JIMMY GAROPPOLO WILL BE HEALTHY ENOUGH TO MAKE EVERY THROW IN WEEK 4!

The recent injury news on Jimmy Garoppolo may be confusing to many fantasy football owners. My guess is that Bill Belichick likes the news to be confusing for his opponents, but this trickles down to those who are just trying to set their fantasy lineups. This news is not just about Garoppolo, but will also effect those who plan to start Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, or any other New England Patriots skill player. The news has outlined every scenario from Garoppolo starting to Jacoby Brissett starting, and as far as Julian Edelman being the starting quarterback. With this level of confusion, it becomes very difficult to make a solid decision.

If you listen to me, I will make your life easier. Injury Science is very valuable in predicting these types of things. We just watched J.J. Watt go down for the season; and while some were surprised, I looked back at a post that I wrote in July that should have given fantasy owners a major heads up on the likelihood of J.J. Watt not making it through the season as he clearly came back to soon from an injury that has high recurrence. All injuries are not created equal and Injury Science can help separate the injuries that you need to stay away from and those that you need to flock to. Especially if you play daily fantasy football, flocking to a player that others are scared to play means that you will likely have a unique line up that can win a lot of money.

In this case, I am telling you that you can play Garoppolo and all the other New England Patriots that you would otherwise play. This is not about the reports or even the video that has surfaced of Garoppolo making a couple of throws. It truly is about Injury Science and the injury profile of Garoppolo’s injury.

Garoppolo suffered an acromioclavicular (AC) sprain in week two, and by the week four game, he will have had two weeks to rest this injury. Generally a sprain like this will take two to four weeks to heal. His sprain was a Type II, which indicates that initially there was some instability in the joint. All of this may sound complicated and just make you fade Garoppolo as a fantasy play this week, as hearing that he has an unstable throwing shoulder doesn’t sound good for a starting quarterback. However once you understand the shoulder joint a bit better, you will see why I am confident that Jimmy Garoppolo will be healthy enough to make every throw in week 4.

https://phoenixshoulderandknee.com
https://phoenixshoulderandknee.com

The AC joint is made up of the clavicle (collarbone) and the acromion (what most refer to as the shoulder-blade). You can run your finger out on your collarbone to your shoulder and hopefully appreciate the location of the joint. Structurally this joint is important for stability, but in the case of throwing, there are a few other stabilizers that can compensate for a short time. Functionally this joint is important, as the shoulder complex relies on the humerus and scapula being in synch; however the AC joint should not be a major limiter to the throwing motion. With two weeks of limited activity to the AC joint, Garoppolo is likely to only have minor limitations with range of motion and pain.

One of the important considerations here is that the New England Patriots only need Garoppolo for this week as Tom Brady will return from suspension next week. This means that although Garoppolo may suffer some strain to other stabilizing structures and may even incur a set back in the stability of the ligaments at the AC joint; the Patriots should be able to give him plenty of rest and treatment after this game.

As for the production and performance you can expect from Jimmy Garoppolo with this type of injury, I believe he should be able to make every throw on the field. While it is likely that by the time he takes the field he may still have range of motion limitations and some pain, neither of these things should limit his throwing motion or arm strength on game day as the pain can be controlled and full range of motion is not needed to throw a football. Much of a quarterbacks arm strength comes from their core muscles and legs, but even the part that comes from the arm is more dependent on structures like the rotator cuff muscles providing stabilization, while the elasticity of the ligaments and muscles around the shoulder joint contribute to the speed and power during the throwing motion. The AC joint should be able to effectively hide itself within the many  movements that occur during shoulder mobility, with the only major risk I see being a hit that takes Garoppolo down similar to how he was injured in the first place.

There may be a conscious effort to call plays focused on short throws, as short throws require less arc during the passing motion which should spare Garoppolo from any range of motion stressors or pain. Short and quick passes may also be an effective way to limit the risk of Garoppolo getting taken to the ground. With that said, I believe that if Garoppolo wants to throw deep, that he will be able.

Trust that this is an injury that Jimmy Garoppolo can and will play through. I will definitely consider some New England Patriots in in my DFS lineups this week and if I had Jimmy Garoppolo as my handcuff until Tom Brady returns, I would play him with confidence. 

Good Luck!

The most under-rated position on your Fantasy Football Team!

What do you get when you cross a power forward with an offensive tackle and a wide receiver? My answer would be a Freaky Talented athlete, also known as a tight end.

When you look around at other people’s rosters you will notice that everyone has a starting caliber running back on their team; everyone has multiple starting caliber wide receivers; and quarterback is the deepest position in fantasy football. The biggest gap in talent for any position in the NFL occurs at the tight end position. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at the rankings for tight ends. Compare No. 1 ranked – Rob Gronkowski to No. 32 ranked –  Jace Amaro and see if you can keep them in the same universe. On the contrary when you compare the top options to the lower ranked options with any other position, you will find that the gap is not nearly as big.

