Fantasy Football: Do injuries provide value?
A fantasy football draft is 100 percent a stock market. The worth of a player is tied entirely to his draft slot; an individual can be an excellent pick in one draft and a horrible pick in another based on where he’s selected. Each player comes with a price tag (ADP), and all of the things that will affect his future play should be factored into that price tag.
The key phrase there is “should be.” The general public weighs certain criteria differently, and sometimes they’re off. The best fantasy owners leverage those mistakes, which result in an ADP that’s too high or too low, into a competitive advantage.
For a long time, I’ve been a proponent of drafting players coming off of injuries. The thinking was that the extent to which an injury (even a severe one) hurt a player in subsequent seasons wasn’t to the degree that the general public believed, i.e. the ADP of those players was too low. By specifically targeting players coming off of injuries, it seemed like you could potentially find value.
I may have been wrong. At RotoWire, I decided to take a look at whether or not injuries could offer value to owners.
I recently studied the biggest injuries to skill position players from 2008 to 2011. Some of the names on the list are Tom Brady, Steve Smith, Rashard Mendenhall, Knowshon Moreno, Wes Welker and of course the players listed above. I charted their preseason ADPs in the year following their season-ending injury, along with their final season rankings at their positions.
Overall, I examined the 38 highest-ranked players coming off of a recent injury – not a huge sample but perhaps enough for the dramatic results to be significant. Of those 38 players, only 12 improved upon their preseason ADPs. The average drop is nine spots in the rankings.
You can see that quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers, on average, all dropped between seven and 20 spots from their preseason ADPs. Those results are so major it makes up for the small sample. It’s unclear whether tight ends are really capable of coming back from injuries better than players at other positions – tight ends actually rose an average of two spots from their ADPs – but it’s worth noting there were just four highly-ranked tight ends who suffered season-ending injuries over the time period studied, and only one of them (Brandon Pettigrew in 2010) rose significantly.
Even if we confine the results to only those players who were ranked as No. 1 or 2 options at their position before the year, the results don’t improve. For those elite players, the average drop is 13 spots.
Note that I didn’t use a huge sample size and I didn’t analyze whether or not players coming off of injuries are more likely to get injured in the future, but the results still seem odd. You can see the entire article at RotoWire.