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Injury Exam Room - Cam Newton, Dalvin Cook, Allen Robinson

In our new weekly feature in collaboration with Inside Injuries, we take a comprehensive preseason look into major injuries and their Fantasy Football implications.

The medical team at Inside Injuries breaks down each player’s outlook from physical perspectives. RotoBaller then provides in-depth fantasy recommendations based on the impact of every injury breakdown. It’s an unrivaled combination of medical and fantasy expertise, designed to help you gain a true advantage as you prepare for your 2019 drafts.

Inside Injuries predicts the impact of injuries on player performance by using data analytics, medical expertise, and statistical modeling. Also check out our previous Injury Exams on Fournette, Kupp and O.J. Howard or Gurley, Sanders, and D. Freeman.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive In-Season Lineup Tools, Lineup Optimizer and over 150 days of Premium DFS Research. Sign Up Now!



Cam Newton (QB, CAR)

Something was clearly off with Cam Newton late in the 2018 season, and it wasn’t exactly a surprise when he underwent another surgery on his shoulder during the offseason. Newton’s shoulder problems started in 2016 when he suffered a partially torn rotator cuff. He tried to go the rehab route but ultimately underwent surgery in March 2017 to repair the damage. He has been up and down ever since.

Now Newton is six months removed from his second shoulder surgery. This one wasn’t as extensive, but there was some cartilage damage that had to be addressed. Newton is expected to be a full participant early at training camp and has been throwing a full-sized football for two months. All of this is positive news, but it doesn’t change the fact that he’s an aggressive quarterback who takes a lot of big hits and he has already had two surgeries on his throwing shoulder.

Newton should start the season feeling strong and healthy as he can be seven months removed from surgery, but as the season progresses his body will wear down. Right now he is in the Peak HPF (Health Performance Factor) category, an indication he can play well right now, but that can quickly change.

There are a number of things that could lead to an up and down season. He could experience fatigue in his shoulder, causing weakness and accuracy issues. He could aggravate his shoulder due to a big hit or just wear-and-tear due to the grind of the season. He could change his style of play to run less in an effort to protect his shoulder. Sure, Newton could have some big games, especially because of his running ability, but there’s a lot of risk here. Our algorithm still says he is a High Injury Risk (28%), and he won’t reach his Optimal Recovery Time until October. Stay away from Cam unless you have another strong quarterback on your roster.

Engel’s Fantasy Analysis

Newton is currently being drafted as the eighth or ninth QB off the board on most sites, but FFPC players are being a bit more cautious with him, as he is the 11th QB taken in the high stakes leagues. His longtime reputation as a major dual threat with the upside to be a top-five fantasy QB keeps him in the QB1 mix. But he appears to be a risky pick who can still cause legitimate concerns and he simply may not be dependable.

The QB position is so deep that it does not appear to be a smart move to take Newton as your prime starter when there are other safer choices you can make. Sure, he can still be a significant threat as a runner, but he has not been enough of a productive passer over the past three seasons. With his body already feeling wear and tear from past seasons, there does not seem to be enough upside to take the shot on Newton as a Top 10 QB this year.

In the past, we’ve drafted him for his distinctive combination of passing and running, with the latter trait pushing him above many other players at his position when he is performing at optimum levels. But he is a health gamble and we simply have to stop chasing the memories of 2015. If he runs less than he used to, Newton may start to be known more as a mediocre fantasy player with his best years already behind him.


Dalvin Cook (RB, MIN)

In 2018 Dalvin Cook suffered the same fate as many players coming back from a torn ACL. A recurring hamstring strain nearly ruined his season and sidelined him for five games while limiting him in many others. Cook suffered a torn ACL in just the fourth game of his rookie season. He spent the offseason recovering, and while his knee was fully healed by the time the 2018 season started, the rest of his body wasn’t quite ready. When returning from a torn ACL it’s common for the muscles in the leg to be weaker than they were pre-injury, and it can take over a year to get back to normal.

Cook initially injured his hamstring in Week 2, missed Week 3 and returned in Week 4 (two weeks before his Optimal Recovery Time). He quickly re-injured it and ended up sitting until Week 9. Cook averaged 12 carries per game, significantly lower than the 18.5 he averaged in 2017 before injuring his knee.

Now that Cook has had an entire offseason where he was healthy, he should be much stronger and comes with a lower Injury Risk (9%). Once a player has dealt with lower body muscular strains they are more susceptible to this type of injury in the future, so don’t be surprised if Cook misses practice time with tightness or soreness in his hamstring/quad at some point. According to our algorithm he enters the 2019 season in a much better place physically than in 2018, but he still comes with a bit of risk.

Engel’s Fantasy Analysis

This is a somewhat encouraging report, as Cook has already gained a reputation as a significant injury risk. But entering the new campaign after a quiet offseason without having to deal with recovery is a positive sign in his favor. When he is available, Cook is a dynamic and versatile RB who can operate as another major weapon in the Minnesota offense. As indicated above, he could be in danger of some more injury issues at any time, but there do not seem to be any notable worries about him as training camp opens.

Cook has a PPR ADP of 11th or 12th at RB on most sites right now. As long as you handcuff rookie Alexander Mattison to him, you should be content with landing him on the back-end RB1/high-end RB2 cusp. If he plays most of the schedule, Cook can perform as a consistent RB1 in PPR formats. He does not appear to have fully escaped the injury shadow yet, but his outlook has improved to the point where he can be a minor rather than major concern.


Allen Robinson (WR, CHI)

The last two seasons have been rough for Robinson due to various injuries, but now that he has had an offseason where he was fully healthy he should be prepared for a much more consistent, injury-free campaign.

Robinson’s injury problems started in 2017 when he suffered a torn ACL in the first game of the season. He returned to play in 13 games in 2018 but battled rib and groin injuries that forced him to miss multiple games and limited him in others. As we mentioned with Cook, these lower body muscular strains are common when coming back from a torn ACL. Groin strains also tend to linger, so it isn’t a surprise that it affected his performance even when he was cleared to play. From Weeks 11-16 Robinson topped 50 yards just twice. He surpassed 100 yards just once in the regular season (Week 10) but finally looked healthy in the Wild Card game (10 receptions, 143 yards, TD).

Our algorithm is saying that the playoff outing should be a sign of good things to come. He has been healthy for over seven months and was able to spend the offseason focusing on strength and conditioning instead of rehab.  Now back at a low Injury Risk (9%), Robinson has WR1 potential in his second season with the Bears. He has a good shot at being out there for close to 16 games.

Engel’s Fantasy Analysis

Many fantasy players appeared to have soured on Robinson after a disappointing 2018 campaign in which he was widely expected to re-emerge as a very good fantasy option. After last year’s frustrating regular season, he has fallen to the range where he is the 33rd WR off the board, This report makes it seem like Robinson can be quite the value selection for 2019. The Bears should take more steps forward as an offense in 2019, and Mitch Trubisky must rely on Robinson to help him improve as a passer.

Right now, Robinson is barely being drafted as a fantasy WR3. But now two seasons removed from his major injury, this is the year where he can finally bounce back and regain a lot of respectability. The potential is there for Robinson to play at a fantasy WR2 level in 2019. Grab him when others choose to pass on him. Don’t let the memory of 2018 linger as many others will do. The second year under Matt Nagy could be the one where the Chicago offense starts to blossom, and Robinson could be a key part of the process.

For less than one dollar a day, get the edge you need to bet with confidence at Inside Injuries!

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