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Week 8 Fantasy Football Injury Report

It’s Week 8!  The NFL and fantasy leagues are beginning to take shape as we are just around the corner from the halfway mark of the 2022 season!  In week 7 we witness several key players suffer significant injuries.  Breece Hall’s outstanding rookie season is over.  Mike Williams and David Njoku will be sidelined with high ankle sprains and many more.  Let’s dive into the week 8 fantasy football injury report!  As always, you can catch the Fantasy Injury Team Podcast available on Spotify and Apple!

Quarterbacks

Russell Wilson

The reports on the Denver flight to London are so on-brand for Wilson.  Wilson spent four hours on the plane working out and stretching, reportedly doing high knees and various other exercises in the isle of the plane while teammates were resting.  

Wilson, of course, is attempting to return from both a right lat injury and a hamstring strain.  Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett states that Wilson is trending towards playing, but with these injuries, can fantasy players trust him?

The lat is a gigantic muscle that spans the entire back and attaches to the humerus bone, making it highly influential in shoulder motion and throwing.  The lat is stretched during the wind-up of a throw and contracts forcefully to help generate power during the forward motion of a throw.  Because of this, with a lat strain, the range of motion a thrower can go through during the windup may be limited, and the power during a follow-through may be impacted.  Wilson is now a few weeks out from initially injuring his lat, so these issues may be less pronounced but could easily be aggravated.  

The hamstring is involved in running, particularly at top-end speed, as the stress on the hamstring increases dramatically when increasing from 80-100% of a sprint.  Wilson is unlikely to get up to 100% of his maximal sprint, making this injury less impactful from a running standpoint.  However, the force generation for a throw starts from the legs.  If his hamstring is painful or unable to produce maximal force, it could take some pop off of his throw. 

Ryan Tannehill

Tannehill missed a few snaps last week with an ankle injury.  Tannehill was wearing a walking boot after the game, but this is often more precautionary rather than telling about the severity.  Tannehill did not practice Wednesday, but there is little concern for his availability this week.  

Jameis Winston

Winston is officially benched.  Coach Dennis Allen stated that Winston is now healthy from both his lumbar fractures and what is recently being reported as a peroneal tendon injury.  Despite this, Dalton gets the nod this week.

I have discussed Winston’s lumbar injury in previous posts and how any back injury has the potential to impact quarterbacks’ throw power and accuracy.  But we have not had much clarity on his foot injury.

The peroneal tendon, aka fibularis longus tendon, is the tendon that extends from the peroneus longus muscle.  The muscle attaches from the outside of the lower part of the knee and wraps behind the outside of the ankle as it blends into the tendon, which attaches to the underside of the foot.  This muscle-tendon complex is highly involved in foot and ankle mechanics and function.  It functions to provide support to the arch of the foot and supinates the foot when pushing off to run or generate power during a throw.  When injured, the ability to generate power off the foot is hindered. The injury to this tendon and the lumbar fractures help paint a picture of why Jameis was playing so poorly in weeks 2-3.  Despite him being healthy now, it is Dalton’s time.

Matt Ryan

Similar to Winston, Ryan has been benched.  Since Andrew Luck’s surprising retirement, the Colts have been scrambling for a reliable quarterback and repeatedly bringing in aging or underperforming quarterbacks (Brissett, Rivers, Wentz, Ryan) to act as a band-aid for the most important position in sports. 

Not only was Ryan benched, but he suffered a shoulder strain to his throwing arm.  A quarterback needs his shoulder to throw, and injury impacts power and accuracy.  Surprisingly, when quarterbacks return from a shoulder injury, their fantasy stats are not affected much as we only see a decline of 0.7 fantasy points.  Unfortunately for Ryan, this stat won’t matter because he will be on the bench.  He can be dropped in all one QB leagues, and even worth dropping in two QB leagues.

