Posted by Tom Christ

Week Three Injury Report

September 23, 2023

An absolutely crushing amount of injuries in week two led to the week three injury report. We saw Nick Chubb lost for the season, Saquon Barkley will miss some time with a high ankle sprain, and Joe Burrow re-aggravated his calf injury. In the article below, I will break down each injury and give you the insight you need to make the best roster adjustments.

Week Three Injury Report: Quarterbacks

Joe Burrow

Week three injury report

Injury: Calf Strain

Burrow Re-injured his calf in week two. This is not uncommon, as calves carry a 14-16% recurrence rate. This is Burrow’s right calf, and as a right-handed thrower, that means it’s the calf he uses to push off the ground to generate throw power. Both pain and injury can impact a muscle’s ability to generate force. Since throw power comes from the ground up, this calf injury could be why Burrow has struggled to start the season, currently the QB 32 on the year.

Week three injury report

Expected Return: Burrow is questionable for their Monday night matchup against the Rams. If Burrow does not play in week three, I would not expect him to miss week four.

Fantasy Impact: As mentioned above, a calf injury to a quarterback’s push-off leg will impact his ability to create power on his throw. Our sample size is too small to draw statistical conclusions, but the small sample suggests quarterbacks struggle after returning from a calf injury.

Anthony Richardson

Injury: Concussion

The electric rookie signal-caller is on the week three injury report with a concussion. A previous concussion does increase the risk for subsequent concussions.

Expected Return: Concussions are completely unique to each individual, and therefore difficult to predict how long it will take to recover. He has bee ruled out for week three and will have to progress through the NFL’s concussion protocol.

Fantasy Impact: When Richardson is ready to play again, we do not expect any decline in fantasy production secondary to this concussion.

Bryce Young

Injury: Ankle injury (unspecified).

Young has been ruled out for week three due to an ankle injury. Any ankle injury can impact a quarterback’s ability to create power (if it is the back leg) or have a stable follow-through, and thus impact accuracy (if it’s the front leg). Details of his injury have not been provided at this time.

Expected Return: Ruled out for week three. He may return in week four.

Fantasy Impact: We do not know the specifics of Young’s ankle injury. However, neither lateral ankle sprains (most common) nor high ankle sprains appear to correlate with a decline in quarterback fantasy production.

Week Three Injury Report: Running Backs

Nick Chubb

Week three injury report

Injury: Severe multi-structure knee injury.

Chubb’s scary injury highlights the week three injury report. Specifics of Chubb’s injury have still not been released at the time of this writing. We know that Chubb will undergo multiple opinions on the best route for surgery. Reports suggest that he may need two surgeries. With major knee injuries, the more structures involved slows down rehab significantly. Depending on what is being repaired, he may have limitations on range of motion and weight bearing in the first 1-2 months of rehab. Limiting the ability to work range of motion can lead to scar tissue development and lingering stiffness (think JK Dobbins). Forcing someone to avoid weight bearing through a leg for 4-8 weeks will result in rapid loss of muscle mass and strength.

Whatever Chubb’s surgical situation, he likely will have limitations in how much range of motion he can work and will likely not be able to bear weight for several weeks. Chubb will be 28 next season, and at this time, we do not know if he will be ready to start the season, but it seems unlikely.

Week three injury report

Expected Return: TBD

Fantasy Impact: While we do not know the specifics of his injury, it is safe to assume the ACL was torn. Running backs see a decline of 35% fantasy points per game in the first season after an ACL tear. Chubb will be 28 next season, in his first year after this injury, and it is very unlikely he will be near 100% at any point next season. The year after, when it is more likely he is close to fully healed, he will be 29 years old when running backs begin to decline. I hate to say it, as I love Nick Chubb and enjoy watching him play, but it will be a major uphill battle for him to be a star in this league again. In my opinion, if you have him in dynasty leagues, you should try to get whatever you can for him.

Saquon Barkley

Injury: High ankle sprain.

Finally, we got clarity on Barkley’s ankle injury. As it looked, he admitted it was a high ankle sprain that caused him to miss week three. High ankle sprains are more concerning than lateral ankle sprains. With a high ankle sprain, the tissues that hold the tibia and fibula bones snug together are injured. This can lead to separation of the tibia and fibula bones, leading to instability in the ankle. This instability makes it difficult to generate power when running or cutting. Imagine when healthy you are able to push off solid grass, whereas with a moderate-severe high ankle sprain, it’s like pushing off of sand; you can’t generate as much force!

We don’t know the severity of Saquon’s high ankle sprain, but it appears to be somewhere between mild and moderate. Re-injury rates are high, as medical research shows that an athlete who has had an ankle sprain has a 26% chance of re-spraining that ankle.

