The recent injury news on Jimmy Garoppolo may be confusing to many fantasy football owners. My guess is that Bill Belichick likes the news to be confusing for his opponents, but this trickles down to those who are just trying to set their fantasy lineups. This news is not just about Garoppolo, but will also effect those who plan to start Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, or any other New England Patriots skill player. The news has outlined every scenario from Garoppolo starting to Jacoby Brissett starting, and as far as Julian Edelman being the starting quarterback. With this level of confusion, it becomes very difficult to make a solid decision.
If you listen to me, I will make your life easier. Injury Science is very valuable in predicting these types of things. We just watched J.J. Watt go down for the season; and while some were surprised, I looked back at a post that I wrote in July that should have given fantasy owners a major heads up on the likelihood of J.J. Watt not making it through the season as he clearly came back to soon from an injury that has high recurrence. All injuries are not created equal and Injury Science can help separate the injuries that you need to stay away from and those that you need to flock to. Especially if you play daily fantasy football, flocking to a player that others are scared to play means that you will likely have a unique line up that can win a lot of money.
In this case, I am telling you that you can play Garoppolo and all the other New England Patriots that you would otherwise play. This is not about the reports or even the video that has surfaced of Garoppolo making a couple of throws. It truly is about Injury Science and the injury profile of Garoppolo’s injury.
Garoppolo suffered an acromioclavicular (AC) sprain in week two, and by the week four game, he will have had two weeks to rest this injury. Generally a sprain like this will take two to four weeks to heal. His sprain was a Type II, which indicates that initially there was some instability in the joint. All of this may sound complicated and just make you fade Garoppolo as a fantasy play this week, as hearing that he has an unstable throwing shoulder doesn’t sound good for a starting quarterback. However once you understand the shoulder joint a bit better, you will see why I am confident that Jimmy Garoppolo will be healthy enough to make every throw in week 4.
The AC joint is made up of the clavicle (collarbone) and the acromion (what most refer to as the shoulder-blade). You can run your finger out on your collarbone to your shoulder and hopefully appreciate the location of the joint. Structurally this joint is important for stability, but in the case of throwing, there are a few other stabilizers that can compensate for a short time. Functionally this joint is important, as the shoulder complex relies on the humerus and scapula being in synch; however the AC joint should not be a major limiter to the throwing motion. With two weeks of limited activity to the AC joint, Garoppolo is likely to only have minor limitations with range of motion and pain.
One of the important considerations here is that the New England Patriots only need Garoppolo for this week as Tom Brady will return from suspension next week. This means that although Garoppolo may suffer some strain to other stabilizing structures and may even incur a set back in the stability of the ligaments at the AC joint; the Patriots should be able to give him plenty of rest and treatment after this game.
As for the production and performance you can expect from Jimmy Garoppolo with this type of injury, I believe he should be able to make every throw on the field. While it is likely that by the time he takes the field he may still have range of motion limitations and some pain, neither of these things should limit his throwing motion or arm strength on game day as the pain can be controlled and full range of motion is not needed to throw a football. Much of a quarterbacks arm strength comes from their core muscles and legs, but even the part that comes from the arm is more dependent on structures like the rotator cuff muscles providing stabilization, while the elasticity of the ligaments and muscles around the shoulder joint contribute to the speed and power during the throwing motion. The AC joint should be able to effectively hide itself within the many movements that occur during shoulder mobility, with the only major risk I see being a hit that takes Garoppolo down similar to how he was injured in the first place.
There may be a conscious effort to call plays focused on short throws, as short throws require less arc during the passing motion which should spare Garoppolo from any range of motion stressors or pain. Short and quick passes may also be an effective way to limit the risk of Garoppolo getting taken to the ground. With that said, I believe that if Garoppolo wants to throw deep, that he will be able.
Trust that this is an injury that Jimmy Garoppolo can and will play through. I will definitely consider some New England Patriots in in my DFS lineups this week and if I had Jimmy Garoppolo as my handcuff until Tom Brady returns, I would play him with confidence.