Biggest injury risks, potential fantasy football busts at each position in 2022

It burns when you expend high draft capital on a player and he ends up missing numerous games with injury. Not having your RB1, WR1 or TE1 for even a couple of weeks can end your hopes of making the fantasy football playoffs. It’s an unfortunate reality that you’ll have to deal with an injury or two throughout the 2022 season, and even players you think aren’t injury risks can get hurt on any given play, turning sleepers into busts in the blink of an eye.

Is there really anything fantasy owners can do to avoid this? Aside from drafting capable backups and handcuffs, Draft Sharks’ Injury Predictor tool can help us identify players who are most likely to get hurt during the season. You’d probably be able to name a few of the highest-risk players (Carson Wentz, Dalvin Cook, Robert Woods), but there are others high on this list who might surprise you.

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO WIN: Ultimate 2022 fantasy cheat sheet

Draft Sharks’ Injury Index uses historical health information and four key figures to demonstrate injury risk: Probability of injury during the season, projected missed games, probability of injury per game, and durability rating (ability to produce despite relatively minor injuries, with five being the most durable). All of these numbers provide unique, advanced insight into a player’s 2022 outlook, and for the first time ever, Draft Sharks is giving Sporting News Fantasy readers free access to its Injury Predictor tool below. Check it out for any player you’re considering drafting.

MORE DRAFT SHARKS: See more exclusive tools, stats, and analysis from Draft Sharks

Below, we’ll highlight the five most notable players with relatively high injury risk at each position.

Dominate your Draft with Draft Sharks War Room: Try it FREE for a week

Draft Sharks Injury Predictor: Identifying the biggest injury risks, potential busts in 2022 fantasy football drafts

Note: The players below are ranked in order of their overall injury risk this season (with “injury risk” being defined as likelihood of suffering an injury that causes a player to miss at least two quarters).

Quarterback Injury Risks

1. Carson Wentz, Commanders (77 percent): Wentz has struggled with the injury bug throughout his NFL career, coming in as the No. 1 starting QB in probability of injury per game (8.3 percent). Draft Sharks projects Wentz to miss 2.1 games this season. On top of his injury concerns, he’s now the signal caller for a third team in as many years and is most likely going undrafted in single-QB formats this season. Wentz does get a score of four in durability rating, so there’s a chance a minor injury won’t sideline him during the fantasy season.

2. Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins (73 percent): Tagovailoa is the second starting QB on this list with a 7.4-percent probability of injury per game. Tagovailoa has suffered nine career injuries dating back to his days at Alabama and is projected to miss 2.2 games this season. Tagovailoa missed four games a season ago due to cracked ribs (three games) and a fractured finger on his left hand (one game). His durability rating is only at two, as there’s a chance he misses games if hurt or injured. Tagovailoa is a popular sleeper, but even as a mid-round pick, he’s a risk.

3. Joe Burrow, Bengals (65 percent): Burrow has dealt with a total of three injuries to begin his NFL career (not counting his appendectomy at the beginning of training camp), most recently spraining his right MCL in the final minutes of Super Bowl LVI. Per Draft Sharks, Burrow is projected to miss 1.5 games this season. It’s interesting to see his durability rating at zero considering he started every game last year prior to Cincinnati’s Week 18 contest against the Browns when most starters rested up for the playoffs. With Cincinnati improving its offensive line this offseason, Burrow likely isn’t as big of an injury risk as this rating suggests.

4. Daniel Jones, Giants (61 percent): Danny Dimes ranks fourth among active QBs in injury risk, as he’s pegged with a 5.4-percent probability of injury per game. Jones has a high durability rating of five, as there’s a chance he plays through a lower-risk injury during the season. The Giants QB has racked up a total of six injuries during his three-year NFL career and missed a total of 10 games. Jones needs to avoid injury during what’s arguably his make-or-break year if he wants a second contract with the Giants. He’s still a safe QB2 in two-QB leagues.

