Posted by Tom Christ

Week 6 Injury Report

October 13, 2023

Week five hit us hard! We lost key players like Justin Jefferson, De’Von Achane, and James Conner for at least four weeks. In week six, stars like Saquon Barkley and Austin Ekeler attempt to return from injury. The week six injury report is loaded with critically important content to help you win this week!

Week Six Injury Report: Quarterbacks

Justin Herbert

Injury: Left (non-throwing) middle finger fracture.

week six injury report

Herbert had the week five bye to give some time for his finger to heal after fracturing it in week four. Herbert finished the game in week four and played just fine. Since this is his non-throwing hand, this will not impact his ability to play.

There are three bones in the middle finger, the proximal, intermediate, and distal phalanxes. It’s unclear which is fractured, but also does not make much functional or prognostic difference. Routine bone healing is 4-6 weeks, and Herbert will likely protect the finger with a splint or heavy tape job in the meantime.

Expected Return: Week 6.

Fantasy Impact: This will not impact Herbert’s fantasy production.

Daniel Jones

Injury: Neck injury.

Jones is on the week six injury report with a neck injury. Specifics of Jones neck injury have not been provided, but the Giants have ruled Jones out for week 6. There are several structures that can be involved in a neck injury, with varying levels of severity. The optimism suggests that Jones does not have a fracture or a disc injury. These two injuries, if present, could lead to lengthy absences. It is likely that Jones is dealing with either a muscle strain or something called a facet dysfunction. Both of these injuries will limit neck motion and be painful but can clear up quickly enough for him to play.

Expected Return: Week 7

Fantasy Impact: As long as Jones is able to move his neck freely enough to make all the reads, this should not hinder his ability to play.

Anthony Richardson

Injury: AC joint sprain.

Richardson is on the week six injury report due to a grade 3 sprain of his AC joint.

week six injury report

Understanding the anatomy is key here. The AC (Acromioclavicular) joint is the junction of the arm and the torso. The AC joint is held together by strong ligaments called the Acromioclavicular and Coracoclavicular ligaments. With a grade 3 sprain, these ligaments are completely torn, and the structural integrity of the AC joint is compromised. Now, the joint is much too mobile, causing pain and altering the ability to move the shoulder and arm, thus impacting throwing.

Furthermore, grade 3 AC joint injuries are borderline for the need for surgery. Grade 1-2 injuries respond well to conservative care, grade 4-6 need surgery, and grade 3 is case-by-case dependent on how it will respond.

Expected Return: Week 10+

Richardson was placed on the injured reserve and will attempt to rehab. If conservative rehab works for Richardson, four weeks is a reasonable time frame for return. If he needs surgery, it will likely end his season.

Fantasy Impact: At this point, it is too early to tell. If Richardson can play again this season, we see a dip of 35% fantasy production in the first game after injury, which improves to a 10% dip in games 2-3. At this time, fantasy managers should hold onto Richardson but begin making other plans.

Deshaun Watson

Injury: Shoulder contusion.

Watson is still on the week six injury report with what is being described as a shoulder contusion or a bruise. Watson originally injured his shoulder in week three, causing him to miss week four. With the week five bye, it was expected that Watson would be ready to go in week six. Contusions heal quickly, especially in the shoulder.

Watson being ruled out for week six hints that the reporting may be off here. At this point, it is more likely he is dealing with a rotator cuff or labrum injury. If true, that does not automatically mean he will miss a lot of time, as many times, both of these injuries respond well to rehab, and players, even throwers, can return and play well. The other possibility would be the development of a trigger point (knot) in the muscle that has not reset itself and continues to lead to pain and impact function.

Expected Return: Week 7

Fantasy Impact: As long as Watson regains range of motion and strength, which is possible, his production should not be impacted. We will revisit this next week.

Week 6 Injury Report: Running Backs

De’Von Achane

Injury: Knee injury (unspecified).

The Dolphins have not officially revealed what Achane’s knee injury is, but many are speculating it is an MCL injury. Achane will miss multiple weeks and is on the IR.

