Thanksgiving week is here! Today is stuffed with three delicious matchups, each loaded with fantasy football stars. We have a number of players to cover in the week 12 fantasy football injury update, so stay tuned for an in-depth analysis of several different injuries and how they may impact player performance. As always, you can tune in to the Fantasy Injury Team Podcast available on all major podcast platforms, including Apple and Spotify!
Fields makes an appearance on the week 12 fantasy football injury update with a left shoulder injury. There have been a lot of different reports about Field’s left shoulder injury. Ultimately, initial reports of dislocation were incorrect. Fields is dealing with a shoulder separation, which is another term for an AC joint injury. The AC joint is the junction of the torso and the arm. It is a small joint that joins the clavicle (collar bone) and the acromion, which is a part of the shoulder blade. The joint is reinforced by two ligaments, called the acromioclavicular and coracoclavicular ligaments. Fields told reporters that there is ligament damage as well, so one or both of these ligaments is also injured.
With an AC joint injury, there are six grades of injury. Grade 1 injuries are the only ones that do not comprise a complete tear of at least one ligament. Grades 4-6 almost always require surgery, and grades 3 sometimes do. Grades 2 typically do not require surgery. Doing some reasoning here, it does not appear Fields needs surgery, and he does have ligament tearing, so he is dealing with either a grade 2 or 3 AC joint injury.
With grade 2 injuries, there is some ligament tearing but no increased space within the joint. This can be managed conservatively quite easily. In grade 3 injuries, there is more tearing, and we start to see increased space between the boney structures in the shoulder joint that can impact mechanics. Luckily for Fields, this is his left arm, so we are not concerned about throwing mechanics.
Fields’ ability to play will be based on pain tolerance. Throwing should be tolerable, though the left shoulder does take on some torque during a right-handed throw. We know Fields game is built on running. Taking on hits may be a challenge as well. If he plays, we may expect fewer designed runs. Ultimately this should not impact his rest of season outlook too much, as long as it does not get worse, requiring surgery.
Murray sat out last week with a hamstring injury but put in full practice on Wednesday. Hard Knocks in Season has helped us determine that his hamstring injury was, in fact, his right leg. This knowledge helps us understand that this injury may impact both running and throwing.
The hamstring impacting his running ability is obvious. He is a fast runner, and hamstring injuries impact top-end speed. Arizona may call fewer designed runs for Murray to protect his hamstring. A right hamstring injury can also impact throwing. When a player throws, the power starts from the ground. This means that pushing off the ground violently with the back foot (right foot for a right-handed thrower) is how they generate power. It is possible this injury could impact his throw power.
Stafford suffered a second concussion in three weeks in week 11. This is never good. Subsequent concussions take longer to recover from.
Some concerning information was leaked this week about the symptom Stafford was experiencing. McVay revealed that when Stafford left the game, he was experiencing numbness in his legs. This often indicates the involvement of the spinal cord or peripheral nerve in some way. This does not mean a spinal cord injury, but clearly, some type of temporary nerve conduction issue was present. Luckily those symptoms have resolved. McVay also did not turn down the idea of possibly shutting Stafford down for the rest of the season. The Ram’s season is essentially over, and there is no reason to force the franchise quarterback in harm’s way.
Mixon suffered a concussion in week 11, and did not practice Wednesday. This is not a good sign for his availability for week 12, as he must pass through the NFL’s 5-stage protocol. If Mixon does not practice Thursday, it is very unlikely he can play this week.
The NFL’s 5-stage return to play protocol is as follows:
Phase 1 – Light Activity: Simple stretching, light aerobic activity without the onset of symptoms
Phase 2 – Aerobic Exercise: 10-20 minutes of light to moderate intensity exercise on a bike or treadmill
Phase 3 – Sport Related Exercise: Sprinting, jumping, agility drills
Phase 4 – Non-Contact Team Drills: All Non-contact drills for the duration of practice
Phase 5 – Full Clearance: Full return to practice without the onset of symptoms.