Mac Jones

Jones did not look good last week when he returned from his left high ankle sprain.  I have discussed how this injury could impact his mobility and his accuracy as a right-handed thrower must shift his weight onto the left foot during the follow-through of the throw. 

It was reported that Jones was not 100% healed last week, and the Patriots clearly rushed him back before he was ready.  Rookie Bailey Zappe provided a spark but did not do enough to claim the job, and Jones will start again this week.  I expect Jones to play better as he has had another week to recover as 66% of QBs are meeting or exceeding their pre-injury fantasy output in the second and third games after a high ankle sprain.

Running Backs

Breece Hall

This is so frustrating.  A young rookie emerging into superstardom is now lost for the season.  Hall suffered a combination ACL and meniscus injury in week 7 and will undergo surgery. 

The combination of an ACL and meniscus tear is very common, and typically it is the medial meniscus that is injured.  This occurs because the ACL and medial meniscus share an attachment on the tibia, and the impact stresses both structures.

The problem is that the combination of the two structures slows rehab.  When only the ACL is repaired, the athlete can begin full weight-bearing immediately.  However, if the meniscus needs to be repaired, this automatically leads to 4-6 weeks of non-weight bearing. Muscle atrophy sets in whenever we are non-weight bearing for even just days.  When non-weight bearing for 4-6 weeks, the atrophy of the entire leg is pronounced, this can be mitigated by leg exercises from a treatment table, but this does not offer the same benefits as weight bearing.

The inability to weight-bear for 4-6 weeks will initially set Hall behind in his rehab.  He has 45 weeks from injury to week one next season.  This can be enough time to be ready for week one, but this is not a guarantee.  Since 2017 running backs average taking [Insert average weeks here] to return to the field after an ACL.  This number is somewhat inflated due to Jerrick McKinnon taking two years to return, but even this year alone Dobbins took 56 weeks, and Edwards took 59 weeks to return to the field.

To make matters worse for Hall, running backs do not play well in the first several games when they return from an ACL injury.  RBs average 5.9 fantasy points below pre-injury average in the first game back, and are still averaging 2.7 points below pre-injury average by the 6th game after ACL.  

To be cleared to play after an ACL injury, the player must demonstrate that the surgical leg is within 90% of the non-surgical leg in various strength tests, single-leg balance, and single-leg hop tests.  On paper, 90% comparison to the non-surgical leg sounds pretty good.  But this is the NFL; every little bit counts.  This is why we see it take time to return to form!  These players are cleared to play before they are 100%. 

The good news is Hall absolutely can return to 100%; it just likely won’t be early next season.  Saquon Barkley and Dalvin Cook are tremendous examples of young running backs tearing their ACL and returning to superstardom. 

D’Andre Swift

Swift is FINALLY expected to play this week after missing three games with both an ankle sprain and a shoulder sprain.

Ankle sprains will impact a player’s agility and ability to change direction; this is Swift’s game.  Running backs average 2.4 fantasy points below their pre-injury average in the first game back.  However, Swift is elite; if he plays, you can’t possibly bench him!

Swift’s shoulder injury contributed to him missing three games.  Shoulder injuries can keep a running back off the field but will not impact his efficiency when on the field.  Even when healthy, Swift is in a timeshare with Jamaal Williams, so I do not expect this shoulder injury to impact him at all.

Ezekiel Elliot

Zeke is dealing with both an MCL sprain and a quad bruise sustained last week.  Early reports suggest Elliot is at risk for sitting in week eight. 

Due to the injury, Elliot is dealing with stiffness in his knee.  Stiffness in the knee will occur due to swelling from the MCL sprain and muscle guarding due to both injuries.  Swelling will occupy space in the joint that leads to stiffness.  The knee, in particular, is very prone to swelling and swelling-related stiffness due to the capsule surrounding the joint.  Muscle guarding is a term used to describe reflexive spasms and tightening of muscles to subconsciously protect the joint.  In the knee, this is from the quad and hamstring muscles. 

