New York Jets RB Breece Hall and Denver Broncos RB Javonte Williams are eerily similar. Both were born in spring, flirted with two touchdowns per game during their final collegiate season, are listed at exactly 220 pounds, were drafted early in the second round of the NFL Draft … and both are promising fantasy football running backs coming off devastating knee injuries.
Hall: Week 7 torn ACL and meniscus
Williams: Week 4 torn ACL and LCL
Did you get a trade offer in your dynasty or redraft league? Not sure what to do? Make championship-winning decisions with PFN’s FREE Fantasy Football Trade Analyzer and Calculator!
Breece Hall and Javonte Williams Expectations: Learning From the Past
The Broncos elected not to put Williams on the PUP list to start camp, an indication that he’s ahead of Hall in the recovery process. Still, there’s no denying the risk that both enter this season with.
In recent memory, four fantasy star running backs have been tasked with returning from a torn ACL: Dalvin Cook, Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, and Saquon Barkley.
Cook, like Hall, was injured during his rookie season and, like Hall, showed signs of greatness during his brief introduction to the NFL:
Rookie-season Cook: 111.0 yards/game, 4.0 targets, 2.8 catches
Rookie-season Hall: 97.3 yards/game, 4.4 targets, 2.7 catches
Upon his return, Cook touched the rock 22 times in his first game back. An encouraging development, but he did miss all of October due to a hamstring injury. In that follow-up campaign as a whole, it’s worth noting that a career-high 23.1% of Cook’s touches came by way of the reception. The Vikings limited the number of “car crashes” they put him in and opted for passes in space.
That’s not a bad trend for those of you in half or full-PPR settings, but remember that Hall is busy recovering while Aaron Rodgers is settling in.
Cook didn’t have an NFL baseline prior to the ACL tear, so it’s hard to evaluate how the recovery process impacted his overall performance. The other three names on this list, however, did have significant NFL reps under their belt pre-injury, and they saw their per-touch fantasy production (half-PPR) drop by an average of 7% from the year prior to injury.
It’s important to remember that we are looking at a sample of fantasy royalty. We all hope that Hall and Williams can get there, but it stands to reason that there could be even more risk than that raw number suggests.
Projecting Production Post ACL Tear
Barkley is the most recent example, and with player safety evolving, he makes sense to use as a base case (Peterson and Charles tore their ACLs in 2011 … it was a different world back then).
Immediately following the injury, Barkley wasn’t the same after contact (yards per carry after contact down 16.7%), and the Giants didn’t call his number nearly as often (touches per game down 24.6%).
Stick with me here for a little back-of-the-napkin math as I present a few regression options based on career numbers for both Hall and Williams (all mentioned rankings are for last season, minimum of 10 games played):
Regress points/touch, but keep touch count stable
Hall: 14.5 PPG (RB 9)
Williams: 10.1 PPG (RB 30)
Regress touch count, but keep points/touch stable
Hall: 11.8 PPG (RB 23)
Williams: 8.2 PPG (RB 40)
Regress both touch count and points/touch
Hall: 10.9 PPG (RB 26)
Williams: 7.6 PPG (RB 44)
As Trey Wingo says: “I’m just presenting the data, you can decide what to do with it.”
If you regress just the points per touch, their current ADPs (RB10 for Hall and RB28 for Williams) are perfect. But if you’re worried about their involvement, the downside far outweighs the upside. That’s even if they retain their same per-touch production rate. I’ve yet to land a share of either Hall or Williams early in the draft process, and I’m not sure that changes.
Players I prefer to Hall in Round 3
Players I prefer to Williams in Round 7
Read full post on Pro Football Network