News & Analysis

AFC South Injury Analysis: Updates on T.Y. Hilton, Will Fuller V, David Johnson and more

Jan 5, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (13), quarterback Andrew Luck (12) and running back Marlon Mack (25) celebrate a second quarter touchdown against the Houston Texans during the AFC Wild Card at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Injuries can have a profound effect on fantasy football. So, as the injury analyst for PFF, my goal is to offer information that helps maximize your potential in fantasy football — injuries can help you differentiate between similarly ranked players in fantasy drafts, make tough sit vs. start decisions and find season-winning waiver claims. During the season, we will offer thoughts on injuries, recovery times and outlooks for key players each week.

After touching on the NFC North last week, our next installment of the fantasy draft injury preview focuses on the AFC South. We will be taking a closer look at key injuries for each team and analyze their impacts on the upcoming 2020 fantasy football season.

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Houston Texans

Brandin Cooks, PFF Consensus Rank: WR38 – Head injury

Cooks sustained a concussion in Week 8 of the 2019 NFL season and missed the following two games. He has now had five documented concussions during his NFL career. This is significant because research dictates that players with three or more concussions are three times as likely to suffer another one. Cooks is fighting for the lead WR spot with the Texans but is a risky proposition because of this concussion history.

David Johnson, PFF Consensus Rank: RB20 – Ankle injury

Johnson suffered an ankle injury on his first carry in Week 6; he did not come back into the game and missed the following two contests. Johnson never regained his starting job and was then traded during the offseason.

The former Cardinal will be healthy for the start of the 2020 season, and while he is a somewhat risky pick due to his uninspiring play last season, he is also in line for a ton of volume in 2020.

Will Fuller V, PFF Consensus Rank: WR33 – Hamstring and groin injury

Fuller suffered a Grade 2 hamstring strain in Week 7, which caused him to miss the following three games. He then reinjured the same hamstring in Week 13 and missed Week 14. Fuller returned to the starting lineup once again in Week 16 but suffered a season-ending groin injury. He also underwent sports hernia surgery during the offseason.

Fuller's injury history is a long one at this point: He missed two games of the 2016 season due to a knee and hamstring strain; he fractured his clavicle back in 2017, forcing him out of the whole preseason and the first three regular-season games; he then fractured his ribs in Week 10 of the 2017 regular season, which sidelined him for three games before ending the very same season with a knee injury; and he injured his hamstring during training camp in 2018 before tearing his ACL and missing the remainder of the 2018 season.

Fuller has had numerous injuries every year of his NFL career but is one of the best deep threats in football. Due to his lengthy injury history, he will go into the 2020 season as a risky boom-or-bust player.

Jacksonville Jaguars

D.J. Chark Jr., PFF Consensus Rank: WR19 – Ankle injury

The promising young pass-catcher injured his ankle in Week 14 and missed the next game. The injury seemed to affect his play for the rest of the season, though. Chark will be healthy heading into the 2020 season, and he will be looking to build off his breakout year.

Indianapolis Colts

Parris Campbell, PFF Consensus Rank: WR62 – Hamstring, groin, hand and foot injuries

Campbell's rookie season was plagued with injuries, and those injuries started in training camp.

A hamstring strain forced him out of all but one preseason game, a Week 4 sports hernia then caused him to miss three games, and he sustained a metacarpal fracture in his right hand in just his second week back after his hernia. Campbell underwent surgery and missed the following four games. Finally, upon his return in Week 14, he fractured his right foot and was put on the season-ending injured reserve list.

Campbell suffered a myriad of injuries during his rookie campaign, but he was very rarely injured during his time at college. Furthermore, none of his injuries are related, leading to little concern about his future. He is an interesting prospect for fantasy in 2020.

T. Y. Hilton, PFF Consensus Rank: WR21 – Quadriceps, calf and hamstring injury

Hilton started his injury-plagued 2019 season with a strained right quadriceps in Week 3. He then suffered a two-centimeter tear in his calf ahead of Week 9 before suffering a setback and increasing his calf tear to three-centimeters in a Week 13 practice. In total, he missed six games of the 2019 NFL season.

It was reported on Sunday, Aug. 2 that Hilton was placed on the active/non-football injury list due to mild hamstring injury. Players are placed on this list when the injury occurs off the field or while working out in preparation for the season.

Hilton has been consistently injured throughout his career. He strained his right hamstring in Week 4 of the 2018 season, causing him to miss the following two games. He also strained his left hamstring in Week 15 of the 2014 season, leading him to miss the next game.

The majority of Hilton's injuries have been soft tissue, which is highly concerning. I would proceed with caution when drafting the veteran wideout — he is dynamic if he can stay healthy, but that's seemingly a big if at this point.

Tennessee Titans

Ryan Tannehill, PFF Consensus Rank: QB21 – Injury history

Tannehill was not injured in 2019, but he does have an extensive injury history. In Week 5 of the 2018 season, Tannehill injured the capsule in his right shoulder, causing him to miss five games. During training camp in 2017, he reinjured his ACL and underwent season-ending surgery. In Week 14 of the 2016 season, Tannehill partially tore his ACL in his left knee, forcing him out of the final three games of the season and the playoffs. He chose not to get surgery and sought out stem-cell therapy.

Tannehill is well past his ACL injuries, and they should be of no concern going into 2020. He will be primed to build off of his career year last year.

Mario Pilato has a master's degree in Kinesiology and a bachelor's degree in Exercise Sports Science, along with eight years of experience in the strength and conditioning industry, including at the collegiate and NFL level. His injury analysis articles will appear weekly.

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