In the unorthodox science of football, Jake Davidow believes the Dallas Cowboys are in for a very productive fantasy league season and real season.
Davidow is the brains behind SportsInjuryPredictor.com and its groundbreaking algorithm.
The innovative system charts and predicts injuries using information dating to a player’s college career and provides fantasy league football participants with tons of statistical data on which players are likely to be hurt over the course of a season. The algorithm is built around quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends.
We’re not doctors, but you could kind of think of us as like the Carfax for NFL players.
Jake Davidow, system creator
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The system learns over time and is based on injury data, injury correlation, biometrics data and play-by-play data.
“We have a database of injuries that we’ve collected — NFL and college injuries that we’ve collected — that go back over 10 years,” Davidow said. “We have an algorithm that basically looks at the correlation between different injuries in the NFL as well as cases that account for other factors, like how old are the players, what position they play, how big they are in terms of body mass index.
“We put together the probability based on that of players getting hurt for the season. We’re not doctors, but you could kind of think of us as like the Carfax for NFL players.”
The system tracks injuries that will take a player out of a game and off-season surgeries.
According to Davidow, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo will have a bigger year than last season when he completed 304 of 435 passes for 3,705 yards, 34 touchdowns and only nine interceptions while leading the Cowboys to a 12-4 record and a berth in the second round of the playoffs. Davidow is mindful of the back injuries that have dogged Romo the past two seasons, but he has given the 35-year-old, 12-year veteran two thumbs up.
“A guy like Tony Romo, with a herniated disk, that injury, while it’s very painful as far as football goes, so long as the herniated disk is a hernia that’s in the spine and not in the neck, the outcome is actually pretty good,” Davidow said. “It’s very painful and I think he’s probably going to have to manage that pain throughout the season. But I think he’s actually going to be fine this year. He’s a very tough guy.”
As far as wide receiver Dez Bryant’s hamstring injury in training camp, Davidow sounded a bit more pessimistic.
“That could be a concern,” he said. “What we’ve seen is that tears for players who have a very high workload who get injured — especially with the soft tissue injury — during the preseason, they actually run a very high risk of getting injured during the regular season.
“I don’t know how bad his hamstring injury was, but it is something to keep an eye on. You definitely want to watch that.”
5 Percent chance of Tony Romo getting hurt
With DeMarco Murray now playing in Philadelphia and the Cowboys’ running game a bit of a mystery, Davidow figures Bryant might be forced to carry a heavier load than he has in the past. And that could exacerbate his hamstring.
“Prior to the season, what we look at it is projected workload, which means that the more times the player touches the ball there’s a higher chance of him getting injured,” Davidow said. “Dez is the focal point of the team.
“With the running game not being what it was last year, a lot of offense is probably going to funnel through Dez, so any sort of crack in the armor could result in him getting injured. But if the hamstring is nothing and [missing the four preseason games] is just a bit of cautiousness, he should be fine.”
The same, Davidow said, can’t be said of running back Darren McFadden. The seven-year veteran running back, who is in his first year in Dallas, has an extensive injury history.
“I don’t think it’s very fair to refer to players as injury prone,” Davidow said. “But guys like McFadden who have a long injury history, it’s like any structure, once the body starts taking hits — and he’s had some really serious injuries along the way — he’s got a very high chance of getting injured this season.
“It’s actually a miracle how he’s made it to seven years. When you look at studies on running backs especially and what age they tend to leave the NFL, he’s made it past that point even with his very long injury history. He’s definitely an elite athlete just for doing that.”
If for whatever reason Dallas needs to look at [Darren] McFadden for longer periods of time on the field, the chances of him staying healthy are very slim.
Jake Davidow, whose system gives McFadden a 73 percent chance of getting injured.
The way Davidow has it figured, the Cowboys would be wise not to make McFadden their featured back.
“If for whatever reason Dallas needs to look at McFadden for longer periods of time on the field, the chances of him staying healthy are very slim,” said Davidow’s system gives McFadden a 73 percent chance of getting injured. “He’s a very slow healer as well.”
Joseph Randle has a better injury projection, 27 percent, but has never been a featured back.
“The one concern about Randle is he’s a little small for a lead back by NFL standards,” Davidow said. “We look at body mass index, and it does play quite heavily into how likely a player is to get injured.
“But Randle, he’s a little bit of an unknown at this point and time in terms of injury, and he’s a little of an unknown from a production perspective as well just because he’s had very limited exposure to leading the backfield.”
Overall, though, the fantasy — and reality — outlook appear to bode well for the Cowboys.
“I think the Cowboys are in for a very exciting season,” Davidow said.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760
Based on SportsInjuryPredictor.com, here are the percentages for some NFL fantasy league players who are most likely and least likely to be injured this season:
1% Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Tom Brady, Josh McCown
5% Tony Romo
84% Robert Griffin III
5% Marshawn Lynch
27% Joseph Randle
40% Lance Dunbar
73% Darren McFadden
90% T.J. Yeldon, Andre Ellington
3% Anquan Boldin
15% Terrance Williams
62% Dez Bryant
90% Devante Parker
2% Kellen Davis, Matt Spaeth
2% Jason Witten
86% Jordan Reed