Posted by Tom Christ

Week 7 Fantasy Football Injury Report

October 20, 2022

Can you believe we are already one-third through the regular season? Time flies when watching football, that’s for sure!  Last week we saw some key players suffer lengthy injuries, most notably Hollywood Brown suffering a foot fracture and Carson Wentz suffering a finger fracture.  Can fantasy players expect to have these guys back this season?  Let’s take a look at the week 7 fantasy football injury report!  Don’t forget, as always you can catch the Fantasy Injury Team Podcast on Apple and Spotify


Dak Prescott

Prescott’s return is finally here!  Dak will be 6-weeks post-op from a right thumb fracture when he returns this week to play the Lion’s middle of the pack passing defense. The fracture to his thumb is now stable and has been for a few weeks.  Re-injury is not a great concern.  

When returning from this type of injury, the challenge is regaining the mobility and strength of the thumb.  After surgery, Dak was likely immobilized in a cast or splint for a few weeks.  This leads to rapid stiffness and muscle atrophy (weakness).  The thumb mobility and dexterity are quite literally what separates humans from many other species from a physical standpoint and are very important for gripping a football.  The grip strength is essential to maintain control of the football during the throwing motion and will be necessary to regain to prevent fumbles and ensure accuracy. With this injury, throwing power is not a concern.

At this point, Prescott has had a few weeks to properly rehab, emphasizing thumb mobility and regaining grip strength.  It’s unlikely his strength is 100%, but it’s likely very close and strong enough to properly handle a football.  I doubt we will see much impact on his game from this injury. 

Carson Wentz

Wentz fractured his right ring finger on Thursday, had surgery on Monday and carried a 4-6 week expected absence.  

All five fingers factor in gripping a football for a thrower. The ring finger, however, plays less of a role in the finesse required to place a ball accurately and almost no role in throw power.

The ability for Wentz to return is based on his ring finger’s mobility and grip strength. Fortunately for Wentz, not as much mobility or strength is required of the ring finger compared to the thumb, pointer, or middle fingers. While the surgery heals, his ring finger will likely be taped or casted, reducing mobility through the immobilized joints. The more joints that are immobilized lead to more stiffness and weakness that must be regained after the immobilization is removed.

Since it is his ring finger, it would not be surprising if he pushes for a sooner return to play.  Unlike Prescott, who needed a full six weeks to regain strength and mobility in his thumb, the ring finger is less significant in the throwing motion, and he may be able to play sooner. 

Tua Tagovailoa

Tua has been removed from the injury report and is in line to start this week for the first time since his scary week four head injury.  At the time of injury, it appeared Tua had suffered a severe head injury, more significant than a concussion.  Luckily this was not the case, and multiple industry-leading concussion specialists cleared him to return to play.  

The main difference between a concussion from a traumatic brain injury is the absence of structural damage to the brain tissue seen via MRI.  Tua’s MRIs have all been clean, indicating his symptoms were due to a severe concussion but not a traumatic brain injury that would lead to permanent damage.  The symptoms experienced during a concussion result from inflammation within the brain and reduced blood perfusion of the brain tissues (ability to accept oxygen).  The time it takes for these factors to normalize varies from person to person, which is why we see such variability in time to return to play.  Research clearly outlines that subsequent concussions often take longer to recover from. Going forward, if Tua is to suffer another concussion, we may expect to see another multi-week absence. 

In the meantime, Tua is 100% ready to go, and we should not expect to see any dip in his fantasy performance.

Russell Wilson

Wilson is dealing with a lat strain in his throwing arm and now a hamstring injury.  A detailed explanation of a lat strain can be found in last week’s post.  Wilson’s hamstring injury is curious, as it first appeared to be serious; however, after an MRI, the team was much more optimistic.  The hamstring injury will limit his ability to run, as the strain on the hamstring increases dramatically when a runner increases speed from 80-100%.  Early in his career, this was a staple of Wilson’s game.  These days he still scrambles to buy time in the pocket, but he is not running like he used to.  If the injury truly is not very serious, he can likely play without much effect.   

Kenny Pickett

Pickett suffered a concussion in week six but is already practicing in full as of Wednesday.  This is interesting, as typically, we don’t see players practice in full until Friday when returning from a concussion.  This indicates low severity, and he should be ready this week.  For further explanation of a concussion, see Tua above.

Mac Jones

Jones is attempting to return from a high ankle sprain to his left leg suffered in Week Three.  The tibia and fibula are two bones in the shin that form snuggly together on top of the talus bone of the foot to create the ankle.  With a high ankle sprain, the tibia and fibula are gapped away from one another, and we no longer have a snug connection.  This leads to the “instability” that we heard about with Jones ankle last week.  Various taping and bracing techniques can help mitigate this instability to allow a player to return.

Since it is his left leg, this injury will not impact his throw power.  When throwing, we generate the power by pushing off the back leg, in his case, the right leg.  If pain or instability remains, this could impact his accuracy, as he has to move his body weight to the left leg to finish the throw.

New England may choose to rest Jones another week, especially since rookie Bailey Zappe has been playing so well.  If Jones does play this week, it’s unlikely he is at 100%. Fortunately, QBs see no decline in fantasy production when they return from a high ankle sprain. 