Fournette suffered a “hip pointer” in week 10, and after the week 11 bye is expected to be ready. A hip pointer is a bruise to the glute muscles or the part of the hip bone called the Iliac Crest. You rest your hands on this prominent bone when holding your hips.
A bruise creates local swelling, which is painful and can impact muscle function. This is what makes it hard to play with. The good news is that swelling does not always last long and that with a hip pointer, there is no real damage. As soon as the swelling subsides, the pain resolves, and muscle function should return to normal. Fantasy players with Fournette should not be concerned that this injury will impact his play.
CEH has been placed on the injured reserve with a high ankle sprain putting him out until at least week 16. This designation hints that his high ankle sprain is likely a grade 2 injury, requiring longer absence but not surgery. With grade 2 high ankle sprain, there is an injury to the ligaments that hold the tibia and fibula bones together. This injury causes the two bones to separate slightly from one another. This creates instability in the ankle. When the ankle is not stable, it is harder to push off and create force, making cutting and running challenging.
The management of a high ankle sprain often utilizes external compression to hold the tibia and fibula in place and allow the ligaments to heal. This can be done with taping, bracing, casting, or a boot. Residual stiffness is an issue after high ankle sprains and can be a factor in future injury. When the ankle does not have proper mobility, it is unable to function as a shock absorber. Therefore, with walking, running, cutting, and jumping, more force goes into the knees, hips, low back, and other areas of the body. It is imperative that during rehab, the Chiefs training staff helps CEH fully regain his ankle mobility.
With a potential week 16 return, fantasy players are wondering what to do with CEH. He has been unreliable all season and is already in a committee. The good news is running backs only average a decline of 0.5 fantasy points compared to their pre-injury baseline when they return from a high ankle sprain. He may be worth stashing on the IR.
Edmonds’s story is the exact same as CEH above. He was placed on the IR with a high ankle sprain and cannot return until week 16 at the earliest. All of the analysis above pertains to Edmonds as well. Edmonds is even in a similar backfield situation to CEH.
Edwards has missed two games with a hamstring injury. Hamstring injuries are very common in players in the season after an ACL tear. Edwards practiced in a limited capacity on Wednesday, and we will have to continue to monitor his week 12 status. Hamstring injuries impact top-end speed. The load on the hamstring increases by 2.7x when increasing speed from 80-100%. In order to get to 100% sprint, a player must be running for at least 40-50 yards, which running backs do not often get to. This is why we only see a decline of 0.7 fantasy points in the first game after a hamstring injury for running backs, whereas receivers see a decline of 2.9 points.
Edwards is on a high-powered offense that is often in the red zone. If he plays, he warrants a start.
Similar to Edwards above, Jaylen Warren is dealing with a hamstring injury. Tomlin has stated that Warren’s week 12 status is up in the air. With Pittsburg playing Monday night, fantasy players may need to look elsewhere this week.
Williams almost immediately re-aggravated his high ankle sprain in week 11. He missed the remainder of the game and did not practice to start this week. We knew going into the game that Williams’ high ankle sprain could impact his play. Landing from a jump as he did is a common way to re-aggravate this injury.
It does not sound like his injury is a total setback, so it remains to be seen how many games Williams will miss.
Receivers average missing 4.3 games due to a high ankle sprain and score 2.7 points below their pre-injury average in the first game back. This puts Williams’s status for the next few weeks in doubt. We all know his upside, and with reports stating his injury is not a significant re-injury, he likely will be back sooner than four weeks. For fantasy players who can withstand being without Williams over the next few weeks, you may want to hold him. If you must win now to make the playoffs, you have to trade him for assets that will help you win this week!
The Bengals superstar shows up on the week 12 fantasy football injury update as he returned to practice this week after missing several games due to a hip fracture and labrum injury. We did not get clarity on what his fracture was, but often times we see an avulsion fracture of the anterior inferior iliac spine (part of the hip bone) secondary to an injury of the rectus femoris muscle and labrum. All three structures live in close enough proximity to one another that these injuries often happen in combination. But what does this mean for his rest-of-season outlook?
