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When to Drop an Injured Player from your Fantasy Premier League Roster

Injuries to players on your draft rosters are pretty much a foregone conclusion at some stage of the Premier League season. Making an informed decision about whether to keep them on your team until they return to fitness or replace them with a player who can score you points in the interim is a crucial factor to the success of your fantasy team. We’ll walk you through the different variables you should consider to arrive at the best decision. Check out our 23/24 Draft Kit for more insights and tips to make the most of your draft and fantasy season. Pricing plans available here.

Liverpool's Luis Diaz (L) shields the ball from Everton's Nathan Patterson (R)

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When is it Time to Drop an Injured Player from your Roster?

Injuries are finicky and recovery timeframes are difficult to correctly predict, even for the experts. Players often try to rush back and can suffer setbacks that keep them out even longer than initially expected. Some reported injuries end up being managerial mind games (staring daggers at you, Steve Cooper), and some players manage miraculous recoveries. So, when do you drop an injured player and when do you stick to your guns?

Unless the injured player is confirmed to be out for the remainder of the season, there isn’t really a straightforward answer to that question. There’s also no way to guarantee you’ve made the correct decision, either, so you should take the advice in this article with a grain of salt. That said, there are numerous aspects to consider that can make you at least feel a bit more justified in the decision you ultimately arrive at.

Reported Absence

The most obvious information to take into account is the severity of the injury to your player and what’s being reported in terms of a timescale for their return to play. Be sure you’re getting your information from a reputable source (we recommend Premier Injuries). Naturally, the longer your player is reported to be out, the more inclined you should be to drop them.

But there’s a lot of gray area here. Think about the number of gameweeks that will be remaining at the end of the reported injury time frame. A 4-6 week injury in October isn’t as difficult to hold a player through as one in March, particularly if you’re in a league with end-of-season playoffs.

Injury History

Next, consider whether your player is particularly injury-prone and/or susceptible to setbacks. Past injuries are not necessarily a definite indicator that your player will find it difficult to recover from their current one, but it can give you a sense of whether you may be better off searching for a player who is more likely to stay on the pitch. Transfermarkt player profiles include detailed info about the type and duration of injury (under the "Stats" dropdown), as well as the number of games they missed.

Team Dynamics

One of the trickier elements to assess is how your player’s absence affects the balance of the team. Will your player make an immediate return to the starting lineup when they are fit, or will they be eased back in? Are there other competitions where they could be brought back up to speed instead of in the Premier League? Is there a possibility the player who steps in for them stakes a claim on the starting role? The more you can understand about the team and how the manager will look to accommodate your player’s return to fitness, the better.

Fantasy Value

Shifting from a real-life gameplay perspective to a fantasy one, you should also weigh up how much value your player can deliver. Are they the best player on your team? In a particular position? Are they nailed-on or are they more of a rotation piece? How many points can you expect from them when they start, and is that enough to make the case for holding on through their absence? Look through the stats from previous seasons (and the current one, if there’s enough available) to understand what you’d be letting go of.

Replacement Options

Even if your injured player isn’t the best on your roster, you still want to make sure you have decent alternatives available to you before you drop them. Compare how your player stacks up against those who are in the Free Agent pool or on the Waiver Wire and determine how likely it is you can bring in a comparable replacement. This is an easier prospect earlier in the season while preferred lineups are still being figured out and managers have more FAB available, but don’t underestimate the power of streaming high-upside players on a short-term basis based on the difficulty of their fixtures.

Roster Construction

The final item to assess is how much tolerance you have to hold onto your player with regard to the rest of your roster. Do you have other solid options in the same position?

If you’re a manager who isn’t particularly active on the waiver wire, you may be better served holding onto a player that can offer long-term value to your team rather than dropping and hoping you can find a suitable replacement week-over-week. If you tend to operate on the opposite end of the spectrum and routinely chop and change your roster, you might find it easier to navigate having essentially one fewer player on your roster.

The Premier League schedule also plays a role in this decision. Having dead weight on your roster during the festive period, where there is typically a lot of rotation and it can be challenging to field a full team, can be the difference between four wins and four losses on your season record. Same goes for blank gameweeks.

Keep or Drop Scenarios: 22/23 Premier League Injuries

With the benefit of hindsight, let’s assess some of the players who spent part of last season in the treatment room and make a loose judgment call on whether they should have been held or dropped (understanding that the replacement options and roster construction considerations really can’t be accounted for since they would be different from league to league).

Note: One thing you should almost always do before dropping a player is to see if you can find a suitable trade. Just be realistic about what you can hope to get in return based on the injury situation. And please, don’t be the person who tries to trade out their injured player before other people have seen the news.

