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Week 10 Fantasy Football Injury Update

Written by Tom Christ, PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT

@FantasyInjuryT

Overall we survived week nine from an injury standpoint! For the most part, at least.  No major season-ending injuries to high-profile fantasy players for once.  Surely, my saying that right now will put a curse on the entire NFL for week 10, so I apologize in advance for that!  The week 10 fantasy football injury update is shorter than usual but still contains valuable information you can use to dominate your league! As always, you can listen to discussions on injuries on the Fantasy Injury Team Podcast, available on Apple and Spotify!

Quarterbacks

Josh Allen

Oh, Buffalo fans!  I’m not sure there are enough wings in the world to mend the broken hearts of Buffalo fans if their beloved quarterback were to miss significant time.  Fortunately, at this time, this does not appear to be the case.

Allen is dealing with a sprain of the Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL), and initial reports also mentioned a related nerve injury. 

The UCL is a ligament connecting the inside of the humerus (upper arm bone) to the ulna (forearm bone).  The UCL provides tremendous stability for the elbow, especially during the throwing motion.  When a thrower whips their arm forward, there is a period of time where the elbow is leading the way, and the ball is slightly behind.  During this part of the throw, there is a great deal of strain on the UCL, which in normal condition is completely fine.  During this time, the UCL helps hold the humerus and ulna congruent to one another, allowing stability in the elbow.  This stability allows the upper arm and forearm to move in a coordinated manner as they project the ball forward.  If stability in the elbow is lost, the upper arm would move forward, and the forearm would lose some of its congruency and, therefore, some of its control.  This would not only hurt but also impact accuracy.

Week 10 fantasy football injury update.

Discussion on the nerve issue has died down since the injury.  Most likely, the nerve in question was the ulnar nerve, which runs right next to the UCL.  The way Allen got hit, the ulnar nerve, which is the nerve that gets affected when you “hit your funny bone,” likely took a blow as well.  Sometimes when a nerve takes a direct blow it can cause what is called neuropraxia.  Neuropraxia is a temporary loss or impairment of electrical signal conduction, which can create odd sensations (numbness, tingling, pins and needles), and weakness of the muscle groups that the nerve supplies.  The ulnar nerve supplies the muscles of the 4th-5th fingers.  Therefore, if the ulnar nerve remains affected, Allen may have a hard time gripping the ball.  Luckily, we are not hearing many reports of this anymore.  It is possible his nerve symptoms have resolved.

If the nerve symptoms are indeed resolved, attention is now only on the UCL.  The UCL is unlikely to heal during the season since Allen is not able to rest it.  Every throw will stress the UCL.  Fortunately, there are ways the Buffalo medical staff can help Allen manage his symptoms.  A combination of rehab, injections, and compression sleeves are likely to be utilized to help reduce pain and maintain the stability of the joint.  It is too early to tell now how successful this will be.  Matthew Stafford has been dealing with a similar injury since the 2021 season, and while his injury has not resolved, it also has not forced him to miss any time. 

In the unfortunate circumstance that Allen’s injury progresses and he cannot manage with conservative care alone, the surgical procedure would be the dreaded Tommy John surgery that many baseball pitchers undergo.  This would end his season and put his 2023 outlook in jeopardy.  Let’s hope he can successfully manage this injury conservatively!  

Kyler Murray

Murray is dealing with a minor hamstring injury and was limited in practice on Wednesday.  We don’t often see hamstring injuries with quarterbacks.  This is because hamstring injuries most commonly occur with high-speed sprinting, and not every quarterback will sprint far very often.  Kyler is not your average quarterback, however, and running is a major part of his game.

A hamstring injury can impact a running quarterback in two ways.  First, as a runner.  A hamstring injury will impact top-end speed, which is a huge part of what makes Murray great.  Now, if this is a minor strain, it may not impact him too much, but if moderate-severe, it will.  Additionally, a previous hamstring injury increases the risk of a future hamstring injury by 2.7x.  Just because Murray’s injury is being reported as minor does not mean it can’t get worse during the game.

Week 10 fantasy football injury update.

Second, depending on which leg (currently unreported) a hamstring injury can impact throwing mechanics.  If it is his right leg, it could impact his ability to generate power to throw.  Throwing power comes from the ground up, and a thrower must aggressively push off the ground with their back leg to create power.  For Murray, if it is his right hamstring, this could be an issue.  Again, this would not impact him too much if it is a minor injury, which current reports suggest.

Keep an eye on practice reports this week.  It is possible Arizona may choose not to call designed run plays for Murray as much as typical, which would obviously impact his fantasy output.

Ryan Tannehill

Tannehill, who has missed two games with an ankle sprain, hopes to play in week ten against Denver’s surprisingly number-one-ranked pass defense.  In Tannehill’s absence, rookie Malik Willis did absolutely nothing to earn the starting role, throwing for a combined.

Tannehill practiced in a limited capacity on Wednesday and admits it will be pain tolerance to get him back to playing.

