The guys over at SportsInjuryPredictor.com were kind enough to share with us some of the data from their injury prediction algorithm—a model that accounts for all sorts of variables to estimate a given player’s probability of getting injured during the season. Here's a link to the detailed QB injury risk analysis.
Below, you can see the top quarterbacks charted by their projected fantasy points and games missed due to injury.
There are factors other than injury likelihood to consider when assessing overall risk, but it’s still very useful to compare upside with the probability of a player missing games. The higher a quarterback is on the y-axis (injuries), the farther right you’d like to see him on the x-axis (fantasy points) to justify drafting him.
One of the really interesting aspects of this graph is the low likelihood of injury for the game’s top three passers in Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. Although my own data suggests that when an aging player like Manning loses it, he loses it fast, his age actually isn’t an overwhelming factor in his chances of suffering an injury. The safety of that top trio adds to the value of snagging them when they drop too far in the middle rounds of advanced drafts.
Also note that we can and should mold our perception of injury probability based on new information. The quarterback I’m thinking about when I say that is Tony Romo. The algorithm understands that Romo got injured last year, but it doesn’t account for the fact that Romo isn’t practicing in full and there are some reports that maybe his back isn’t all that healthy. Whenever we’re dealing with any sort of prediction model, it’s important to understand the inputs so we know how to adjust it.
Finally, while this data doesn’t help the case for a player like Cam Newton, it shouldn’t be overwhelmingly negative, either. Although Newton sits atop this chart, his probability of getting injured is still well below that of many running backs and wide receivers, as you’ll see in the coming days. Certainly the style of play for quarterbacks like Newton and Colin Kaepernick increases their chances of suffering an injury, but the risk is probably small enough that we need to see only a slight discount in price for them to still offer value.