push off, run, and jump, essentially the definition of an NFL WR. Here’s my advice: watch the tape when he gets back on the field. Is he confident in this toe/foot? Can he make hard cuts? Can he push off aggressively? Personally, I think AJ Green’s time as a top 10 WR is a thing of the past, but there is a chance he may surprise again if this toe injury is behind him. If he shows flashes of his elite-self in training camp, then there is a chance I will snag him as my WR2.
Update (8/1/19): A.J. Green suffered a significant left ankle injury during practice in late July. Immediately he was carted off the field. There have been several reports, however we now know that Green suffered either a severe Grade 2 or a Grade 3 (full tear) of the ankle ligaments. Additionally, he likely either had a loose piece of ligament or bone floating in his ankle joint, or possibly an avulsion fracture where the ligament actually tears and pulls a piece of bone off with it. Green underwent surgery and will likely be out until at least Week 1 or 2. Remember this is the opposite foot as his surgery last season, so now he has 2 banged up legs. There is a chance he is placed on the PUP/Eligible to Return list which will lead to him missing the first 6 games of the season. Fantasy-wise, he will still be a WR1 when he returns but we don’t know how many games he will play in 2019. Also, he is at high-risk for another leg injury. Unless he’s available in like the 10th or 11th round, I’m completely avoiding him this year (unfortunately), anything higher than that there are safer guys with equal/higher upside (Godwin, Fuller, M Williams, Kirk, Pettis, Shepard, Allison to name a few).
WR, Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions’ Marvin Jones suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 10 and missed the team’s final 7 games. accumulating 35 catches for 508 yards and 5 TDs.
While the details are scarce, it appears that Jones underwent surgery on his right knee for a ‘bone bruise.’ But here’s the thing, bone bruises aren’t surgically treated. So there’s more here than they are letting on. The initial comments by ESPN’s Adam Schefter stated that Jones had a bone bruise and that his ACL and MCL were intact, and Lions’ HC Patricia declined to give any additional information. Until more information comes out, all I can do is speculate. My suspicion is that Jones was dealing with a meniscal tear and possibly a grade 2 or 3 MCL tear. Fortunately, neither are particularly concerning for him in 2019. If the ACL was torn, we would have known about it and his return timetable would be much longer than the Lions initially insinuated.
To me, Jones is a solid WR3 with WR2 upside. The good news is that for the most part, Jones has been healthy and stayed injury-free for the majority of his career. I’m not overly concerned about Jones’ knee injury, but of course that could all change if/when we learn exactly what his season-ending knee injury truly was.
WR, Los Angeles Rams
Cooper Kupp suffered a torn ACL midway (Week 11) through 2018 after starting the year on a blistering 80/1,132/12 16-game pace. Kupp suffered a concussion in Week 5 and then a sprained MCL in his left knee, costing him an additional 2 games. Then, the Rams prominent, young slot wide receiver tore his left ACL in November, which could have been predisposed by the MCL sprain just 4 weeks earlier.
The good news is that it sounds like Kupp is on track to return in Week 1, as he will be roughly 10 months removed from ACL surgery at the start of the 2019 season. Most players make their ACL tear return somewhere between 9-12 months, assuming the ACL tear was uncomplicated (without any additional ligament damage).
Most guys will see a decline in their year 1 return from ACL reconstruction surgery. Studies have been conducted with a fairly evidential conclusiopn that there is a +30% risk on a player of suffering a 2nd ACL tear within the two years of returning from their initial ACL tear (21% on same knee, 9% opposite knee). Furthermore, and possibly more concerning is that most position players (RB, WR) don’t mentally feel back to 100% until their second full season returned from the ACL surgery. At Kupp’s (likely) cost, I’m not particularly interested in him in 2019.
WR, Kansas City Chiefs
WR, Houston Texans
Will Fuller has loads of talent, I don’t think there’s a question about that. There’s also little question about his concerning injury history, too. His games played since entering the league in 2016 trend in the wrong direction: 14 (in 2016) to 10 (in 2017), down to 7-game season last year.
Let’s review his injuries. In 2016, he dealt with hamstring injuries and a knee sprain. In 2017, his season started off the wrong way; he missed the entire preseason and the first 3 games of the regular season with a broken collarbone. That was all before missing an additional 3 games in November/December with broken ribs and finally had minor knee surgery after leaving Week 17 early with a left knee injury. Then, last year, he suffered a moderate hamstring strain in August, costing him the regular-season opener. Finally, Fuller tore his right ACL in late October. So, over the past 3 years Fuller has injured his hamstring at least twice, broke his collarbone and multiple ribs, tweaked his left knee and tore his right ACL. Can you say injury prone? Whether he’s the #2 WR for Watson and the Texans, his risk is simply too high for me. I’m completely fading him in 2019 fantasy unless its at a serious, serious discount.