5. Derek Carr, Raiders (36 percent): Carr’s been injury free since a vertebral fracture in 2017, which is good news for Raiders fans and Carr owners, but he’s still relatively high on Draft Sharks’ Injury Predictor. Draft Sharks projects Carr to miss 1.7 games with a 2.6-percent probability of injury per game. Carr’s most notable injury was his broken right fibula in Week 16 of ‘16, which hindered the Raiders’ chances of making a deep playoff run. His ability to avoid injury will be key in Las Vegas’ hopes of returning to the playoffs for a second straight season.

Other Notable QBs: Jameis Winston (29 percent); Josh Allen (26 percent)

MORE DRAFT SHARKS: See more exclusive tools, stats, and analysis from Draft Sharks

Running Back Injury Risks

1. Miles Sanders, Eagles (94 percent): Sanders leads all RBs with 3.9 projected games missed and a 15.3-percent probability of injury per game. Sanders missed five games a season ago dealing with a right ankle sprain and hand fracture. He tried to play through the ankle injury last season and aggravated it in December, but he ended up playing in the Eagles’ next game. His durability rating of five could lead to Sanders being a worthwhile draft pick at his current ADP.

2. Dalvin Cook, Vikings (94 percent): It’s not surprising to see Cook’s name toward the top of this list given he’s suffered a total of 12 injuries dating back to his time at Florida State. Cook most recently tore his right labrum in the Vikings’ Week 12 loss to the 49ers last November. Cook’s fully healthy to begin the season but is still projected to miss 3.6 games. You might be better drafting another upper-echelon RB in the first round knowing Cook’s lengthy injury history, but he’s still one of the best pure runners in the game.

3. Melvin Gordon, Broncos (92 percent): There’s a chance Gordon’s role diminishes this season with fellow RB Javonte Williams entering his second season, and to add to Gordon’s uncertainty comes his RB-leading 4.5 projected games missed. Gordon didn’t miss a regular game last season despite logging three injuries in September and October, but he;s racked up a total of 12 injuries throughout his NFL playing days. If Gordon were to miss close to his 4.5 projected games this season, Williams firmly becomes a weekly RB1 in both standard and PPR formats.

4. Jamaal Williams, Lions (91 percent): Williams isn’t his team’s No. 1 running back, but he’s still a valuable handcuff who can have standalone flex value. Williams has a lengthy injury history though, which factors into his projected 2.4 games missed. He missed two games last season dealing with a right thigh injury and popped up on the Lions’ injury report in Week 5 and 6 with a hip injury. That said, he’s tough, sporting a five in durability rating despite logging 10 injuries dating back to 2014.

5. Devin Singletary, Bills (91 percent): Per Draft Sharks, Singletary has only logged one injury in their database, a right hamstring injury in Week 1 of 2019. He’s currently amid a deep Bills RB room that could likely go with a committee approach between him, second-round draft pick James Cook, and Zack Moss. Singletary’s projected to miss 3.7 games, which could lead to one of their other backs becoming a weekly fantasy-worthy option.

Other Notable RBs: Darrell Henderson Jr., Rams (91 percent); Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Chiefs (91 percent); Derrick Henry (89 percent)

Dominate your Draft with Draft Sharks War Room: Try it FREE for a week

Wide Receiver Injury Risks

1. Allen Robinson, Rams (95 percent): Robinson’s ready to finally have a competent QB throwing passes his way now that he’s running routes for Matthew Stafford. Robinson’s dealt with a slew of injuries throughout his career but could be in line for his most productive season yet. He stayed relatively healthy last season but ended up missing a few weeks dealing with COVID. He’s still projected to miss 2.8 games this season, but given his low ADP, he’s worth a draft selection if you have a chance to snag him.

2. Mike Williams, Chargers (94 percent): Williams is in line for his second straight 1,100-plus yard season, but that could potentially be in doubt if he misses time. Williams didn’t suffer an injury last season, but given his physical style of play, there’s a reason why he ranks towards the top of this list. He’s projected to miss 2.9 games per Draft Sharks, and if that projection comes to reality, so will his chances of finishing the season as a top-10 wideout. Still, there’s obvious risk here, so don’t reach.

