Week 6-Doubtful, Questionable, and Probable (DQP) Players

October 11, 2014

Here is how we see this weeks big injuries playing out.  No need to list the players who are ruled out as we already know they won’t play.  Let’s take a look at the DQP players, so you can hit the waiver wire or your bench for a winning line up.

Doubtful

optimus and megatron
Down goes Megatron!

Calvin Johnson (You should plan to be without him for 2-3 weeks….even if he suits up!)

 Megatron is the only player of significance on this list and frankly I am tired of talking about him.  So, I won’t.   If you follow me, then you saw Johnson going down before he actually did; and if you continue to follow me, I will let you know when he will return as a productive part of your fantasy team.  Until then, just sit tight.  Bonus: For those who go a little beyond fantasy players, the Detroit Lions very well may not win a game until he returns.

Questionable

A.J. Green (Trade him)

Im not sure why Green is even listed as questionable.  I know the designations for injuries can sometimes be chess in the NFL, but I think we are all pretty confident he doesn’t play.  If he plays, I think that A.J. Green and the rest of the Bengals organization should all be on the injury list for concussion like symptoms. In case you missed it, go to http://theinjuryreportdoctor.com/2014/10/10/trade-a-j-green-today/ to check out why you should trade A.J. Green now.

Carson Palmer (NO!)

If you are desperate for a QB on a bye week, I could see how this could be on your radar.  I don’t plan to see Palmer play well any time soon, if ever.  You will have to look elsewhere to fill in your QB stats.

Joe Haden (Start who ever you can on the Steelers offense)

joe haden and antonio brown
This would have been a nice matchup for week 6 but Im sure Antonio Brown won’t miss Joe Haden when he gets to the end zone on Sunday.

Now because we are mostly focused on fantasy, you may not see many defensive players make our stories.  Since defenders do not typically contribute individually to fantasy scoring (unless your name is J. J. Watt), we usually stick to offense.  However in the case of Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden, there are a few notable implications.  First and foremost, his absence makes the Browns defense “unstartable” ( I know that is not a word).  Furthermore, I think it makes Antonio Brown a bigger stud than he already is; as well as making Big Ben, Heath Miller and just about the whole offense of the Steelers have increased value this week.  Also, Ive heard a lot of predictions that the Brown will win this game and while I don’t care enough to make a pick on this game; I believe that Haden being out may change some tunes.  The Browns are quiet on the exact injury to his hip, but a broken fingernail against Antonio Brown would be too much.  I either expect him to not play or not play well.  You can do a lot with this information with the fantasy players and the game itself, but the best value is likely in Big Ben and Antonio Brown against a talented but not ready rookie cornerback in Justin Gilbert.

Vernon Davis (You may have to carry 2 Tight Ends for a while)

Davis is listed with a back injury that he suffered 2 weeks ago when he played with an ankle injury that was barely healed.  The good news is Davis has practiced 3 days in a row.  In my opinion the bad news is that all of these practices have been non contact.  The quotes that Davis has given locally and the nature of his injuries tell me that he will either not play or not play well.  My guess is that one good hit to his back or a hard fall sends him back into spasms and even without being hit, I doubt he can perform like the Vernon Davis we know.  Because TE is such a tough position to get production from, I think I would still hold on to him.  In this very unique case, carrying a second tight end until Davis can get another healthy chance is probably the best move.  I expect Davis to still have a couple of big days in him this year once he has time to heal.  I think the wisest move for the Niners would be to rest him until week 9 (after their bye) and finish the year strong.

Probable

All of the notable Probable players are not worth your time or mine, as they will all play.  That includes Julio Jones, Dez Bryant, Percy Harvin and others.  I expect all of the notable players on the Probable listing to play like their healthy, as none of the injuries appear to be serious.

Good Luck!

Week 5 Advice with Montee Ball, Rashad Jennings, and Jimmy Graham

Montee Ball is out with a strained groin, Rashad Jennings is out with a sprained knee, and Jimmy Graham appears to have a shoulder injury after their week 5 games.

Jimmy graham
Will we see Jimmy Graham dunking on goal post any time soon?

The Science

Montee Ball is likely the most serious injury of the three (I say likely because the Saints are tight-lipped on Graham).  A groin strain for anyone is rough but for a running back, it may be one of the worst non major injuries he could suffer.  Generally speaking, sprain/strain injuries that are grade 1 or 2 (not a complete tear) are not that serious.  However, the groin can be a different beast due to its involvement in almost all athletic movements.  In short, your groin muscles pull your leg inward toward the opposite leg as a primary function.  In addition to this primary function, the 5 small muscles that make up the groin also keep a certain amount of tension during all motions of the leg including lifting the leg for running and stabilizing the leg for cuts amongst other motions.  This involvement in so many movements is exactly what makes this injury so tough; you can’t run from the pain and there is no help available.  In comparison, a knee or ankle strain can be braced or wrapped (to help support the area) or in many cases you can avoid certain cuts or activities that aggravate the injured muscle(s).  With a groin issue, you feel pain bringing your leg up, taking it back, swinging out to the side, and even just standing and putting weight on it.  As a general rule of thumb, a soft tissue strain is a 3-6 week injury; and for groin strains with one of the most athletic positions in football, I would predict the long end.

groin
The typical groin strain can involve all of the 3 Adductor muscles as well as the Pectineus and Gracilis. OUCH!

