Fantasy Comeback Candidates
Every year the injuries pile up in the NFL and that impacts our fantasy season for sure but the impact it has on the following year’s draft is also an important factor to consider.
It’s these players that come back from significant injuries that can be potential values for you this year in your fantasy football leagues. So many fantasy GMs tend to have short term memory anymore these days and they draft based on last season’s stats alone.
Missing out on players coming back from injury can be a big mistake, so we’re going to go in depth on each of these players to find out who’s going to be the steal of your draft this year.
Tom Brady, NewEngland Patriots
Injury: Torn ACL/MCL | Games Missed: 15 | 2007 Results: #1 QB
The Injury: Tom Brady was lost for the season on the Patriots first play from scrimmage last year. Everybody remembers that Bernard Pollard hit to the knee but what a lot of people seem to be forgetting is that Brady turned in the greatest fantasy season by a QB ever in 2007… this short term memory has resulted in him falling to the 3rd and even 4th QB taken in some drafts which is shameful for any fantasy owner at any level.
Fantasy Impact: Brady is still the best QB out there with his terrific supporting cast and great experience. He has been rehabbing this injury for a while now and should be right on schedule to start the season and pickup where he left off one year ago. He’s my number 1b fantasy quarterback this year and that’s only because of Drew Brees’ near record-breaking season last year. I’m positive that Brady will play this season with something to prove and he’ll supply fantasy owners with another year filled with blowup performances.
Carson Palmer, Cincinnati Bengals
Injury: Torn Elbow Tendon | Games Missed: 12 | 2007 Results: #9 QB
The Injury: Carson Palmer sustained a severe elbow injury around week 4 and was never the same all year. The Bengals reported that Palmer was ready to participate back in late April, so he should be prepared for the season and he’ll benefit from more rehab time, since he was on the shelf early last year.
Fantasy Impact: I expect a big bounce-back season from Palmer, who is still an elite QB. The Bengals not only made some solid additions this off-season but added some solid talent in the draft as well. Chad 8-5 should be even more content than ever before being that he is the unquestioned #1 target on the team and Laveranues Coles should prove to be a great veteran addition. I expect Palmer to easily finish in the top-10 of all QBs this year, regardless of scoring system.
Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle Seahawks
Injury: Back/Knee | Games Missed: 9 | 2007 Results: Top-10 QB
The Injury: Hasselbeck has been a very injury-prone player throughout his career. Last year was no exception, as Hasselcrap missed 9 games due to a bulging disk in his back and a hyper-extended knee. The Seahawks’ offense was putrid without their precision passer leading the way and it’s feared that the same result will take place if Hasselbeck can’t remain healthy this season.
Fantasy Impact: There are two factors that I consider to be a big help to Hasselcrap. One, he still plays in a NFC West division that features three sub-par defenses. Two, while the Seahawks did make coaching changes, their basic scheme and terminology will remain the same within the existing west-coast offense. I’m being very cautious when factoring any Seahawks player into my drafts and a big reason is the skepticism that surrounds Hasselbeck’s ability to play 16 full games. QB2 with a lot of upside is my thinking here.
LaDainian Tomlinson, SanDiego Chargers
Injury: Turf Toe/Groin | Games Missed: 0 | 2007 Results: #1 RB
The Injury: Tomlinson suffered through turf toe basically all year but what a lot of people forgot about is the tendon that he partially pulled off his groin muscle before the playoffs began. Tomlinson was deemed useless for the playoffs for the second year in a row but still managed to remain in the top-10 of most scoring systems.
Fantasy Impact: LT2 is still being drafted in the top-5 of RBs in most fantasy drafts that I’ve taken part in, which I completely agree with because I’m a card carrying member of the Tomlinson Comeback Train. LT participated fully in May minicamps and appears to be 100% healthy already. I’m still convinced that not only will Tomlinson have a return to glory but it will hurt Phillip Rivers’ stats in ‘09.
Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders
Injury: Turf Toe(s)/Shoulder | Games Missed: 3 | 2007 Results: NA
The Injury: McFadden dinged his shoulder in week three and I’m still of the opinion that he wasn’t the same from then on and my paranoia was surprisingly supported after hearing that RunDMC did in fact have shoulder surgery in Arkansas this last January. McFadden also played the bulk of 2008 with turf toe in both feet, so it’s a credit to his toughness that he only missed 3 total games but his performance was obviously hindered by toe injuries for the remainder of the year.
