How To Navigate Injuries In Dynasty

Cam Akers injury is very unfortunate

By Jesse Moeller (Twitter: @JMoeller05)

Yesterday was a vivid reminder that the NFL is a brutal sport, and injuries all too often have a significant impact on which teams in both the NFL and fantasy come out on top. The dynasty community saw one of its prized pupils in Cam Akers. The dynasty RB7 sustain a devastating Achilles tendon tear. It shifted the ground in dynasty, as teams dependant on Akers anticipated production immediately went looking for a replacement. In contrast, teams with Henderson received a massive boost for the championship aspirations this year.

It’s necessary to understand that not all injuries are the same. This is a major blow to Akers dynasty stock. Running backs who suffer an Achilles injury do not return to the form they showed prior. There is a fantastic thread from Edwin Porras on how difficult it is for running backs to return from this injury in particular. Based on the information provided, we know it is not your typical lower-body injury. The only running backs to have come back to any fantasy relevance after suffering an Achilles injury were Jonathon Stewart and Mikel Lashoure. Stewart is a true outlier in this scenario, as he put together six seasons with 180+ touches and over 700+ yards.

So What Is My Next Move?

Now, to the more focal point of the article. How do you manage injuries in dynasty? In the offseason, forcing yourself to fill a team need before the draft or training camp can leave you in a much worse position. So let’s go over some of the strategies I use for determining if a player is a sell or buy candidate coming off of an injury.

Age:  Age is key to any player coming off of an injury. Suppose an older player in a dynasty suffers a significant injury. In that case, it likely tanks any value that player has, and they will never return to that pre-injury value. A player that falls under the category is Odell Beckham. Unless Beckham can produce WR1 seasons, he will never crack the top 24 dynasty-wide receiver ranks again, given his age and injury history. He is far more likely to continue his slide as he turns 29 this year. Beckham is a player I have little interest in dynasty due to this history. Beckham has only played 16 games once in his last four seasons and has only one season of WR2 play in that timespan. The lack of production partnered with him coming off a significant injury is why I’m out on Beckham.

Talent: This can be tricky as talent is subjective, but the more talented a player is, I am far more likely to invest in the player recovering from a significant injury. If this player is a true difference-maker at the position, you will likely receive a discount on that player due to said injury. For the elite players such as CMC, Saquon, and others coming off of season-ending injuries, the teams who paid the discounted rate to acquire them last year are set up for success this time. Having the patience to wait through a lost season for elite dynasty players is a potential boon for your roster.

Roster Construction: The third option can be just as important. If a team in win-now mode just lost one of its starting players and did not have a viable backup at the position, this is when teams get desperate trying to compete for a championship each year. They will likely accept a worse player at the position to try and content. If you have foresight and depth, you can upgrade your overall long-term outlook. There are numerous players this could describe, such as Dak Prescott, Joe Burrow, Nick Chubb, Michael Thomas, and George Kittle. Adding any one of those players to your roster boosts the overall product, especially when it comes at a discounted price via trade.

Injury Severity: This is about knowing what type of injury the player has sustained, how severe the damage is, and how long the absence will be. If a quarterback suffers a shoulder or elbow injury such as Big Ben did in 2019, what are the chances of the quarterback returning to full health post-injury? Can any running back recover from a torn Achilles? Did the receiver completely blow out his knee? These are essential questions to ask and help you understand if an injured player is one you should be targeting or fading. Remember, each injury is different, and some players recover faster than others. Using the timeline guides for each injury can help you understand when a player should be close to returning.

There is no proper solution for targeting injured players. With the advancements in modern medicine, athletes can come back quicker than we remember. Ten years ago, Adrian Peterson shocked the world by coming back from an ACL in December 2011 to play the following season. Not only did he do that, but he also put up over 2000 total yards. Peterson proved that the timeline on ACL recoveries was not as long as had previously been thought. This transitions us back to Cam Akers and the torn Achilles he suffered yesterday. It is a much more difficult situation. You have almost no information on players at the running back position who have successfully returned to have a successful career outside of Stewart. I came across this thread earlier and thought it was vital information to share as it is eerily similar to Akers situation. I highly recommend you read the Twitter thread and conclude what to do on Akers.

Cam The Ram

Those of you moving Akers, here is how I would go about it. If I can get a WR2 in return like Higgins, Aiyuk, Claypool, Lockett, or Woods and something added on top, I would be ok moving Akers in a trade. I’m not going to sell Akers for only a 1st round pick, as that does little to help me at the moment. Akers value is currently as low as it will be for the next few months. You should be in no rush to trade him away until you find a deal you are comfortable moving him in. You could also package him and someone like CeeDee Lamb for a genuinely elite running back if you choose to go that route in dynasty.

For people looking to buy low on Akers, I would start with rookie players and see if you can get someone to bite on a Michael Carter or Rondale Moore. These rookie players will never offer the upside of an Akers in dynasty, so I am comfortable moving them with the chance Akers comes back healthy. If unsuccessful, try a more established veteran like Damien Harris or Ronald Jones plus, which may be the route. This will be the much easier route, with the narrative surrounding Achilles injuries, the majority of the community will be out on him for the foreseeable future.

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