Fantasy Football Injury Report Review: Week 1
Now that the NFL injury report has eliminated the designation of “probable”, the questionable tag will include players who are anywhere from 50 to 99-percent likely to play. With this new development, you will definitely need to check here every week before locking your lineups, to make sure that you don’t get burned by a player whose injury status you miscalculated. I will use a combination of Injury Science and my experience as a Doctor of Physical Therapy to give you a more precise prediction of whether you can trust these players on game day. My goal is to give you a general recommendation on whether an injury may lead your player to poor production, but keep in mind that the format that you play in will have to be considered with how you use this information. The expectations in season long league or a 50/50 contest will be far different from the expectations for a large daily fantasy tournament, so be sure to pay attention to the details. My recommendations are primarily based on the injury facts as compared to the production projections. You will have to take it from there, with your decision to put him in the game or sit him on the bench.
Put Him in the Game
Julio Jones (ATL)
Julio Jones will not be 100-percent on opening day! He will have had less than three weeks to recover from the ankle injury he suffered in the pre-season, and this likely means he is still dealing with swelling, pain, and possibly limited mobility. Furthermore ankle injuries such as sprains are neck and neck with hamstring strains in having the greatest likelihood to recur (Jones has had a few hamstring strains too). There is an increased chance that Jones heads to the bench after a hard cut on that ankle or if a defender happens to pull and twist his ankle during a tackle. There is also a chance that Jones will not move like his normal self, as the ankle must be involved in nearly every movement he will make as a wide receiver. Many depend on tape or other bracing methods to protect the ankle, but this also limits the players agility and speed. I have made my feelings clear that you can’t trust Julio Jones on your fantasy team, and I continue to feel this way, but I don’t expect season long fantasy owners to sit Jones after likely drafting him number one overall. I do strongly believe that daily fantasy players with Julio Jones in your lineup are on the wrong side of the risk to reward equation. Although injury analysis is my thing, I do peek at other factors to help me analyze how a player’s injury risk measures up to their likelihood to produce. With Julio Jones facing a barely healed ankle injury, a former teammate and pro bowl cornerback in Brent Grimes, his former head coach Mike Smith as the opposing defensive coordinator, and finally an Atlanta Falcons wide receiver group that now has talent beyond his own; I believe that fantasy owners should proceed with serious caution with their expectations. Despite the many factors working against Julio Jones, his production ceiling still leads me reluctantly advise that you put him in the game.
Jordy Nelson (GB)
Although Nelson has escaped the injury report altogether in time for week one, Jordy Nelson is barely a year out from ACL repair and the Green Bay Packers have other weapons. The reports say that Nelson will have no restrictions on opening day, but I think they should make it clear that he will not have any restrictions placed on him by the team. His body will most definitely restrict him in his first real game action since his injury. Playing Nelson this week in daily has perks as he is likely to have lower ownership than he would usually have in a game like this, but I do not think he will hit value at his price point. For season long fantasy owners, I believe Jordy Nelson is in for one of his least productive years yet. With that said the matchup and the point projection for this game combined with this maybe being the healthiest Jordy Nelson you will get all season (considering the months of rest), I would put him in the game.
Jordan Matthews (PHI)
Jordan Matthews missed the entire pre-season with what was termed as a knee strain. By the time he takes the field against the Cleveland Browns, he will have had a little more than four weeks to heal. For most soft tissue injuries I prefer a three to five week healing period, and Matthews falls perfectly into that range. He should be very close to 100-percent and he will be facing the Browns defense. Put him in the game.
Brandon Marshall (NYJ)
Brandon Marshall was listed as “questionable” earlier in the week and sat out of the last couple weeks of the pre-season with what is being called hip soreness. This sounds like nothing, but when you consider that Marshall has had three hip surgeries so far in his career and that he is 32-years old, it may be a little concerning for his long-term outlook. Season long and dynasty owners may need to be a little concerned, but for week one vs. the Cincinnati Bengals, I would put him in the game.
Andrew Luck (IND)
Luck is listed as “questionable” with a shoulder injury. He has been limited in practice, but reports are that he will play on Sunday in what most expect to be a high-scoring game vs. the Detroit Lions. This injury status does not surprise me at all as my exact quote in a post from July was “The most concerning injury to consider if drafting Andrew Luck is the reported right shoulder subluxation that he suffered last year”. Although I was concerned about the injury then, I still considered Andrew Luck at or near the top of the list for quarterbacks to target. The nature of his injury calls for an adjustment period as he works himself back into playing shape. The repetition of throwing that an NFL quarterback endures is not something you can just stop for nearly a year and expect to go right back to that level. I believe Luck will be fine this week and will likely have to manage his reps until his shoulder gets back in the condition it needs to be for an NFL quarterback. I would definitely put him in the game.
Carson Wentz (PHI)
Wentz is no longer on the injury report, but some may still be wary about his status as he prepares to go against what may be the worst defense in the league. By my calculations, Wentz should be more than healed by game day. In a post that I wrote prior to the “breaking news” that he would start, I calculated that the hairline rib fracture would be about 108% healed by game day and that Wentz would definitely be cleared. I think a fully healthy Carson Wentz against a very poor Cleveland Browns defense is good reason to put him in the game.
