Posted by Tom Christ

Week 6 Fantasy Football Injury Report

October 13, 2022

Another week, more injuries.  In week 5, we saw a starting running back go down with a season-ending injury, multiple concussions, and more.  This week we have several familiar faces and some new ones to discuss.  As always, for the auditory folks, you can catch the Fantasy Injury Team Podcast on Apple and Spotify!  Let’s get started!


Jameis Winston

A recurring guest on the 32 Beat Writers injury page and the Fantasy Injury Team Podcast, the Saints QB practiced in a limited capacity on Wednesday as he attempts to return from four lumbar fractures as well as an ankle injury. 

By now, Winston’s fractures occurred six weeks ago.  Typically bone healing takes 4-6 weeks; however, Winston continued to play for two more weeks which likely stunted the healing.  He will be three weeks removed from his most recent gameplay this weekend, which should put him in a position where the fractures are healing but not fully healed.  However, this stage of bone healing typically presents with much less pain.  

The fractures themselves wouldn’t have impacted Jameis’s play, but the pain associated with the fractures could have.  Therefore, if his pain is more manageable, we could see him return to his baseline.  It should be noted, however, that it only takes one bad hit to re-injure his back. 

His ankle injury has been much less reported on.  It is not clear if it is his right or left ankle.  The right ankle would impact his ability to create power for his throw, as a right-handed QB pushes off his right leg to generate power.  If it is his left ankle, this could impact accuracy, as his left ankle accepts weight during the follow-through of the throw.  Either way, he has had several weeks to rest and rehab, and it is unlikely his ankle is still bothering him much. 

Baker Mayfield

Mayfield is dealing with a high ankle sprain on his right ankle and is expected to miss some time. Since it is his right ankle and he is a right-handed thrower, he generates the power for his throw by pushing off his right leg, which would be affected by this injury.

With a high ankle sprain, the two shin bones (tibia and fibula) gap away from one another. Typically, these bones are secured snuggly to each other by various ligaments. This close approximation allows the foot and ankle to be solid when pushing off the ground, allowing force generation. With the tibia and fibula gapping due to a high ankle sprain, the foot and ankle are not as rigid when pushing off the ground, making it harder to generate the same force.

A high ankle sprain is often reported as a 4-6 week injury.  However, a closer look at NFL QB data shows they average missing 1.9 games, and they see no decline in fantasy statistics.  The training staff can tightly wrap the ankle with tape or a brace to help with the gapping of the tibia and fibula mentioned above, which can help players get back on the field quickly! 

Russell Wilson

Wilson is dealing with a strain of the latissimus dorsi (lat) muscle in his right throwing arm.  The lat is a gigantic muscle spanning from the low back, the back side of the pelvis, to the upper part of the humerus bone (upper arm).  Because of its anatomy, the lat is a powerful muscle in shoulder motion.  

The lat functions to more the shoulder into extension (backwards), adduction (towards the body), and internal rotation (turning the shoulder inward).  Naturally, a muscle is stretched in the opposite directions that it functions.  For the lat, this means it is stretched with shoulder elevation (raising above the head), abduction (moving arm away from the body), and external rotation (rotating outwards).

How is all this nerdy anatomy talk relevant? Let’s consider throwing mechanics.  During the windup, the arm goes into elevation, horizontal abduction, and external rotation.  All three motions stretch the lat muscle, putting the lat on maximal stretch.  If the lat is injured, it won’t allow the shoulder to go into the end range of this motion as a protective mechanism.  That means Wilson will have a hard time getting a full windup on his throw, which may impact his power.  The follow-through is also affected.  The follow-through of a throw sees the shoulder go into horizontal adduction and internal rotation.  Both of these are motions the lat helps with.  When the muscle is injured, it can contract as hard, taking away some power.  It is also painful when the injured muscle contracts, which could impact his accuracy. 

Wilson will play through this injury, and I don’t think it will affect every throw.  I expect to see a few more balls that miss short, or his accuracy is way off.  He already has been having a miserable season, for fantasy purposes, it is best to sit him until he shows he can play well. 