Rashad Jennings should be in much better shape than Ball with a left MCL sprain.  With him not being ruled out for week 6, it tells me that this is likely a grade 1 sprain.  The MCL supports the inner part of your knee and is typically injured when a player is hit on the lateral (outer) portion of the knee with a force that pushes the knee medially (inward).  MCL sprains also may occur with no contact when the knee goes in a similar direction without a hit, which may be caused by the players foot remaining planted during a cut in the opposite direction.  In most cases a MCL heals with Physical Therapy and some rest from competitive activity, but on the NFL level many will continue to play in games and receive treatment during the week.  The important factor with the MCL is that it stabilizes the knee, but unlike the groin strain discussed with Montee Ball, there is help for the MCL.  There are tons of braces designed to improve knee stability and many of them have stays on the medial side of the knee to somewhat replace the support that the MCL would typically give.  This is not optimal for a running back, but in a big game, my guess is that Jennings or any other high level running back would brace it up and give it a go.  Jennings should probably take 3 weeks and let the MCL heal, but it would not be surprising to see him prior to that.

Jimmy Graham will be the center of injury talk for the next 2 weeks!  All of the big boys are going to milk this to death and pay for a lot of commercials with small talk about the elite tight end that fantasy owners are on the edge of their chair waiting to hear about.  For me, it is simple.  The New Orleans Saints are quiet on his status, and while I could speculate and give a multitude of scenarios on all of the shoulder injuries I know to make me look smart—I won’t!  One of the things we should all do when we are having difficulty getting the answer to something is GET MORE DATA.  You can think about something as long as you want but getting more data is usually the best way to arrive at a conclusion.  The data we need is the MRI results which I assume the Saints will release eventually.  The data we have is that they are trying out other tight ends.  Beyond that, I will not speculate on Graham’s shoulder.

Shoulder_joint_anatomy_quiz
Take your guess on which part of Grahams shoulder is injured. Email me the answer using one of the letters shown to describe where and if your right I will give you a shout out on the Jimmy Graham follow up post.

What You Need To Know

If you own Montee Ball, you are out of luck.  He will likely be out 5 or 6 weeks and even when he returns I don’t think he will perform well.  Hopefully you have room to pick up Hillman and Anderson (his back ups) and wait and see who will emerge as the primary ball carrier.  I would not save a roster spot for him although he will probably play in a handful more games this season.

If you own Jennings, I would hang in there.  At 29 years old some might worry about him healing, but Jennings has not been a RB1 much of his career and therefore has a little less mileage on him.  I actually expect him to play week 6 or 7.

As for the one that could make or break some people’s fantasy team, I will simply tell you I’m not sure.  I would rather say this instead of leading you wrong. When I get more data, I will be sure to lead you down the right road.  Be careful with all the fantasy show analyst and sports anchors telling you about something they are not qualified to understand.  For example every fantasy expert said you have to play Calvin Johnson if he is going to be on the field, while I warned you before game time to sit Megatron http://theinjuryreportdoctor.com/2014/10/05/the-wide-receiver-ankle-bug-means-you-must-sit-megatron/.  Trust me and simply keep an eye out for his MRI, check and see what he does in practice when the Saints return, and check back at theinjuryreportdoctor.com.  The good news is you should have already had a plan for his bye week and that should buy you the time needed to make the right move.

Will Calvin Johnson finally succumb to the nagging injuries?

Calvin Johnson is dealing with an ankle injury that held him to only 12 yards receiving in week 4 against the New York Jets.

Calvin-Johnson

Before we get into The Science on this one, I think its important to give you some insight to how you can look at these players and make skilled predictions.  Calvin Johnson a.k.a. Megatron is a very good case to start with, but I will use my second favorite sport-boxing to really highlight one of the ways I assess or predict a player’s performance after injury.

No matter who you are, unless you live under a rock, you have been hearing about or talking about these two for years -Mayweather vs. Pacquiao.  What I generally ask myself about an athlete is-“Is he Floyd or is he Manny”.  In other words is he Supremely skilled or Freaky talented or BOTH?  I consider Manny to be Freaky talented (or at least he used to be).  Manny beat opponents with blinding speed, reflexes, and knockout power.  Floyd on the other hand, I consider to be Supremely skilled as he continues to outsmart, outbox, and beat most by easy decision.

How does this matter for Megatron?