When we get more clarity on what the knee injury is, we can further break down the anatomy and functional impact. In the meantime, any knee injury often leads to significant swelling and pain. Swelling limits the range of motion and inhibits the ability of the quad muscles to create power. Additionally, if he is dealing with an MCL injury, the knee’s stability will be thrown off, making it hard to cut with confidence. Achane is elusive and explosive, traits that would be hindered by this type of injury.

Expected Return: Week 10

Fantasy Impact: Clearly, fantasy players must prepare to be without Achane for several weeks. By the time he returns, we should have clarity on what his injury was and can break down how it may impact fantasy production.

Austin Ekeler

Injury: High ankle sprain

week six injury report

With a high ankle sprain, the two shin bones, the Tibia and Fibula, which are typically held together by strong ligaments and connective tissues, can become separated from one another as these ligaments and connective tissue are injured. The severity of the injury determines the level of separation of the two bones. The separation of the Tibia and Fibula leads to instability within the ankle, making it difficult to push off and create power.

Depending on the severity, these bones don’t always neatly realign, and chronic instability can occur, and re-injury rates are high. We saw last season, Jonathan Taylor re-injured his high ankle sprain three times, and he is still dealing with it this year!

Expected Return: Week 6

Ekeler has stated that he is “99% certain” he will play in week six. He was a full participant in practice on Wednesday. Running backs average missing 2.5 games, and Ekeler will not be five weeks out from his injury.

Fantasy Impact: While high ankle sprains can certainly affect the ability to cut and change direction, Ekeler has had adequate time to rehab and be close to 100%. Additionally, running backs, on average, show no decline in fantasy production after a high ankle sprain. You can safely start Ekeler this week.

Saquon Barkley

Injury: High ankle sprain

See the Austin Ekeler section above for details on high ankle sprains. Barkley’s trajectory has been different than Ekelers. Barkley has practiced in some capacity both of the past two weeks but ultimately has not been able to play. Barkley was limited in practice all week as he approaches four weeks from the date of injury.

We saw a video of Barkley practicing with his ankle heavily taped. The tape is attempting to approximate the tibia and fibula bones. This much tape, almost four weeks out from injury, tells us he is still dealing with some instability. The tape artificially creates some stability, which can allow him to practice and play, but is not the same stability as pre-injury.

Expected Return: Week 6-7

Fantasy Impact: I am less bullish on Barkley than Ekeler. This heavy tape job tells us he still lacks stability, which may make it difficult to cut off his injured ankle. That said, you can’t possibly sit Saquon Barkley. If he plays, you have to start him but temper expectations.

Jahmyr Gibbs

Injury: Hamstring injury

week six injury report

Gibbs injured his hamstring in practice on Friday, forcing him to miss Sunday’s game. The speedy rookie did not practice this week and has been ruled out for Sunday’s game.

Hamstring injuries have incredibly high recurrence rates and impact a player’s ability to reach top speed. Gibbs is a speed back and a big-time receiving back. This type of injury has the potential to impact his game more than it would a power back. Fortunately, Gibbs is only 21 years old, putting age on his side for healing.

Expected Return: Week 7

Fantasy Impact: While running backs typically see no hit on fantasy production after a hamstring injury, Gibbs playing style would make it more likely to affect him. Gibbs is a speed back and a receiving back. This means he relies on the hamstring to create elite speed and power, and being a pass-catching back, he is more likely to hit top speed when the hamstring is most stressed.

Khalil Herbert

Injury: High ankle sprain

Khalil Herbert is on the week six injury report with a high ankle sprain. See Austin Ekeler above for a description of high ankle sprains. Herbert was placed on the IR and will not be eligible to play for four weeks.

Expected Return: Week 10

Fantasy Impact: As long as Herbert is allowed adequate time to heal, running backs typically do not see a hit on their fantasy production after high ankle sprains.

Miles Sanders

Injury: Shoulder injury

Sanders is dealing with an unspecified shoulder injury and has been ruled out for week six. When he returns, as long as the shoulder is able to withstand contact, it would not profile to affect a running back. Upper body injuries are far more favorable compared to lower body injuries for a running back, as it won’t impact his ability to run and cut.

Expected Return: Week 7

Fantasy Impact: This should not impact Sanders stat line when he returns.

James Conner

Injury: Knee injury (unspecified).

