The Teddy Bridgewater domino effect has finally produced some actionable fantasy football strategy. I know that knee jerkers everywhere will believe that Adrian Peterson’s value went up because he lost his quarterback, but I believe at best his value stays exactly the same. I downgraded Stefon Diggs a bit and decreased my investment in him with daily fantasy, but overall there really was no big shift that would affect anything I planned to do in week one.
That was until the news broke that if healthy, Carson Wentz would start for the Philadelphia Eagles in week one. I don’t expect many to target Wentz as a season long quarterback, but with the daily game being my fantasy setting of choice, this news is big. I won’t go too deep into strategy, as injuries are more what I am here to talk about, but take a look at the Cleveland Browns defense and then at the salary for Wentz and you be the judge.
If you come to the same conclusion as me, the only thing stopping you from locking Wentz into a bunch of lineups is the hairline rib fracture that he suffered on August 13th. I am here to tell you that you have nothing to worry about on the injury front, as Injury Science virtually guarantees that Carson Wentz will be ready for week one.
Here are a few reasons that I am so sure:
Wentz was injured on August 13th. A CT scan on August 29th suggested he was 60 percent healed. At this rate of healing, his rib would mathematically be 108 percent healed by opening day.
Rib injuries are mostly about pain tolerance. Because the ribs are not weight-bearing bones, the risk for re-injury is less than other bones which must bear weight. The issue with rib injuries is that pain during movement may disrupt rhythm or the chance that a direct hit may cause intolerable pain. There is always a chance to suffer a more severe fracture if the player returns too soon, but in the case of Carson Wentz this will not be a concern after 4 weeks of healing time.
If you pay attention to Carson Wentz’s personality, there is no way that he will choose to sit out in week one with the chance to take the starting job. I fully expect the medical team to clear him and the only remaining variable will be his willingness to play through any lingering pain symptoms.
I often talk about using the injury angle to your advantage and this will prove to be a perfect example. Those who play daily should build line-ups around Wentz, and those who don’t have a good quarterback or a good matchup in week one for season long should consider starting Wentz. I can almost guarantee that the obscurity of Carson Wentz combined with the questionable tag will make Wentz one of the lowest owned quarterbacks in week one.
I am not promising that Wentz will outscore the likes of Ben Roethlisberger and Cam Newton type players, but considering the low price he will cost across the board, and the defense he will face, I am sure he will prove to be a great investment.
Tony Romo is reported to have an L-1 compression fracture and likely to be out for the next six to 10 weeks. I predicted and abbreviated season for Romo, but I did not expect the blow to come this early. The bigger question for me now is “will this be the end of Tony Romo?”
A compression fracture is a little different from most fractures as the mechanism of injury is compression rather than trauma like most fractures. In this case the compression was caused by trauma, but I have many elderly patients with compression fractures that are caused by poor posture. L-1 refers to the first lumbar vertebrae which represent the beginning of the lower back region. As we saw when Romo went down, it is the flexed or bent position that puts the vertebrae at risk for this compression injury.
For the most part, this injury is just about time. Romo will have to avoid forward bending for six to eight weeks and may be given some type of brace to aid with this. Romo will be limited in regard to training, as trunk bending is a part of just about everything we do. Generally if someone with this injury adheres to the movement restrictions they are given, the vertebrae will heal on its own. Upon return, Romo would likely need to work on his core after having his trunk mobility restricted for six to eight weeks. The 10 week return mark is realistic on the injury healing, but Romo would once again be in a position where his conditioning and feel for the game is lacking while other players are in mid-season form. This injury is not the end of the world by any means, but I think there is a larger point when it comes to Tony Romo.
This is Romo’s fourth bone fracture in two years! I don’t believe that any other player can match this fracture rate. Furthermore, when you consider that Romo plays the safest position on the field and has the best offensive line in the league, there is no reason he should get injured this often, or have his injuries be this severe.
I often compare the bones in the human body to being like a high value target; like a boss of a mafia family or even the President of the United States, as most of our bones have many layers of protection. When someone fractures a bone, you can assume that all the structures that are supposed to protect the bone have been overpowered. History tells us that “The boss” and the President can be harmed, but it also tells us that this is very uncommon. There are typically only two ways you can get to these high value targets. The first way is by having a greater force, that simply overpowers the security of the high value target. The second way is when the high value target has some level of dysfunction among his security that gives a lesser force a way to get to the target.
In the case of the human body, the bone is the high value target and when you see someone get “jacked up” (have an overpowering force overcome their protection) and come out with a broken bone, you can understand why this happens. On the other hand when you see a player take hits that are routine, end up with broken bones, you must consider whether this player has some bodily dysfunction that is allowing this to happen. In the case of Tony Romo, I have definitely come to the conclusion that he suffers from the latter scenario. I can’t put my finger on it, but I believe Tony Romo has something more going on. I am in no position to speak on his bone density or any other condition he could have, but I will not be surprised if somewhere down the line we find out Romo has some type of chronic issue that causes his body to be more susceptible to injury.
There are already reports that Romo plans to return, but I think he should listen to his body and wrap up a decent career. We will see what happens with Romo’s real career, but I think it is safe to say that his fantasy football career is basically over.
What do you get when you cross a power forward with an offensive tackle and a wide receiver? My answer would be a Freaky Talented athlete, also known as a tight end.