The fracture should heal well. He has had four weeks to recover, which is the low end of the timeline for bone healing. Some athletes, however, are built differently, and their bones can heal faster than the rest of us. The labrum is a bit of a wild card. I have patients all the time who when they hear the words “labrum tear” immediately start thinking of surgery. This is not always the case. In fact, there are literally millions of people walking around with hip and shoulder labrum tears and have no idea, it doesn’t bother them. However, there are also plenty of people with labrum injuries that need surgery. The labrum itself may or may not actually heal, depending on what part of the labrum was injured and how significantly, but that part does not always matter. Four weeks of daily rehab is often enough time to train the hip musculature to compensate for an injured labrum.
We won’t know for sure if Chase is able to play through the labrum injury until he plays, but at worst, we will know by the first game he returns. He practiced Wednesday, and his quarterback and BFF Joe Burrow states that he thinks Chase will play this week. If Chase does suit up, I would doubt he sees a full workload in his first game back. That said, Chase can give you a reliable fantasy output with literally one catch. He can still be a reasonable start even if he is on a limited workload.
Moore injured his groin on the second play of the game Monday night and never returned. Kingsbury has put his Week 12 status in doubt. Arizona has a week 13 bye, so Moore should have two weeks to recover.
A groin injury does not impact fantasy performance very much. Its role functionally is to help stabilize while on one leg, help push the leg backward, and pushes the leg inwards. When cutting, an athlete usually cuts by pushing the leg outward, not inward. Therefore while the groin is involved in all athletic motions, it. It is not the primary muscle for many. This is likely why we see only a decline of 0.3 points in the first game after a groin injury for receivers.
As of now, it sounds like Moore will miss week 12 but has a chance to be ready for week 14 after the bye. He should be close to 100% reliable at that time.
Brown, returning from a mid-foot fracture, was able to practice last week but ultimately did not play. A previous article discussed his injury at length, and sitting last week was likely the right move. It’s tough to return to high-level athletics right after a foot fracture. The foot takes on so much force; thus, the bone that’s healing does too.
Kingsbury has stated that if Brown plays in week 12, it will be with limited snaps. It is also worth considering the Cardinals have a week 13 bye. Sitting Brown one more week to allow two more weeks of rest would be the safer option.
While Brown likely is not 100% this week, by weeks 14-15, the start of the fantasy playoffs, he should be close.
Toney is injured yet again with a hamstring. This marks the third time this season alone the young electric receiver has missed time due to a hamstring injury. Hamstrings have a high recurrence rate, but when it is this frequent, we begin to wonder about the health of the sciatic nerve.
The sciatic nerve runs from the low back and branches all the way down to the toes. This nerve must be able to move as the legs and back move. Often times with recurring hamstring injuries like Toney’s, the sciatic nerve is either not moving well or is inflamed. The body is going to protect the sciatic nerve at all costs subconsciously. And guess how it protects the nerve? By causing a reflexive, violent contraction of the hamstring, often strong enough to cause it to tear. That’s right, the body will literally sacrifice the hamstring muscle to protect the nerve.
I sincerely hope that Kansas City’s training staff is evaluating Toney’s sciatic nerve mobility and health. Tests like the slump test and straight leg raise can give us insight into the status of the nerve. When assessed and identified, this issue really is not very hard to treat and might just save a career!
Jeudy did not practice to start the week as he recovers from a vague ankle injury. Described as an injury to the muscles of the back of the ankle but not the Achilles, this is likely a soleus muscle injury. The soleus is one of the calf muscles and therefore is highly involved with running and cutting. Receivers see a massive hit in fantasy production when they return from a calf injury, scoring 5.6 points below their pre-injury baseline. We will continue to monitor Jeudy’s status, but even if he plays, it warrants caution starting him.
The Giant’s receivers cannot catch a break this season. Rookie Wan’Dale Robinson is on the week 12 fantasy football injury update as he tore his ACL on Sunday. This came as Robinson was enjoying a nine-catch 100-yard breakout game. Robinson will undergo surgery and miss the rest of the season.
At this time, the only structure we know is injured the ACL. If this holds, this bodes well for his ability to be ready at the start of next season. The beginning of next season is a little under ten months away. With ACL tears, we like to see at least nine months of rehab before returning to play. Returning in under nine months significantly increases the risk of a re-tear of the graft.
This season, we saw three receivers return in a similar or shorter time frame. Robert Woods tore his ACL in week 10 (one week before Robinson) and was ready to go in week one. Chris Godwin tore his ACL in week 15 and returned in week one (38 weeks post-op). Michael Gallup tore his ACL in week 17 and returned by week four (39 weeks post-op).
While these players all returned in a time frame that bodes well for Robinson, none have played very well from a fantasy standpoint. At the time of this writing, Robert Woods is the WR 74, Godwin the WR 47, and Gallup the WR 97 in half-point PPR scoring. Additionally, Godwin suffered a hamstring injury in his first game returned.
Re-tear of the ACL is not the only concern when returning from ACL surgery. Rates of other lower body injuries, especially hamstrings, are also increased in the first season. Unfortunately for Robinson, the ACL impacts players’ performance in the subsequent season.
Robinson remains a high-upside player in dynasty leagues. He is only 21 years old and has a bright future ahead. Players typically return to 100% in the second season back from ACL (think Saquon this year), and his youth will be a major benefit.
Great news out of Detroit, in the midst of a three-game win streak, rookie 1st round pick Jameson Williams has been designated to return off the IR.
Williams tore his ACL on January 10th, 2022, putting him over ten months removed from surgery now. As mentioned above with Wan’Dale Robinson, we like to see at minimum nine months of rehab before returning to sport. I admire Detroit’s patience in allowing their high-capital receiver the necessary time to rehab before returning to play. To play, Williams had to demonstrate that his surgical leg is within 90% of the non-surgical leg in various tests (95% is ideal). These include quad and hamstring strength testing, various single-leg balance tests, and single-leg hop tests, and he must demonstrate proper speed, quickness, etc.
With Detroit on a three-game win streak, they currently sit two games out of the final wildcard spot and hope Williams can give them a spark. It is unclear if Williams will play on Thanksgiving or if they will give him another week or two. While seeing him nearing a return is nice, fantasy players should be cautious with expectations. Receivers average a decline of 4.7 fantasy points in the first game after an ACL and a continued decline of 2.2 in the second and third games after an ACL injury. Compounded on the decline in points seen is that Williams is a rookie with no NFL experience, is learning a new offense, and needs to develop chemistry with his new quarterback. I love Williams long-term, but I will be surprised if he makes a major impact this year.
Pitts somehow got away with only an MCL injury on a scary-looking hit on Sunday. This type of hit often leads to a multi-ligament injury involving the ACL and PCL.
Current reports are that only the MCL is implicated. Unfortunately, surgery is on the table. Surgery being thrown around is interesting. MCLs often don’t require surgery unless severe enough. Either way, Pitt’s is on the IR and will be out until week 17 at the earliest. Yes, that’s right, fantasy championship week.
The MCL helps stabilize the inside of the knee joint, preventing it from caving inward. This is imperative for cutting, a huge part of an athletic tight ends game. If no surgery is performed, conservative care initially protects the healing tissue while regaining ROM. Stiffness and swelling are major deterrents to playing and must be normalized. With a severe injury, this could take weeks. When swelling and stiffness improves, he must regain strength, single-leg stability, and explosiveness.
Tight ends historically do not play well in the first game after an MCL injury, averaging 3.9 points below their pre-injury baseline. This season Pitt’s is averaging a measly 6.2 ppg (half-point PPR). Pitt’s can be dropped in most redraft formats.