Jameis Winston

Winston was active last week but listed as a backup as he continues to heal from his lumbar fractures. New Orleans states he won’t play until he is 100%. New Orleans plays on Thursday night this week, so luckily, fantasy players will have no issue pivoting Winston out of their lineups if he does not play.  Winston should have had enough time to fully heal when he does return and fantasy players should expect him to play at his normal capacity. 

Running Backs

Jonathan Taylor

Taylor is on track to return from a high ankle sprain suffered in week four.  As mentioned above with Mac Jones, the high ankle sprain creates instability in the ankle, making it difficult to cut with as much power.  

Taylor’s injury appeared moderate, so there likely was not a significant gapping that developed, and they should have no problem managing with tape and bracing.  Historically we see running backs average missing 2.2 games and see only a mild drop in fantasy production when they return.

Taylor is an alpha, and in this league, alpha’s have a unique way of playing well, even with the injury.  If Taylor plays this week, fantasy players have to start him. 

D’Andre Swift

Swift has been frustrating.  He is electric, explosive, and one of the most fun running backs to watch, but he can’t stay on the field!  Swift missed weeks four and five due to both ankle and shoulder injuries but appears ready to return after resting on last week’s bye.

The ankle injury is the one that would have the potential to influence his game the most. Swift is a shifty runner who utilizes his agility to dominate defenders. With an ankle injury, lateral agility is impacted more so than sprinting, and this correlates to the decline of 2.4 fantasy points when running backs return from an ankle sprain. However, three weeks to rest should do Swift well, and fantasy players cannot possibly have a better option than a slightly below 100% D’Andre Swift. 

James Conner

Conner missed week six due to a rib injury and may not play tonight against New Orleans.

The ribs are highly influential in every motion a human makes, which is why they can be a problem for football players. Breathing, running, and any arm or shoulder motion all stress the ribs. The pecs, lats, and obliques are strong muscles that attach to the ribs and are involved in the motions mentioned above. That means that with running, catching, or even breathing, these muscles pull on the ribs, which hurts! 

The good news is we would not expect this injury to influence performance on a per-play basis. What is possible, however, if Conner does play is that he does not see the same workload he typically would. Luckily he plays Thursday, so fantasy players will have the ability to pivot him out of their lineups if he does not play.

J.K. Dobbins

Dobbins, who is averaging 7.8 fantasy points per game this year, 8.2 points per game below his pre-injury average, missed the second half of last weeks game due to his surgically repaired knee tightening up.  This is a vague report, but not unexpected.

Dobbins suffered an ACL, LCL, meniscus, and hamstring injury last season.  That made his surgery and rehab very involved.  With major injuries to the lower extremity, we often see compensations down the road that leads to soft tissue injuries like this.  Baltimore is not telling us exactly what happened, but it’s likely he is experiencing spasms or minor strains of the hamstring or groin.  These muscle groups commonly overwork following major knee surgery, which can render them prone to this type of injury.

This does not sound like it will be an injury that causes him to miss significant time, but this can be something we see popping up throughout the season. 

Damien Harris

Harris missed week six due to a hamstring injury and is questionable for week seven.  Hamstrings will impact a runner’s top-end speed, which is not Harris’s game.  Running backs rarely reach 100% speed unless they break a long run.  This is why we do not see a significant decline in fantasy production for running backs returning from this injury.

Counterpart Rhomondre Stevenson has been playing very well in Harris’s absence, but New England traditionally utilizes multiple backs.  Harris may not be ready to return this week, but I expect him to look like himself when he does. 

Wide Receivers

Marquise Brown

Brown suffered what is being reported as a “chipped bone around the arch area”.

A chipped bone means a fracture, and bones that live in the arch include the 1st metatarsal, the medial cuneiform, the navicular, the talus, and the calcaneus.  We most likely are looking at a fracture of either the 1st metatarsal, the medial cuneiform, or the navicular.  The navicular would be concerning, as it often does not receive adequate blood flow.  However, with the optimistic reports of him being out only a month, it likely is not the navicular that is injured.

Brown will be non-weight bearing for a few weeks and likely in either a boot or a cast.

Both of these have consequences that will impact his return to play-timeline.  Non-weight bearing on a leg leads to rapid muscle atrophy and weakness.  This occurs not just in the foot but the entire leg.  The immobilization in the boot or cast leads to foot and ankle stiffness.  This stiffness influences foot mechanics when he returns to walking and running. 

Specifically, the midfoot joints need to be able to pronate (arch moves toward the ground), and supinate (arch rises) during normal walking and running.  The pronation allows the foot to absorb shock, whereas the supination creates a rigid foot to push off of.  With the upcoming immobilization of the foot, these motions will become stiff and will take a few weeks of rehab to restore fully.

The combination of stiffness and atrophy makes it hard to imagine Brown returning in four weeks.  I expect it will be closer to six for him to return and eight for him to be near 100%.  Fantasy players must determine if they can wait 6-8 weeks for Brown to be a contributor again. 

Rashad Bateman

Bateman returned to practice this week after suffering a midfoot injury in week four.  This is promising for Bateman.  The midfoot injury, however, can impact a receiver’s ability to sprint, cut, and jump.  Monitoring practice reports will be pivotal in assessing Bateman’s readiness to produce this week. This is a less severe midfoot injury, so fantasy output can go either way. 

Intriguingly, Baltimore signed DeSean Jackson this week.  Typically this type of roster move indicates concern from the team about the current situation of that position. 

CeeDee Lamb

Lamb has been dealing with a mysterious hip injury. This did not appear to impact him last week, as he still drew ten targets on a 93% snap rate. He was limited in practice to start the week, but it does not appear to be a concern at this point. Lamb will get his star QB back this week. 

Michael Thomas

Thomas‘s toe injury occurred in week three, and he was expected to play in week four, but here he is appearing on our week 7 fantasy football injury update. Injuries don’t always heal at the pace we expect, and misdiagnoses of severity do occur. Thomas has already been ruled out for week seven.

Essentially, a turf toe is an injury to the tendons or ligaments on the underside of the big toe. Every time we walk, our big toe must extend up to 60°, running its 90°, putting a lot of stretch and tension on the injured tissues.

If these tissues are not functioning correctly, the foot is not able to push off the ground as well. This is due to the unique ability of the foot to change shape depending on the phase of gait. When our foot hits the ground and accepts weight, the muscles of the foot elongate and allow our arches to lower slightly to absorb shock. When we are ready to push off the ground, the muscles and tendons contract to supinate the foot and tighten up the foot bones to make a rigid lever to push off; this is triggered by the big toe extending, again stressing the tissues that are injured with turf toe.

This explains why this injury often lingers and can be hard to return from. In Thomas’s case, his injury must have been more severe than initially reported, and New Orleans is allowing him proper time to rehab. We will have to monitor to know when Thomas will be ready to play, but it won’t be week seven. 

Chris Olave

Olave has cleared the concussion protocol and will be ready to go tonight.  With Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry out, Olave should see plenty of targets. 

Tyler Lockett

Lockett was a late add to the injury report last week with a hamstring.  He was able to play 82% of snaps but did not produce.  He missed practice Wednesday to tend to this injury and will have to be monitored going forward.

The good news for Lockett is that while receivers typically show a decline of 2.7 fantasy points in the first game back from a hamstring injury, in games 2-3 after injury, this improves to only 0.7 points below average. 

Jahan Dotson

Dotson returned to limited practice after missing the previous two games due to a hamstring injury. This type of injury can linger and recur throughout the season when a player returns too quickly. Dotson was quickly ruled out for a few weeks after his injury in week four, which tells us Washington knew right away it was more severe than some.

If Dotson is to play this week, fantasy players should warrant caution with playing him. WRs average a decline of 2.7 fantasy points in their first game returning from a hamstring injury, with only 27% meeting or exceeding their pre-injury baseline. 

Randal Cobb

Cobb shows up on our week 7 fantasy football injury update as he appeared to have suffered a devastating ankle injury on Sunday. Fortunately, it turned out to be a high ankle sprain with no fractures. Cobb is expected to miss 2-4 weeks, indicating a moderate-severity sprain.

High ankle sprains are discussed above with Mac Jones and Jonathan Taylor.  Receivers average missing 3.4 games due to a high ankle sprain and are quite impacted when they return.  Receivers score 2.7 fantasy points below their average, with only 30% meeting or exceeding their pre-injury average in the first game back from injury. 

Tight Ends

Darren Waller

Waller is dealing with a hamstring injury he suffered in week six.  He did not practice to start the week, and we will continue to monitor his situation.  Waller dealt with a hamstring injury in the pre-season, and this may be a re-aggravation.  

Tight ends average missing 2.1 games due to a hamstring and score 0.7 fantasy points below their average, but a solid 46% meet or exceed their pre-injury fantasy output in the first game back from injury. 

Dalton Schultz

Schultz has scored just north of 10 fantasy points in four games this season. He has missed two games due to a PCL injury that likely will affect him on and off throughout the season. PCL injuries don’t actually heal, meaning the PCL tissues won’t realign together. His PCL injury is minor, meaning only some of the ligament’s fibers are torn, and the remaining fibers are intact, which is why he can still play. The issue is this type of injury leads to recurring swelling and pain, which impacts his ability to play and play well.

Schultz logged a full practice on Wednesday and will be getting his starting QB back. These are both reasons for optimism for Schultz, but Schultz has burned fantasy players several times already this season. He is hard to trust this week.

Cameron Brate

Brate is not practicing to start the week after being carted off the field last week with a neck injury. Reports state that he did not suffer a concussion and that no significant injury to his neck occurred.

Often, with a head or neck injury, even without structural damage, the cervical and shoulder muscles will spasm to “guard” the head and neck. This often persists even after any injury or inflammation has resolved. This is commonly seen in patients who have been in a car accident or have fallen. Manual physical therapy techniques combined with stretching and exercise help restore the muscles’ normal integrity, allowing people to function again.

It sounds like Brate will not play this week. With him being a lower-tier tight-end option, fantasy players do not need to keep him rostered. 

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