WR, Denver Broncos
WR, Chicago Bears
WR, Green Bay Packers
Let’s talk about one of my favorite wide receivers: Davante Adams. Entering his now-age 26 season, Adams played his college ball at Fresno State, and was selected by the Packers in the 2nd round of the 2014 Draft. An interesting side note is that Adams scored 38 touchdowns and caught 233 passes for over 3,000 yards in only 2 seasons at Fresno State. Impressive! Not exactly the fastest WR on the field, running a 4.56 sec 40-yard dash at the Combine, but man is he a playmaker. Adams came on strong in his 3rd season, posting 997 yards on 75 catches and 12 TDs during the 2016 season, and he was the 3rd WR there (Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb). 2017 season was somewhat of a lost one for the Packers, as they lost Aaron Rodgers to a broken clavicle and missed 9 weeks.
Injury-wise, Adams has had his fair share of injuries. Suffering a left ankle sprain in 2015 that cost him 4 games, and a sprained MCL (knee) in the playoffs of January 2016. Adams has a concussion history that needs to be addressed. Concussions have likely always existed in the vicious game that we love called American Football. The main difference (in regards to concussions) between now and 25 years ago is that we know a great deal more about concussions now (even though data is still very much lacking). We, as sports medicine and sideline physicians, are much more aggressive in pulling athletes from the game and not allowing them return to the game the same day (no longer possible). If a concussion is confirmed, the protocol is at a minimum 5 games, and that’s if everything goes perfectly. We no longer grade concussions (mild, moderate etc.), instead going by symptoms and how their body is reacting to increased activity and neurocognitive testing. Players who have sustained a concussion in the past (Adams has sustained 3 that we know of), are at a higher risk for sustaining another one, and not only that, the recovery usually takes longer with each subsequent concussion. The majority of sports-related concussions take 7-14 days to recover from.
The 2018 season was Adams’ official coming out party. Despite suffering a calf injury in Week 4, Adams continued to play due to injuries to fellow Packer WRs Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison. Of course it important to remember that Aaron Rodgers suffered a pretty significant knee injury (that we found out after the season, read his profile) that indirectly impacted his ability to throw (although it probably wasn’t super obvious). Adams suffered a mild knee injury in Week 16 but he played through it. Likely a mild knee sprain that caused him to miss Week 17, Adams still managed 169 targets, 111 catches, 1,386 yards and 13 TDs for the 2018 season. His 169 targets were 2nd in the NFL, and he was 1st in Red-Zone targets with 31. 5th in catches and 2nd in TDs. Top 5 in nearly every important category (for WRs).Being (a healthy) Aaron Rodgers’ top receiver is a very good thing, especially when it comes to fantasy football. We know that Adams has Rodgers’ confidence, averaging 11.3 targets per game in 2018. While there may not be much room for volume growth (is 200 targets possible?), but Rodgers did say he would like to throw to Adams more. It sounds like Adams will be playing much more slot in new coach Matt LaFleur’s offense (most top corners don’t cover the slot WR), as he only ran 20% of his routes there last year. Think of Rodgers to Adams as a security blanket with more big-play ability, that’s what the 2019 season might have in store for us. Injury-wise, I’m not overly concerned with Adams. Yes he has concussion history, but managed the entire 2018 169-target season without one. He suffered a mild knee sprain but that doesn’t sound concerning. Currently I’m debating between Adams, Hopkins and Juju as my WR1. Draft him (in the 1st round if needed) with confidence.
WR, Houston Texans
DeAndre Hopkins, commonly referred to as ‘Nuk,’ has been the model of consistency, health-wise, since entering the league in 2013. Out of a possible 96 games over the past 6 years, Nuk has played in ALL BUT ONE OF THEM. That’s simply amazing. The one game he missed actually occurred on Christmas day in 2017, when he suffered a calf injury and missed the final game of the season. Don’t get me wrong, Hopkins has suffered injuries in the past, including 2 separate concussions, one in 2013 and another in 2015, but neither caused him to miss any regular season games. In 2014 he suffered a wrist injury late in the season (again week 16) but didn’t miss any games, eventually having the wrist surgically repaired in the offseason.
