FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS!

December 4, 2014

With most either getting ready or already in playoff mode, I thought I would cover some of the injuries that may literally make or break your season.  Here are some of the key injuries to take note of, as well as what you can expect:

rashad jennings

Rashad Jennings is suffering from an ankle injury from this past weeks loss vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars.  This is one of the biggest injuries for league play and one day players as Jennings was in line to face the awful run defense of the Tennessee Titans. The Titans have been a running backs dream this season and I think that Jennings will unfortunately miss out.  Initially the injury was said to not be serious but Jennings was quoted as not being able to put enough weight on his foot when it first happen.  These details likely suggest that he is dealing with a simple grade 1 or 2 low ankle sprain.  Although this may not be a serious injury, it will still need to go through the phases of healing.  Like most ankle injuries, this will limit Jennings ability to cut and plant on that foot and should take 1-3 weeks of rest and treatment to heal.  My guess is that Jennings is currently dealing with a swollen ankle that gives him pain if not supported significantly.  The training staff should be focused on getting the swelling and pain under control and we may see him give it a go with a heavy tape job, but I would need to see him practice at least on Friday to have any faith.  If you are in a league, a Friday practice and good reports may allow you to start him, but for one day fantasy it would be impossible to pay that premium price for damaged goods (wish they would adjust the prices mid-week). Unfortunately those who were licking their chops for this matchup will either have to trust Andre Williams,  his back up, to still light up this poor run defense or look elsewhere for a quality running back.  I would give Jennings until week 15 if it were my line up; after all it’s not like the Giants are in the playoff hunt and that he will pull out all the stops to get on the field.  For league players, I would just pick up Williams.  For one day players, there are other backs to consider near his price point (Eddie Lacy and Joique Bell are my picks for now).

Alshon Jeffrey’s injured hamstring is likely on many people’s minds.  If I had to pick my least favorite injury for one of my fantasy players to have it would be either a groin strain or a hamstring strain.  I despise these injuries mostly because they are the lingering type.  In many cases with a hamstring strain, a player will seem to come along well, may be practicing again, and be generally pointing in the right direction; and with one simple stride that player will do what all fantasy owners dread seeing–abruptly slow up and grab the back of their leg in pain.  Many of the other injuries are easy to predict, but a hamstring strain can feel like rolling the dice.  The good news is that Jeffrey appears to have been struggling with hamstring issues as early as week 3 of the season and has now been dealing with it for the past 2-3 weeks, and during that time his production has been good.

The infamous hamstring pull or strain is generally a result of one or more of the hamstring muscles stretching to forcefully or quickly.  This can happen for a number of reasons, but I believe that in many cases these athletes are simply too fast for their own bodies.  This may be the case for Jeffries as he clocks in at a 4.48 with his 40 yard dash; and for a receiver standing 6’3″ and 216lbs that may almost slot him in the “Freaky Talented” column (although my verdict is still out on that).  During the process of running, these athletes can sometimes just simply be thrusting their legs into extension (a straight knee position) too fast, and when this is combined with any contraction of the hamstring; the athlete will typically experience a strain or even a tear of the muscle fibers.

Additionally, some individuals simply suffer from muscle imbalances.  Despite state of the art facilities and the top strength and conditioning professionals in the country, some athletes are still disproportioned.  With respect to hamstring injuries, the culprit would be extremely strong quadriceps (thigh muscles on the front) combined with slightly less strong hamstring muscles (thigh muscles on the back).  While in full speed action, if both sides are acting at their max capacities, the quadriceps can over power the hamstrings and in the process injure the hamstrings.

These are all things Alshon Jeffrey and his team should examine in the offseason to reduce his chances of repetitive hamstring issues next year, but for now I would expect Jeffries to play.  Despite him playing, I would not play him on my fantasy team regardless of the upside he may possess .  As I stated before, you are one stride away from that moment of him grabbing the back of his leg and ending your fantasy season.  Combine that with the fact that he has to share with Brandon Marshall and the fact that Jay Cutler can not be trusted and I would simply look elsewhere for nearly all formats.

T.Y. Hilton was also limited on Wednesday with a reported hamstring injury.  The timing of this being a Wednesday injury is the most troublesome factor to me as a T.Y. Hilton owner.  Hamstring strain recovery feeds off of time to recover, and with a mid-week starting point, Hilton may be feeling some restrictions on Sunday.  Additionally, Hilton is definitely in the “Freaky Talented” column based off his 4.34 speed alone.  With his game being primarily based on his speed, a hamstring injury may bump Hilton’s stock down significantly.  The Indianapolis Colts also have to leave the comfort of their temperature and surface controlled dome to go to Cleveland.  As hard as it may be for a league player (I know as I own T.Y. in my league), this is a week I would have already considered sitting Hilton but any signs of a hamstring issue beyond Thursday would reserve a spot on the bench for T.Y. Hilton on my team.  The good news is that wide receiver would have to be the deepest position in fantasy right now and you should be able to find a good matchup this week for league play (I have the luxury of Randall Cobb, Odell Beckham Jr. and Mike Evans as my other wideouts…..ha ha).  One day players should not even consider Hilton an option.