The talent gap among tight ends really does give the fantasy teams with a good tight end an advantage, but at the same time none of us want to take a tight end too early.

These are all factors to consider with this position, but I believe many will overlook one of the most important factors there is when it comes to tight ends–nearly all the good tight ends have significant injury history!

As I said earlier, the tight end position by nature is Freaky Talented. Those who are familiar with my theories know that this label usually means high injury probability, and the tight end group proves this very well. Here are the top ten tight ends according to fantasy pros.com:

Rob Gronkowski – surprisingly Gronkowski heads into this season with no serious injury concerns. However, if history has taught us anything, it is that Gronkowski will miss some time this season. He has not played a complete 16 game season since his second year in the league, but his production ceiling will likely outweigh his injury risk for at least a couple more years. You will not hear me tell anyone to not draft Rob Gronkowski, but I almost never target him as his price is usually too high for me.

Jordan Reed – Jordan Reed is reported to have a thumb injury that is causing him to take it easy this pre-season. I am not worried about his thumb, but I am worried about his history with the “Michael Myers” of injuries. Jordan Reed has had multiple hamstring injuries in his career and has never completed a full season. I simply don’t see how you can trust Reed as a season long fantasy option. I watched some video of Jordan Reed’s offseason training and found it to be impressive; but if he was on my fantasy team I would rather see him in a yoga or Pilates class. I know these trainers and rehab teams are top-notch in the NFL and I hope that these players with recurrent strains are balancing their explosive workouts with eccentric muscle control focus.

Greg Olsen – Greg Olsen appears to have been bothered by back spasms this pre-season, but other than that I have very little negative to say about Olsen’s injury outlook. Olsen’s career stats are how I like them, with a long row of 16’s. Olsen hasn’t missed a game in forever and when you look for a little insight into Olsen’s training regimen, you can see why. Olsen and his team seem to focus on the big picture which includes hydration, nutrition and a variety of training methods; which is what a Freaky Talented athlete needs to stay healthy. Despite Olsen getting a little up in age at 31-years old, I would be happy with him as my tight end.

Travis Kelce – Travis Kelce seems to be one of the safer options at tight end, but don’t forget he missed his entire rookie season with a knee injury that required surgery. With age on his side and two seasons having passed since his injury, I would feel pretty good with him as my starting tight end.

Coby Fleener – Coby Fleener has not missed a game since his rookie year and his upgrade to a more tight end friendly system is clear with his move to the New Orleans Saints. I can not say that I am much of a Coby Fleener fan, but looking at him through lenses focused on comparing injury floor to production ceiling reveals him to be a great tight end option this season.

Delanie Walker – Delanie Walker reminds me a lot of Greg Olsen. They are about the same age and although Walker has missed a few games here and there, you can generally count him in for 15 games every season. He also gets it when it comes to how to treat his body, as he is relying on cycling for much of his conditioning these days. Delanie Walker would not be my first pick for tight end, but he would be no lower than five. I hope some of the young tight ends get with players like Walker and Olsen so our pool of tight ends can stay healthy.

titansonline.com
titansonline.com

Gary Barnidge – Barnidge is a tough one for me, as I did not know he existed before last year. 2015 is the first year he has put up any meaningful statistics and his injury history seems to be minimal to none (unless no one bothered documenting it because they didn’t know he existed). The only thing I know is that Robert Griffin iii is his quarterback and that is worth 3 injuries to me.

Zach Ertz – Ertz has not missed much time so far in his career but did suffer a groin injury about a year ago. I worry about players with muscle strains, and groins and hamstrings are the absolute worst. If the hamstring strain is the “Michael Myers” of injuries, the groin is definitely “Jason Vorhees”. No matter what you do, they are always lurking and ready to return.

Julius ThomasThomas has missed more than a third of the games in his career due to injury. If not for the 2013 version of Peyton Manning, I doubt we would even know Julius Thomas by name. I would not touch Julius Thomas in any fantasy football setting as he is literally an injury waiting to happen.

Dwayne AllenAllen has more missed games than he had receptions last year. Despite the departure of Coby Fleener, I don’t think he is a tight end you can trust to stay healthy or stay productive.

Tyler Eifert (honorable mention) – Many current list don’t include Eifert as he will miss at least the first four games of the season as he recovers from ankle surgery, but I am including him as the reports on his projected return is what inspired this post. All of the information around Eifert’s injury is vague, but I think it is safe to say that he is not a good tight end option for this year. Regardless of the specifics of his ankle injury, I can just about guarantee you that he does not hit the field as his normal self. It will likely be late in the season before we see any glimpses of the dominance that Eifert showed last season. This is now Tyler Eifert’s second serious injury and while many will attribute this to coincidence, I believe being 6-foot 6-inches, 250 lbs, and running a 4.6 second 40 yard dash is a great contributor to any injury of his past or future.

