It’s the start of a new season, and along with that comes the inevitable “will he start” questions about injured players. Every year in fantasy football, some weeks swing on a single decision. Do you start your injured stud, or do you roll with your promising backup? This week, one of the more notable questions revolves around Mike Evans’ injury and whether or not he’ll see the field. Let’s first look at his history to see what the future may hold.
Mike Evans’ injury history
Evans hasn’t exactly been “injury-prone” in his time in the NFL, but he has suffered from a few setbacks in his six years in the league. In 2014, after Evans was drafted number seven overall, he injured his groin in Week 4 and only missed a single game because of it. Evans earned a lot of targets as a rookie that year and still wound up finishing the season with 1,051 receiving yards.
In 2015 Evans had his first hamstring injury, which caused him to miss the last two preseason games as well as the season opener. You may recall that this injury caused his fantasy value to drop right before the season, allowing many fantasy managers to get him at a discount due to the question marks around him. Once again, however, he played well throughout the remaining 15 games and finished with 1,206 yards. These smaller injuries didn’t seem to slow him down much.
In 2016 Evans suffered a concussion in Week 9, but he didn’t miss any games from it, finishing with 1,321 yards. He finished 2017 with 1,001 yards through 15 games, only missing a single game due to a suspension, not injury. He finished 2018 with a career-high 1,524 yards playing all 16 games. It’s clear that up until last season, Mike Evans was practically invincible.
Hamstring injuries resurface
As the 2019 season came to a close, Evans was finally starting to wear down a little. In Week 14 against the Colts, Evans suffered another hamstring injury that would force him to miss the remainder of the season. This allowed Chris Godwin to shine even brighter and increase his fantasy stock in the process. Evans still kept his 1,000-yard streak alive though, finishing with 1,157 yards on the year.
Thanks to the strange offseason that the NFL has seen, this injury to end his 2019 season has likely been nagging at him for a while. Not only was it probably more severe due to the time missed, but without a regular OTA schedule or training camp, it’s possible that he just hasn’t been able to get back to 100% yet. As the season has gotten closer, the injury has crept back up, putting Evans on the injury report for Week 1 against the New Orleans Saints.
Mike Evans’ Injury Outlook
So what can we do with all of this information? For starters, soft tissue injuries are challenging for both players and fans to deal with. Unlike broken bones, muscle pulls are more about an individual’s specific recovery abilities than a set timeline. Bones generally heal in 6 weeks, ACL tears in a few months, but hamstring and calf injuries can linger throughout the season.
Even though Evans is officially listed as “doubtful,” it’s not quite time to raise the white flag and abandon ship on Evans entirely for this week. His injury is definitely something to keep an eye on, though. If you have better options this week and can afford to bench him, then it might be a good idea to do plan on doing that. Even if he plays, it’s possible that he’s not at 100% and ends up with fewer stats than you’d prefer.
If your depth is an issue, then you might have to start him no matter what and pray that new QB Tom Brady finds Evans as much as possible. As we’ve seen, Evans is a tough player who doesn’t miss a lot of time, so it’s entirely possible that he plays through the pain. It’s just a risk I’d prefer to avoid myself.
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Andrew Hall is a writer for PFN covering the NFL and Fantasy Football. You can follow him on Twitter: @AndrewHallFF.