DeSean Jackson has a lower leg contusion.  Those who are familiar with me know that a contusion is just a fancy word for a bruise.  Jackson may take a little time to manage any pain or swelling associated with the injury but he should be a full go.  His presence is a domino effect for any offensive Washington player you may have.  He opens up Jordan Reed who should continue to be a PPR monster, he allows Colt McCoy to likely put up 20 + for his 3rd straight time as a starter, and he gives Alfred Morris a chance to run in a box that would not dare stack 8 with Jackson as the deep threat.  I am not sure DeSean would be my guy at receiver but in one-day PPR play, I think Reed and McCoy hold good value due to his presence.  Use the information as you see fit, but expect him to be ready to go.

Dwayne Allen is back after suffering an ankle sprain.  I think he took the perfect amount of time off as an ankle sprain generally is a 1-3 week injury, and he took the 3.  I expect Allen to be effective, and with my expectations for T.Y. Hilton being low, you may find Allen to be a low-cost/high reward option especially in one day play.  Coby Fleener is the obvious buzz kill for those who own Allen in traditional leagues, but simply stated–Dwayne Allen is a better football player than Coby Fleener (for now).  That may be unpopular to the highlight watchers of the recent weeks, but most who really pay attention know this to be true.  So in this spot, I would roll with Allen and expect things to slowly return to normal in which Allen is the obvious TE1 on the Indianapolis Colts.

How about some defense?  They say defense wins championships and this can be true in fantasy football too.  Aqib Talib has the hamstring bug too.  Talib will have about 2 weeks off from game action by the time the Denver Broncos face the Buffalo Bills, but I would watch out for him having some difficulty.  I especially think he will have difficulty if he somehow get matched up with Robert Woods.  If he covers Sammy Watkins as expected, their injuries may cancel each other out as they are both banged up.  Denver got away with missing their #1 corner vs. the Kansas City Chiefs as the Chiefs have no wide receivers, but I am not so sure they will fair as well without Talib against a respectable wide receiver duo.  Owners of the Denver D/ST should pay attention and look for a good matchup this week instead of using a defense that may be without a true #1 cornerback, as I think I have cemented how I feel about depending on players with hamstring strains.

The other cornerback that may cause a fantasy domino effect is Vontae Davis who is coming off a concussion last week.  I will eventually talk about concussion a little more in-depth, but one of my simple rules is to not trust a player to play at their best the week following a concussion.  There is complicated evidence out there that correlates concussions with poor performance, but my stance is more from a common sense point of view.  Concussion cloud the brain and typically take the player out of their normal routine.  I believe that many of the players in positions in which studying the opponent is key, will suffer the most, shortly after a concussion.  I especially worry about defensive players who need to read and react to the offense and as the corner that makes that defense go, Vontae not being at full capacity may spell disaster in Cleveland.  I think the Davis concussion takes the Colts out of the starting D/ST conversation as I believe he is the single most important person on their defense.  I also think his injury bumps Josh Gordon stock up. Gordon already has a QB in Brian Hoyer with something to prove and he gets what may be a shoot out vs. Andrew Luck.  When you add in a recovering Vontae Davis, I think Gordon will be lighting up the scoreboard this week.  If one day players can get lucky enough for Davis to not play, I think Hoyer and Gordon could be the value play of the week.

Quick notes:

Reggie Bush- You can’t trust him.  He’s been out too long with this ankle injury.  Maybe during the regular season you could take a chance but at playoff time he is too much of a gamble.  He made our running backs running out of time earlier this season and is fully living up to the injury prone status that I predicted.

 

bush in new orleansbush in miamibush in detroit

Greg Olsen –The proof is in the pudding.  Make sure he gets back to practice before believing that his swollen knee is not a problem.  With tight end being such a tough position to fill, I think if he practices he should start in all league play.  As a one day option, he would be way down my list.

Larry Fitzgerald- He should be back this week but watch his practice pattern.  If he misses any practices, I would  throw up a red flag for a set back.

Andre Ellington-He needs to rest and heal!  Unfortunately his owners will have to scramble to find a RB1 that can get them through a playoff run.  You better start matchup hunting.

Good Luck!

Why I Think A Broken Clavicle May Threaten Nick Foles Career!