Dak Prescott

Prescott hoped to play against the division rival Eagles this week.  He has already been reported out, and Cooper Rush will continue to start.  Dak will be six weeks post-op by next week, which should give him enough time to regain the required thumb dexterity and strength to throw properly. 

Tua Tagovailoa/Teddy Bridgewater

Tua has been ruled out for Week Six, and it looks unlikely Bridgewater will play.  Both players are recovering from concussions suffered in consecutive weeks.  We will have to monitor reports next week to see how they are progressing through the protocol. 

Mac Jones

Jones has now practiced in a limited capacity four times after suffering a left high ankle sprain in week three.  Reports on Wednesday state that the swelling has declined, but instability in his left ankle persists.  This instability is exactly the issue with a high ankle sprain.  As mentioned above with Baker Mayfield, the gapping of the tibia and fibula bones that occur with a high ankle sprain creates instability in the ankle.  This makes it difficult to push off (if it’s the QBs back leg) and have a stable landing during the follow-through (if it’s the QBs front leg).  The difficulty stabilizing on the front leg often leads to inaccuracy.

Video of Jones in practice on Wednesday shows him accepting weight well onto his left leg; however this was at half speed.  It is unclear at this point how well he can perform at full speed.  From a fantasy standpoint, when QBs return from a high ankle sprain, there is no decline in points seen.  Fantasy players should continue to monitor Jones’s status to see if he will be out there this week. 

Running Backs

Rashaad Penny

Penny, unfortunately, suffered another season-ending injury. The former first-round pick, who has struggled with injuries throughout his career, fractured his fibula on Sunday and will undergo season-ending surgery. In Penny’s absence, expect rookie Ken Walker III to take the lead in this backfield.

This rehab typically takes about four months, effectively ending his season.  The good news is he should be ready to go for camp next season. The concerns going forward will be the difficulty regaining full ankle range of motion. After surgery, he will be in either a boot or a cast for about six weeks. Prolonged immobilization in a case or boot leads to tremendous stiffness that, in many cases, persists forever. Chronic stiffness in the ankles alters shock absorption with walking and running and can contribute to soft tissue injuries up the leg, into the hip, and back down the road. This is a concern for a player who has already dealt with his share of injuries.  Dynasty players may want to consider trading Penny while they can. 

Jonathan Taylor

Taylor suffered a high ankle sprain in week four, causing him to miss his first NFL game last week.  Taylor did not practice on Wednesday, and his status for this week against Jacksonville is in question.  

Taylor is the third high ankle sprain on this list. Just like Mayfield and Jones above, this injury leads to gapping and instability of the ankle joint that, for a running back, can make it hard to plant and cut as quickly as he is used to.  

The good news for fantasy players who roster Taylor is that running backs only see a marginal decline of 0.9 fantasy points on average in their first game after a high ankle sprain.  David Montgomery last week was an example of how this injury surprisingly does not always impact ball carriers’ fantasy output, as he scored 16.2 points in his first game after a high ankle sprain.  Taylor is a workhorse back that you selected in the first round; if he plays, you start him. 

Damien Harris

Harris suffered a hamstring injury early in week five, and initial reports suggested he would miss multiple weeks.  He practiced in a limited capacity Wednesday, which is promising, but it would be naive to expect him to suit up this week. 

The good news for fantasy players with Harris is that a hamstring injury does not negatively impact a running back’s fantasy output as much as one might think.  The hamstring typically will affect a player’s top-end sprinting speed.  The load on the hamstring increases dramatically when a runner increases speed from 80-100%.  To get up to 100% of a sprint, a runner needs at least 40-60 yards.  Running backs rarely can run 40-60 yards unimpeded, which is why the data shows that running backs are not nearly as impacted from a fantasy output standpoint as wide receivers. 

It is likely Harris misses a few games, but he should be close to his normal fantasy production whenever he returns.  

Nyheim Hines

Hines suffered a scary head injury on Thursday night and displayed the “gross motor instability” that has become a hot topic since Tua’s injury. 

