Before I get started on Ben Roethlisberger, I want to give a quick disclaimer. I have received some interesting feedback recently on my recommendations. Be sure to understand that I am not just giving you rhetoric to make me sound smart on these injuries; my goal is to give sharp and specific information that can literally help you win money. With this approach, I may be wrong here and there, as I do not give wide range explanations that allow me to be right no matter what the outcome is. In many cases I trap myself in a position in which I am either right or I am wrong. Sharp bettors and fantasy players can appreciate this as this type of approach has much more value than a long dissertation of facts and intelligent rhetoric that that never really gives a specific answer. For those who are not good managers of risk, for when these expert recommendations miss by a bit; you are not likely playing the fantasy game correctly. I tend to lean-to the DFS side of things, and I know that the information that I have provided has won money this season, because I am winning it. So in short, if you can’t handle not getting a “sure thing” explanation, you can stop reading now. For those who want to get real expert opinion that is capped with a specific answer that is much more likely to be right rather than wrong, I am your man.

Sorry for the rant; let’s get back to Big Ben Roethlisberger.

Roethlisberger has been diagnosed with a meniscus tear to his knee and is scheduled to have surgery on Monday. As I outlined with the Adrian Peterson case, a meniscus injury can be tricky as the outer part has good blood supply while the inner part does not. This plays a big role when it comes to healing, as areas that are rich in blood supply heal faster, while those with little or no blood supply heal slower.

Based on the reports that describe the procedure that Roethlisberger will undergo on Monday to be a “clean-up”, we can assume the injury to be the blood rich outer part of the meniscus which should be good news for Ben Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh Steelers fans.

This will be an arthroscopic surgery which is literally one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures and Roethlisberger should be able to transition quickly to Physical Therapy. Physical Therapy will initially focus on reducing the swelling and pain in his knee and once these issues are stabilized, Roehtlisberger should transition to therapeutic exercises focused on stabilizing his knee before finally returning to football activity.

On the short end, Roethlisberger could be ready by week eight, but being that this will be the Pittsburgh Steelers bye-week, the earliest we should expect is week nine return versus the Baltimore Ravens. I would expect Roethlisberger to return by then, but at the very latest we should see him in week ten.

As with any other injury, or anything in life, this is not a “sure thing”; however it is a “more likely than not” thing. Orthopedic surgeons do hundreds of thousands of these procedures per year, and Physical Therapist like myself rehabilitate hundreds of thousands of these conditions per year. The text-book answer will support a two to four-week return as I have mentioned, but in real life I know that some recover even quicker and some take longer. We will have to listen out for how surgery goes and look for signs of how Ben Roethlisberger is moving around during the bye week. Don’t be surprised to see Roethlisberger walking with an assistive device in the week leading up to the New England Patriots, but if you are still catching glimpses of a hobbled Ben Roethlisberger as week nine approaches, that would be a sign that something is not right. 

I will update as needed on Twitter @DrPettyIRD, but otherwise hold tight to Roethlisberger if he is your fantasy quarterback for season long, and DFS players should take advantage of the doubters in week nine or ten, as when he returns he should be at full strength.

Good Luck!

Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Antonio Brown

Which player is more likely to play the entire season without injury?

You can find comparisons of players all over the internet. Some give you the experts opinions; some crunch a bunch of data based on past and projected numbers; and some just lay the information in front of you for you to decide for yourself. My goal with my “versus” breakdowns is to give you the most important ability of your prospective fantasy player, and that is his availABILITY! I can’t take credit for this line as I have heard Herm Edwards say it many times, but I can attest to its truth. With many years in this fantasy game, I have learned that availability definitely matters most. No matter how great of a team you pick, it is about the team you can actually roster on game day. I will consider each players injury risk floor using various data, as well as their production ceiling. Ultimately I will use Injury Science to make a final recommendation on which player you can count on most!

Odell Beckham Jr. 