Similar to Achane above, Conner is expected to miss several weeks with an unspecified knee injury. Just like Achane, what we do know is that knees are prone to swelling, which hinders range of motion and power output. If ligament is involved, it will impact the stability of the knee, therefore impacting the ability to cut with confidence.

Expected Return: Week 10.

Conner was placed on the IR, which will put him out for at least four weeks.

Fantasy Impact: Fantasy players need to make alternative plans for the next several weeks.

Week 6 Injury Report: Wide Receivers

Justin Jefferson

Injury: Hamstring injury.

Jefferson is on the week six injury report and will be out for several weeks with a hamstring injury. Jefferson has been placed on the IR, putting him out until week 10 at the soonest.

Hamstrings are a pain in the ass. They impact receivers more than any other position. Hamstrings are big, powerful muscles that are highly involved in sprinting and achieving top-end speed. The load on the hamstring increases dramatically when increasing speed from 80-100% of a sprint. To get to 100% sprint speed, a player needs the opportunity to run 30-40 yards at least. This is why receivers are the most prone to hamstring injury.

Re-injury rates are high. Medical literature tells us that when a player has suffered a hamstring strain, he is 5 times more likely to suffer another in the same season. Typical muscle healing takes 21-28 days, so Jefferson going on the IR should allow him enough time to fully heal. Being 24 years old also significantly helps his prognosis.

Expected Return: Week 10

Fantasy Impact: Receivers see a hit of 11% fantasy production when they return from a hamstring injury. For a player like Jefferson, that does not matter. Hold onto him in fantasy and get ready to unleash him when he returns.

Amon-Ra St. Brown

Injury: Abdominal.

The Lions still have not provided clarity on St. Brown’s abdominal injury, but did state that he returned to a limited practice on Wednesday and is expected to play this week. The nature of Brown’s injury will still influence his rest-of-season outlook. Hopefully, they will reveal the details of his injury. The two most common abdominal injuries are oblique strains and sports hernias.

Oblique strains: The obliques are abdominal muscles that are very involved in rotation and bracing for impact. These injuries can be painful but typically heal well and don’t impact fantasy production.

Sports Hernia: This is an injury to the tendons that attach the abdominal muscles to the pubic bone. These do not typically do well with conservative care and impact a player’s ability to cut and change direction. These often require surgery.

Expected Return: Week 6

Regardless of the nature of St. Brown’s injury, he is trending toward playing this week.

Fantasy Impact: Fantasy impact is hard to predict without knowing the nature of his injury. Oblique strains don’t often impact production, but a sports hernia very well could. St. Brown is so dominant that he can’t be left out of lineups.

Tee Higgins

Injury: Rib fracture

Higgins fractured a rib in week four, which forced him to miss week five. Rib fractures are incredibly painful and hard to play with but are usually pain tolerance as long as the fracture doesn’t risk penetrating the lung field. Healing takes 4-6 weeks, but with extra padding and just being a tough dude, he could play sooner.

Several key muscles, such as the lats, pecs, and obliques, attach to the ribs. Fractured ribs can lead to guarding of these muscles, which is functionally seen as difficulty with full shoulder range of motion (especially reaching overhead) and with trunk rotation. Both motions need to be full in order to play.

Expected Return: Week 6-8 (bye week 7)

Fantasy Impact: If Higgins plays this week, it will likely be on a snap count, which would impact his bottom line. He has one great game this year but otherwise has crushed fantasy players. Best to keep him out of the lineup one more week.

Mike Evans

Injury: Hamstring injury

Evans will play this week as he recovers from a hamstring injury from week four. The initial reports out of Tampa were beliefs that this was a minor injury. After the week five bye, Evans appears ready to go.

Hamstrings are stressed with sprinting, especially as a player reaches their top speed. Evans is a deep threat, so he is constantly reaching his top speed. Understanding this, combined with Evans being 30 years old, has the potential to both slow down his recovery rate and make it more likely that this will negatively impact his production and put him at higher risk for re-injury.

Expected Return: Week 6

Fantasy Impact: Receivers see an average drop of 12% in fantasy production and a 16% drop in snap rate when they return from a hamstring injury. For Evans, this is not enough to push him out of our fantasy lineups.