Luis Diaz

The Liverpool striker was a first-round draft pick last season after some excellent displays in 21/22. The new season got off to an inconsistent start, with the Colombian managing two superb scores (24 and 27.5) in amongst some mediocre to dreadful ones (-1, 2, 4.5, 6) prior to sustaining a knee ligament injury in early October. The initial prognosis was positive in the sense that Diaz didn’t need surgery, but the winger was still reported to be out until the new year. Given his upside potential, time to recover during the World Cup and a relatively clean injury history, keeping hold was the right call at the time. However, when reports came in of a setback in December, that likely should have been a cue to look for an alternative option, particularly with reinforcements arriving in January.

Assessment: Hold initially, but drop in December.

Gabriel Jesus

Similarly to Diaz, the Brazilian went off the board in the first round in the majority of drafts last season. Unlike the Liverpool winger, the Arsenal striker immediately justified that decision with a run of mostly excellent scores up to his knee injury at the beginning of December. Reports put the forward out between 3-4 months. With one month of that layoff taking place during the world cup, Jesus would be back for potentially the final three months of the campaign with the potential to return as an elite fantasy asset (top 5 overall scorer before the injury). While his replacement, Eddie Nketiah, was a sufficient deputy (and worth a pick-up in the interim), Jesus was always going to slot straight back into the starting lineup as soon as he was fit.

Assessment: Hold and try to pick up Nketiah to cover the duration of the absence.

Allan Saint-Maximin

Fantasy managers who drafted the Newcastle winger were feeling great in the opening month of the season, with ASM dropping 9.5, 6, 33.5 and 19.5 points to begin the campaign. A hamstring injury sidelined the Frenchman for the next month, with a brief cameo marking his return before missing the next three weeks with a different muscle injury. Joelinton was able to step into the left wing role and Newcastle didn’t miss a beat. Given Saint-Maximin’s history of soft-tissue injuries, Joelinton’s form and Eddie Howe’s resistance to rotation, it was always a risk that ASM would be a bit-part player even when he did make a return to fitness.

Assessment: Hold initially, but drop after the second injury was reported or when he didn’t start the first fixture after the World Cup.

Reece James

The Chelsea defender offers massive upside potential when fit, but that’s the issue; he’s struggled with multiple injuries across his tenure for the club. The opening two months of the 22/23 season offered some glimpses of his potential, but not nearly to the level that was expected from a round 2 pick. A knee injury ruled James out from mid-October through the World Cup, and he was unfortunately unable to complete a full match on his return before a recurrence that would keep him out an additional month. His season never got going and he spent the last 7 weeks of the campaign sidelined yet again.

Assessment: Hold through the World Cup, drop upon confirmation of re-injury.

Hamed Traore

Arriving in the January transfer window, the Cherries midfielder got off to a very promising start to his fantasy career in the Premier League. Traore delivered scores of 9.5, 10.5, 9.5 and 15 in his first four matches, without providing a goal or assist. Add to that equation that he faced Brighton, Newcastle and Man City as three of the four opponents and it’s all the more impressive and indicative of a set-and-forget fantasy stud. A foot injury suffered against City sidelined him for the next two games, with the Ivorian making an 8.5-point cameo in just 30 minutes against Aston Villa on his return. He was a substitute again the following week before earning his final start of the season on April 4, with another (perhaps the same) foot injury sending him to the treatment room for the final 9 gameweeks.

Assessment: Hold as long as possible, drop if it meant qualifying for playoffs or winning an important match-up.

Morgan Gibbs-White

Perhaps the most frustrating case all season, the Nottingham Forest midfielder (and surprise fantasy powerhouse) limped off with a knock he sustained in a late January cup match. Reports quickly surfaced that the injury was potentially a serious ankle issue, and Forest manager Steve Cooper added fuel to the fire by saying “it’ll be a blow for a little while.” A frenzy of injury speculation led to articles putting the former Wolves man out for up to three months. Some fantasy managers made quick trades at a value loss. Others jumped ship altogether. Gibbs-White started the next match, played 90 minutes and didn’t miss a Premier League match through injury the rest of the season on his way to a 16th overall finish in scoring. Unbelievably frustrating for managers who tried to get a jump on the situation.

Assessment: Hold until or unless there’s a reliable timeline for the injury, then reassess.

Keep in mind that each injury situation will be different, but if you take these elements into consideration when a player on your roster is inevitably stricken with an ailment or affliction, you can take solace in your decision. Just hope for all our sakes that we don’t have another MGW situation in the 23/24 season.

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