Treatment for both of these injuries involves gentle range of motion exercises, manual treatments to loosen up the muscle, reduce swelling, and improve flexibility, gentle muscle contractions, progressively increasing weight bearing, and gentle cardio, such as cycling, to help flush out swelling. 

Elliot should be able to return to 100% in a few weeks, depending on the severity of the MCL sprain.  Unfortunately, running backs average a decline of 2.9 fantasy points in the first game after an MCL injury, so fantasy players should manage their expectations when he returns.

James Conner

Conner appears on track to play this week after missing two games due to a rib injury.  As discussed in the past, rib injuries can be very influential in athletics.  The ribs expand and contract with every breath, and several key athletic muscles, such as the pecs, lats, and obliques, attach to the ribs.  The pec and lats, in particular, must create strong contractions to hold onto the football.  When they contract, they pull on the ribs, which can be painful. 

Luckily we don’t see a decline in efficiency when returning from a rib injury.  However, we may see a decline in snap rate.  Along with Conners expected return, Darrell Williams is expected to return.  Conner and Williams will join Eno Benjamin who has been holding his own in their absence.  I expect to see all three backs receiver near equal touches for Arizona.

Chubba Hubbard

Hubbard and D’Onta Foreman have replaced superstar Christian McCaffrey who was traded to San Francisco last week.  Hubbard injured his ankle, paving the way for Foreman to run for 118 yards. 

Hubbard is a shifty back, and his ankle sprain will impact this agility.  Hubbard did not practice to start the week, and we will have to continue to monitor practice reports this week as he attempts to face division rival Atlanta and their 9th-ranked rushing defense.  If Hubbard does play, running backs average 2.4 fantasy points below their pre-injury average when they return from an ankle sprain.

Wide Receivers

Ja’Marr Chase

An absolute Schefter BOMB was dropped Thursday afternoon!  Ja’Marr Chase, who was dealing with a hip flexor injury going into last week’s game, and appeared to re-aggravate it is now out for 4-6 weeks.  This is interesting, as NFL receivers average missing only 1.4 games from hip flexor injuries.  

The duration Chase will be out is telling.  If it were only a minor hip flexor strain, he would not be out this long.  Reports suggest there is boney involvement, such as a fracture.  It is not uncommon to see the rectus femoris muscle, one of the quad muscles and a hip flexor, cause an avulsion fracture.  This is where the tendon pulls the part of the bone it attaches to off the rest of the bone.  An avulsion fracture can often occur in conjunction with a labrum injury as well.  Though, we will have to wait to see if the reports confirm that.  With this time frame, there is a strong chance this is what happened to Chase.

Labrum injury and fracture do NOT always equal surgery.  There are literally millions of people walking this earth with labral tears and function just fine.  In the acute phase of the injury, however, pain and instability make it hard to run and cut.  Rehab consists of range of motion, strengthening of the glutes, and hip rotators, core re-training, and ensuring sound single-leg balance.

This time frame is tough. 4-6 weeks puts him right up to the start of the fantasy playoffs, and it’s always hard to trust a player who hasn’t played in that long.  That said, Chase is ultra-talented, has an elite rapport with his quarterback, and will hold his value when he returns. 

Mike Williams

A painful injury to watch.  Williams’ injury is the textbook mechanism for a high ankle sprain.  Williams’ foot and ankle were turned outwards as it was pinned to the turf while the defender’s body weight propelled Williams’ leg inward.  This rotatory force pulls the tibia bone and fibula bone (the two shin bones) away from one another, injuring the ligaments that hold them together.  This is what a high ankle sprain is. 

A high ankle sprain creates challenges for athletes because of the gapping that occurs from the tibia and fibula being separated.  This gapping creates a “softer” foot and ankle when attempting to push off the ground to run, cut, or jump, making the movement less forceful.  In addition to the gapping, it hurts! Pain inhibits motion and force development.

