Explaining the Injury Risk score and how to interpret it
Over the past 3 years, since it’s birth, the Injury Risk Score has gradually evolved. Predicting how a player does in a season from an injury perspective that you have never physically evaluated, probably know only about 20% of his injuries and have zero impact on his rehabilitation process is extremely difficult to do. There’s so many variables here. With that being said, I love a challenge and here’s currently what I use to mentally calculate the score:
Age, pedigree/draft pick, position, depth chart, playing style, injury history, specific injuries of player/position, usage, personality traits (Is he a dawg?), medical staff aggressiveness, anticipated winning percentage of team, # of games on turf/grass, and personal medical experience / knowledge.
Zero personal knowledge of the player’s injury goes into the score. My goal is to determine with a high degree of certainty (above 70%), how many games he will play, and how productive he will be on the field accumulating fantasy points as it compares to the previous season.
I expect a player labeled with a ‘low risk’ tag to play at least 85% of the games that season. Basically I expect him to at most miss 2 games. Moderate risk lands him in between 51 and 84% games played, playing between 9 to 14 games. High risk category is a very risky player who I expect to struggle to stay on the field.
As far as performance on the field, ‘low risk’ translates to the player coming within 20% of their previous year’s PPR fantasy finish. Basically I expect their value to be the same as the previous year. Think Travis Kelce over the past 5 years.
Moderate risk would see a range of 21 to 100% of finishes. This means that if a player finished as the RB10 in 2021, and is listed as moderate risk, that means he could finish anywhere from RB1 (100% higher) to RB20 (100% lower), but the player is still expected to contribute similar to previous years a production.
High risk scores have the largest range of possible outcomes. In the above the scenario the player could finish anywhere from RB1 (100%) to RB50+ (400%). They are so risky that they may not finish the season.
Furthermore, I give a specific numerical value to each player’s risk, ranging from 1, the lowest possible risk, to 10, the highest possible risk. Players in the low risk range, 1, 2, 3 and 4 are considered very safe players. The lower the number, the safer the player, injury-wise.
The moderate risk guys will have scores of 5 and 6. These guys have a tendency to sustain injuries and have a higher chance of missing several games that year.
Risk scores of 7 and above have struggled with multiple injuries or have sustained serious injuries (torn ACL, Achilles, shoulder dislocation etc) and should be viewed as high risk for injury and missing games.
Some injuries are predictable in my opinion. Their injury history paints a relatively clear picture of which injuries they have struggled with multiple times, think Julio Jones and has recurrent hamstring injuries.
On the other hand, some injuries are completely fluky. A good example of this is Russell Wilson’s finger injury in 2021. The guy has never missed a game in his 7+ year career and then he jams his finger on a helmet causing an injury so severe that he required immediate surgery. JK Dobbins’ ACL tear is another example. The majority of ACL tears are non-contact injuries, and the player has identifiable risk factors. Dobbins’ ACL tear was due to contact. Had that player not been in front of his knee, he wouldn’t have sustained the ACL tear.
These scores are always a work in progress, and I strive to try to improve the methodology of calculating the score every year. I’m not perfect and the score won’t be either. Please use this score as another tool in your tool belt when evaluating the player’s potential.
Mild – 20%
Moderate – 21% – 100%
High – 50% – 100%+