Marcus Lattimore Fantasy Impact

| 4 years ago

Marcus Lattimore Fantasy Impact

Marcus Lattimore is no stranger to success. Coming out of James F. Byrnes High School in South Carolina, Lattimore was the 2011 Rise Magazine Junior High School player of the year and the 2009 South Carolina Mr. Football.  He went on to choose South Carolina over Auburn on national signing day and was named SEC Freshman of the Year, Sporting News Freshman of the Year, and named to the All American Second team.

After a very solid freshman year Lattimore started dealing with an injury bug that he could not shake. After a comparable sophomore season through seven games, Lattimore season ended with a torn ACL in his left knee. The injured knee would end what would have been another All-American season for the super sophomore. Lattimore bounced back his junior year and started off strong with a big game versus Vanderbilt rushing for 110 yards and two touchdowns. Lattimore appeared to be fully recovered from the knee injury. He ran strong in the first six games of the 2012 campaign, totaling over 100 yards in four of the six games and nine touchdowns during that stretch. The three games leading up to, and including the Tennessee game, Lattimore averaged 50 total yards and scored two touchdowns. A devastating knee injury would end his 2012 season, and would be the last game of his collegiate career, when he suffered a torn ACL, PCL, and LCL. Lattimore would declare for the NFL draft at the conclusion of the 2012 campaign.

The former Gamecock is a solid downhill runner that initiates contact and plows ahead for extra yardage following contact. He has great vision to find the hole and acceleration when he hits the hole. He has great agility in the open field for his size (5’11”, 220lbs) and has great lateral cutting, spinning away from defenders, and is strong after initial contact. Lattimore also possess great route running ability and is an above average receiver out of the backfield. He also works hard in pass protection to keep his quarterback clean and has the size to take on defenders without initiating with a cut block.

Lattimore has some major durability issues and questions surrounding his long term availability in the NFL. At this point in the rehabilitation process Lattimore appears to be ahead of schedule. Lattimore suffered a major knee injury so ahead of schedule for his type of injury may mean his major contributions to a team will not happen until 2014. Lattimore was the most talented running back in the 2013 class, but with his injury history there are many questions about the risk versus reward. The patient’s of Dr. Andrews have amazed us before with strong returns to the NFL (see: Adrian Peterson) but all knee injuries are not created equal and Lattimore’s injury would have ended many players careers.








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College statistics courtesy of Sports Reference.

The Risk

I consulted with Scott Peak, the Dynasty Doc at DLF, who wrote an article in regards to knee injuries. He gave me plenty of literature in regards to knee injuries that I would like to share. Marcus Lattimore had a significant knee injury that is often referred to as a total knee dislocation. That would be the knee shifting and causing tears in multiple ligaments that makes the knee joint unstable. In Lattimore’s case he tore the ACL, PCL, and LCL. Multiple knee ligament injuries cause major disruption and can often force a player to leave the game much earlier than he wants.

In looking at medical outcomes for players with total knee dislocations (TKD) using three medical articles all concluded that 80 percent of athletes who suffer a TKD will return to sport, but only 33 percent will reach  their pre-injury performance level. Prior to the knee injury Lattimore was the clear cut number one running back in the 2012 class. Now based on research he has a one in three chance of returning to his level prior to injury. Lattimore was really lucky that the TKD did not damage the vessels or nerves in the knee as that would have undoubtedly finished his football career as a player.

Another consideration is that Lattimore had an ACL injury to the opposite knee the year before. All of the research that was used did not include players that had previous injuries or injuries to the opposite knee. Lattimore definitely has an uphill climb in his return for the big stage. His work ethic will be the deciding factor in how well he recovers. Realistically speaking it is tough to imagine that Lattimore will recover and have a long NFL career. Although at this point that is not enough conclusive evidence to show that he has dramatically recovered outside of the pro day workout he put together.

The good news comes from Dr. Andrews himself that says Lattimore is going to shock the world. Based on most reports Lattimore is ahead of schedule. It is tough to make a decision on a Lattimore due to the severity of his knee injury. We should not forget that he also had an ACL repair on the opposite knee a year prior to his total knee dislocation. The knee injuries are the biggest concerns with Marcus Lattimore. He has been given the proverbial stamp of approval by Dr. James Andrews which indicates he is doing really well in the rehabilitation process.

Fantasy Impact

At this point the depth chart is favorable for the San Francisco 49ers to wait to play Lattimore. Harbaugh already announced that he would like for Lattimore to slow down in the rehabilitation process and give the knee time to completely heal. With Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, and LaMichael James on the roster at running backs, the 49ers have time to wait for Lattimore to completely heal before moving forward.

Based on the required recovery time for a knee injury like Lattimore has suffered, I expect him to start the season on the physically unable to perform list (PUP). The South Carolina product has the attitude necessary to work hard in rehab and return to the field as quickly as he possibly can, barring setbacks. But he is a gamble pick in fantasy football drafts—he could be a late round flier in redraft leagues. I would not expect him to play early in the season but he may get minutes late in the year. In dynasty leagues he is worth a mid round stash to see if he is able to overcome this severe knee injury. In rookie drafts I would consider drafting him in the second round but he is too much of a gamble at this point to burn a first round draft pick on him. Lattimore does have the talent to be the top running back in the class of 2013, but first he must overcome the obstacle of a major knee reconstruction before he can show fantasy owners what he is capable of.

It is important that fantasy owners follow Lattimore’r recovery throughout OTA’s, summer, and preseason. His progress may cause fantasy owners to gain or lose confidence in him. If fantasy football owners are considering taking Lattimore I would suggest that they do some reading on his knee condition and find out realistic recovery times along with data on how easy it is to recover from such an injury.

Lattimore is a risk but he could potentially come with huge rewards for patient fantasy football owners.


Links to Articles:

Diagnosis and Management of Knee Dislocations:

Outcomes of Operatively Treated Acute Knee Dislocations:

Surgical Treatment of Bicruciate Knee Ligament Injuries in Elite Athletes:


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