Sit Him on the Bench
Rob Gronkowski (NE)
I think Rob Gronkowski feels for the fantasy owners who have consistently been burned by Bill Belichick. Why else would Gronkowski go against the New England Patriot way and broadcast his hamstring injury? I don’t think you need me to tell you how annoying the notorious hamstring strain can be for one of your fantasy players. There is literally no injury that I fear more, as even when the player takes the field, you are always one play away from losing them. Based on the reports, it appears that Gronkowski has been battling this hamstring issue for at least three weeks. I consider this valuable information as I prefer to allow a recovery period of three to five weeks for hamstring strains, and Gronkowski seems to at least be on the short end of this time frame. The other positive is that Rob Gronkowski’s game is not dependent on blazing speed and agility, but rather his freakish size, strength, and talent. Hamstring strains are most likely to limit his ability to cut, accelerate, and his overall speed; but I believe that Gronkowski could jog down the seam and still be a bigger threat than most. Gronkowski’s ability to get open in the red-zone should be hindered minimally with this injury as many of his red-zone touchdowns seem to be more about positioning and ball skill dominance rather than his speed or agility. Despite my disdain for this injury, Rob Gronkowski is one the few skilled players that I would not have minded taking the chance with, but the news seems to be clear that he will not suit up this week. Although my recommendation becomes a moot point with Gronkowski being ruled out, I would keep these details in mind for his first game back as many will take a wait and see approach. That first game back may be an excellent opportunity for daily players to get the best tight end in the game at a low ownership. I would expect Gronkowski to suit up next week vs. the Miami Dolphins, so his owners should only have to tread water for one week. Unfortunately, the only option here is to sit him on the bench.
Chris Ivory (JAC)
Ivory is a late addition to the injury report and is being listed as “questionable” with a calf injury. There are not many injuries to sustain to the calf muscle, so I will assume it is a strain or a bruise injury. Considering that the injury will be less than a week old on game day and the fact that the Jaguars have a deep backfield, I would expect Ivory to see limited carries, despite the reports that the running back rotation will not be changed. I consider one of Ivory’s most valuable fantasy qualities to be his goal line role, but if you ever watch a running back on the goal line pile you can appreciate how active the calf muscles must be to create that push. With this role threatened, I would definitely sit him on the bench.
Jamaal Charles (KC)
Charles is listed as “questionable” and has remained limited in practice all week. I have given my opinion on Jamaal Charles throughout the pre-season and so far, it appears that he is on track for what I expected. Charles will be mixed into the Kansas City Chiefs backfield very slowly and my guess is that he is at best the second most productive back in that trio of running backs. My guess is that he will not play at all, and if he does play, the production will be minimal. It looks like everyone agrees with me as Spencer Ware‘s stock has gone sky high in the past few weeks. Although it is probably a moot point by now, I would sit him on the bench.
Thomas Rawls (SEA)
Rawls is listed as “questionable,” although this appears to be due to a recent illness rather than his ankle. I have heard some reports that Rawls recovered ahead of schedule, but even with a broken ankle and torn ligaments, nine months seems sufficient. I do not consider him ahead of schedule and I have no reason to believe that he will be less than 100-percent when he steps on the field. The worry I would have is how will his ankle respond after a few games. My bet is that he will experience some swelling, soreness, and inflammation as his workload increases and for this reason, I believe the Seahawks start the season with Thomas Rawls and Christian Michael splitting the workload in efforts to avoid any setbacks in his ankle that may arise if they feed him like a workhorse. For this reason, I would wait a few games before trusting Rawls to produce like an RB1 and therefore sit him on the bench.
Jimmy Graham (SEA)
Graham is now listed as questionable as he recovers from a patellar tendon rupture from last season. The latest reports from the Seattle Seahawks suggest that he will play. A patellar tendon rupture is a very serious knee injury and it is very likely that Jimmy Graham will have to ease back into a full work load. When you combine this with the fact that he was not very productive in this offense when he was healthy, this becomes a pretty easy decision. Those who are interested in playing Graham sometime later in the season should listen to the reports after the game and see if he is limited in practice, has any complaints of soreness, or comes up with any other lower extremity injuries. I worry about the “itis” conditions in Jimmy Graham’s future–arthritis, tendonitis, and even bursitis as the knee joint complex is a precise joint and the role of the patellar tendon could play a part in him lacking some of that precision. The best approach for Jimmy Graham would be to wait and see, so for week one I would definitely sit him on the bench.
- Markus Wheaton (questionable with shoulder injury) – sit him on the bench
- Golden Tate (questionable with ankle injury) – put him in the game
- Kevin White (questionable with hamstring strain) – sit him on the bench
- Matt Jones (not on injury report but recovering from sprained shoulder) – put him in the game
Of course, I couldn’t talk about every single injury, so if I left out an injury that is important to you feel free to contact me @Dr.PettyIRD before game time.