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Fantasy Injury Exam Room - Derrick Henry, Chris Carson, Carson Wentz


In our 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.

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!

Read More Injury Exam Rooms: Many more players covered here,

Derrick Henry (RB, TEN)

Derrick Henry still isn’t practicing, but he is making a bit of progress in his recovery from a calf strain. Henry suffered the injury on the first day of training camp two weeks ago and hasn’t practiced since. This week, though, he has been out on the field and is making progress in his rehab. He was seen working in the sandpit with their strength coach on Monday and Tuesday. Henry did still have his lower leg wrapped and isn’t ready yet to progress to intense work on the football field. His initial two-week projected recovery time was incredibly optimistic.

Calf strains are very tough injuries to recover from, even the mild ones. Our algorithm considers this a grade 2 (moderate) strain, so Henry’s Optimal Recovery Time is around 4 weeks. Now, that doesn’t mean he will actually miss that much time, but his calf won’t be fully healed until then. Because he remains a few weeks away from that Healthy to Return Date, his Injury Risk remains High (36%). It should slowly improve as we approach the end of August, but a setback of some sort wouldn’t be surprising. That could mean an aggravation of his calf strain or a new compensatory injury such as a sprained ankle or muscular strain to the opposite leg. It’s very important to ensure that his rehab isn’t rushed because it won’t take much to suffer a significant setback, forcing him to miss the start of the season.

Engel’s Fantasy Analysis

It appears that Henry is not quite in true danger of missing the regular season opener yet, but that outlook could change at any time. Hopefully, the Titans play it very carefully with him, as there is no reason to rush him in the preseason. I would not move him down in my rankings yet because of health concerns, but I have other reasons why I do not rank him as a Top 20 RB in PPR formats. The biggest one is that we have never seen him put together an extended run of success.

In 2017, Henry teased us with some quality outings late in the regular season and a great game in the first round of the playoffs. But he opened the 2018 season slowly and by midyear, some had actually cut him from their Fantasy teams. Then he resurfaced for the final four games of the season for monster performances and here we are again one year later in the same place we were last summer: Speculating about whether or not he can build on last year’s late-season momentum.

I’m not willing to take that chance on him as anything more than a low-end RB2. He does not catch passes, either. Opposing defenses are going to give Henry a lot of defensive attention early in the season until the passing game shows it can improve. I’m not buying in yet that Henry will be consistent or dependable. One setback and he will officially drop out of RB2 territory for me. He’s 21st overall in my RB rankings right now.

 

Chris Carson (RB, SEA)

After playing in just four games in 2017, Carson managed to suit up 14 times in 2018, but unfortunately injuries remained an issue. In 2017, his season was cut short due to a lower leg injury that included a high ankle sprain and a fracture that required surgery. In 2018, he played through thigh, hip, and finger injuries but missed just two games. Now healthy, Carson is viewed by many as a value running back who can produce fine numbers if he can stay on the field. Unfortunately, after two years in the league, it’s looking like he is going to have a hard time staying healthy and consistently producing.

Inside Injuries has Carson in the Elevated Risk Category (18%) entering the 2019 season. It’s much better than when he was heading into his sophomore season, but it’s not something to ignore. The Seahawks have been very impressed with him so far at training camp, and he is expected to be much more involved in the passing game. Our algorithm agrees as Carson’s HPF (Health Performance Factor) is 86%, which is firmly in the Peak category. Expect him to have a solid season but miss a few games due to injuries.

Engel’s Fantasy Analysis

Many Fantasy analysts indeed believe Carson is a quality value RB2, because he is the lead RB on a team that had the best rushing offense in the league last year. But Carson unapologetically has a very violent running style that also has adverse effects on him at times. He is going to try to bowl over and run through defenders because that is his style, and he is not changing it.

That is an understandable approach from Carson’s perspective, as he cannot hold back on his mode of play if he wants to continue to be successful. But if he continues to give it out as good as he takes it, he will be in danger of missing more playing time. The Seahawks may elect to feature a near-even timeshare between Carson and Rashaad Penny, because it may ensure Carson misses less time, and also keeps defenses on their toes trying to defend two runners with unique styles that complement each other well. As Penny told me directly in December when both RBs were featured in a home win over the 49ers, Carson can wear opponents down and then Penny can make plays in space and on the perimeter.

Carson is just what you see in the Inside Injuries HPF and Injury Risk categories above. A quality production player who is a high injury risk. But Penny looms, not only as someone who can steal a significant amount of carries, but also could really shine as the Seahawks’ featured RB if Carson misses an extended period of time. Mike Davis is gone, a signal that Seattle is comfortable with Penny as a pure RB1 if injuries force that scenario. They drafted him in the first round in 2018. As good as Carson can be, Penny has serious upside if he carries the ball consistently. I can’t rank Carson higher than 26th at RB knowing he could see his carries split with Penny or an eventual situation where the Seahawks may have no choice to keep Penny as the lead RB because he earns it while Carson is out.

 

Carson Wentz (QB, PHI)

Carson Wentz has had a rough few seasons battling injuries. In 2017 his season ended with an ACL and LCL tear, then in 2018, his season ended with a back injury that the Eagles weren’t exactly honest about. They clearly have faith that Wentz can be a durable franchise QB as they signed him to a four-year, $128 million extension in the offseason, but the Inside Injuries algorithm indicates that this is a very risky move.

Despite being cleared to be a full participant ahead of training camp, Wentz remains a High Injury Risk (29%) with a few weeks to go until the season begins. Back injuries can be very unpredictable and tend to re-appear even when a player feels that they have fully recovered. The Eagles initially reported spasms and tightness, but Wentz actually suffered a fracture that was far more serious. He was forced to miss most of the offseason to allow his back to heal. He doesn’t currently have any restrictions, but we should expect some problems at some point this season, even if it’s minor. That could mean a recurrence of the tightness and spasms that were the result of a fracture.

While Wentz’s back is the biggest concern ahead of Week 1, his knee injury can’t be forgotten. Not only did Wentz tear his ACL a year ago, but he also tore his LCL. That means two ligaments in the knee were damaged, and this could also be a warning sign that he will battle cartilage issues in the future. Wentz has enough upside to be in the QB1 conversation (and his HPF is currently in the Above Average category), but he’s a huge risk. Wentz may be healthy now, but how long will that last? Our algorithm says it’s going to be a problem at some point in 2019.

Engel’s Fantasy Analysis

Signing Wentz to an extension and letting Nick Foles go may be a signal to some Fantasy owners that the Eagles are fully invested in Wentz now, so it’s not a big risk to take him as your QB1. All is looking good now, too. But the report above obviously indicates you are taking something of a gamble when you draft Wentz in the Top 10 at QB. The position is so deep and stocked with possible QB1 types, so why risk it?

If it comes down to a close decision between Wentz and another possible QB starter, you should go the other way based on the information presented above. I originally ranked Wentz as my No. 8 QB, but now I cannot see taking him over the likes of Philip Rivers, who is durable and underrated. I may also move Kyler Murray ahead of him based on the rookie’s upside and dual-threat ability. Wentz is going to move down to pure back-end QB1 status in my ranks.

But if the top-10 QBs are off the board and Wentz is still there, just make sure you back him up with a quality QB2 thereafter. Guys like Jimmy Garoppolo and Dak Prescott fall into that mix. Derek Carr and Mitch Trubisky are value plays if you wait until very late for the backup.

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

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