Fantasy Football Injury Review: Week 16
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 description of whether you can trust these players on your fantasy roster.
Julio Jones (ATL) Turf Toe
Starting Julio Jones will be one of the biggest calls of the week for season long and DFS for many of us. This injury is notorious for lingering and being recurrent and if you play Jones this week, it will definitely be a high-risk move, regardless of what the reports out of Atlanta tell you. No one (including me) can truly predict what Jones will do this week, as he may feel 80% or better going into the game, and with one wrong push-off to accelerate his day could be over. Remember that this injury occurs due to an overstretching of the ligaments and tendons that support the toe. For a straight line athlete who runs an average 40-yard dash and has average acceleration, there is a good chance that player could go out and have a productive day without re-injury. On the other hand, when you are Julio Jones and you run a sub 4.4 second 40-yard dash and can accelerate and jump far above average, it is hard to just shut this off. Often times I calculate these situations to be a lose-lose, as you either get the player at full speed which likely means re-injury, or you get the player going less than full speed which likely means a drop in production. With the Atlanta Falcons in a good spot for the playoff race, I would expect the latter out of Julio Jones. I expect this to be a decoy week for Jones, during which we never see him go more than 75% speed. With all that said, I am the guy who wrote an article titled “You can’t trust Julio Jones on your fantasy team”; so maybe I am a little biased. Julio Jones is the picture perfect low floor/high ceiling play this week, but my guess is that this turf toe injury keeps him closer to his floor until NFL playoff time.
Greg Olsen (CAR) Elbow injury
It is rare to see Greg Olsen come off the field, but this was the case on Monday night due to a hit to his elbow. I have not seen a formal diagnosis for Olsen’s elbow, but I would assume if it was fractured, we would know by now. That really only leaves a contusion-type injury as the most likely diagnosis. There is a good chance that the attention that Olsen seems to be getting on his elbow during the practice week is to reduce the pain and swelling in his elbow to allow him to recover full and pain-free range of motion. Considering that the Carolina Panthers are out of the playoff race, this must be a minor injury for Olsen to not miss any time. From a fantasy perspective, I would not worry much as it is doubtful that this type of injury will affect Olsen’s receiver abilities. He will obviously be able to run his routes and I doubt that catching the ball will be a problem. His blocking abilities may be somewhat hindered as blocking is a bit more physical and could elicit pain in his elbow as defenders offer resistance or swat at his arms. Maybe fantasy owners will actually benefit from this as it may cause Olsen to split out more often in the slot position, which should mean more receiving production.
Lamar Miller (HOU) Ankle Sprain
Lamar Miller sprained his ankle toward the end of last weeks game and is now listed as questionable. Miller continues to state that he will play, but fantasy owner should keep in mind that Miller is a heavier than average running back and this makes playing him with an ankle injury more risky. In most cases, ankle injuries are not about the ankle; they are more often about the condition of the person’s core. A solid core that can control movements usually means less chance for lower extremity injury; while a trunk that carries excess weight makes it harder for the core muscles to stay in control. When the core loses control, the lower extremity joints usually pay the price. Miller is listed as 225 lbs, but I am guessing he may be a few pounds heavier. His body appears to be breaking down as the season progresses. Miller is enduring his first season as a true workhorse running back, and I don’t expect him to be anywhere near full strength this week. I am sure that ankle will be taped up nicely before he takes the field, but I believe either the injury shortens his day or his lack of production puts Alfred Blue on the field early and often this week. I would not risk a fantasy championship on this and I doubt Miller is on any DFS radars. My bet is that Miller’s various ailments do not get better until the off-season, and hopefully next year he can prepare his body for this new role.
Stefon Diggs (MIN) Hip injury
Once upon a time I wrote and article during which I compared Stefon Diggs to Antonio Brown, but Diggs recent string of injuries is making me review that stance. Diggs is reported to have a hip injury, after recently having a knee injury, and missing a game earlier this season with a groin injury. I look at groupings of injuries like this as if it is an infestation, and if Diggs doesn’t get it together soon, he may be more comparable to a DeSean Jackson type player who we can count on getting injured every year. I would assume that Diggs will play this week, but when you see injury after injury like this, you can be sure that the player’s biomechanics are less than ideal and that you are not likely to get their best productivity. It is an NFL players job to play through injuries, so when I suggest some of these rest times, I am only speaking in idealistic terms. These players need to take the field if they are better than 60% in my opinion, but for fantasy production, this can be problematic. Diggs is another one that I feel will not resume his top-level production this year and will need to focus on his body during the off-season. He has a great matchup this week, but I don’t think that Diggs is at a level where he can dominate at only 60% capacity. Regardless of what they say his injury is and how good he may say he feels, know that you will likely see a sub-par Stefon Diggs for the rest of this season.
Matt Forte (NYJ) Shoulder injury
Matt Forte used a word you don’t want to hear come from a player that you are invested in. Forte stated that he has a “nerve issue” in his shoulder, and he has not been practicing. As I stated last week, it is time for Forte to wrap this season up. There is nothing for him to play for and his body is acting its age. Nerve injuries are one of the least predictable injuries, and in this case, there is no reason in even trying. It should be Bilal Powell the rest of the way for the New York Jets.
Jordan Reed (WAS) Shoulder injury
I feel bad for Jordan Reed owners as the timing of Reed’s most problematic injury is simply awful for season-long fantasy leagues. I also feel sorry for Jordan Reed, who is in a bad situation. The Washington Redskins may have wanted to take a Bill Belichick approach on this injury, as it was obvious that the Carolina Panthers took aim on that left shoulder during Monday night’s game. Reed is dealing with an injury that really needs two to four weeks to heal and in some cases, needs surgical intervention, and he really only took one week off. This is a recipe that screams desperation on behalf of Reed and the Washington Redskins as they fight to make the playoffs. I believe Reed’s season is over as this injury simply needs more time than Washington has left. I see reports that are calling Reed 50/50 to play, but I believe this is just rhetoric. Reed should likely be focused on rehab and the offseason at this point and fantasy owners will have to look elsewhere at the tight end position.
If I did not cover a player that you are interested in, contact me @DrPettyIRD before the game.