August 23, 2022, 3:58 pm
You’ve read my “Do Not Draft List” and you know that I’m not fond of injury-prone guys and guys who are either starting off the season injured — I’m looking at you, Jaren Jackson Jr. The main reason for this is that two of the biggest leagues I play in, buy-in-wise, do not have IL slots. Why do I play in these ridiculous leagues? Well, you can say I’m a glutton for punishment and part of me likes the challenge.
Injured, injury-prone and guys returning from injuries are a big headache in fantasy basketball, especially in head-to-head leagues where games played matters a lot. You have to worry about reduced minutes and missed games due to load management, as well as the risk of re-injury. That said, there’s a school of thought that these accompanying risks can be mitigated by ample fading in drafts. Basically, if a player falls far enough in a draft, their per-game value should be enough to carry them through the season despite their missed games. The idea here is that you have enough “stable” and “reliable” guys to cover for them.
That being said, not all of these “risky players” are created equal, or at least carry the same levels of risk. The context of their particular injuries plus their recovery prognoses matter a lot. I’m going to share my thoughts on a handful of guys whom you might be able to trust more than others and another group that you should stay away from in upcoming drafts. It’s still the offseason and these lists might change as we get more information, but for now, especially for you guys who have way too early drafts (like me), this should do the trick for now.
Trust (if they fall far enough)Damian LillardPG, Portland Trail Blazers
Games played in 2021-22: 32
Notable Injury(s): Abdomen (required season-ending surgery to repair)
Prior to Lillard’s unfortunate nagging abdomen injury last season, he was widely considered one of the more reliable players to target in the first round. He played 66 games apiece during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons that were shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to that, he played 73 games or more from 2016 to 2019. He’s reportedly “stronger than ever” following his surgery. Now that his injury has been addressed, we don’t see any great risks of setbacks. He should be ready for camp and zoned in as he attempts to lead the new-look Blazers to a winning season. He could fall towards the latter part of the first round in 12-team leagues, which should be a safe place to invest.
Want to find out which other players with injury-concerns are trustworthy for Erik if they fall far enough in drafts? You’ll need to have a FANTASYPASS membership. Click here to learn more and sign up!Anthony DavisPF/C, Los Angeles Lakers
Don’t TrustKawhi LeonardSF, Los Angeles Clippers
Games played in 2021-22: 0
Notable Injury(s): Right ACL tear (required surgery to repair)
There’s something about ACL injuries that bother me. They’re serious injuries to the knees that have lengthy recovery times post-surgery. Not only did Kawhi suffer an ACL injury but he’s also had a laundry list of knee issues in the past as well as the notoriety of resting during B2Bs and that’s aside from any potential trainer-prescribed extra rest days for load management. He’s easily a top-10, maybe even a top-5 player on a per-game basis when he’s healthy, but there’s really no scenario where I’m going to trust my fantasy team’s playoff hopes on Leonard this season, not even as a late second-round pick.
Want to find out who else Erik advises to stay away from in upcoming drafts based on their ADP relative to the injury concerns they have going into the season? You’ll need to have a FANTASYPASS membership. Click here to learn more and sign up!Zion WilliamsonPF, New Orleans Pelicans