Hopkins admitted recently that the 2018 season was the most banged up he’s ever been playing football. That it was a tough season both physically and mentally. Playing through significant injuries every week that many would have likely missed at least a couple weeks, if not most of the season, including ankle, foot, thumb, hamstring and shoulder injuries. He was being the ultimate team player, and was willing to endure the pain unless doctors said he couldn’t. So let’s talk about this shoulder injury that Hopkins was referring to. He reportedly had ligaments torn off the bone in his shoulder. He is basically describing a grade 3 rotator cuff injury, when one (or more) of the 4 rotator cuff tendons are literally torn and ripped off the bone. This is a very painful injury; one that I see and treat everyday in my clinic. The rotator cuff is vital in nearly everything we do with our hands. Think of the shoulder, and rotator cuff, as a fulcrum, and as an extension of our hands. Anything we lift with our hands, with our arms extended, indirectly requires a strong and intact rotator cuff. There are 4 main rotator cuff tendons (supraspinatus, subscapularis, infraspinatus and teres minor), but the supraspinatus, and to a lesser extent the subscapularis, are by far the two most used, and as a result the two most commonly injured. While rotator cuff tendons respond well to combination of rehabilitation exercises, steroid injections, and PRP/stem cell injections, when the tendon is completely torn off the bone, all of those treatment options are going to be underwhelming. Anything that you do with your hands out in front of you, combing your hair, grabbing a seat belt, turning the steering wheel, catching a football, all require intact rotator cuff tendons. If not, you are miserable. This is likely what Hopkins was referring to. Knowing what type of pain I see in my patient’s eyes everyday who are dealing with this, I am super impressed with the fact that he didn’t even miss a game! If you want to learn more about shoulder injuries, check out a lecture I did on my personal YouTube page.
It’s safe to say unless Hopkins is dealing with a serious injury, he likely won’t be missing much time given what we know. He likely underwent offseason rotator cuff repair surgery. Don’t get me wrong, this is not an easy surgery to come back from, but unlike an ACL or Achilles, the return to 100% is very very good, and usually this takes about 9 months. If he underwent the surgery in January or February, he should be close to 100% for Week 1. For reference, this is what Eagles’ Alshon Jeffery dealt with last offseason. Additionally Hopkins has been dealing with an ankle injury but I don’t expect this to continue to linger as long as he is properly addressing it now.
Nuk has been a top 5 WR for the past 4 seasons, never posting less than 151 targets or catching less than 78 passes since 2015. 3 out of the past 4 years he’s scored at least 11 TDs. Discounting for Brock Osweiler’s awful QB performance in 2016, when all of Hopkins’ numbers tumbled, he has averaged 95.1 yards/game, 11.7 TDs/year, 107 catches/year, and 1,490 yards/year. Those are crazy WR1 numbers. As long as Watson is healthy, Hopkins is going to be a top 3 WR monster. He is worth his current WR1 ranking, the 1.06 draft position and has the resume, health and talent to justify it. The only other WR who should be considered at this position is Davante Adams (IMO) but Hopkins is safer and may even have a higher upside. Beast. Draft with confidence, I’m not worried about his shoulder in the slightest bit.
WR, Atlanta Falcons
Quintorris Lopez Jones, aka Julio has been a stud wide receiver ever since high school. A three-sport athlete (basketball and track), including winning the state championships in both long jump and triple jump, Julio was named the 2006-07 Gatorade Track & Field Athlete of the Year in the state of Alabama. One of the few five-star recruits chosen every year by Rivals.com, Jones was listed as the #1 WR in the nation in 2008, so it was only fitting that he chose to join the Alabama Crimson Tide. Running a 4.39 second 40-yard dash at the Combine (with a broken foot), we know that Julio has speed to burn. He was the 6th overall pick to the Falcons, 2 picks after A.J. Green.
For as bad of a rap as Julio gets for his injury history, out of his 8 NFL seasons, he has played in 111 out of a possible 128 games, that’s 87% of his games. He hasn’t missed a game since the 2016 season. Jones’ injury history is probably one of the most extensive you will ever see. Two injuries have reared their ugly head several times over the past decade for him: his right foot and hamstring injuries. As a track athlete, a lot of these athletes are prone to foot injuries due to a combination of (poor) mechanics and overuse. Jones reportedly first broke his right foot during his final college season at Alabama, but chose to go to (and excel at) the Combine and have surgery afterward. Jones reportedly fractured his 5th metatarsal bone, at a specific point on the proximal aspect of the bone that notoriously has a poor blood supply and doesn’t heal well (fittingly named the ‘Jones fracture,’ no its not after him). These injuries always require surgery and screw placement in high-level athletes like Jones. They are prone to reinjury due to the nature of the stresses of the foot, regardless of how good the surgeon is (just ask Greg Olsen).
