Put him IN THE GAME or Sit him ON THE BENCH (NFL week one)

This NFL season, I have teamed up with FantasyPros.com to continue giving you unique injury analysis that will give your fantasy team and edge on the competition.

Now that the NFL injury report has eliminated the designation of “probable”, the questionable tag will include players who are anywhere from 50 to 99-percent likely to play. With this new development you will definitely need to check here every week before locking your lineups to make sure that you don’t get burned by a player whose injury status you miscalculated. I will use a combination of Injury Science and my experience as a Doctor of Physical Therapy to give you a more precise prediction of whether you can trust these players on game day. My recommendations are primarily based on the injury facts as compared to the production projections. You will have to take it from there, with your decision to put him in the game or sit him on the bench.

To get my analysis on players like Andrew Luck, Julio Jones, Jordy Neslson, and more; click here

HOW THE NFL JUST MADE FANTASY FOOTBALL HARDER FOR YOU!

What would you do with your star wide receiver if going into Sunday you did not know whether he had a 50-percent chance of playing or a 90-percent chance of playing? Would you play him and risk him not taking the field or possibly taking the field strictly as a decoy? Would you sit him and start a back-up who at best is half the player?

This upcoming NFL season may present this dilemma more often than any other season now that the NFL has eliminated the probable designation from the injury report. They have their reasons, but you can read about that elsewhere. What really matters is how this will affect your fantasy team.

If you have played fantasy football for any length of time, chances are you have been burned by an injury or two. The worst feeling is to have that perfect line up in place, only to have one of your players lay a goose egg because of an injury. Many of us understand that there is an increased risk to playing a player who has any injury designation coming into the week, but many of us are not qualified to truly calculate that risk. With the probable tag being eliminated and the NFL planning to only give use a “questionable” or “doubtful” designation, you will have even worst odds in figuring out the status of your player.

It appears that the “doubtful” tag will signify that a player has less than a 50-percent chance of playing, while a questionable tag signifies a 50-percent or greater chance of playing. When you set your lineups on Sunday morning, I think knowing which player has a 50-percent chance of playing vs. the player who has a 99-percent chance of playing would be a big deal. With the probable designation gone, both players will have the same tag of “questionable”.

I don’t think this is and end of the world type problem for fantasy football, but I think we can agree that this will heighten the difficulty in a sport where injuries are inevitable. Season long leagues will feel the blow least, as you will likely get a heads up before kick-off on your players availability. Although the chance of getting completely burned is less in season long, think about the time wasted on a plan B that you may never need.

Daily fantasy players will have it even tougher as switching one player late may disrupt your entire salary cap and change the entire make-up of your team. I am more of a Draft Kings guy, but I feel for the FanDuel players who don’t have the late swap option. Without late swap, daily fantasy owners will almost always being taking a calculated risk on a player with a “questionable” designation.

Overall this development will likely increase the time investment for what most of us consider a hobby. Many of you who really take fantasy football seriously will be reading the local reports and trying to find the answer to what a player’s status really is. Some of you will just avoid players with a confusing injury designation and repeatedly get beat by owners who gravitate toward calculated risk. Some of you will just listen to the player or the team to get the player’s status and get “Bill Belichicked” on Sunday when the player you benched has a career day or the player you played never touches the ball.

The smartest option would be none of the above. If you want to know whether a player will play, the simplest thing to do is ask me. If you want to know if an injury will allow a player to be productive, the simplest thing to do is ask me. If you want to know which players have the best production ceiling to injury floor ratio to warrant you taking a calculated risk–Ask me!

As I stated above, most are not qualified to calculate the risk of playing a “questionable” player, but I am. Fortunately I have seen most, if not all the injuries that your players will experience this upcoming season. I would urge you to listen to Injury Science from a healthcare professional such as myself, rather than subjective rhetoric from television personalities and reporters who sometimes may not understand what they are reporting. Although I may be a new name to many of you, I have done this for some time now and my percentages are very favorable in predicting player production during or after injury. Like anything else, I will not be perfect, but I expect to bat 700 or above.

I will be very easy to find this season between FantasyPros.com, TheInjuryReportDoctor.com, and Twitter. Send me those “questionable” questions and get an edge on your competition.

 

J.J. Watt will never be the same!

I hope there are not still fantasy owners who believe in the Houston Texans defense as some did about a year ago. If there were, I would assume that this J. J. Watt surgery is enough to scare you off. If you need a little more push, I am your man.  J.J. Watt will never be the same!

Now that may seem like a bold statement, but when you think of how dominant Watt has been over the past few years, it’s really a no brainer. I have always been horrified of core injuries to athletes, and with the case of J.J. Watt and his reported surgery for a herniated disc my horror is multiplied.

I usually give my patients the hamburger analogy when it comes to herniated disc injuries. The disc is the burger and the vertebrae are the hamburger buns. When the disc is herniated, it is like when you try to take a bite from a burger and it slips out the back. With a burger there is nothing in back to damage, but with a herniated disc, the disc smashes into the nerves that control the legs. Just like the burger example, the disc is more likely slip out the back when the buns are squeezed together in the front. With the body, this action occurs during trunk flexion or bending over. This spells big trouble for J.J. Watt or any other lineman who ends up with a herniated disc, as the position requires constant trunk bending. To compound the matter, the trunk bending is usually combined with exertion and traumatic impact. If we return to our burger analogy, this would be like you squeezing your burger to take a bite and as the burger is protruding out the back someone decides to push you in the chest or run into you from the side. Chances are you entire burger comes out and you make a mess. For J.J. Watt, the situation may not be much different.

Without a surgical report it is impossible to know the exact procedure that Watt endured, but after rehabilitating hundreds of these types of injuries I understand each option and the prognosis that comes with it. If J.J. Watt was a normal citizen who was returning to a normal job, his prognosis would likely be great; but his job requires him to do the exact things we want to avoid after disc herniation. My guess is that his surgeon removed the part of the disc that was bulging with some type of partial discectomy procedure and Watt will need to allow the rest of that disc and the many structures that are responsible for holding the disc in place heal before returning to contact. The problem is that these structures have shown themselves to be the weak links of Watt’s body. Watt could consider some type of bracing that helps protect this area, but this option steals a little of his flexibility and likely some of his productivity. Without the extra protection, my guess is that with enough repetition or enough force, some of J.J. Watt’s symptoms will return.

Generally a herniated disc will start as pain in the back where the herniation occurs and then progresses to radiating pain that goes through the legs that sometimes causes pain, numbness, tingling, and with serious progression could lead to instability. Any of these symptoms will have to slow Watt down at least a little from his recent super hero status.

I am not saying that a herniated disc is an issue that can not be resolved, but I am saying that by nature it is a chronic condition that is difficult to deal with for people like truck-drivers, construction workers, and other manual workers. Many of my patients who have heavy-duty jobs typically have some type of recurrence, although many times we can manage this conservatively if they adhere to proper therapeutic exercise regimens and posture awareness. I expect J.J. Watt will be able to do the same but I do not think he will be able to use his body the same as he once did without consequences of recurrence.

Any hopes for the Houston Texans to be a dominant defense are done! I expect Watt to miss the first two to three games of the NFL season and I expect him to have his least productive season to date. The IDP fantasy rankings should see Watt fall considerably; the Texans will have some big shoes to fill; and the biggest fantasy effect for me is that I can start quarterbacks vs. the Texans without worrying that J.J. Watt will take their head off. Watt will continue to be a good to great player, but I think we will be looking for the next undisputed best defensive player in the league this year as J.J. Watt will relinquish that crown in 2016.