Special to Yahoo Sports
by Virginia Zakas, Inside Injuries
Inside Injuries has identified three running backs to avoid in fantasy drafts no matter what. They are all way too risky to draft based on their current ADP and carry injury concerns into the 2017 season.
Jamaal Charles, Denver Broncos (ADP of 117): Charles is a 30-year-old running back coming off of a 2015 torn right ACL and then a follow-up knee surgery to have his meniscus trimmed in November 2016. On top of that he had a clean-up procedure on his left knee soon after.
Charles played just three games in 2016, rushing 12 times for 40 yards, before landing on IR again. He has been cleared by doctors to participate at the start of training camp, but the Broncos are sure to bring him along slowly. The last thing he needs is to rush back and ruin another season. Even if he takes things slow, it’s hard to see him being a consistent contributor for the Broncos.
He’s battling C.J. Anderson and second-year running back Devontae Booker, who suffered a wrist injury and is sidelined, for touches. They’re all talented backs, but Charles has the highest injury risk. Don’t draft him- his knees continue to be a major concern and after his surgeries he’s likely lost a step.
Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers (ADP of 104.1): There are a few reasons why Stewart should be avoided in drafts. The first is the addition of Christian McCaffrey. Stewart is no longer the clear number one option in the offense, so backfield touches will be spread around. The second reason, and the one we will focus on, his Stewart’s health. He missed time early in the season with a hamstring strain then had foot problems late in the year, the same injury that forced him to miss the last three games of the 2015 season.
Stewart is only getting older while his competition is getting younger. At 30, he is on the old end of running backs and it is going to get harder and harder for him to consistently perform. In 2016 he had just one 100-yard rushing game and has had just one 1,000 yard rushing season in his career (2009). He hasn’t historically posted big numbers, and it’s almost inevitable that he gets hurt at some point and misses a few games. Stay away from Stewart.
Matt Forte, New York Jets (ADP of 111.9): Forte underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in January to trim a torn meniscus, a disappointing end to what was already the worst season of his career. Forte’s injury troubles didn’t stop with his knee. He was also sidelined with a nerve injury in his shoulder. Even if Forte is healthy to start the season and is listed as their No. 1 RB, it’s only a matter of time before he gets hurt or Bilal Powell outplays him and takes over as the starter.
With knee and shoulder concerns, Forte is an incredibly risky guy to draft. The Forte-Powell battle is one to monitor closely at training camp, and keeping an eye on Forte’s quickness will tell us a lot. Even if he looks healthy, making it through the grind of the NFL season is a whole different challenge, one that I’m not convinced he’s up to.