With the current protocol, any player who shows gross motor instability has to be evaluated for a concussion. He can only come back into the game if the team physician and the Unaffiliated Neurotrauma Consultant come to an agreement that the gross motor instability wasn’t not cause by neurological response.

Hines is still working through the concussion protocol, and fantasy players must tune in to the Indianapolis beat reporters found on the 32 Beat Writers’ Twitter account to determine if he will play. 

James Conner

Conner left Sunday’s game against the Eagles with a rib injury. Coach Kliff Kingsbury reported that it does not appear serious, meaning no fracture occurred. This is good news for Conner, and his ability to play will be related to his pain tolerance. Arizona may choose to put Conner on a snap restriction to reduce the likelihood of this injury worsening this week against Seattle. 

The ribs are highly involved in athletic motions. Breathing, which is performed 12-20 times/minute at rest, and much more frequently with exercise, causes the ribs to expand and recoil. This alone stresses the rib injury and hurts. Many major muscles involved in athletics attach to the ribs. Of these, the pecs, the lats, and the obliques are the big strong muscles that are highly involved in running, blocking, catching, and maintaining stability when getting hit.  Cleary, if Conner plays, it will be with pain.  However, from a per-play standpoint, his performance is unlikely to be hindered. 

Wide Receivers

Cooper Kupp

Kupp missed Wednesday’s practice with a foot injury.  Details of his injury are unclear at this time.  The superstar played on 98% of snaps in week five, so it is unlikely this injury is severe.  We will continue to monitor his status for week six. 

Tyreek Hill

The speedy receiver, is dealing with a heel injury; however, he practiced in full on Wednesday.  The full practice early in the week indicates minimal concern for Hill’s week six outlook. 

Keenan Allen

Allen, who has not played since week one due to a hamstring injury, has returned to limited practice this week.  Allen was close to returning a few weeks ago before re-aggravating his hamstring in practice.  Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence for the hamstring, as a previous hamstring injury increases the risk of another hamstring injury by 2.7x.  

As mentioned above, the hamstring primarily impacts top-end speed, which is not exactly Allen’s game.  However, the hamstring can also be stressed by changing direction, but not to the same degree as top-end sprinting.  Allen relies on savvy route running and sure hands, so he would not be as hampered by this injury as a speedster would.

The challenge for fantasy players this week is that Allen plays Monday night.  He is trending towards being a game time decision, so fantasy players would need to have a player to pivot too in the event he does not play.  In a sample of 61 NFL receivers, only 28% meet or exceed the pre-injury fantasy points average in the first game after a hamstring injury.  This, combined with his Monday night game, make starting Allen this week a risk. 

Tee Higgins

Higgins missed most of Sunday night’s game due to an ankle injury.  He did not practice Wednesday, and fantasy players will need to continue to monitor his week six outlook.

Receivers average 1.4 fantasy points below their pre-injury baseline in the first game after an ankle sprain, but 40% of them can meet or exceed their pre-injury baseline.  With the upside Higgins possesses, if he does play, he may be worth starting.  It will be interesting to see if Cincinnati beat reporters provide any insight on a potential snap restriction similar to what we saw with Amon-Ra St. Brown last week, who was returning from the same injury. 

Rashaad Bateman

Bateman is dealing with a midfoot sprain, aka a Lisfranc sprain.  Not all Lisfranc sprains are the same.  Clearly, Bateman’s is not as severe as Travis Etienne’s was last season, that required surgery.  Still, Bateman did not practice Wednesday, and his week six outlook is in question.

This type of injury will impact a player’s ability to sprint, cut, and jump.  All are traits a speedy receiver like Bateman relies on.  If he does play, it would not be surprising to see him impacted by this injury. 

Michael Thomas

Thomas hopes to return in week six after missing two games due to a turf toe injury.

Turf toe is an injury to the ligaments or tendons on the bottom side of the big toe. These ligaments and tendons are stressed with walking and running when the big toe extends up to 90 degrees. The stress on these tissues is why this injury often lingers. Resting Thomas the past two weeks hopefully allowed this injury to heal before returning to the field. Ligaments and tendons typically take 21-28 days to heal, and Thomas will have had exactly 21 days between games.