An ankle sprain will limit a quarterback’s mobility and, depending on the foot, can have some impact on throwing power and accuracy.  If it is the back leg, pushing off can be painful and weaker, impacting throwing power.  If it is the front leg, the sprain can impact stability during the follow-through, thus impacting accuracy.  Since Tannehill admits he is still dealing with pain, both of these components of throwing are at risk.  Tannehill is tough to trust in fantasy this week.

Running Backs

Jonathan Taylor

Taylor sat out last week as he nursed his high ankle sprain, the same injury that he first suffered in week four, and re-aggravated this injury in week eight. Taylor practiced in full on Thursday and is in line to start this week against Vegas’s 14th-ranked rush defense.

Taylor suffering the same injury twice in the same season is concerning. High ankle sprains have a tendency to alter mechanics in the lower extremity, rendering a player prone to future injury. When someone has had multiple high ankle sprains or one severe high ankle sprain, oftentimes, their ankle mobility is never the same. Stiffness develops that impacts the ankle’s ability to function as a shock absorber. When the ankle does not attenuate ground reaction forces as efficiently as it should, more force goes to the knees, hips, knees, etc.

Week 10 fantasy football injury update.

While Taylor’s injuries this season may cause issues down the road, it wouldn’t necessarily lead to a decline in fantasy output. In fact, running backs only average a decline of one fantasy point in the first game after a high ankle sprain. With Nyheim Hines in Buffalo, and Deon Jackson missing practice Wednesday and Thursday, Taylor could be primed for the lion’s share of touches out of the backfield. Injury risk is present, but Taylor could have a nice game this week.

Aaron Jones

The Packer’s star running back left Sunday’s game in the third quarter with an ankle injury. The imaging was clean, and he has avoided a fracture. Jones, dealing with an ankle sprain, practiced in limited fashion on Thursday and has a legit shot at playing in week 10 against a middle-of-the-pack Dallas run defense.

The sprain may impact Jones’s ability to cut and change direction, which is a big part of his game. But Jones is also a sound downhill runner, which would not be as impacted. Only 31% of running backs meet or exceed their pre-injury fantasy production in the first game following an ankle sprain. Jones, however, is near elite and is a massive part of this offense. If Packers reports suggest he will have his usual workload, he must be started. 

Ezekiel Elliot

Week 10 fantasy football injury update.

Zeke missed week eight due to an MCL sprain and quad injury suffered in week seven. Zeke stated that the swelling has begun to subside and was able to practice Thursday, though in a limited fashion. The MCL helps stabilize the knee, preventing it from caving inward.

With an MCL injury, containing the swelling is key. The knee has a unique ability to swell, and when swollen, the range of motion, strength, and balance is impacted, and therefore athletic performance declines. The fact that his swelling is now under control bodes well for his week 10 outlook. However, swelling at any point can return. In order to play effectively, Zeke must demonstrate adequate strength, balance, and power on the injured leg. Most athletic movements are performed on one leg (cutting, running); therefore, the injured leg must have adequate dynamic stability.

When Zeke does return, fantasy players may see a dip in his production. Running backs average scoring 2.9 points below their pre-injury average in the first game returned from an MCL injury, with only 39% meeting or exceeding their pre-injury levels. 

Elijah Mitchell

Mitchell injured his MCL in week one and has not played since. This week he was designated to return from the IR this week.  Mitchell will now step into a complementary role behind superstar Christian McCaffrey.

Mitchell’s MCL sprain was quite significant, which is why he missed half of the season. Despite the significance of his injury, nine weeks is plenty to rehab to nearly 100% from an MCL injury. As mentioned above in the discussion on Ezekiel Elliot, he must have an adequate range of motion, strength, and balance on the injured leg to play after an MCL sprain.

As mentioned above, running backs see a notable decline in fantasy stats in their first game after an MCL sprain. For Mitchell, this is likely compounded as he goes from a starting role to Christian McCaffrey’s compliment. Mitchell needs to be rostered but cannot be relied on now.

Kyren Williams

Williams was not added to the Rams active roster for week nine but hopes to suit up in week 10. Since being drafted in April, Williams has had two major foot and ankle injuries. Each of these can alter lower extremity mechanics in the long run, which could render him prone to injury. While injury risk is present, neither injury should significantly impact his play while he is on the field.

The Ram’s rushing woes continue, and neither Darrell Henderson nor Cam Akers has done anything to earn the lead role. Williams has as good of a chance as any to seize the opportunity and carve out a nice workload in a Sean McVay offense. 

Darrel Williams

Ahead of week nine, Williams was added to the Cardinal’s IR with an undisclosed hip injury. This will sideline him for at least four weeks.

Wide Receivers

Deebo Samuel

Deebo missed one game with a hamstring injury but has practiced in full all week and is on track to return against the Chargers. Hamstrings can impact a player’s top-end speed, which is Deebo’s game. The load on a hamstring increases by 2.7x when a player increases their speed from 80-100%. Deebo is a big-time run-after-catch player and often gets close to 100% sprint speed. Additionally, re-injury risk in the hamstrings is high. A previous hamstring injury increases the risk for another by 1.3x.

While re-injury risk is real, Deebo’s injury was never considered major, and he has logged full practices all week. This creates more confidence in his ability to play effectively this week. Sure, wide receivers see a decline of 2.8 fantasy points in the first game after a hamstring injury, but Deebo is so good, a decline of 2.8 points can still produce an elite game.

Michael Thomas

Now reported as a dislocated second toe, Thomas apparently has not responded favorably to rehab and will undergo surgery. Surgery likely ends Thomas’s season. Many will fault the Saint’s medical staff for poor management; however, this is unfair. Medical practice is not perfect, and very often, there are situations where the best practice is unclear. With many injuries, in the foot or otherwise, conservative care is the first course of action. Unfortunately, in some cases, conservative rehab does not lead to proper healing and recovery of function. At that point, a decision is made for the player to undergo surgery.

Thomas’s injury was originally reported as turf toe. Turf toe traditionally is an injury to the ligaments and tendons on the underside of the toe, and most commonly is to the first toe. Technically this is not the wrong diagnosis for Thomas; just his second toe rather than his first toe. With a toe dislocation such as Thomas’s, the tissues on the underside of the second toe are affected. For the toe to dislocate, the ligaments and capsules on the bottom of the joint of the second toe are torn and can no longer restrict the toe’s motion.

The big toe is the primary toe taking on force with running and cutting, but the second toe also takes on quite a bit of force. When pushing off, these toes must extend up to 90° with athletic activity. The integrity of the ligaments, tendons, and capsule on the bottom of the joint prevents the toes from extending any more than desired. When everything is intact, the extension of the toes helps make the foot rigid and firm to push off of. When a toe is dislocated, this is compromised, and it is much harder to generate force to push off.

Thomas’s season is likely over, and many fantasy players have completely lost confidence in him going forward. This is fair, his injury history is not great, and each of his injuries can alter mechanics leading to more injuries going forward. But Thomas still has talent. He was off to a great start prior to this injury and may be a value late in drafts next season.

Keenan Allen

Consider this a lost season. Allen is dealing with recurring hamstring injuries, an all too common situation. I have completely lost confidence in Allen this season and would not blame fantasy players for dropping him. A description

and medical research on hamstring injuries in receivers can be found above in the Deebo Samuel discussion.

Brandin Cooks

This one is interesting. While he was being shopped at the trade deadline, there was little discussion of any wrist injury present. Now, after being vocal about not being traded, Cooks missed one game. He practiced Thursday and is expected to play this week. If he is healthy enough to play, there is no reason to expect any decline in performance.

Jahan Dotson

The rookie got off to a great start this season but suffered a hamstring injury in week four and has not returned since. Dotson apparently aggravated this injury on October 20th, forcing him to miss even more time. As mentioned above, hamstring injuries have a high recurrence, with a previous injury rendering a player 2.7x more likely to suffer another.

Dotson is only 22 years old, however, and youth is a major plus when it comes to recovery. He practiced in a limited capacity on Thursday, and fantasy players must continue to monitor his status this week. After missing several games and with a different quarterback, Dotson may be hard to trust in his first game back.

Romeo Doubs

Doubs will be out for several weeks with a high ankle sprain. We have seen this injury a lot this season. The high ankle sprain is when the tibia and fibula bones, which normally fit snuggly on the talus bone, are separated from one another, leading to injury to the ligaments that connect these bones. This separation makes the foot and ankle less stable to push off when running or cutting.

Receivers average missing 4.4 games due to a high ankle sprain and score 2.4 fantasy points below their pre-injury average in the first game after this injury. With this in mind, Doubs can be dropped in most formats. 

Christian Watson

Watson left week nine early with a concussion. He practiced in full on Wednesday and is on track to play. Concussions do not typically yield any decline in per-play production.

Treylon Burks

Burks was designated to return from the IR this week after missing 4 games due to a turf toe injury. Turf toe, which was described above in the Michael Thomas discussion, is an injury to the ligaments or tendons on the underside of the toe. This is typically enough time for these to heal properly, particularly in a 22-year-old.

I would not expect Burks to be too limited by this injury going forward but may be slow to be re-integrated back into the offense. Tennessee has been awful at passing the ball this season. Burks is a nice stash but cannot be trusted until he proves otherwise.

Hunter Renfrow

Renfrow’s disappointing season continues as he will miss at least the next four games due to an oblique injury that lands him on the IR. The obliques are involved in literally every athletic movement we do, which makes it challenging to play with. The obliques rotate our trunk, making them highly involved in cutting, route running, and making difficult catches. They also stabilize our core, which makes them very involved in blocking and absorbing a hit. These actions are absolute requirements in football. Therefore, these muscles cannot be rested while playing, making it difficult to heal.

Las Vegas as a whole is a dumpster fire this season. If you need the roster space, go ahead and drop Renfrow.

Tight End

Darren Waller

Like his teammate above, Waller was placed on the IR today with recurring hamstring injuries. Waller’s hamstring began to aggravate him in the preseason and he has been re-aggravated multiple times this season. As mentioned above, this is common. Waller may appear too big of a name to cut, but if you need the space, go for it. Las Vegas is simply terrible this year outside of Josh Jacobs and Devante Adams.

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