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Top 10 NFL Injuries to Know for Your Draft (2023 Fantasy Football)

Top 10 NFL Injuries to Know for Your Draft (2023 Fantasy Football)

Welcome back! For those who are newly joining, I’m Deepak Chona, MD, Stanford and Harvard-trained sports surgeon and the founder of SportsMedAnalytics. I’m so excited to team up once again with the amazing squad at FantasyPros.

SportsMedAnalytics specializes in advanced injury analysis – predicting return timelines, performance impacts, and re-injury risks – by combining big data and machine learning with clinical experience.

If you like to win, you’ll want to keep an eye out for our weekly injury articles here and frequent updates at, where you can streamline your prep with customized feeds of the players and teams you’re most interested in.

And as always, if you don’t see what you’re looking for hit us up on X/Twitter @FantasyPros and @SportMDAnalysis so we can get you the answers you need.

Now let’s dive in to the 10 biggest injury questions around the league right now as we head into the busiest week of fantasy drafts.

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Top 10 NFL Injuries to Know (2023 Fantasy Football)

1. Joe Burrow (QB – CIN)

We’ve heard a ton about Burrow, but the most objective indicators are relatively favorable. It took Burrow less than one week after straining his calf to ditch the walking boot. That strongly suggests a grade 1 (low grade) injury. When players rush back – which they can do in dire situations – they do so with a higher re-injury risk, and re-injuries are almost always more severe than the original. That’s why it’s not surprising to see the Bengals take this slowly. All signs point to a smooth recovery so far, and we therefore expect Burrow to play Week 1 without major impact. Re-injury risk for a QB given this much time to rest is relatively low, so we haven’t dropped Burrow in any rankings so far.

2. Cooper Kupp (WR – LAR)

Similar to Burrow, we expected Cooper Kupp to progress slowly because hamstring strains carry a similar profile of high re-injury risk when rushed back. But Kupp’s timeline also essentially confirms a low grade injury, and it’s therefore not likely to hinder him by Week 1. Expect 100% of the producer we’re used to seeing. Although these hamstring injuries do have about a 15% recurrence rate over the course of the season for wide receivers with Kupp’s athletic profile. But that risk decreases as the season continues.

3. Terry McLaurin (WR – WSH)

Video of the injury suggested a turf toe, and all reports out of Washington indicated that there was no significant damage on the MRI. That bodes well for McLaurin’s chances for Week 1, and we’d lean towards him playing. Our algorithm projects a 10% explosiveness dip for Weeks 1 and 2, but a return to full strength by Week 3 or Week 4.

4. Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR – SEA)

Most wrist fractures take six weeks to heal, but data tells us that return timelines can often be pushed up to four-to-five weeks. That puts JSN at ~Week 3 for his return. It’s possible to accelerate that even further, but wrist surgery for a WR does affect grip strength in the early phase. Therefore, if he’s out there before Week 3, we would anticipate a performance hit.

5. Kyler Murray (QB – ARI)

The return timeline on this one is tricky. Murray’s elite athleticism helps to predict a faster post-ACL return. However, young players with large guaranteed contracts tend to return slower, as do players returning to bad teams. As a result, our algorithm produces a wide range of outcomes here (Weeks 6-12 are all within one standard deviation), but predicts Week 8 for his most likely return date. Most QBs don’t see a hit to their passing ability upon return, but do see a significant drop in their rushing attempts and production. Expect full strength by 2024.

6. Treylon Burks (WR – TEN)

His movement quality from Monday’s practice looks right on track for a player who should play Week 1. That’s right in line with the average timelines for this type of issue (four weeks). WR data does predict a mild (~10%) production dip for his first two games, but we should be looking at a full strength player from Week 3 onwards.

7. Jerry Jeudy (WR – DEN)

WR data predicts Jeudy’s return will come between Week 2 and Week 4, with Week 3 being most likely. Pass catchers with Jeudy’s athletic profile do see a 15% performance hit for the first 2 weeks of their return. Additionally, he will carry about a 20% elevated re-injury risk for the first half of this season. As long as he stays healthy, he is a solid candidate for a strong second half of the year.

8. Breece Hall (RB – NYJ)

Dalvin Cook signing does NOT mean Hall is behind schedule. Machine learning still rates his chances of playing Week 1 at roughly 65%. But the data also warns us to temper early expectations. Young running backs coming off of knee surgery tend to need a few games to ramp up their touches, and the Cook signing only makes this more likely. As for efficiency, factoring in Hall’s pre-injury athleticism, age, draft capital, and injury timing, he projects for 85% Week 1, ramping up to 90% around Week 6 and 95% by the end of the season. Hall offers major potential value in Round 4 of drafts if he makes it that far.

9. Javonte Williams (RB – DEN)

Williams has been far ahead of average timelines for this injury. A typical running back return takes 15 months, and JK Dobbins did it in 13. Williams has made it all the way back at only 10 weeks. As with Hall, young RBs do tend to see that 3-to-4 game ramp up in touches, but Williams’s heavy preseason usage suggests his early workloads may be accelerated. Do keep in mind that the first 6 weeks of the return are associated with an increase in minor injury rate (hamstring strains, for example). But if Williams avoids such a setback, he projects to hit 90% of his pre-injury point by Week 8 of the season.

10. Jaylen Waddle (WR- MIA)

Despite missing the majority of the pre-season, we can expect Waddle to be unrestricted for Week 1. Most core injuries wouldn’t cause any noticeable production dip and carry relatively low re-injury risks.

And that’s a wrap. For now. Hit us with your remaining injury questions on Twitter/X @SportMDAnalysis and @FantasyPros and stay ahead of your league-mates with injury updates here and at!

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