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J.K. Dobbins Injury Analysis & Outlook (2022 Fantasy Football)

J.K. Dobbins

Ian Rapoport implied that J.K. Dobbins is expected to miss Week 1. Dobbins shortly thereafter clapped back about the situation, saying he’ll “damn sure” be ready. On the one hand, Rapoport’s arguably the most well-connected reporter in the game. On the other, Dobbins is obviously biased, but he knows as much as anyone. So, who do you trust when drafting your team?

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In this case, data favors the player. The SportsMedAnalytics machine-learning algorithm predicts return and performance after injury amongst NFL players. From this, we know that ACL tears average 10 months out for RBs. But Dobbins’ injury was actually more severe, since it involved an additional ligament, the LCL. Combined injuries to ACL + LCL generally take closer to 15 months to get back.

Factoring in a late-August 2021 injury date, that math would project Dobbins to come back in November, which perhaps explains the Rapoport report. The key, however, is that timelines are highly impacted by three more variables: (1) age, (2) draft stock, and (3) pre-injury athletic metrics. In Dobbins’ case: (1) he’s young, (2) he was drafted by the Ravens in the second round, and (3) he possesses elite athleticism, as demonstrated by his top-rated RB SPARQ score coming out of high school (we can’t cite his NFL combine numbers because he didn’t run).

So back to the question that started the debate. Will Dobbins be out there in Week 1?

The algorithm says most likely yes, rating the outcome as a 75% probability. Is there a chance the Ravens decide to take it slowly and avoid putting pressure on him early? Of course, especially since they’ve added plenty of depth at the position this offseason. But, if Dobbins says he can come back, and the data predicts the same, that’s the way I’ll be betting at this point in the offseason.

Whether I draft him depends mostly on who I’ve landed early on. You’re looking at spending a late fourth- or early fifth-round pick on Dobbins as it stands now (ADP of 40, RB21), but there’s a solid chance that will fluctuate as the season approaches. If I’m taking a Zero-RB strategy into the early rounds, Dobbins is an excellent target for a potential three-down RB with stud upside. The main downside here is related more to the Ravens’ deep backfield than the player himself. But where he’s going right now — and especially if that value declines — he’s close to the last remaining starting RB left on draft boards. There’s definite value potential that late for the right roster construction.

If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant, which allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.

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