Fantasy owners alike know the feeling of anticipation of the official injury report to know whether it’s an IR designation or not. It can change your season in an instant, but knowing when to part ways or capitalize following a season ending injury can make all the difference. Lower extremity injuries are one of the most common with the knee being injured in most cases. NFL players with isolated ACL injuries have a quicker return to play time than those with multiple ligament injuries involving ACL/MCL and worse case ACL and PCL/LCL. More importantly running backs and receivers (WR/TE) have been shown to require increased time for return to play and have shown a lower level of performance post-injury.
Now that the draft is over we look to further moves in free agency and those coming off IR for further insight into this coming season. With this in mind here are 5 players coming off IR into their 2nd and 3rd years that we should take a closer look at…
Preston Williams – WR, Miami Dolphins
An emotional rollercoaster of a breakout season that ended on IR. Preston Williams was the flyer that many owners search for in late rounds. Although this is his second ACL injury, the length of time between them and lack of other major injuries is good news. The Dolphins also seem to think so as they focused on other areas other than WR. I see him returning to 2019 stride midseason with highest upside more than a year removed from his injury.
Derrius Guice – RB, Washington Redskins
His record breaking performances following an injury to Fournette that gave him the green light at LSU have stuck in many owners mind. Unfortunately it has not translated into the NFL and in my opinion it most likely won’t. Since 2017 he has been a collector of knee injuries, with a sprain in his last season of college and back to back IR seasons for an ACL and MCL. Maybe Peterson can help guide him through rehab and on-the-field, but combine his violent running style with his injury history and I see a short career. Sell as soon as you get some upside.
Bryce Love – RB, Washington Redskins
I know, I know, but I’m invested at this point. His knee injury is more than a year removed with no major previous history or complications other then a small arthroscopic surgery to clean up scar tissue. His 1st round potential is a should-of-would-of-could-of scenario, but I’m not knocking his potential until I see more. As I stated before I don’t think Guice will be in his way much longer. As for the rest I see it as AP being obvious lead with a lot of questions marks after that. Barber and McKissic were both undrafted and look to be depth pieces. Rivera likes versatile guys and Turner likes to distribute to his backs. Love and Gibson both fit the scheme, but the question is who steps up into the McCaffrey like role. Love is worth a stash but nothing more until he sees some reps.
Rashaad Penny – RB, Seattle Seahawks
This is a tough one for me. I’ve rewatched the video of his injury multiple times and you can see clear hyperextension which is consistent with his ACL injury, but most reports state “significant” without much detail. ACL injuries are inherently significant, but Penny’s knee injury was isolated to the ACL from the reports I could read. Multiple ligament injuries are inherently more significant and should be reported as such. Penny’s rehab is going well, he is progressing quickly, and he has no significant knee injury history. Carson is the clear lead back, but Penny showed his potential prior to be placed on IR and is in a great position if he stays healthy. Homer and Dallas have since been reunited, but nothing more than that.
Kerryon Johnson – RB, Detroit Lions
In the words of Kansas, “For there’ll be peace when you are done. Lay your weary head to rest. Don’t you cry no more.” I started writing this pre-draft and have since scrapped what I wrote. I’ll save you the injury notes and say this. He can’t stay healthy and given his upright running style and small frame he most likely will continue to miss multiple weeks. Not quite in drop territory yet as maybe there is still a hopeful soul out there who sees something we all don’t.