Fantasy Impact: A lot of people drafted McFadden very high in dynasty drafts last year expecting at least a preview of what’s to come and he hasn’t been healthy enough to do so in a stumbling Oakland offense. This year I think we can expect to see a rejuvenated and rehabilitated McFadden running behind an improved Oakland offensive-line. The passing game or lack thereof is what will hold him back this season but I still expect McFadden to play with a chip on his repaired shoulder and provide fantasy owners with solid RB2 numbers.
Reggie Bush, NewOrleans Saints
Injury: Torn PCL/Meniscus | Games Missed: 6 | 2007 Results: Top-10 RB(PPR)
The Injury: Reggie Bush was on his way to having another great receiving & special teams season when a torn meniscus in his left knee caused him to miss four games. Bush had arthroscopic surgery during the time off but he would later be lost for the season with a partially torn PCL in the same knee.
Fantasy Impact: Bush had micro-fracture surgery in December and some are worried about Bush losing his trademark quickness as a result. He’s multi-dimensional threat when healthy but that knee has been cut into so many times already, it’s just too suspect for me to invest too much into. He’s an RB1 in a PPR system for 7 weeks at least.
Felix Jones, Dallas Cowboys
Injury: Hamstring/Toe | Games Missed: 11 | 2007 Results: NA
The Injury: Jones was slowed by a hamstring early in the season but tore the tendon on his left big toe completely off in week 6. The injury required surgery in November, as Jones was lost for the season. He has been rumored to be running and cutting in camp at 100%.
Fantasy Impact: Jones remains a bit of an enigma, as he’s supposed to be a 3rd down type of RB even though he doesn’t catch a lot of passes. Jones certainly has the speed and lateral movement needed to create in open spaces but I still remain skeptical of his prowess in PPR scoring systems. The Cowboys will get this kid the ball, so having Jones on your roster as a 3rd or 4th RB for depth would be advisable.
Marques Colston, NewOrleans Saints
Injury: Broken Thumb/Knee Surgery | Games Missed: 6 | 2007 Results: Top-10 WR
The Injury: The big kid from Hofstra broke his thumb in week one, causing him to miss the next six games. He was very limited once back but still proved to be a natural at the position, showing some of his great hands that made him a star in his rookie two seasons ago. He also had arthroscopic surgery to clean up his knee in February and is expected to be 100% by training camp.
Fantasy Impact: Colston is the unquestioned number one WR in New Orleans and he’s certainly the most talented. I’m still of the opinion that Brees spreads the wealth so much that Colston doesn’t command a lot of targets from week-to-week like some other number one WRs do but he’s still in the upper echelon of pass catchers in the league. I rank him in the 2nd tier of WRs and place him just outside of the top-10 when doing my rankings, especially in PPR leagues.
Greg Camarillo, Miami Dolphins
Injury: Torn ACL | Games Missed: 4 | 2007 Results: NA
The Injury: Camarillo had a storybook season that rewarded him with a multi-year contract from the Dolphins. Camarillo got better each and every game. He basically crushed Denver for 11 receptions and 111 yards at Denver last year and was on his way to another fine performance in week 12 but tore his ACL which required late-season surgery. Early reports are saying that Camarillo is on schedule to return by the end of training camp.
Fantasy Impact: It’s really ashame because Camarillo was having such a great season. I’m thinking that he’s just the kind of person who’ll play this year with something to prove and he’s definitely been taking his rehab very seriously but monitor his situation closely. If he’s healthy, he’s a PPR monster and would provide great depth but he might start off slow. I’m still targeting him late in my PPR drafts as a WR4 with a ton of upside.
Kevin Curtis, Philadelphia Eagles
Injury: Sports Hernia | Games Missed: 7 | 2007 Results: Top-15 WR(PPR)
The Injury: Curtis started the year off last season on the bench after having sports hernia surgery in August of 2008, which resulted in him missing 7 games. He returned but was still limited by the injury. KC has follow-up surgery in mid-April, so he’s been rehabbing and should be ready to start ‘09 fresh.
Fantasy Impact: Curtis knows Andy Reid’s system better than an Eagles wide-out and will be depended on to set the standard for the young additions like Jeremy Maclin & Shady McCoy. This also might be Curtis’ last chance to audition for a new team, since he could soon be the odd man out in Philly. Bottom Line, Big Red still likes Curtis and he’s only two years removed from a 1,000 yard/77 reception year. Draft him late in a PPR league while other folks take chances on DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin.