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.


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!

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.


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!

NFL Draft Alert: Who Is The Injury Bust Drafted In The Top Ten?

April 30, 2016

The NFL draft is one of the few things in life that is graded strictly from the perspective of guessing and potential. No matter how many drills and interviews these players go through; there is always the chance of the first pick being Jamarcus Russell or the 199th pick being Tom Brady. I think most smart people would agree that the draft is mostly luck, THERE IS NO SCIENCE HERE!

On the other hand, determining the probability of a player getting injured is a Science. I like to call it Injury Science. Physics gives us formulas to determine how much force a player will generate based on size and speed; Physiology helps us predict the thresholds that a player can endure before their bodies begin to underperform or fail; and past performance data gives us the data to predict how similar players will react to certain conditions. This does not mean that Injury Science will predict every injury, but similar to the Las Vegas predictions; Injury Science will be right on many more occasions than it is wrong.

The 2016 NFL draft is off to a very entertaining start and as usual fans are pumped up about their teams early first round picks. Although I strongly believe the draft is luck, there is evidence to show that these top picks are more likely to at least contribute to their teams in some capacity. With that said, the biggest threat to a team who is getting one of these top 10 players is taking a player who will be plagued by injury. The first 10 picks consist of 2 quarterbacks, 1 running back, 2 offensive tackles, 2 defensive ends, 1 linebacker, and 2 corner backs.

For those who have followed me for a while, the high risk player in this mix should stand out like a Dallas Cowboys fan at a Philadelphia Eagles game. The easiest place to start to predict a higher risk for injury is to ask if the player is the one doing the hitting or the one getting hit. The obvious higher risk is with the players who are getting hit which helps rule out the 5 defensive players. The next easiest position to rule out for injury bust is the quarterback position; as quarterbacks are only allowed to be hit at the nipple line in todays NFL and if you use more than 10 lbs of force to hit a quarterback, they make you walk the plank. Needless to say that the quarterback is the least likely position to be an injury bust. That leaves us with 2 offensive tackles and a running back. Even if you are not a football fan, everybody knows that for the most part you hit the man with the ball, and offensive tackles never have the ball. So while offensive tackle is no cake walk they are generally looking for a defender to block, while defenders try to get away from them. This leaves us with the most dangerous and short-lived position in all the 4 major sports–the running back position.

Ezekiel Elliot is the obvious pick for most likely to be an injury bust just by the position he plays, BUT I think it is much more than his position that elevates his risk. Elliot is definitely what I would classify as a “Freaky Talented” athlete. There are many ways to identify these athletes but I will tell you an easy way that doesn’t need any real research. I learned this early in my high school football career from a running back named Eddie Gaskins. When you see someone with a chubby face and a six-pack for abs, you are in trouble. I think this is some type of “Freaky Talented” trait that I don’t understand yet, but it is one of my unofficial ways of designating these athletes. As for the official way of designating these types of athletes, I simply look at the measurables. Ezekiel Elliot is 225 lbs, which is considered big for a running back as the average running back in the NFL weighs about 215 lbs. Despite that size, his 40 yard dash time is an impressive 4.47 seconds. That combination of size and speed is really all he needs to get the “Freaky Talented” designation from me. If that is not enough for you, just watch any of the Ohio State Buckeyes games from the past 2 years and you will be convinced. I can definitely see why my arch-enemy Dallas Cowboy fans are excited. However, those Cowboy fans may not be as excited about this next part.

Part of determining how someone will perform is to find comparable players. Player that are the same speed, body type, and position is a good start in evaluating what a players injury risk may be. I evaluated my SEP Reliability Ratings for the running backs from last year to see which running backs compared most favorable to Ezekiel Elliot and then looked at them as rookies to make sure the comparison still lined up. After reviewing all the current NFL running backs, the two that compare most favorably to Elliot were Ryan Matthews of the Philadelphia Eagles and Chris Ivory who is now playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Matthews came in the league at 218 lbs and running a 4.46; and Ivory came in the league at 222 lbs and running a 4.48. They both have a style like Elliot where they choose to run defenders over rather than go around; and the absolute clincher was that they both have the chubby face trait with body builder bodies to match (although Ivory has put on a few since his rookie year). While these are pretty good comparisons for Elliot, as both these players are at least still in the league as productive players, their first 3 years collectively look like this:

Injuries-ankle sprain, calf strain, concussions, broken clavicle, MCL sprain, hamstring strains, Lisfranc fracture, sports hernia, etc.

Games missed (between both Matthews and Ivory) – 34 games in 3 years (plus extra time missed during the games they did play in)


If an average of almost 1.5 injuries per year and over 5 missed games per year is even close to what Ezekiel Elliot is in for, I don’t think Jerry Jones and Cowboy fans will be too happy. The fact is that a big body with that much speed in todays NFL is an injury waiting to happen as lots of mass and lots of speed equals lots of force (literally: force = mass x acceleration squared). I don’t wish injuries on anyone (even Dallas Cowboy’s), but it is very likely that Elliot’s body will not be able to keep up with his talent which will cause something to eventually fail; and if his own body doesn’t get him, he has all the high-speed collisions with linebackers and safeties to play clean up. This may not be enough to truly call him a bust, but what do you think the SanDiego Chargers think about drafting Ryan Matthews now? Does anyone even remember that Chris Ivory played for the New Orleans Saints? 


Just like Vegas I could be wrong. Buster Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson and Ronda Rousey almost got her face kicked off; but those buildings in Vegas are big for a reason. They use data and processes to figure these things out, in other words they use a science. The Injury Science here definitely points to Ezekiel Elliot having an injury plagued career.