Conlin Postma @ConlinFF
There is one thing that is guaranteed every Fantasy season, and that is valuable players suffering season-ending injuries. These injuries have been happening before the regular season with greater regularity. For example, Hunter Henry, Derrius Guice, and Jerick McKinnon were locks to be starters in 2018. Unfortunately, all suffered torn ACL’s before the season started. I’m going to talk about those three players, but I will be discussing nine returning players and their possible impact.
When it comes to their possible impact, it could be from past performances or updated rosters. On the flip side, their new rosters could be detrimental to their Fantasy relevance.
Since there are nine players that will be highlighted, that would make this article very long. In order to reduce that, I have decided to make this a three-part series. This first article will be focused on players that tore their ACL’s before the season began. Part two will revolve around three players who all played less than four games last season. Part three will focus on another three players who all had unique situations.
I’m not going to give away the names of the players because you’ll have to wait for the other two articles. I will give you some clues though, all nine players are skill position players. For a positional breakdown, there is one QB, four RB’s, two WR’s, and two TEs. Out of the nine players, four of them are in the AFC. The reason for this is to make a balanced article. The last hint, no players in any of the three articles are on the same team.
Let’s start off with the former LSU Tiger who never got to make his regular season rookie debut, Derrius Guice.
At the start of the 2018 season, there was much to love about this young RB. He was a second-round draft pick who went to a team that desperately needed a workhorse back and it was looking like Guice was their answer. That was until his first preseason game. He suffered a torn ACL and just like that, his rookie season was over. After Guice’s injury, the Washington Redskins signed future Hall of Famer, Adrian Peterson. Peterson’s arrival seemed like a one-year situation to make up for the loss of Derrius but heading into 2019 that isn’t the case.
The Washington Redskins not only signed Adrian Peterson to a two-year deal but drafted Stanford RB, Bryce Love. He himself is also still recovering from a torn ACL himself. Washington also has their best pass-catching back, Chris Thompson, still around who will take away touches. In total, we have four relevant backs on the depth chart: Derrius Guice, Adrian Peterson, Chris Thompson, and Bryce Love.
Now to make matters worse for Guice, he is not only going to be recovering from his ACL tear but as well as fighting for touches in this crowded Washington backfield.
Guice’s potential will be dependent upon how many touches he can average per game. As it appears right now, Thompson will continue to be the primary pass catcher out of the backfield. Love might get slowly transitioned into the offense because there is enough depth not to rush him back. That only leaves Adrian Peterson in Guice’s way. At the end of the season, he finished with 251 carries and at 34 years old, he might not be able to be a workhorse back like he once was, but that is where Guice can help out.
To wrap this up, with Derrius’s return, he and Peterson could be a solid 1-2 punch just like Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram or Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson. Once the LSU alum gets up to speed, he’ll be splitting carries with Peterson, but continue to lose catches to Thompson.
Treat this back with much caution when drafting him. There are too many red flags and at his current ADP, he isn’t worth the risk.
McKinnon signed a four-year, $30 million deal, but before he could even play in a preseason game, he tore his ACL. The former Minnesota Viking was in line to be the starter before he suffered his injury. San Francisco did a good job however, of making up for Jerick’s absence. Fellow backs, Matt Brieda, Alfred Morris, Jeff Wilson, Raheem Mostert all stepped up as major contributors.
Those four backs combined for 1,769 rushing yards, six rushing TD’s, 53 catches, 457 receiving yards, and two receiving touchdowns. Matt Brieda was the primary back leading the group in yards, catches, and TD’s. Heading into 2019, Brieda is returning, McKinnon is coming back, and the 49ers signed former Falcons RB, Tevin Coleman, to a two-year deal.
Jerick McKinnon is going to have to work his way back to be the 49ers’ starting RB in a crowded depth chart. San Francisco could most likely do a RBBC scenario to help keep their backs healthy. A RBBC means “running back by committee.” To make a little more sense of it, the 49ers won’t have a definite starter and all their backs will be used for their certain skill set.
For Fantasy purposes, Jerick McKinnon might be riskier than Derrius Guice. San Francisco’s backfield is messier than Season eight of Game of Thrones. One big question about Jerick is if he can maintain a larger workload. He hasn’t had more than 160 carries or started more than 7 games.
The only hope of fantasy relevance for Jerick is being used as the primary 3rd down back. Players like Dion Lewis, James White, and Tarik Cohen are all good comparisons. That would make him very valuable in PPR leagues and increase his Fantasy upside.
Last, but not least is one of the best up and coming TEs in the league, Hunter Henry. Just like both Guice and McKinnon, Henry suffered a torn ACL and missed all of last season. Los Angeles didn’t do much to compensate for Henry’s loss, but their players stepped up. Future Hall of Famer, Antonio Gates came out of retirement, Austin Ekeler increased his role, and former 7th overall pick, Mike Williams, showed everyone his potential.
Henry is returning to the Chargers in a fantastic situation. If he has no setbacks in his recovery, then he is the guaranteed starting TE. Los Angeles lost a couple starters from last season and that will allow Henry to hopefully see some of those targets. On top of that, he will take away targets from some of the other starters, too.
In the offseason, the Chargers lost Tyrell Williams and Antonio Gates and their exits leave available 72 targets. There is also a strong chance Hunter Henry will take some of Keenan Allen (136), Melvin Gordon (66), and Austin Ekeler (53) targets. You have to imagine that with Hunter coming back he will be in line to see over 70 targets. That would be a career high for this 24-year-old TE. If he does see over 70 targets that would make him the team’s second or third target leader.
With everything being said, Henry is automatically a top 10 TE in fantasy and he has top 5 upside. The only players at his position that are currently ranked higher than him are George Kittle, Zach Ertz, and Travis Kelce. After those three are gone then it’s a tossup of who rounds out the rest of the top five of TEs.