It is my theory that athletes who fall into this Freaky talented column do not withstand injury or anything else that inhibits or degrades their talent.  As I wrote about Vernon Davis recently, The Freaky Talented athletes fall off very quickly.  Pacquiao is the current example of this as he begins to fail to get knockouts, has been knockout himself, and overall is putting out poor performances.  If we look at history, boxing shows us this theory very clearly.  Roy Jones was one of the most Freaky talented boxers of all time, BUT with very little attention to keeping his guard up, executing a defensive strategy, and even developing a jab; we see how it ended-with his head bouncing off the canvas.  The greatest example of Freaky Talent hitting a brick wall is Mike Tyson.  Iron Mike, likely was the hardest hitting heavyweight of our time; however when that talent tank dropped off just a little bit he was unable to compete at all.

Mayweather-Pacquiao

On the other hand, athletes who depend on skill can absorb injuries, lose speed, lose strength, and all of the things that come with age; and continue to thrive.  Once upon a time Floyd Mayweather knocked out his opponents in his biggest fights (i.e. Diego Corales, Ricky Hatton, and Arturo Gatti).  At that point in his career, I believe his talent reserve was as full as his skill reserves.  As his talent may have dropped in these recent years, we still don’t see losses on his record because at his core, he is Supremely skilled with defense, combinations, footwork, and strategy.  Jerry Rice showed us similar characteristics as his career wound down.  Despite a drop in speed and strength as he aged, he maintained a Supreme skill to run routes, get position, manipulate coverages and get in the end zone (check out Jerry Rice’s 17th and 18th season….it could rival most receivers in their prime http://www.nfl.com/player/jerryrice/2502642/careerstats)

In my opinion, Calvin Johnson falls into the Freaky talented pool.  At 6’5″, 236 lbs; running a 4.3-40 yard dash, jumping out of the arena, and man handling all who oppose him I believe that more of his success comes from his talent rather than his skill (I am not saying he has no skill, just not Supremely skilled).  With that said, injuries and age are much greater threats to Megatron as compared to some of the other wide receiver greats like Jerry Rice or Chris Carter.

The Science

The injury report simply calls Johnson’s injury and ankle sprain which he suffered in week 3 vs. the Green Bay Packers.  While it doesn’t say what type, Im sure those who follow can figure it out.  With Johnson back on the field a week later, it is safe to say he doesn’t have the more serious high ankle sprain which can take up to 6 weeks or longer to return.  It is also not likely he has an eversion sprain which also would have likely kept him out in week 4.  The only ankle sprain that puts him back on the field a week later is one that most of us have probably experienced-an Inversion Sprain.  This is the most common ankle sprain as it accounts for about 80% of all sprains.

inversion sprain

The image shows you what Calvin Johnson is likely dealing with and in most case the Anterior talofibular ligament is the structure that is injured.  As many of us know, a sprained ankle comes with pain and swelling but as long as there is not significant tearing of any of those ligaments, most can resume activity in 1-3 weeks.  Again, with the NFL these players and medical staff should always be on the short end of these ranges.

While Calvin Johnson is likely receiving the most advanced treatment options, a simple way to manage a common inversion ankle sprain is the R-I-C-E protocol-Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.  This protocol will work for you or Megatron:

Rest-get off of that leg.  The more weight put on the ankle the more stress to the injured ligament.  Beyond that when you stand, gravity helps the fluid stay in your ankle/foot area causing more swelling and pain.

Ice-Ice that ankle down as much as possible in 15 minute increments.  This helps the swelling go down and controls the inflammation.

Compression-wrap that ankle to help push the fluid out which will allow resumption of mobility.  Ace wraps, compression stocking, or other compression garments can be used.

Elevation-elevate that ankle/foot about your heart.  Many mistakenly put their foot up on a stool while sitting; the key is to lay down and elevate above your heart.  In this setup we use gravity to help us drain some of the swelling back to our systemic circulation

What You Need To Know

For all you that spent your first pick on Megatron, don’t worry.  He will continue to play this year and likely be nearly as productive as past years.  I say this because his ankle should not affect his game as much as it would a receiver like Randall Cobb, Demaryius Thomas, or Reggie Wayne.  Megatron is rarely a big wide receiver screen option like Thomas or Cobb who must be able to make cuts and accelerate quickly; and he does not rely on his route running like the veteran-Wayne.  Megatron can still trot down the field (his 4.3-40 may be a 4.6 for a couple of weeks), put his big body on a defender, and catch long passes as well as touchdowns.

calvin and andre johnson

However, I do see Calvin Johnson fading back toward the pack very soon (I would start dropping him one round per year for fantasy drafts i.e. next year he’s a 2nd rounder, 2016 a 3rd rounder).  Even the best made sports car is not made to go 200 mph every time out, eventually the engine and other parts start to fail.  I expect that knee and ankle injuries will begin to plague Megatron in the next year or 2 and force him to rely more on skill.  I believe if Johnson works on his skill set more as he ages, he has the potential to look like his name mate-Andre Johnson in a few years.  But, if he does not  we may have to take that nick name in a few years.  Andre Johnson is pretty close to Megatron’s physical status minus a couple of inches and a few pounds, but he appears to be relying on his skill tank a little more than Megatron and therefore still thriving late in his career.