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Fantasy Football Injury Analysis: Justin Herbert, Alvin Kamara, Michael Pittman + MORE (Week 3)

Justin Herbert

We’re optimistic that Justin Herbert will play but have a backup ready just in case.

The Week 3 injury list is so extensive it would make you think it’s Week 15. That’s why SportsMedAnalytics is teaming up with FantasyPros to break these down all season long. As always, if you have more questions, tweet your questions and tag @SportMDAnalysis and @FantasyPros, and we’ll get them answered. Now here we go:

1) Justin Herbert (QB – LAC)

Fractured rib cartilage has him a true game-time decision for Week 3, but I’d lean towards him playing. Friday’s practice DNP was a planned rest day, and the fact that he’s gotten in some throwing work bodes well. Position players average 2 weeks for this injury, but QBs tend to return a little faster (Herbert will be 10 days out). If he plays, expect the focus to be on the short passing game to keep him protected. Deep balls (and, obviously, hits) will cause more pain. I’m optimistic, but keep a backup ready.

2) Alvin Kamara (RB – NO)

In another case of fractured rib cartilage, Kamara looks poised to return in Week 3. He’ll be right at that two-week average recovery timeline for position players. As long as he doesn’t take any big hits to the injured area, SportsMedAnalytics (SMA) projects a nearly fully explosive version of himself. No major snap count limitations are anticipated, but in-game re-aggravation of the injury is a real risk.

3) Michael Pittman (WR – IND)

Highly likely to play ~10 days after sustaining a quad injury. Most quad contusions and strains take at least 2 weeks for players to return to their normal levels, but an 80% Pittman is still a startable WR in most year-long fantasy formats. He’s a risky pick for DFS because of his projected 20% performance dip, but at least you know he’s going to get targets in an offense lacking other weapons on the perimeter.

4) James Conner (RB – ARI)

Conner will almost certainly be a true game-time decision, but I’d lean towards him playing. Low severity, low ankle sprains like the one suggested by his injury video, and practice progression so far don’t tend to result in major performance dips for players. However, the Cardinals’ backfield is pretty deep, and teams do tend to spread the touches around when their lead back has an ankle sprain. I’d avoid him in DFS.

5) George Kittle (TE – SF)

Kittle is officially off the injury report, now almost 3 weeks removed from his grade 2 groin strain. At this point, SMA data suggests Kittle should be ~90% of himself, or in other words, a very reasonable starting option at tight end for year-long or DFS formats. There is a 20% recurrence risk to watch out for in his first 2 games back, but if he avoids that outcome, then we’d. expect him back to normal the rest of the way.

6) Chris Godwin (WR – TB)

Godwin got ruled out for the second week in a row. When we first saw the injury video, we anticipated a Week 5-6 return. Hamstring strains only average 3 weeks for WRs, but strong hamstrings protect the ACL that he had surgically reconstructed only 8 months ago. If I were his doc, I’d advise him to go slowly and protect that knee at all costs. At Week 6, he should be ~90% of where he was during Week 1. By November, he projects to be ~90% of where he was last year before the ACL tear. Strong buy low candidate if you have the patience.

7) Michael Gallup (WR – DAL)

Practice progression + Cowboys leadership suggest Gallup will be active against the Giants, but he’d be beating typical timelines by ~2 months to do so. Functionally, that means we should expect to see major limitations in endurance and snap counts. Given his profile as a 26-year-old WR with 50th percentile pre-injury athletic metrics, SMA projects a return of ~90% of pre-injury form in December. Given his upgraded role and the mid-season return of Dak Prescott, Gallup is a strong buy-low candidate in dynasty and year-long formats, but he’s too risky to start in the next 2-4 weeks.

8) Dalton Schultz (TE – DAL)

Schultz injured his PCL a week ago and will very likely miss Week 3. The knee remains relatively stable with this injury, so the key is just getting the swelling down and motion back to normal. That generally doesn’t take more than ~2 weeks for NFL players, so Schultz has a reasonable chance to play Week 4 or 5. However, these in-season PCL injuries do affect production (see Zeke Elliott from last year), so he’s probably not looking fully like his old self for ~4 weeks post-injury.

