Why fantasy managers should avoid predicting injuries | Yahoo Fantasy Football Forecast

Yahoo Sports' Matt Harmon and Andy Behrens explain why fantasy managers should not predict injuries, including why wanting 100% certainty from any player is a dangerous game.

Video Transcript


MATT HARMON: The lesson for McCaffrey is easy. It's sorry, and I know this is like a harsh way to say it, but speaking in absolutes about injuries is just straight up dumb. I mean, there were so many people. Any time Chris McCaffrey post went out on Twitter it's like, nope, never drafting him. He's going to get hurt. He's going to get hurt. He's going to get hurt.

Well, he didn't get hurt, you know? He was great, obviously, in San Francisco. He was pretty damn good in Carolina even before going to San Francisco. So I think that's a little bit like revisionist history that, oh, he needed this trade to hit his ceiling. He was having a really good season in Carolina. Obviously going to an environment like San Francisco where he's going to score more touchdowns. Touchdowns matter a lot, as we just talked about with Ekeler.

But to me, obviously the answer is easy here. It's just like if you walk into a season saying this guy is going to get injured, you might be right. But to act like you are definitely going to be right is dumb.

ANDY BEHRENS: Yeah. Also you phrased it in a way earlier that is so common in fantasy. Where like you'll hear someone say, oh, he burned me last year by getting injured, right? Like you don't have a personal relationship with any of these guys.


ANDY BEHRENS: You know like he didn't do anything to you. Like that's a strictly one way relationship. Christian McCaffrey is not thinking about you, Tony, when he's making a decision regarding his health. There's absolutely no personal relationship that any of you have with players except for Harmon and Ekeler.

Yeah, the lesson with McCaffrey and it is true for other people that we will be talking about here. it is true for Derrick Henry, who you missed a portion of the season the year before. It is true for Saquon Barkley who's had injury issues. Some of them related to pretty significant injuries that he's accumulated over the years. But like we're terrible at predicting injuries.

We're absolutely terrible at it. Like in the aggregate we can say that a certain number of running backs are probably going to get hurt each season. But we are absolutely-- I don't know anybody who's good at it, at singling out players who don't have an existing injury coming into a season, right? And that was McCaffrey was-- it's not like there's one thing that you can point to with Christian McCaffrey where you're like, uh oh, if that knee holds up. If like whatever holds up.

He doesn't have like some sort of worrisome, chronic problem that we're going to have to be sweating for the rest of his career. Like we're just terrible at predicting injuries. But we think we're good at it because we see a guy who missed a bunch of time the year before. And we just have short memories in this game, right? So your takeaway from this obviously, is to look at the guys like, I don't know.

Everybody's mad at Jonathan Taylor coming out of the season, right? People are going to go into drafts next year. And you'll hear it, folks will say, oh, he burned me last year. Again, Jonathan Taylor has no personal relationship with you. Jonathan Taylor is as likely to stay healthy as anyone. He already has a 2,000 scrimmage yard season on his resume.

He has been one of the most valuable players in fantasy. He's young. He has some physical traits that are rare in the NFL. And he can absolutely finish as the RB1 again, whether he burned you last year at fantasy or not. We are absolutely awful at predicting injuries. Nobody should engage in it. It should not be a component of anybody's analysis, right? Unless a guy is actually coming into a season with some specific injury worries, we shouldn't even talk about it because we're just spinning a wheel.

MATT HARMON: Right. Like a Kyler Murray this year. Like he's coming into the year with a torn ACL. Guys like you know Michael Gallup last year or Chris Godwin. Or one of these guys, like the late season torn ACL bros of last year. Like I think it's OK to talk about that because you are actively in the middle of a recovery.

With McCaffrey, like he said at one point training camp last year, he's like oh yeah, I could go like take a piss and they'll put me on the injury report if I go take a leak in the middle of practice because that was just where we were at with McCaffrey at that point. And McCaffrey and Jonathan Taylor are such a great like-- such an easy way to frame this discussion because the talking point with Jonathan Taylor, like why you had to take him number one overall over Christian McCaffrey. And again, anyone could get injured.

There are-- if we replay this Avenger style like 1,000 times or whatever, maybe this is the one scenario, the one universe, the one multiverse where McCaffrey stayed healthy all year and Jonathan Taylor got banged up. But that universe, that multiverse did exist, right? And that was the one we lived in. Because with Taylor it was like, oh, this guy's never missed a practice. He's never even missed a practice. He's not going to get hurt.

Well, he got hurt and finished his running back at 34. So like anybody can get hurt. And I totally agree with your point there that trying to predict injuries, like if that's the basis of your discussion I think you're just you're setting yourself up to potentially look really bad.

Because like McCaffrey, again, I know that the trade to San Francisco was great. But if you didn't take McCaffrey simply because of injuries, especially if you were sitting at two or three or four, I definitely know leagues where he felt like that fourth spot because of the burnt factor and people getting their feelings hurt, you missed out on just outrageous value there.

ANDY BEHRENS: Yeah. He didn't have a successful season because-- like he was on his way to a great season with or without the trade. I mean, the trade was really fun. It's fun that he's going to be tied to a higher yield offense presumably over the next few years. But like wasn't he like the only guy to go over 100 yards against San Francisco before it got dealt there, right? Like he's I mean he's just flat out great player.