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Fantasy Injury Exam Room - Julio Jones is Fine, Amari Cooper Isn't

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.

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

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!


Julio Jones (WR, ATL)

We are just over a week away from Week 1 and the Falcons are still bringing Julio Jones along slowly. He always seems to be battling some sort of a lower-body injury, yet he also finds a way to perform well despite all of his injury problems. So now the big question is will that trend continue in 2019? Jones missed most of the spring and summer recovering from a foot injury that seems to be the same one that bothered him throughout the 2018 season. 

Our algorithm had Jones in the High Risk category throughout the spring and early part of training camp, but he just improved to Elevated Risk. There’s still plenty of room to improve, but he is trending in the right direction. Jones’ lower-body injuries started with a toe fracture in 2011. He underwent surgery ahead of his rookie season and went on to play in 13 games that season. 2013 was by far the worst season of his career as he played in just five games due to a Jones fracture. In the five seasons since, he has had quite a few injuries but missed just three total games. He led the league in receiving yards for the second time last season, proving that his elite talent can overcome these injuries. 

Inside Injuries has Jones’ HPF (Health Performance Factor) at Above Average. Like his overall risk of injury, there’s room for improvement but he should be healthy enough to play pretty well. It’s always concerning to hear a wide receiver is battling a foot injury, but as far as we can tell there isn’t a fracture or significant ligament tear. He is also expected to be a “full go” at practice ahead of Week 1. The Inside Injuries algorithm is indicating some optimism that he can stay on the field this season and prove once again that he is one of the league’s best receivers.

Engel’s Fantasy Analysis

This report candidly helps me to breathe freely with relief. I have owned Jones in the past and whenever I see a report of an injury related to him I do honestly get a bit concerned, especially when it is related to his foot, So I wanted to be cautious for our readers and asked the Inside Injuries team for a scouting report on his health for this article just for reassurance. And as you can see, we’ve got it. Jones has played 16 games in each of the last two seasons and concerns about his health have widely calmed down over that time span.

If you drafted him the most recent injury apparently is not going to affect his availability for the regular-season opener. I would not hesitate to take him as soon as the back end portion of the first round in any upcoming draft. 


Amari Cooper (WR, DAL)

Despite being far from 100%, Cooper is expected to suit up for the Cowboys Week 1 game. Cooper missed much of training camp recovering from a foot injury that is likely plantar fasciitis. It’s been described as everything from a heel strain to a contusion to plantar fasciitis; either way it isn’t good. Plantar fasciitis is something he has battled multiple times in the past and it’s something that often re-appears. It can be a very difficult injury to fully recover from. That’s why it seems like the most likely injury he is battling, but our future projections don’t change much even if this is a foot strain. 

The Inside Injuries algorithm is considering this a moderate (grade 2) case of plantar fasciitis, which comes with a 5 week Optimal Recovery Time. He remains weeks away from hitting his Healthy to Return date, so his Injury Risk remains very high. His HPF is also Poor and won’t improve much ahead of Week 1. Unlike Julio, Cooper doesn’t have a proven track record of excelling when playing through injuries, and he isn’t an elite receiver either. He’s good but not good enough to play through an injury and still put up top WR numbers.

When speaking about his injury recently, Cooper said that his pain was a 3/10. While that might not sound that bad, it’s a concern because it means there’s still pain there and he isn’t even doing all football activities yet. He can run full speed but is still having trouble cutting and changing direction when running routes. This type of foot injury will also affect his explosiveness and will be painful when pushing off to jump for a ball. If Cooper tries to play before his foot is fully healed, it could lead to a ruined season as it is easily made worse.

Engel’s Fantasy Analysis

This is a very concerning report that will cause me to drop Cooper in my rankings. I had him just outside the WR1 range, but now he seems to be in danger of missing time at some point, even if it isn't in Week 1. He could either be held out at the beginning of the season, or the more likely scenario is he could try to play before he is healed and miss a significant amount of time.

Cooper now looks like a very risky pick, and should he be out for an extended period, Dak Prescott may lean more heavily on breakout candidate Michael Gallup. The second-year WR may be headed for a breakthrough season as he either benefits from playing across from Cooper and gets more heavily targeted with Cooper out. Gallup is a terrific upside WR pick in the later rounds. 


Mike Evans (WR, TB)

Evans missed practice last week with a left leg injury. He appeared to hurt his quad when running a route, although it never seemed too serious. Evans was cleared to return to practice this week and is on track to play Week 1. 

While his Injury Risk remains Elevated, our algorithm is showing that Evans’ HPF will be back in the Peak category within the next week. That means he should be close to 100% for the Bucs first game. Evans has had his fair share of minor injuries throughout his first five NFL seasons (knee, hamstring, concussion), but he has played at least 15 games and eclipsed 1,000 yards each year. This latest injury shouldn't scare you too much.

Engel’s Fantasy Analysis

Some Fantasy Exam Rooms we have done in the past have been filled with negative reports, but two of the three here this week have positive spins, including this one. There are high expectations for the Tampa Bay offense this season and Evans is their best offensive player. He should be very busy this season as Tampa Bay’s running game looks mediocre again and they will have to depend on their passing again a lot.

Asking Jameis Winston to carry the offense is not a good thing, as we have previously seen. But as erratic as the Buccaneers offense may be under Winston, Evans is always sure to post WR1 numbers. We wanted to check with Inside Injuries to see if this leg issue was anything to be concerned about, and fortunately it is not.

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

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