Expected Return: Week 4-5

Fantasy Impact: Barkley’s game is well-rounded, but part of what makes him great is his lateral agility. This may be impacted in the first game or two when he returns from this injury. Running backs surprisingly don’t show any decline in fantasy production when they return from a high ankle sprain. However, I believe this to be a coincidence rather than a correlation. It would be naive to expect no drop in athleticism when returning from this injury. That said, Saquon is so good that whenever he returns, you play him.

Austin Ekeler

Injury: Ankle sprain.

The Chargers have been vague with reporting on their star running back’s ankle injury. The play he got hurt on sure looked like a high ankle sprain. High ankle sprains are notoriously worse than lateral ankle sprains. This is because a significant enough high ankle sprain causes the two shin bones, the tibia and fibula, to separate away from one another. Normally, these two bones sit snuggly on a foot bone called the Talus. This connection allows the foot and ankle to create a powerful push-off when running and cutting. With a high ankle sprain, this connection can be thrown off, leading to “instability” in the ankle. This makes the push-off much less powerful. Compare it to cutting on grass versus sand. Ekeler has not practiced this week and is questionable for week three.

Expected Return: Week 4-6. Coach Brandon Staley stated, “We’ll see how it goes over the next few weeks,” which does not boast confidence in a swift return. Additionally, LAC has their bye in week 5.

Fantasy Impact: Despite the clear mechanical compensations from a high ankle sprain, somehow, running backs, on average, see no decline in fantasy production. I believe this to be a coincidence rather than the expected trend. If Ekeler does play this week, it is reasonable to expect a dip in production, but not enough to keep him out of your lineups.

Aaron Jones

Injury: Hamstring

Aaron Jones logged a few limited practices this week after he missed week two with a hamstring injury. Hamstring injuries will impact acceleration and top-end sprinting and carry a high re-injury risk. Running backs averaged missing 2.2 games. At this time, Jones is truly questionable.

Expected return: Weeks 3-5

Fantasy Impact: Surprisingly, running backs see no decline in fantasy production or snap rate in the first game after a hamstring injury. When Jones returns, you start him.

David Montgomery

Injury: Thigh injury

Montgomery went out of the week two matchup with a thigh injury and is expected to miss a few weeks. This is likely an injury to the quad muscle which is one of the strongest and most important muscles in athletics. The quad is highly active in sprinting and cutting, and when injured, these athletic moves will be limited. When Montgomery returns, re-injury rates hover around 10%.

Expected Return: Weeks 4-5

Fantasy Impact: Running backs see a decline of about 15% in fantasy production in the first game after a quad injury. Montgomery has been off to a hot start this year, but this injury could have the potential to hinder his first game or two back.

Derrick Henry

Injury: Toe injury

Derrick Henry started out on the week three injury report with a toe injury, of which he is now fully cleared for Sunday. While toes are small, they can have a big impact on sports. Typically it is the big toe that is injured, leading to turf toe. When we run, the big toe must extend up to 90° upward. If injured, this will be painful, or lose the ability to control this motion. If severe enough, this has the ability to impact top-end speed, cutting, and power. Henry’s injury was never considered severe, so this is not likely to be a severe injury that would impact production very much.

Expected Return: Week 3

Fantasy Impact: In many instances, toe injuries can be a deterrent to running backs. With Henry off the injury report, I would not expect this to slow him down much this week.

Jamaal Williams

Injury: Hamstring injury

Williams exited Monday night’s game with a hamstring injury and does not appear on track to play this week. Hamstring impact sprinting and acceleration and have a very high recurrence rate. Running backs average missing 2.2 games, and Dennis Allen has stated that Williams will miss some time. Medical research suggests that when a player has had a hamstring injury in-season, they are 5 times more likely to suffer another that season. There are a number of reasons for this. The hamstring is such a big powerful muscle that it is hard to off-load and allow to fully heal. It is also hard to know exactly when a player is ready to return. The tissue quality typically does not heal as strong as it was before the injury, making it more prone to injury, especially when rushed back to the field.

Expected Return: Weeks 5-6

Fantasy Impact: The good news is running backs see no decline in fantasy production or snap rate in the first game after a hamstring injury. This differs from wide receivers, who do see a notable hit in production. This is because the hamstring impacts top-end sprint speed the most, and running backs often don’t have enough space to get up to full speed.

Kendre Miller

Injury: Hamstring injury

Miller missed out on an opportunity to play in weeks 1-2 as Alvin Kamara continues to serve his three-game suspension. Miller has been dealing with a hamstring injury but will return this week. Miller profiles as a potential breakout candidate, but his NFL career has started slow due to injuries. Miller underwent surgery for an MCL tear in the winter and dealt with another knee injury earlier in camp. The biggest predictor for future injury is prior injury, so let’s hope Miller can put these injuries past him. Hamstrings, as mentioned above with Williams, have very high recurrence rates.

Expected Return: Week 3

Fantasy Impact: Somehow, we see no decline in fantasy production or snap rate for RBs after a hamstring injury. With Jamaal Williams and Alvin Kamara out, Miller could be a sneaky play this week.