Williams is expected to miss 2-5 weeks, indicating it is a moderate-severity injury.  Receivers average missing 4.4 games due to a high ankle sprain and score 2.4 fantasy points below their pre-injury average when they return.  With Williams expected to miss up to five weeks, which would be a week 13 return, it is hard to rely on him for the rest of the season.  Even if he returns in week 13, the data shows that he won’t be performing at 100% of his pre-injury fantasy output for a few more weeks. 

Realistically we are looking at the fantasy playoffs for Williams to be reliable again.  Therefore, if fantasy players need to win now, they need to trade him. 

Amon-Ra St. Brown

An electric start to the season has come to a complete halt!  No one in their right mind is questioning ARSB’s talent, but his health has been an issue this season.  Last week, ARSB suffered a “concussion” early in the game, forcing him to exit before making an impact.  Several reports are skeptical if ARSB actually had a concussion or if the new stricter NFL head injury rules are to blame for him not returning.  Either way, if ARSB plays this week he should be at full strength.

Deebo Samuel

The do-everything star picked up a minor hamstring injury last week. Samuel still managed to play 86% of the snaps but did not practice on Wednesday. 

Hamstring injuries impact top-end speed, which is why we see receiver stats impacted more than running back stats.  When a runner increases their speed from 80-100% of a sprint, the load on the hamstring increases dramatically.  It takes 40-50 yards to get up to 100% of a sprint speed, so it makes sense receivers are more impacted.  Running backs simply don’t have enough room to get up to 100%, whereas receivers frequently run more than 50 yards on a route.

Receivers average 2.8 fantasy points below their pre-injury average after a hamstring strain.  That said, Deeblo’s appears minor, and he is elite and could easily put up a great week despite the injury.

DK Metcalf

A lot of concern on Twitter for an ACL tear after watching Metcalf get carted off the field.  A close review of the video suggests otherwise.  With an ACL tear, there is usually either a hyperextension of the knee or a significant knee valgus (caving in).  With Metcalf, we did see a minor valgus, but not significant.  Instead, the amount of force he landed with (on one leg) created a great deal of stress through his patellar tendon, leading to a strain of the tendon. 

[Make sure this twitter video below shows up]  

Metcalf actually got lucky.  Chargers defensive back J.C. Jackson had a very similar mechanism of injury that led to a complete tear of the patellar tendon, requiring season-ending surgery.  Metcalf will still need to rehab before getting back on the field, and the patellar tendon can be tricky.  Tremendous amounts of force from the quad muscles must be transmitted through the patellar tendon during athletic activity.  Running, cutting, and jumping all require the quads to generate power, which pulls on the patellar tendon. 

Clinically, this type of injury is stubborn.  It creates a very sharp pain in the front of the knee that is often debilitating.  This will impact cutting and changing direction more so than straight-line speed, so when Metcalf does return to playing, his deep routes should be unaffected, but anything intermediate may be challenging.

Mike Evans

Evans is nursing a minor ankle sprain.  He is not on the injury report heading into Thursday night’s game against Baltimore’s 26th-ranked pass defense and is a must-start.

Rashad Bateman

Unfortunately Bateman reinjured or as Harbaugh said “tweaked” his foot. Bateman has ten days to get healthy for Week 9. What clouds the situation is that the Ravens’ have a bye in Week 10 so holding Bateman out Week 9 may be on the table.

Previously Written: Bateman returned last week from a mid-foot sprain that kept him out for two games.  The mid-foot is highly involved in all athletic motions.  This is the region of the foot that must undergo deformation during the different phases of gait, and the ability of the foot to supinate is pivotal for athletic ability.

To clarify, when the foot is accepting weight, the mid-foot actually collapses slightly into pronation; this is normal and allows for shock absorption.  When the foot is ready to push off, the midfoot raises up and helps supinate the foot to create a rigid foot to push off the ground with.