November 15, 2014

Mark Sanchez is the talk of the league now that injured Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback-Nick Foles is out with a fractured clavicle for 6-8 weeks.  But will Foles be able to return from this injury?

The Science

clavicle

The clavicle bone which is very commonly referred to as the collarbone is basically the bridge from your sternum (breast bone) to your scapula (shoulder blade).  Just like an actual bridge, when the clavicle is injured or broken, it leads to a ton of problems.  Many of the bones in our body are simply involved in a short list of actions or responsibilities, but the clavicle is not one of them.  The clavicle serves as one of the attachment sites for muscles of the neck, shoulder, and chest region.  Without a functioning clavicle, in many ways the entire upper extremity on the affected side is shut down.  Try it yourself;  put your opposite hand on your clavicle and move your arm in any direction.  You will subtly feel your clavicle rotating and moving with every arm movement.  After a clavicle injury the only arm movements that will be allowed are from the elbow down.  Even for a non athlete, this is a very limiting injury, especially if it occurs on your dominant side.  Luckily the most common way to fracture this bone is just as Nick Foles did–by falling on it.  I imagine that not many of you are making a living falling on your shoulder, so for that reason this is a less common injury outside of athletics.

nick foles
This is how you break your clavicle and possibly threaten your career as an NFL quarterback.

Similar to any other bone fracture, the clavicle will typically heal in 6-8 weeks. One of the earliest considerations, which we saw in the case of Nick Foles is whether surgery is needed.  Surgery is generally needed if the fracture causes displacement of the bone or if the bone is crushed or shattered.  In Foles case, the fracture was not displaced meaning that although he had fractured the bone it was still in good alignment which will allow it to heal without surgical intervention.  In other cases, a surgeon may have to go in and put the bone fragments back in the proper position to allow healing to occur properly.

In either case, the injured side will generally be put in a sling for support during the healing period and range of motion will be maintained with Physical Therapy.  The important issue is what happens to the muscles during the 6-8 week healing period.  That good old saying: “If you don’t use it you lose it” applies here.  After recovering from this type of fracture you can expect an individual to be weaker in the shoulder area, chest area, neck area, and the upper back area as the clavicle plays a role in the movements of all of these areas.  This will be the case for Nick Foles, but fortunately he injured his non throwing arm.

Upon satisfactory bone healing, Foles will be able to resume using his left arm and build that strength back up.  The entire process is typically a 3 month deal but as I always say, the NFL does everything faster.  Foles could legitimately be back on the field at the 8 week mark with this injury, assuming he gains satisfactory strength.

Fantasy and Real Life Implications

Although I just said that Nick Foles should heal up and be ready to go in 2-3 months, the key word is “should”.  I do not believe Foles will get his job back from Mark Sanchez.  Although Nick Foles had a residual buzz from last years exceptional performance, he was severely under-performing this year.  Additionally, the Chip Kelly system fits a more athletic Quarterback much better than it does the lumbering Foles.  I know Chip will say he does not need a running QB, and I agree, but the offense does need an athlete.  Mark Sanchez is the perfect blend of athlete and Quarterback for that system and I believe he will be the Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback for years to come.  Many will disagree based on the “Sanchize” experiment in New York but I place all of that blame on poor coaching.  I assert that Mark Sanchez has been a better Quarterback than Nick Foles his entire life and on every level–Pee Wee, JV, Varsity, College, Draft, etc.  That is until he met Rex Ryan and Brian Schottenheimer.  I think the people who analyze this type of thing; the Mel Kiper’s of the world would fully agree with me on this point, but either way I think we will soon see that he is still better than Foles.

mark sanchez
There is a reason why Mark Sanchez only had to hear 4 names called before his, while Nick Foles waited through 87 names.

To be clear, I don’t think that Foles is done in the NFL.  He has done enough to make a name for himself and will get another chance somewhere or possibly be a coveted back up.  But he is not getting the Eagles gig back, therefore I say this injury is threatening his career.  Unfortunately Nick Foles has not made it to his second contract yet, and for most NFL players the second contract is what should put you on easy street for the rest of your life (although it usually does not).  I believe by the time it is time to negotiate that second contract that Foles may just be a back-up. It will all have to play out in the next year or two, but for now the message that you need to get is to start Mark Sanchez everywhere.

As I have stated in the past, I play one day fantasy on Draftkings.com and the million dollar winner had guess who as his starting quarterback…..Mark Sanchez.  Guess who the second place winner had at QB……you guessed it, Mark Sanchez.  This is not a fluke and this was not just because he played the Panthers.  Sanchez will flourish in this offense, and it is not a coincidence that Chip Kelly chose to get him this offseason.  He may quite possibly be in a perfect situation and you will be too if you start him at Quarterback in your traditional and one day fantasy leagues.