Fantasy Football PSA: Don't be an optimist this draft season when it comes to injured players

·3 min read

In fantasy football, there are certain guiding principles that nearly all managers are willing to accept broadly, in the abstract, yet we're terrible at applying them to specific situations. For example, most of us can probably agree that extreme injury optimism is an awful habit. We should never build our plans around best-case scenarios. When a team tells us a guy is likely to miss 4-6 weeks, we should anticipate at least six, if not more. Everyone knows this. It's well understood.

It's not as if every player returns from injury as the peak version of himself, either. Whether you first experienced this truth with Natrone Means or Darren McFadden or Ryan Mathews or Michael Thomas, you've surely learned and relearned it over the years.

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With this fact in mind, we need to discuss a few scandalous early ADPs. Here's a look at average NFC draft position in the month of June for four players who are each no more than six months removed from significant injuries:

Chris Godwin, 59.25

Michael Gallup, 129.74

James Robinson, 142.00

Jameson Williams, 145.06

In case anyone had forgotten, Godwin tore an ACL last year in Week 15. Robinson ruptured an Achilles in Week 16. Gallup tore his ACL in Week 17. Williams suffered a torn ACL during Alabama's National Championship loss to Georgia, only five and a half months ago.

And yet those ADPs are happening. Experienced fantasy managers are drafting and stashing these guys, any or all of whom could be sidelined through September (or longer). Godwin generally gets selected just after Amon-Ra St. Brown and just ahead of Lamar Jackson, A.J. Dillon, Amari Cooper and JuJu Smith-Schuster. He's going nearly 30 picks before his new Bucs teammate Russell Gage, who seems like an easy bet to outproduce him.

Chris Godwin is being overvalued in early fantasy football drafts despite needing to miss significant time as he recovers from a knee injury. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Chris Godwin is being overvalued in early fantasy football drafts despite needing to miss significant time as he recovers from a knee injury. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Fantasy is a game of opinions and whatnot, but, um ... Godwin in the sixth round coming off a late-December ACL injury is a wild decision.

Maybe you aren't horrified by those 120-plus ADPs for Gallup, Robinson and Williams, but those players are each likely to be the season's first drop for anyone who takes them. Gallup is going immediately before uninjured former Pro Bowlers Kenny Golladay and Jarvis Landry. Robinson and Williams are going ahead of a huge group of perfectly healthy sleepers, including Tyler Allgeier, Albert Okwuegbunam, Mecole Hardman, DeVante Parker, Darrel Williams and Brian Robinson.

We're only now in the earliest days of best-shape-of-his-life season, which of course overlaps with recovery-is-ahead-of-schedule season. So you can expect to hear plenty of positive buzz about pretty much everyone who's recovering from everything. But, again, veteran fantasy players should understand that rosy optimism about injury timelines usually goes unrewarded. Wherever you slotted Godwin, Gallup, Robinson and Williams on your initial cheat sheet, there's a decent chance you're too bullish on all of 'em.

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