When the mid-foot is injured, the mechanisms of pronation and supination can be affected.  This can throw off the normal shock absorption (during pronation) and rigid foot push-off (supination).  These motions can usually be restored during rehab, and if Bateman is back on the field I expect them to be at least part-way restored.  If pain or limitations in pronation and supination persist, it could impact his speed and quickness.

Bateman only put up 42 yards last week, which tells me he was not yet at 100%.  He practiced in full this week and should have a better performance Thursday night, barring any setbacks.

Corey Davis

Corey Davis is dealing with an MCL sprain that occurred in week 7.  Davis did not practice Wednesday and is questionable to play this week.  As mentioned above with Ezekiel Elliot, MCL sprains can lead to swelling in the knee joint, which can cause stiffness and pain.  MCL injuries particularly impact cutting motions more so than straight line running. 

Receivers average missing 2.7 games and score 2.5 fantasy points less than their pre-injury baseline when they return. 

Nico Collins

Collins is dealing with a groin injury and has not practiced this week.  The groin is active in running and cutting and is very important for single-leg stability.  Surprisingly, we do not see much impact on fantasy performance from these injuries.  We will have to continue to monitor his progress in practice reports this week. 

Michael Thomas

Such a frustrating player this year.  Thomas got off to a hot start but has missed four games due to a lingering turf toe.  I have explained turf toe in previous posts, but ultimately it will impact a player’s ability to sprint and change directions.  Hopefully, Thomas will return soon.  His rest-of-season outlook is still positive, as the Saints are a poor team and often need to throw at the end of games. 

Allen Lazard

Lazard picked up a shoulder injury last week and is questionable to play in week 8.  The shoulder is obviously vital for a receiver to reach up to catch a ball, and also must move rapidly during running.  Without full range of motion in the shoulder, a receiver cannot play effectively. 

We do not know the exact tissue injured, and we will have to continue to monitor practice reports to see if Lazard will be available this week. If he does play, that indicates he has the available shoulder range needed, and his per-play production should not be impacted.

Russell Gage

Gage has been ruled out for week 8 due to a setback in his hamstring injury.  Gage has been dealing with a hamstring injury most of the season, starting in the preseason.  These injuries have a high recurrence.  A previous hamstring injury increases the risk for another by 2.7x!

Receivers average missing 1.8 games due to a hamstring injury and score 2.8 points below their pre-injury average in the first game back.

Tight Ends

Mark Andrews

Unfortunately it looks like Andrews has picked up a shoulder injury on Thursday Night Football. I’ll have more info on this injury on next week’s article.

Previously written: Andrews is dealing with a mysterious knee injury that Baltimore has not given us much detail about.  Clearly, it is serious enough to put his week 8 status at risk.  He did not play well in Week 7, and his knee may be to blame.

Since we do not know what tissues are injured, it is difficult to analyze.  What we do know is that Andrews plays Thursday night, making it easy for fantasy players to pivot if he does not play.  A nice pivot play would be his teammate, rookie tight end Isaiah Likely.  I admit there is some bias here, as Likely and I share the same alma mater (Coastal Carolina University).  Bias aside Likely is a very athletic receiver tight end with reliable hands and the speed to get down the field.  Lamar Jackson and the Ravens LOVE tight ends.

David Njoku

Similar to Mike Williams, Njoku suffered a moderate severity high ankle sprain.  A detailed description of high ankle sprains can be found above in the content for Mike Williams. 

Njoku is also expected to miss 2-5 weeks, putting fantasy players in a bind about what to do with him.  Just like Williams, if you need to win now, you need to trade him.

Dalton Schultz

This will be the same every week.  PCL injuries simply do not heal.  What I mean by this is the portion of the ligament that is injured will not form back together.  Recovery from a partial PCL injury has to do with pain and swelling management, and aggravations are frequent.  It is impossible to predict Schultz’s rest of-season outlook, but he will continue to be on the injury report. The good news is Dak Prescott is back and clearly has a great rapport with Schultz. 

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