Is Julio Jones injury prone? He was, but he may be over that now. I think he’s learned to listen to his body (something Leonard Fournette needs to learn to do), and how to properly prevent, prepare and take care of his lower extremities. Both of his ankles have suffered sprains, he sprained his right big toe in 2016 that cost him 2 games, and he had a bunion removed following the Falcons Super Bowl (crazy) loss to the Patriots in March of 2017. The good news is that Jones had an incredible 2018 season in which he played all 16 games, was targeted 170 times, catching 113 passes for 1,677 yards and 8 TDs. Last year he was the only WR in the league to average over 100 yards a game. Don’t forget that Jones played in the first 8 games of the 2018 season without scoring a single touchdown, and still ended up with 8. WOW. Incredible.
Entering his age-30 season, Jones is still considered one of the top 5 WRs in the league. While his age may catch up with him eventually, I don’t think that time is here yet. Despite being in the middle of contract negotiations, Jones reported to training camp which is a great sign. I fully expect the Falcons to be smart with the veteran stud WR, and avoid unnecessary additional work that may stress his lower extremities, in particular his right foot. If there is something that I am worried about with Julio Jones, it would be his right foot. This will be a chronic injury for him for the rest of his career, but it sounds like he has learned to properly manage it. This is great news for everyone, football and fantasy fans alike. The game is better with Julio Jones in it. Draft him as a top 5 WR, and he is well-deserving of his current 1.10 draft status.
WR, Green Bay Packers
First off, Geronimo appears to be his real first name. That’s pretty legit. He’s a 25 y/o 6’3” 202 lb. wide receiver that grew up in the Tampa, FL area but played his college ball at Illinois after transferring from a small community college about 10 minutes from where I did my residency on the Omaha, Nebraska/Iowa border. Allison didn’t post crazy numbers with the Fighting Illini, and in the 2015 season he caught 65 passes for 882 yards and 3 TDs, but it was enough for him to get noticed and an invite to the NFL Combine. Not the fastest player there, running a 4.67 sec 40-yard dash, he didn’t end up getting drafted, but signed with the Packers and eventually found his way on their practice squad.
In July of 2017 Allison was suspended one-game for violating the substance-abuse policy (resulting from an old marijuana charge), but played in the other 15 games, catching 23 passes for 253 yards. Allison took a big step forward in 2018. He was off to great start, securing 19 catches on 29 targets for 289 yards and 2 touchdowns, that’s 15.2 YPC, in the Packers first four games. Then the injuries started piling up on him. Suffering from a concussion, hamstring injury, and later a core-muscle injury which required surgery. Allison, in an ESPN interview, stated that “I feel confident where I’m at,” Allison said. “I’m still able to do the same things I could before the injury.”
Let’s briefly talk about the groin injury which eventually lead to core muscle surgery this offseason. This area is integral in running, twisting, cutting and jumping, pretty much the definition of a wide receiver. So you can see why this would drive him crazy. Due to multiple different injuries, many athletes tear the muscles that attach to the front of hip/pelvis from the abdomen. There’s a bunch of muscles that attach here, groin, hip, oblique and abdominal muscles. An injury to any of these muscles at this location is commonly referred to a sports hernia. More of a ‘wastebasket term,’ most athletes try to rehab these but usually end up failing, resulting in core muscle surgery. The good news is that after surgery and the appropriate rehab following, the majority of athletes do really well and don’t have to worry about the problem any further.
What about the other injuries that he was dealing with? Well the concussion is what it is. While he is at a increased risk to sustained another one, it’s not something you can really predict or plan for. The hamstring injury should hopefully heal, but the important thing is to make sure that he properly prevents any more of these. Hamstring injuries can easily derail a player’s season (Leonard Fournette says hi). Let’s look towards what we can expect from Allison in the 2019 season. It sounds like Allison will be working more in the slot, alternating with Davante Adams. Rodgers loves throwing to the slot, so this is good sign. It appears that Marquez Valdes-Scantling is viewed as the No. 2 received, but he should be lining up out wide, and with the Packers’ offense, there should be plenty of targets to go around. Between those three, they should see the majority of the targets, along with veteran Jimmy Graham, and maybe add in some of the other receivers including Equanimeous St. Brown, J’Mon Moore, Jake Kumerow, and even Trevor Davis. Overall, I’m not overly concerned about Allison’s health in 2019, despite ending his season prematurely in 2018. It remains to be seen which other WR will potentially breakout for Green Bay this year, Allison, MVS or one of the other WRs mentioned, as Davante Adams is clearly the WR1 there. Currently being drafted in the middle of the 8th round, near his teammate MVS, Larry Fitzgerald, Marvin Jones, Corey Davis and Dede Westbrook. All of these guys are likely to serve as WR3’s with WR2 upside.
WR, Cincinnati Bengals
WR, Houston Texans
Marquise "Hollywood" Brown
WR, Baltimore Ravens
WR, San Francisco 49ers
Players Coming Soon:
- T.Y. Hilton
- Christian Kirk
- Paul Richardson
- Marqise Lee
- Albert Wilson