Isaiah Pacheco

Injury: Hamstring injury

Pacheo is on the week three injury report with what Andy Reid is describing as a hamstring injury but “not a tear”. Reid states Pachecho is day-to-day with the injury and remains questionable.

Expected Return: Week 3-4

Fantasy Impact: Just like Williams and Miller above, no decline in fantasy production is seen in RBs after a hamstring injury.

Week Three Injury Report: Wide Receivers

Jaylen Waddle

Injury: Concussion

Waddle is dealing with a concussion, but as of this writing, he has not been ruled out for week three. He will have to make it through the NFL’s concussion protocol prior to returning to play. Practicing limited on Friday is encouraging, but we will have to wait and see.

Expected Return: Week 3-4

Fantasy Impact: We do not expect to see any decline in wide receiver fantasy production when returning from a concussion.

Amon-Ra St. Brown

Injury: Toe injury

Amon-Ra is dealing with a toe injury that is not believed to be serious. Toe injuries do have the potential to slow down speed and explosiveness due to the big toe’s role in running and cutting. Typically, the less severe toe injuries do not impact players and have much less potential to linger, whereas grade 2-3 toe injuries in which true tissue damage has occurred are much more likely to impact play and linger. With St. Brown listed as day-to-day and gradually increased participation in practice throughout the week, it is unlikely his is very severe.

Expected Return: Week 3-4

Fantasy Impact: A toe injury certainly could slow down a receiver, but this does not appear to be serious. St. Brown is a target hog and should still be productive despite this injury.

Brandon Aiyuk

Injury: Shoulder injury

Aiyuk is dealing with a non-specified shoulder injury. CT scan was negative for clavicle fracture, which is good. Since they were looking at the clavicle, it is possible he is dealing with an Acromioclavicular (AC) joint injury. With shoulder injuries in wide receivers, the re-injury rate will be elevated slightly, but since the shoulder is not a weight-bearing joint, it does not impact athleticism like sprinting, cutting, jumping, etc.

Expected Return: Week 3-4

Fantasy Impact: As long as he is healthy enough to play, this should not impact his per-play production. However, we see a dip of 10-15% snap rate in receivers in the first game after a shoulder injury.

DK Metcalf

Injury: Rib injury

We often misunderstand how involved the ribs are in athletics. As we breathe, the ribs must expand and recoil. When a rib injury is present, this hurts, and often the body’s response is to shorten the depth of the breath to lessen the motion of the ribs. When we are competing in athletics, respiration rate increases and the frequency of rib motion increases, which can be painful.

Several key athletic muscles attach to the ribs, including the lats, pecs, obliques, and several more. When reaching up to catch a ball, the lats are being stretched, and the obliques are either contracting to contort the body or bracing to absorb the hit. If the rib injury is near the attachment of these muscles, this can hurt but also limit shoulder or trunk motion.

Fortunately, Metcalf’s rib injury does not appear serious, and he should play.

Expected Return: Week 3-4

Fantasy Impact: Since his injury is minor, I would not expect this to negatively impact his production

Christian Watson

Injury: Hamstring injury

Watson is a burner. The hamstring’s force increases dramatically when an athlete’s speed increases from 80-100% top speed. This is why hamstrings are such a problem for receivers. In order to get to top speed, it takes 30-40 yards, a distance only receivers run routinely in games. Watson has already injured this same hamstring once prior and will be at an elevated re-injury risk for several weeks.

Expected Return: Week 3-4

Fantasy Impact: Unlike running backs, receivers see a hit of 10% fantasy production and nearly 16% snap rate in the first game after a hamstring injury. A 10% decline is not dramatic, but it can be impactful. Fantasy players will have to determine if Watson is worth starting based on their individual roster construction.

Kadarius Toney

Injury: Toe injury

Similar to St. Brown above, a toe injury can impact a receiver’s speed and explosion. Toney lives on speed and explosiveness, so I would expect this to impact his game. Toney was a limited participant in practice Friday and remains questionable for Sunday.

Expected Return: Weeks 3-5

Fantasy Impact: Possibility to see a decline in production as Toney relies on speed and quickness, which may be impacted.

Odell Beckham Jr.

Injury: Ankle injury

Beckham is dealing with an unspecified ankle injury. Any ankle injury could impact a receiver’s ability to make crisp cuts, which is what has made Odell great in his career. The presence of an ankle sprain leads to a 26% increased chance of re-spraining this season.

Expected Return: Week 3-4

Fantasy Impact: Receivers see an 11% dip in fantasy production and an 8% dip in snap rate in the first game after an ankle sprain. Beckham is hardly fantasy-relevant and should not be started.

Week Three Injury Report: Tight Ends

Logan Thomas

Injury: Concussion

Thomas is on the week three injury report as he did not practice Wednesday, putting him behind on his ability to pass through the NFL’s concussion protocol.

Expected Return: Week 3-4

Fantasy Impact: We do not expect a decline in fantasy production when returning from a concussion.

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