Fantas Football Start-Sit Assistant

9) Rondale Moore (WR – ARI)

Moore sustained a reportedly severe hamstring strain leading up to Week 1 and is out for Week 3. These average 4-6 weeks for WRs. The biggest impact is generally seen on speed-oriented players (like Moore) since the hamstrings are a major driver of sprinting ability. Expect Moore to progress in his return to practice over the next 1-2 weeks.

10) JK Dobbins (RB – BAL)

Dobbins is now 14 months out from a combination of injuries (ACL + LCL + meniscus) that averages 15 for NFL players. Based on his progression, we’d lean towards him seeing some playing time in Week 3. However, there’s no format in which we’d safely plan to start him in lineups at the moment. The typical progression for young RBs from this type of major knee surgery involves a ~4-week ramp-up in the snap count. By the mid-point of the season, SMA projects the return of 85% of his pre-injury explosiveness, but we consider Dobbins, at best, a risky start before ~Week 6.

11) Devin Duvernay (WR – BAL)

Coming off the concussion, Duvernay should be right back at his pre-injury productivity. That’s great news for owners who recently scooped him up with high hopes after a 103-yard kickoff return TD in Week 2 and 2 receiving TDs in Week 1. Don’t let the injury designation scare you away if you had prior plans to start Duvernay. Concussions – as we just saw with Tee Higgins – don’t tend to drop performance for WRs.

12) Zach Wilson (QB – NYJ)

Look for Wilson to progress in practice next week and make his season debut in Week 4. Typical return timelines for bone bruises (which is his rate-limiting step now that the meniscus recovery is essentially complete) take 6-8 weeks, and he’ll be close to the upper end of that range. QBs don’t see much of a performance drop, so as long as he doesn’t experience a setback in the near future, he should be back to pre-injury form against the Steelers.

13) Dak Prescott (QB – DAL)

Dak has stayed on our radar because of the mixed reporting on the timeline out of Dallas. Normal return takes at least 5-6 weeks, so we’re still projecting Dak back in Week 7 or 8 for the Cowboys. Pre-injury level of play should return around Week 10. Jerry Jones made some comments suggesting Week 5 is a target for Dak, but it’s hard to imagine him beating established timelines for QBs by a full 2 weeks.

14) Jameis Winston (QB – NO)

Jameis reportedly has 4 fractures in his back – most likely transverse or spinous process fractures that are structurally stable but very painful. Normal pocket-based play won’t worsen this injury, but a big hit could definitely result in more pain that could affect how he plays. Practice progression suggests that he won’t miss game time this week, however.

15) D’Andre Swift (RB – DET)

Swift is again listed as questionable with an ankle injury, but we’d again expect him to play. Ankle sprains for RBs who are logging consistent practice time don’t tend to drop their per-play productivity, but their backups do tend to get a slight bump up in opportunity. Look for the same from Swift and Jamaal Williams.

16) Gabe Davis (WR – BUF)

Davis is trending towards playing only 8 days removed from his ankle sprain. His practice video didn’t look amazing from this week, but working in his favor is SMA data pointing to minimal impact on WR performance for low severity low ankle sprains. Overall, we’d consider him a risky start but a reasonable one to make for most formats.

17) Jerry Jeudy (WR – DEN)

Jeudy is a game-time decision who is trending towards playing after being knocked out of Week 2 with rib and shoulder injuries. Video suggesting a low severity AC joint sprain (shoulder) and negative X-rays mean everything is structurally stable. This comes down to pain control, so we’d lean towards Jeudy being out there. The problem is, even if he plays, some performance impact is expected (~10-20%), but his diagnosis is unclear, so we can’t narrow down that range with any more certainty. Buyer beware that he’s also playing Sunday night. If I have other backup options during the Sunday or Monday night games, then I’d consider waiting on Jeudy’s active/inactive decision. But, if that’s not the case, then I’d rather not risk the goose egg in his spot.

18) Keenan Allen (WR – LAC)

Initial reports of a mild hamstring strain made Allen a likely go for Week 3 at ~90% of his prior form. Still, the fact that he missed practice Friday means either a setback or an initial understatement of the injury severity. The most common trend we’d see here is 3 limited practices in a row before return to game action, so Friday’s DNP takes his SMA projection from a 75% chance of playing down to slightly below 50%. That, in combination with the uncertainty around the Herbert injury, means that Allen is going to be a highly volatile player this week. Either way, we wouldn’t expect his absence to last much longer, as 3 weeks is the typical timeline for most WR hamstrings.

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