The wide receiver position can be different for each player as some receivers travel to the middle of the field often to meet up with linebackers and safeties, while some are always down the field or near the sidelines to limit their injury exposure. Odell Beckham Jr. is so special that I really don’t know that he fits either group. He seems to avoid the big hit over the middle with pure speed and quickness. If anything, I fear that Beckham Jr. will injure himself with his own talent rather than another player injuring him. I often use the term “Freaky Talented” and this describes OBJ to a tee. He can run, jump, and cut at a ridiculous rate, and in many cases this type of ability can cause injury if not managed and controlled well. The fact that Beckham has suffered multiple hamstring injuries during his NFL career and a groin injury in college, tells me that he is as much a danger to himself as others are to him. Muscular injuries are usually a symptom of your body not being able to keep up with your own talent. This tendency with Beckham worries me, if I am to consider using no lower than a second round pick on him. Furthermore, Beckham Jr.’s recent training suggest that he is focused on becoming even more explosive. I know being explosive is the name of the game on the football field, but at some point I think a bomb shows that it has enough explosiveness to blow up anything. Upon achieving a bomb with a maximum explositvity, I think I would start thinking about finding ways to contain that bomb if needed. I do not claim to be an insider to Beckham’s workouts, but the publicized videos and descriptions seem to be all about explosion, speed, and quickness. Fantasy owners who plan to invest in OBJ should hope that containment is at least a secondary focus  in his training, and that maybe it is simply not as publicized.

With Beckhams injury history, eccentric exercises, muscle balancing exercises, as well as dynamic flexibility activities would be the type of approach which would likely avoid another muscle strain or worse.

Antonio Brown

antonio brown

Antonio Brown has staked his claim as one of the best wide receivers in the league. From a profile standpoint, Brown almost looks like a more mature version of Odell Beckham Jr. From the standpoint of injury history, Brown shows a much more favorable past. Aside from a concussion that came from a dirty hit last year, Brown has not been injured since 2012 with a high ankle sprain. Considering the volume that he gets as Ben Roethlisberger’s number one wide receiver, this is very impressive. When I looked a little into Antonio Brown’s training regimen, it helped me understand how he stays off of the injury report. It doesn’t take long to find images of Brown holding difficult Pilates poses, and it appears that this has been a staple in his training regimen for some time. Unlike Beckham Jr., I did not hear the word explosion much and the overriding themes were Pilates and field work.

I believe Antonio Brown to be very talented, but I have always put him more in my “Supremely Skilled” category. This category is usually for players who rely more on their skill than their talent, and in looking at Brown’s training; you can see that this is reflected. A player who relies on skill will often do more field work and focus more on things like body control, techniques, etc., while their “Freaky Talented” counterparts are often trying to keep their talent bag filled to the top. At 27 years old, I consider Antonio Brown to be near his physical prime and consider his risk for injury low.

My Pick

As you could probably pick up on my breakdowns of each player, I consider Antonio Brown the clear choice. The production ceiling is clearly higher with a Pittsburgh Steelers offense that is likely the most aggressive offense in the league. The injury risk floor for Brown and Beckham is about even as the age advantage and weight advantage go to Beckham.  Antonio Brown’s sub 190 lb frame will always be somewhat of a risk, as a big hit could likely cause him injury. However, this injury risk factor is somewhat offset with his supreme skill to set up his routes, get in and out of cuts, and get down or out-of-bounds rather than take big hits. Either of these players is capable of the 10 catch, 200 yard, 4 TD game; but Beckham is the most likely one to miss a few quarters or maybe a few games because he blows out a tire from going too fast. The notorious and recurrent nature of hamstring injuries and the appearance that explosiveness is the top priority for Beckham, seals the deal for me. I would not be surprised if Odell Beckham Jr. missed 1-3 games this season. My guess is it would again be some type of soft tissue injury that occurs in direct response to his explosiveness. Hopefully for Odell Beckham Jr. owners, he will not miss any big time spots for you, as it is very difficult to overcome losing such a high pick late in the season.