3. Robert Woods, Titans (91 percent): Woods has a lengthy injury history during his time in the NFL and is currently recovering from a torn right ACL suffered in mid-November of 2021. Woods has since joined the Titans and will likely assume WR1 duties when back running routes in game action. Woods rates out as a five in terms of his durability rating, and considering his ADP has dropped a bit due to the ACL tear, he might be a worthwhile selection in the middle rounds of fantasy drafts.

4. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chiefs (91 percent): Smith-Schuster’s another NFL vet who suffered numerous injuries during his time in the league and in college. JuJu missed 12 games last season after injuring his right shoulder in Week 5 — just a couple of weeks after injuring his rib in Week 3. Smith-Schuster’s fantasy prospects figure to be on the up now that he’s apart of a Chiefs offense that’s attempting to replace three key receivers, but his injury history suggests he’s a big-time boom-or-bust player. His injury issues open the door for someone like rookie Skyy Moore to break out.

5. Michael Pittman Jr., Colts (91 percent): Pittman’s poised for his most complete season yet catching passes from Matt Ryan as the Colts’ No. 1 WR. He avoided injury last season but suffered three injuries in his rookie year that sidelined him for three games. Even if Pittman ends up missing time this season, he’s still a worthwhile draft pick at his current ADP.

More Notable WRs: K.J. Hamler, Broncos (91 percent); Tee Higgins, Bengals (91 percent); Julio Jones, Buccaneers (91 percent)

MORE DRAFT SHARKS: See more exclusive tools, stats, and analysis from Draft Sharks

Tight End Injury Risks

1. Evan Engram, Jaguars (92 percent): Engram’s projected to miss 3.8 games with a 13.8-percent injury probability per game. He missed the first two games of the ‘21 season after suffering a right calf injury in Week 3 of the preseason. He’s looking like he’ll be the Jaguars TE1 and could put forth a respectable receiving yards output as underneath and an intermediate option for Trevor Lawrence in the passing game, but even at a non-existent ADP, Engram can’t be trusted over the course of a full season.

2. George Kittle, 49ers (92 percent): If Kittle could stay healthy, he realistically could compete with Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, and Kyle Pitts for the overall TE1 this season. Kittle has racked up nine injuries during his NFL career, and given his physical style of play, it might be inevitable Kittle misses some time in 2022. He’s projected to be on the sidelines for around three games this season but has a high durability rating of five.

3. Albert Okwuegbunam, Broncos (90 percent): Albert O’s breakout 2022 season might only be hampered by injury, as the Broncos TE1 is ready to emerge as a reliable receiving threat for Russell Wilson. He suffered a torn ACL in Week 9 of ’20 and got sent to IR with a right hamstring injury in ‘21. If Okwuegbunam avoids a significant injury, he could become a weekly TE starter in standard and PPR formats, but given all the question marks surrounding Denver’s passing offense, he’s clearly a risk.

4. Zach Ertz, Cardinals (89 percent): Ertz has a long injury history but avoided a significant one in 2021. Ertz is likely to assume a high target share with DeAndre Hopkins suspended for the first six games, but an early season injury could be a damper on his TE1 fantasy prospects. Ertz is projected to miss 4.9 games, per Draft Sharks, which would ultimately make him a bad value even at his current mid-tier ADP.

5. Jonnu Smith, Patriots (89 percent): Smith isn’t on the radar in most fantasy leagues thanks to his role as New England’s TE2, but it’s still worth noting he’s  projected to miss 3.4 games with a 12.2-percent injury probability per game. Smith signed with New England after two respectable seasons in Tennessee but has yet to amass 500-plus receiving yards in a season. Any injuries this season give fellow Patriots TE Hunter Henry the opportunity for a high target share and outproduce his ADP.

More Notable TEs: Noah Fant, Bengals (89 percent); Dawson Knox, Bills (85 percent)

To see every player’s injury history and 2022 injury outlook– plus get access to rankings, sleepers, and many more must-have season-long and DFS tools — subscribe to Draft Sharks today!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *