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2018 NFL Injury Guide: Dalvin Cook



Photographer: Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire

Name: Dalvin Cook

Age: 22 years old (turns 23 in early August)

Team: Minnesota Vikings

2017 Stats: 74 rushes for 354 yds, 2 TD. 11 rec for 90 yds, 0 TD.

2018 Projections: 262 rushes for 1,127 yds, 7 TD. 45 receptions for 363 yds, 2 TD.

Projected 2018 Fantasy Rank (FantasyPros):  RB10


Dalvin Cook came into the 2017 season like a bat out of hell, averaging almost 20 rushes and 89 yards per game in the Vikings’ first 4 games. He was on pace for more than 1,500 rushing yards, which would have led the league, and then in one second, his season ended. I’ll describe the events to you. It’s week 4 versus the Lions, Cook tried to make a cut to his right and his knee buckled. He immediately dropped the ball to grab at his knee, losing the fumble in the process. It was obvious that something was seriously wrong – we found out soon after that Cook had torn his ACL, and damaged a little of bit of cartilage as well. By this what is usually meant is that there is also some damage to the meniscus, as this occurs in about 60% of acute ACL injuries.

Cook had his surgery on October 9th, 8 days after he sustained the injury. That would give Cook, a rare three-down NFL running back, 11 months out from his ACL reconstruction surgery before week 1. This fits perfectly in the timeline of 9-12 months that we like to recommend for an athlete trying to return to a sport like football.

If you’ve read/heard any of the other profiles (I’ve published), there’s a good chance that you have heard the studies on revolving ACL reconstruction surgeries and how the players perform when they return. Well, just in case you haven’t, here is an overview: there is a 94% success rate after ACL reconstruction surgery, which means there is a 6% re-tear rate. There’s a 6x increased risk of a 2nd ACL injury when compared to healthy subjects. 30% of athletes suffered a 2nd ACL injury within 24 months of return to sport, and within those 21% had a contralateral ACL tear, and 9% had a graft re-tear.

About 20% of RBs and WRs never return to the NFL after an ACL tear. Two different studies demonstrated that NFL players experienced about a 33% performance drop after suffering an ACL tear. One study from 2017 demonstrated that NFL players experienced significantly shorter careers postoperatively than players in other sports (NBA, NHL), 2.1 years vs. 3.2 years. All athletes played fewer games 1 season postoperatively, and the NFL had the lowest rate of active players 2 and 3 seasons postoperatively.

There is some good news though. Taken from an article in NBC Sports from March of 2018 that reviewed ACL injuries in WRs, and the data states that high-level athletes who were around age 25 when they tore their ACL, and remember Cook was only 22 when he tore his, manage to do quite well upon return. The older you are when you tear your ACL, especially for RBs and WRs, the harder it is to return to the field, and the more their returning performance suffers. Remember, Adrian Peterson tore his ACL for this same Vikings team in week 16 of 2011 and then went on to play all 16 games the following season, finishing ONLY 8 yards shy of Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards, mind you AP was 27 years old at the time.


Despite his young age, is Dalvin Cook at an increased risk for performance drop? Yes. Age is on his side but unfortunately his new ACL will never be as versatile, strong and flexible as his original one.

2018 Health Outlook:

In his second-year campaign, Dalvin Cook has already reported to training camp healthy and even shed his knee brace. As we have seen in the past, many RBs and WRs who suffered ACL tears do not like to wear their knee braces, as they feel it hinders their performance. Despite a large 15-study review, there is very little confirmatory data that states these braces actually help decrease the rate of reinjury after ACL reconstruction surgery. One study did conclude that braces lowered ACL strain only 0.1% better (1.4% vs. 1.3%) in ACL reconstructed knees versus ACL intact knees. We know that movements that involve landing, cutting or pivoting pose the greatest threat to the integrity of the ACL, and that’s what Cook will have to do thousands of times in this upcoming season if he expects to be effective.

Risk of Re-Injury: 30% risk of having another ACL tear within 2 years, 6% risk of re-tear.

Recommendations: Dalvin Cook has the potential to be a top 5 RB in the NFL. The problem is the Minnesota Vikings’ offensive line ranks in the bottom third at nearly all 5 positions, last year ranking 28th in run blocking and 24th in pass blocking, and despite trying they didn’t get any better. I really like Cook; he runs really hard and is a three down back. The offense has tons of talent with Kirk Cousins leading the way, Kyle Rudolph, Adam Theilen and Stefon Diggs among those being targeted. The ACL injury scares me, but I would still draft him in late round 1 or early round 2. He is in the RB6-10 range for me. He’ll find his one on at least a couple of my teams.


Jesse A Morse, MD is a fellowship-trained sports medicine doctor practicing in Miami, Florida. He specializes in Regenerative medicine, musculoskeletal ultrasound, fractures and, non-surgical orthopedics. Dr. Morse treats professional athletes regularly and understands their mindset and how to get them back on the field. Born and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts, Dr. Morse grew up watching the Larry Bird led Boston Celtics, the Wade Boggs and Pedro Martinez led Boston Red Sox, and then the Tom Brady led Patriots win multiple championships. Dr. Morse has served on the medical staff of multiple professional teams, including the Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays, and the Miami Marlins. In his spare time, Dr. Morse loves exercising, sports cars, and playing fantasy sports/DFS.


NFL Draft Day is Here!!



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Waiver Wire: NFL Week 14



Fantasy football teams are starting to take shape. Hitting the waiver wire is a critical task in filling the holes or adding significant depth, especially as we enter bye-weeks and an increasing list of injuries. My goal is to find you the best player available for the lowest owned percentage. Therefore, you will see some of the more prominent names under others to consider.


Philip RiversIND (ESPN-16.5%) (Yahoo-40%)

Rivers has averaged at least 292 passing yards and two touchdowns in his last six games, and he just feels short of theaverage against Houston with 285 yards and two scores. In the next two weeks, the Colts will face Las Vegas, who allows over 20 Fantasy Points Per Game to quarterbacks, and Houston. Getting Rivers will bring you a top streaming signal-caller for two-straight weeks.

Others to Consider: Jalen Hurts (PHI), Mitchell Trubisky(CHI), Sam Darnold (NYJ), Tua Tagovailoa (MIA), Baker Mayfield (CLE).


Running Backs:

Cam Akers-LAR (ESPN-35.8%) (Yahoo-53%)

Akers has seen an increase in snaps over the last few weeks, and he may have full ownership after his 21 carries for 72 yards while catching a pass for another 22 yards and a score. Both Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson will have a role, but Akers should be the bell-cow. The Rams tried him at the goal line on several attempts, but he couldn’t punch it in. Rams face the Patriots and Jets in the next few weeks, and both teams he should exploit for good fantasy performances.

Cordarrelle Patterson-CHI (ESPN-4.8%) (Yahoo-7%)

Patterson has become a running back, and he fits the role well. David Montgomery will be the bell-cow when healthy, but Patterson has gotten extensive looks. Against the Lions, Patterson carried the rock 10 times for 59 yards and a touchdown. Patterson has spent his career as a receiver; therefore, catching the ball is no issue. The Bears have Houston this week, and they are horrible against the run.

Ty Johnson-NYJ (ESPN-0.3%) (Yahoo-2%)

The ancient one Frank Gore was the Jets bell-cow until he suffered a concussion. Enter Johnson, who rushed 22 times for 104 yards and a score. Johnson showed promise and someone who deserves more of a look. He will face the Seahawks and Rams next, but he is of good value this late in the season.

Others to Consider: Peyton Barber (WAS), Phillip Lindsay(DEN), Gus Edwards (BAL), Carlos Hyde (SEA), Jeff Wilson(SF), Ito Smith (ATL), Benny Snell (PIT), Adrian Peterson(DET).


Wide Receivers:

T.Y. Hilton-IND (ESPN-47.0%) (Yahoo-45%)

Through 11-weeks, Hilton was sitting on the garbage pile. Then against the Titans, he caught his first touchdown on the season to go along with four receptions for 81 yards. It got even better against the Texans as Hilton brought in 8 balls on 11 targets for 110 yards and a score. He is looking more and more like the stud we drafted him to be. Now the Colts face the Raiders and Texans in back-to-back weeks.

Jalen Guyton-LAC (ESPN-0.3%) (Yahoo-0%)

Guyton was on speed-dial for Justin Herbert. He targeted his receiver seven times, and Guyton brought in two for 38 yards. Fantasy owners may wonder how Guyton can be valuable with Mike Williams, but looking at the numbers and there isn’t much difference. On the season, Guyton has 20-369-3 while Williams stat line 36-572-4 in 11 games. That is just one reception and 18-yards more on average. The Chargers have Atlanta and Las Vegas next, which are prime spots for exploitation.

Rashard Higgins-CLE (ESPN-3.4%) (Yahoo-8%)

Higgins is the one that looks to be the number two receiver, and he lit up the Titans last week for six receptions, 95 yards, and a touchdown. Higgins has deep speed and will make plays downfield. The schedule will be tough next week against Baltimore, but the Giants and Jets could be an easy route for teams in the playoffs and championship.

Others to Consider: Tim Patrick (DEN), Keke Coutee (HOU), Sterling Shepard (NYG), Nelson Agholor (LAS), DenzilMims (NYJ), Breshad Perriman (NYJ), Gabriel Davis (BUF), Allen Lazard (GB).


Tight Ends:

Logan Thomas-WFT (ESPN-24.9%) (Yahoo-40%)

The Washington Football Team likes to target Thomas, which was prevalent against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Afternoon Football. Thomas brought in nine balls for 98 yards and a touchdown on nine targets. Even outside this performance, he is getting at least four targets each game. Thomas has another tough performance next week against San Francisco, but the Seahawks and Panthers are scheduled for Weeks 15 and 16.

Others to Consider: Jordan Reed (SF), Cole Kmet (CHI), Anthony Firsker (TEN), Dalton Schultz (DAL), Kyle Rudolph (MIN), Jacob Hollister (SEA), Jordan Akins(HOU).

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