As the list of tight ends goes on, so does the injury history. Keep in mind that tight ends are probably only second to running backs in regard to injury probability. The biggest difference is that when a running back like LeVeon Bell goes down, a back up can realistically come in and maintain a good portion of that productivity; but when your tight end goes down there is a good chance that you are looking at a tremendous drop off in production.

Use Injury Science to pick your tight end wisely as he may literally be the difference between winning and losing.

Dion Lewis highlights a Fantasy Football commandment!

Just so it doesn’t look like I am a Monday morning quarterback, here is a Tweet from about 10 days ago in response to a question I received about the injury outlook for Dion Lewis. I did not write a full piece on Lewis at the time as I simply did not think the interest was there. I assumed everyone was like me and disregarded New England Patriots players not named Tom Brady or Rob Gronkowski. Now that I know that some of you are interested, here it is.

The reason I said that Lewis was off-limits until 18 to 24 months after his surgery is because that is how I feel about nearly all running backs returning from ACL repair. Lewis suffered his ACL injury last November, and not even a year later he seemed to be pushing to get back on the field. I feel that this approach will often be unsuccessful and I generally avoid players who return from injuries too quickly. The only reason to accelerate the rehab process is if that player is preparing for a conference championship or a Super Bowl, but players who rush back to take part in regular season games are simply playing the risk to reward game poorly.

Now that Lewis appears to have had a “clean up” in his knee, I think it is safe to say that “risk” defeated “reward” once again. A clean up likely means that his knee was suffering from excess inflammation, scar tissue, fluid or any combination of the three; and in this case the surgeon can go in with an arthroscopic approach and clean up whatever should not be in there. This is a fairly minor procedure in most cases, and Lewis should feel better after surgery.

The reports have him out for another 8 to 10 weeks after this procedure, but I would say that this should have been the length of time he would have been out regardless of this procedure. I don’t think I have to give my opinion any further on Lewis, as I can’t imagine anyone would invest in him beyond a daily fantasy play late in the season or possibly a late season pick up in a deep league.

I am happy to keep answering these questions about running backs coming off ACL repair, but I think that I will start sounding like a broken record. I am on record in a number of articles about my feeling on waiting until the second season following ACL repair; but I would contend that running backs are the absolute worst pick ups in fantasy football after an ACL injury.

acl

If you have ever experienced or monitored an ACL recovery, you can attest to the long period during which you simply don’t use the injured leg like you normally would. I won’t bore you with an ACL protocol, but you can search for it and see the specific time points in which these athletes are typically allowed to resume certain activity. The bottom line is that any living thing that takes almost a year off from what it usually does will have an adjustment period to resume functioning properly. The ACL is no different!

As for the specific reason that running backs are the worst after this injury; the running back is maybe the only offensive positions that is more reactive than proactive. A running back must react to blocks and defenders in a similar way to defenders reacting to the offense. The wide receiver has the luxury of knowing where they are going and planning their moves; the quarterback more often than not knows exactly how many steps they will take before releasing the ball on a well executed play; and offensive lineman almost always know their first step and the direction they will go on the snap. The running back has to cut, juke, jump, and accelerate based a number of factors that happen after the ball is snapped. For those who have played football, you know that the running back rarely ends up exactly where the play designs him to be.

The frequency and the severity of the reactive movements that a running back needs to make depends on supreme biomechanics and reaction time, and having the Anterior Cruciate Ligament take a year off does not bode well for this to exist within the first 18 months after repair. Cruciate actually describes the shape of the ligament, but I like to think of the word “crucial” when considering the role of the ACL. Without the ACL, the mechanics of the knee-joint changes significantly and once it is repaired and healed, that significant change must be overcome. Many of us walk around and do not realize the precision that is needed in order for the human body to work. For an NFL running back this precision is at a higher level than the average person and is developed over years; when an injury as significant as an ACL tear occurs this precision must rebound. Particularly running backs that depend on agility will suffer with slower cuts and acceleration which will surely decrease their productivity. Bigger backs who are more straight line runners are more likely to retain a larger percentage of their skills and their productivity. I think Lewis definitely falls under the agility back designation and will see his skills suffer when he takes the field some time in November.

I know there are some fantasy football commandments out there, but to my knowledge there are none that specifically address this from an injury perspective. So here is your first ever fantasy football commandment(Injury Science edition): Thou shall not draft running backs coming off ACL repair prior to their 18 month recovery mark!