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Fantasy Football Injury Review: Week 11

by Eric Petty
Nov 18, 2016

How concerned should we really about Rob Gronkowski's health?

How concerned should we really about Rob Gronkowski’s health?

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 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 description of whether you can trust these players on your fantasy roster.

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Rob Gronkowski (TE – NE): Lung injury

I do not want to get into the controversy of whether Gronkowski has a punctured lung or simply a chest injury. The important factor is that as far as I can tell, he has not been diagnosed with any broken bones. This fact makes it hard to believe that he had a punctured lung, as we would have to question what punctured it.

If I had to guess, I would assume that this was a severe contusion to his chest wall that bruised his lung and left some residual inflammation, associated breathing difficulties and pain. Although we know Gronkowski is out for Week 11, I am sure that many are very interested in when he will return. While I hate to give a prognosis on any New England Patriot because of the inherent confusion that Bill Belichick brings to the injury report, this one is even trickier than your typical New England Patriot injury.

My guess is that the flight to the West Coast had a lot to do with Gronkowski being out this week, as any decrease in lung function is a red flag when it comes to getting on a plane and going to high altitudes. With the next game being a bus ride away in New York and Gronkowski having a week to heal, I would expect him back next week.

The signs should be clear during next weeks preparation, but even if it doesn’t go well for next week, I do not see an extended absence in the future for Rob Gronkowski due to this injury.

Eddie Royal (WR – CHI): Toe injury

The importance of Eddie Royal has been heightened with Alshon Jeffery getting suspended. Many fantasy owners are scrambling for a wide receiver, and Royal has the most history with Jay Cutler. The only thing left to clear up is the toe injury that Royal was initially diagnosed with about a month ago.

Toe injuries can be nagging and recurrent, as Eddie Royal should know as he has dealt with a number of toe injuries throughout his career. With that said, he appears to have played this by the book in terms of taking a few weeks off to allow himself to heal. I know he didn’t do much last week, but I am not sure that his poor performance was due to injury.

There is at least a moderate risk of re-injury, considering his history, but for now, I would consider him to be as healthy as most other wide receivers his age, at this point in the season. I wouldn’t be concerned about his practice schedule, as this seems to be the norm for Royal over the past few years. If Royal is on your radar, I would not let an injury stop you from playing him.

Dez Bryant (WR – DAL): Back soreness

I don’t usually list injuries for defensive players here, but when I saw that Jimmy Smith was doubtful, I immediately started licking my chops to play Dez Bryant in DFS. That was short-lived as shortly after, I noticed Bryant is listed as questionable with a back injury. From what I can tell this is only being listed as soreness, and Bryant has a history of back issues.

Bryant is one of the heavier receivers in the league when it comes to weight, and his style is a bit more physical than most, which combined with some other factors causes me to consider him a moderate to high injury risk. The fact that he practiced a little on Friday and my guess is he will do the same on Saturday tells me that this is not a serious issue. I fully expect for Bryant to deal with more injury concerns before this season is over, but the reward outweighs the risk considering the matchup this week.

Bryant owners will want to hope that Bryant can get involved and stay involved early as back issues may be helped along by staying active and keeping the adrenaline going. If this turns into a slow and ugly game, the chances of Bryant injuring himself or simply having his back tighten up to the point that he sits out will increase. My hope is that Bryant puts up big numbers in the first half as to avoid depending on his mobility after what will be a long half time for a sore back.

Theo Riddick (RB – DET): Ankle injury

I don’t think we have to worry about Riddick missing the game as his practice status seems to be more about protecting from re-injury rather than rehabilitating a current injury. This should allow season long owners to breathe easy, although if you are looking for a high ceiling for DFS or even to do well in a competitive season long match up, I do not think Riddick will deliver what you want. With multiple healthy running backs, the Detroit Lions would be wise to limit Riddick’s touches as to allow him to continue progressing his health status.

I respect repetition as one of the most significant injury factors there is when it comes to NFL players, and I think it is pretty clear that Riddick’s body is not that of an every down back. If the Detroit Lions continue using Riddick like an every down back, it will likely lead to recurrence of this injury or a new set of injury concerns.

As we saw with Darren Sproles last week, I think we will see Riddick fall back into more of change of pace role that will allow his injury risk to decrease slowly. I do not see this injury as much of a worry for fantasy owners who simply need a solid floor at the running back slot, but I think that Riddick’s injury status may have just lowered his ceiling for good.

Thomas Rawls (RB – SEA): Fibula fracture-healed

Although Rawls and the Seattle Seahawks did everything right here regarding giving Rawls the appropriate eight-week recovery period, I still worry about Rawls’ long-term outlook for this season. If you watch or read any of his interviews, you can almost feel his excitement to get back on the field, and I think he may need to temper this excitement before returning to action. It would not be unusual for a running back to put on a few pounds with an injury like this, and therefore it would not be unusual if his body is not the same when he gets back on the field.

Sometimes your mind believes you are the same player, while your body knows there is still work to do. I hope that Rawls and the Seattle Seahawks ease him back into the mix and the Rawls can ramp his intensity up steadily, rather than going from zero to 100 real quick. For fantasy owners, this means that you may not want to depend on Rawles to get a full workload for a few weeks as coming off back to back injuries should put everyone in conservative mode.

Bone fractures are not something that I would worry much about recurring, but the soft tissues of that lower leg which got a mini vacation during the healing of that bone would be my concern. I would expect that we can see Rawls in full form in two or three weeks or we could see his season end early, depending on how well he and the Seattle Seahawks manage his return.

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If I did not cover a player that you are interested in, contact me @DrPettyIRD before the game.

Good Luck!

Injuries, NFL