This type of injury can impact top-end speed and agility, neither of which is what Thomas’s game is built off of. Therefore I don’t expect this injury to affect his fantasy output much. 

Kadarius Toney

Toney’s 2022 is quickly looking like a lost season as he is dealing with hamstring injuries in both legs. This has been a season from hell for the second-year receiver, who cannot seem to keep his hamstrings healthy.

Fantasy players will continue to be frustrated with Toney as they recognize the immense talent and opportunity for him if he can return to the field. Whenever Toney does return, receivers are negatively impacted by hamstring injuries in their first game back, averaging 2.4 points below their pre-injury average, with only 28% meeting or exceeding the pre-injury baseline in the first game back.

Toney’s game is built on speed and agility. These traits stress the hamstring the most. The load on the hamstring increases dramatically from 80-100% of a sprint. With Toney being a burner, he is likely to be slowed down by this injury when he returns. 

Julio Jones

Julio did not play in week five as he dealt with setbacks from the PCL injury he sustained in week 1. This type of injury is not actually going to “heal”. The rehab and recovery from a PCL injury is pain and swelling management to allow him to get back on the field, but the PCL’s torn fibers do not form together without surgery.

Since the PCL will not truly heal, it is common to have setbacks like this. It is unpredictable how frequent setbacks will occur and how long they will keep Jones out. Tampa has made it clear they are looking at the season-long picture with the management of Jones’s injury. Fantasy players should lower their expectations for the future hall-of-famer in the near future. 

Jarvis Landry

Landry missed week five due to an ankle injury. We will have to continue to monitor practice reports this week to check his availability for Sunday against the Bengals. Receivers see a small decline in fantasy output when they return from an ankle sprain. With Landry being a low end WR4 anyway, fantasy players may not want to start him this week. 

Tight Ends

Kyle Pitts

Pitts’s slow start to the season continued this week as he missed week five due to a hamstring injury. Pitts returned to practice Wednesday, and his week six availability looks promising. 

Hamstring injuries impact a player’s top-end speed. Top-end speed is exactly what separates Pitts from the rest. He may play a bit slower when he returns, affecting his fantasy output.

Additionally, previous hamstring injuries increase the risk of another injury by 2.7x. Historically tight ends score 1.8 fantasy points below their pre-injury average in the first game back.  However, the tight end landscape is scarce, and fantasy players may have no choice but to play Pitts.  

Darren Waller

Waller was quickly ruled out of Monday nights battle against Kansas City with a hamstring injury. No practice reports have surfaced yet about the former pro bowler so fantasy players will continue to monitor Wallers status.

As mentioned above with Pitts, tight ends average 1.8 fantasy points below their pre-injury baseline when they return from a hamstring injury.

Logan Thomas

Thomas has been ruled out for week six with a calf injury.  Calf injuries will impact sprinting speed, cutting, and jumping.  The big-bodied tight end does not rely heavily on his speed, so if he returns next week, it is unlikely he will be impacted by the injury. 

Dalton Schultz

Schultz put up zero points in back-to-back games after returning from a PCL injury. In week five, Schultz left the game due to a re-aggravation of this injury.

As mentioned above with Julio Jones, this type of injury does not actually “heal”; therefore, these re-aggravations are common. Fantasy players will have to monitor practice reports, but it may be wise to look for other options at tight end for a few weeks until Schultz can prove he can be a useable tight end. 

Taysom Hill

Hill sustained a rib injury during his fantasy week, winning week five. Hill practiced in a limited fashion Wednesday, suggesting the injury is minor. We have seen multiple players play through rib injuries with differing successes this season. Chargers QB Justin Herbert looked impacted by a rib injury earlier in the season, and Hill’s teammate Alvin Kamara looked somewhat hindered. Both players mentioned above had rib cartilage fractures, which can be very painful. We do not currently know the status of Hill’s rib injury, but it appears minor, making it less likely to impact his game. 

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