When you look around at other people’s rosters you will notice that everyone has a starting caliber running back on their team; everyone has multiple starting caliber wide receivers; and quarterback is the deepest position in fantasy football. The biggest gap in talent for any position in the NFL occurs at the tight end position. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at the rankings for tight ends. Compare No. 1 ranked – Rob Gronkowski to No. 32 ranked – Jace Amaro and see if you can keep them in the same universe. On the contrary when you compare the top options to the lower ranked options with any other position, you will find that the gap is not nearly as big.
The talent gap among tight ends really does give the fantasy teams with a good tight end an advantage, but at the same time none of us want to take a tight end too early.
These are all factors to consider with this position, but I believe many will overlook one of the most important factors there is when it comes to tight ends–nearly all the good tight ends have significant injury history!
As I said earlier, the tight end position by nature is Freaky Talented. Those who are familiar with my theories know that this label usually means high injury probability, and the tight end group proves this very well. Here are the top ten tight ends according to fantasy pros.com:
Rob Gronkowski – surprisingly Gronkowski heads into this season with no serious injury concerns. However, if history has taught us anything, it is that Gronkowski will miss some time this season. He has not played a complete 16 game season since his second year in the league, but his production ceiling will likely outweigh his injury risk for at least a couple more years. You will not hear me tell anyone to not draft Rob Gronkowski, but I almost never target him as his price is usually too high for me.
Jordan Reed – Jordan Reed is reported to have a thumb injury that is causing him to take it easy this pre-season. I am not worried about his thumb, but I am worried about his history with the “Michael Myers” of injuries. Jordan Reed has had multiple hamstring injuries in his career and has never completed a full season. I simply don’t see how you can trust Reed as a season long fantasy option. I watched some video of Jordan Reed’s offseason training and found it to be impressive; but if he was on my fantasy team I would rather see him in a yoga or Pilates class. I know these trainers and rehab teams are top-notch in the NFL and I hope that these players with recurrent strains are balancing their explosive workouts with eccentric muscle control focus.
Greg Olsen – Greg Olsen appears to have been bothered by back spasms this pre-season, but other than that I have very little negative to say about Olsen’s injury outlook. Olsen’s career stats are how I like them, with a long row of 16’s. Olsen hasn’t missed a game in forever and when you look for a little insight into Olsen’s training regimen, you can see why. Olsen and his team seem to focus on the big picture which includes hydration, nutrition and a variety of training methods; which is what a Freaky Talented athlete needs to stay healthy. Despite Olsen getting a little up in age at 31-years old, I would be happy with him as my tight end.
Travis Kelce – Travis Kelce seems to be one of the safer options at tight end, but don’t forget he missed his entire rookie season with a knee injury that required surgery. With age on his side and two seasons having passed since his injury, I would feel pretty good with him as my starting tight end.
Coby Fleener – Coby Fleener has not missed a game since his rookie year and his upgrade to a more tight end friendly system is clear with his move to the New Orleans Saints. I can not say that I am much of a Coby Fleener fan, but looking at him through lenses focused on comparing injury floor to production ceiling reveals him to be a great tight end option this season.
Delanie Walker – Delanie Walker reminds me a lot of Greg Olsen. They are about the same age and although Walker has missed a few games here and there, you can generally count him in for 15 games every season. He also gets it when it comes to how to treat his body, as he is relying on cycling for much of his conditioning these days. Delanie Walker would not be my first pick for tight end, but he would be no lower than five. I hope some of the young tight ends get with players like Walker and Olsen so our pool of tight ends can stay healthy.
Gary Barnidge – Barnidge is a tough one for me, as I did not know he existed before last year. 2015 is the first year he has put up any meaningful statistics and his injury history seems to be minimal to none (unless no one bothered documenting it because they didn’t know he existed). The only thing I know is that Robert Griffin iii is his quarterback and that is worth 3 injuries to me.
Zach Ertz – Ertz has not missed much time so far in his career but did suffer a groin injury about a year ago. I worry about players with muscle strains, and groins and hamstrings are the absolute worst. If the hamstring strain is the “Michael Myers” of injuries, the groin is definitely “Jason Vorhees”. No matter what you do, they are always lurking and ready to return.
Julius Thomas – Thomas has missed more than a third of the games in his career due to injury. If not for the 2013 version of Peyton Manning, I doubt we would even know Julius Thomas by name. I would not touch Julius Thomas in any fantasy football setting as he is literally an injury waiting to happen.
Dwayne Allen – Allen has more missed games than he had receptions last year. Despite the departure of Coby Fleener, I don’t think he is a tight end you can trust to stay healthy or stay productive.
Tyler Eifert (honorable mention) – Many current list don’t include Eifert as he will miss at least the first four games of the season as he recovers from ankle surgery, but I am including him as the reports on his projected return is what inspired this post. All of the information around Eifert’s injury is vague, but I think it is safe to say that he is not a good tight end option for this year. Regardless of the specifics of his ankle injury, I can just about guarantee you that he does not hit the field as his normal self. It will likely be late in the season before we see any glimpses of the dominance that Eifert showed last season. This is now Tyler Eifert’s second serious injury and while many will attribute this to coincidence, I believe being 6-foot 6-inches, 250 lbs, and running a 4.6 second 40 yard dash is a great contributor to any injury of his past or future.
As the list of tight ends goes on, so does the injury history. Keep in mind that tight ends are probably only second to running backs in regard to injury probability. The biggest difference is that when a running back like LeVeon Bell goes down, a back up can realistically come in and maintain a good portion of that productivity; but when your tight end goes down there is a good chance that you are looking at a tremendous drop off in production.
Use Injury Science to pick your tight end wisely as he may literally be the difference between winning and losing.