Chris Olave

Injury: Toe Injury

Olave was a surprise addition to the week six injury report but has since been removed from the list. Toes can be tricky. Let’s first understand the function of the big toe in football.

Most toe injuries are to the tissues on the underside of the big toe. The big toe must extend upwards 90° with running, and tremendous amounts of force go through these tissues. These ligaments, tendons, and other tissues must maintain their stability in order to take on this force and create a powerful push off from the ground. With grade 1 toe injuries, this stability remains intact. In grades 2-3, tissue integrity is lost to varying degrees, which can impact the ability to load through the toe and push.

Expected Return: Week 6

Fantasy Impact: I do not anticipate this limiting his production.

Jordan Addison

Injury: Ankle sprain

The rookie steps into a prominent role with star Justin Jefferson placed on the injured reserve. Addison, however, is dealing with his own ankle injury and was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday but has since been cleared to play.

The severity of ankle injuries dictates how much it impacts athletics. Ankle sprains can impact cutting and agility, but when they are minor, we don’t see much impact. With Addison playing on 75% of snaps last week, his highest of his career, and practicing in full Friday, indicates his injury is minor.

Expected Return: Week 6

Fantasy Impact: Receivers see an average decline of 15% in fantasy production and an 8% snap rate in their first game after an ankle sprain. With Addison stepping into the lead receiver role in Minnesota, he should still be started.

Juju Smith-Schuster

Injury: Concussion

Smith-Schuster has not passed through the NFL’s concussion protocol and will not play this week.

Expected Return: Week 7

Fantasy Impact: We do not expect a decline in fantasy production after concussions.

Tank Dell

Injury: Concussion

Dell will have to pass through the NFL’s concussion protocol in order to play this week.

Expected Return: Week 6-7

Fantasy Impact: We do not expect a decline in fantasy production after concussions.

Week 6 Injury Report: Tight Ends

Darren Waller

Injury: Groin injury

Waller did not practice Wednesday and was limited Thursday and Friday as he has a groin injury. It is unclear when the injury occurred, as Waller put together a nice outing in week five, playing on 92% of snaps.

Groin muscles are located on the inside of the hip and thigh and play a role in single-leg stability. The good news is that when athletes cut, they lean on the outside of the hip muscles to power the cut. Because of this, groin injuries can be annoying but don’t impact production as much as other lower-body muscles. Groin recurrence rates, however, are as high as 18%. At age 30, with a lengthy injury history, re-injury becomes a concern.

Expected Return: Week 6-7

Fantasy Impact: Tight ends average a drop of 19% in fantasy production and a 16% snap rate in the first game after a groin injury. Still, Waller should be started unless you have a better option.

Sam LaPorta

Injury: Calf strain

Calf injuries can be tricky, as we have seen with Joe Burrow this year. The calf functions like a spring, stretching and recoiling to create force when pushing off to run or jump. As you can imagine, calf injuries have the potential to impact high velocity actions such as sprinting and jumping.

Calf injuries carry a 14-16% recurrence rate, again, like we saw with Burrow. A practice video from Friday showed LaPorta moving around well, with no sleeve on his calf. This was nice, but it was all half speed and does not us how he will handle higher speeds.

Expected return: Week 6-7

Fantasy Impact: While the above listed function of calves is true, LaPorta’s has never appeared to be severe. If he is able to go, I don’t doubt that it may slow him down a little, but he should still be more productive than any tight end on waivers. TE’s see an average dip of 8% fantasy production, not enough to keep the rookie stud out of your lineup.

Dalton Kincaid

Injury: Concussion

Kincaid logged a limited practice Friday. His response to practice will help dictate his availability for Sunday.

Expected Return: Week 6-7

Fantasy Impact: We do not expect a decline in fantasy production after concussions.

Dawson Knox

Injury: Wrist

Buffalo has not explained what exactly is going on with Knox wrist. Any wrist injury has the potential to impact a tight ends ability to block, and catch. Wrist injuries can be managed with heavy taping, and often players can play through it as long as there are no fractures or major sprains.

Expected Return: Week 6-7

Fantasy Impact: As an upper body injury, this would not likely influence Knox production. He would not be on the field if his wrist is not mobile enough to catch the ball.

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