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2022 NFL Draft: Zamir White Injury Breakdown

2022 NFL Draft: Zamir White Injury Breakdown

You’d have to be crazy to invest in an RB with a history of two ACL tears, right?

Conventional logic would suggest yes, but Zamir White remains a highly-attractive NFL prospect despite the injury history. Once touted as the top RB in his recruiting class and the second coming of Todd Gurley, White never really produced the numbers you’d expect from a player with those accolades. Instead, he shared a backfield with James Cook and Kenny McIntosh and, as a result, never broke the 1,000-yard threshold in a single season at Georgia.

Ironically, that now actually works in his favor. White has under 400 total touches in his three years of NCAA competition and enters the NFL without significant mileage already on his legs. That holds particular relevance in the context of having two prior ACL tears.

Single ACL tears for RBs entering the NFL are associated with shorter careers and more missed games. The underlying explanation is that protective structures in the knee – meniscus (shock-absorber) and cartilage (which allows the knee to move smoothly) – suffer irreversible damage at the time of the ACL injury. In White’s risk profile, we must factor in that he’s had one on each side.

While it’s not a death sentence by any means, the estimated risk of long-term durability issues for an RB entering the league with 2 ACL tears is ~40% higher than his uninjured counterparts in the SportsMedAnalytics database. But the story doesn’t end there. You have to factor in athleticism, age at the time of tears, draft stock, and pre-injury production.

Adding these variables significantly eases the concern level here. White’s metrics – 4.40 40-time and 128” broad jump (both 95th percentile) – are slightly better than Adrian Peterson’s. Peterson did hit 91st percentile for vertical while White only reached 41st, so we shouldn’t say that White is the next AP. But after accounting for all of the above, the SportsMedAnalytics algorithm predicts White’s long-term (3+ years down the road) durability risk as ~25% higher than his peers.

From the performance standpoint, working in White’s favor is his remarkable efficiency, as noted by Andrew Erickson of our team here at FantasyPros. Over 5 yards per carry and 3 yards per snap both bode well, projecting to the next level, but there remains the question of whether White can be a 3-down back. He certainly has the body (6’0”, 214 lbs) for it, but he was never used in that role in college. Does that reflect an inability to catch, run routes, or pass-block, or is it just that James Cook was also a stud in that spot? I suspect the latter, but the reality is that we won’t know this answer until White hits training camp.

Either way, he deserves to be on the watch lists for your re-draft fantasy teams, especially since his short-term injury risk profile is minimally elevated compared to his peers. We won’t know for sure until more dynasty ADP data becomes available, but we suspect that the long-term injury risk will be underappreciated. That tends to be the trend for players a few years removed from a significant injury. Regardless, his talent is undeniably elite, so we’d still recommend targeting White in dynasty leagues if he lands in a backfield with any potential for a 3-down role. Depth at RB is critical, and rookies historically have represented the most cost-effective way to ensure that fantasy owners are prepared to weather the RB injury storm that comes with an NFL regular season. This one is worth watching closely – which team selects Zamir White in the NFL Draft will go a long way towards determining the value of his fantasy stock.

CTAs


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Dr. Deepak Chona is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Dr. Chona, check out his archive and follow him on Twitter at @SportMDAnalysis.

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