Pick Antonio Brown over Odell Beckham Jr. with confidence this season and feel comfort that you will likely have a star receiver who will produce for you every single game.


Can Fantasy owners and the Pittsburgh Steelers depend on Le’Veon Bell?


For many fantasy owners, Le’Veon Bell is a no doubt first round pick. For the Pittsburgh Steelers and their fans, Le’Veon Bell is one of the big 3 that gives the Steelers a chance to win it all. The only thing to burst everyone’s bubble is that Bell is trending toward the infamous tag of being “injury prone”; but is he really injury prone?

Let me start off by saying that I am generally biased against depending on a running back as the center piece of a fantasy team or a real life team. I believe the running back position to not only be the most injury prone position in football but probably the most injury prone position in all of sports. Featured running backs absorb more trauma and overuse to their bodies than any other athlete I can think of. When Le’Veon Bell is healthy, he plays more snaps than any back in the league and therefore his injury risk may pose one of the highest floors in the league based on position and playing time expectations.

Fortunately for Bell, his injury risk floor is complemented by a production ceiling that is clearly top 3 in the league. The combination of the Pittsburgh offense and his skill set to run or catch the ball on almost every down can only be sniffed by David Johnson of the Arizona Cardinals (assuming he takes on a feature back role this year).

When I studied Le’Veon Bells injury history, it gave me little concern about lingering or long-term effects. I am not concerned about the fact that both of his recent injuries were to his left knee area, as the Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) injury that he suffered this past season is not one that I expect to linger into next season. The MCL is an important ligament for running backs as the nature of the position requires repetitive cutting and change of direction. Bell’s left MCL will be put to work when he makes cuts to his right or when he takes blows to the inside of that left knee, but by the time he hits the field he will have at about 9 months of healing time, which is more than enough. I expect Bell to be 100% when the season starts, but we know that it is not how he starts but if he can finish that matters most.

The factor that should concern fantasy owners and the Pittsburgh Steelers is his weight. If Le’Veon Bell comes in to the season at the proper weight, I think he is the no brainer number one pick in fantasy and likely keeps the crown as the most productive running back in the league. However, his history with weight worries me some. Bell entered the league at a whopping 244 lbs and reported last year that he came down to about 225 lbs. Some may prefer a big back and feel comfort in them taking hits better than smaller backs, but I do not. I believe the ideal weight for a running back to be 215 – 220 lbs and I am all in on Bell if he is in that weight range. Weight is an important factor to me for a few reasons. Joints are only meant to load a certain amount of weight, and although these football players are typically mostly muscle; weight is weight. When you hear of these highly trained athletes having joint injuries or even heart attacks, but you considered them to be big, strong, healthy guys; it is because our hearts, our joints, and our frames are only designed to carry a certain amount. Also, Newton taught us that force = mass x acceleration. In the case of Le’Veon Bell, his extra weight is likely to mean more force during collisions with other players and more force for his body parts as they contact the ground. Greater force equals greater injury risk.

The workload issue is so tricky when it comes to fantasy as we all salivate over a back like this because of his ceiling, but keep in mind that running backs drop off a cliff when they are 30 for a reason. The same rationale is in play during the season. There is a point where carrying and catching the ball on every play becomes somewhat of a detriment to the player and spikes their injury risk. While I don’t have an exact number of carries and catches that sets off an alarm; the combination of an overweight Le’Veon Bell and rumbling in Pittsburgh that he will be featured in an even greater capacity is not all good.

If you plan to invest in Le’Veon Bell this year, keeping a close eye on his weight should be your first priority. Hopefully we hear he went vegan or started Yoga and Pilates rather than bulking up in the weight room. Anything that sounds like this and I am in. On the other hand if he falls back in to rookie year Le’Veon and tips the scales in the 240’s, it would be wise to fade him and maybe look at a back like David Johnson.