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!

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.