Have you always wondered how likely it is for a running back to return to Top 10 Running Back Form after an ACL tear? The data linked to this article will finally answer all of those ACL-related questions!
ACL tears are a serious matter for fantasy football running back success. While the data below shows that it is completely possible for runners to rebound after ACL tears, there are several factors that the savvy owner should be aware of. Comparing all seasons of RBs pre-ACL injury and a group of RBs who have never had ACL tears, you find that the fantasy success rate of these RBs is almost identical among the 88 total seasons studied. The rate of top-10 finishes among both groups is about 55%, while the top-20 finish rate among both groups is about 75-80%. This suggests we are studying and comparing relatively equal RB skill levels. The data shows that seasons during or post ACL injury, fantasy success rates go down dramatically. With a comparable set of 69 total “post-injury” seasons, the rate of top-10 fantasy finishes drops to only 28% while the rate of top-20 finishes drops to 49%. The effect of ACL injuries for RBs should not be ignored.
Another matter of importance is the age in which the injury occurred. Among the group studied, Edgerrin James was the only RB who experienced consistent post ACL tear success after an ACL injury sustained in the NFL. At time of his injury, Edge was only 23 years old.
Even more interesting, however, is that:
- There was only ONE top-10 fantasy finish among RBs who tore an ACL after the age of 23, and that one top-10 finish was Adrian Peterson’s 2011 season, as he had enough yardage to stick to the top-10 during his injury season.
- Out of the 16 other post-ACL seasons by RBs who tore their ACL after the age of 23, there were ZERO top-10 fantasy finishes.
Only two of those 16 seasons resulted in 1,000 total rushing yards (Deuce McAllister and Jamal Anderson), although, neither season was good enough for top-10 fantasy performance.
While the group studied obviously is not large enough to make a definitive statement, based on the findings, there is good news and bad news to take from this report. Many fantasy owners worry about collegiate injury history when drafting rookies…
College ACL Tears Can Absolutely Be Overcome
ACL tears suffered in college do not appear to have a debilitating effect on NFL success, and owners should not ignore players like Frank Gore or Willis McGahee in their rookie drafts, although, they should understand inconsistent play will result in a possible “boom or bust” dynasty player from season to season.
Did You Know?
Holy Garrison Hearst !
Note: Garrison Hearst tore his ACL way before the NFL, back in 1991, and never knew it; due to league-driven pressures, Hearst had surgery to repair the ACL prior to entering the NFL.
ACL Tears After 23: Approach With Extreme Caution!
On the flip side, ACL tears suffered after the age of 23 should be approached with extreme caution, regardless of prior success. As the body ages, its ability to heal itself and recover from serious injury to play at the elite athletic levels required in the NFL drops dramatically. The fact that these RBs who sustain injury late in their careers have trouble putting together elite fantasy seasons should temper fantasy owners’ expectations. There are still good buy-low opportunities for fantasy owners who can tolerate high levels of risk/reward, however these RBs should not be drafted as cornerstone players for a franchise, especially during dynasty start-ups.
More Runners To Study Moving Forward
In 2012, we will get to see these theories put to test. Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles sustained injuries after the age of 23 and will have to prove their return to elite performance before owners should justify giving 2nd and 3rd round dynasty start-up value. During dynasty start-ups, savvy owners should consider overall value before diving into RBs coming off injuries; fully understand the risk involved with all injuries before drafting!