RotoWire Injury Report
RotoWire Injury Expert
Week 2 was a little easier on the injuries than Week 1, but it seems the downtick was fluke, not pattern. Week 3 is once again a big week for injuries both in terms of quality and quantity. If you read down the list of names we'll talk about in this column, it looks like the first couple rounds of a draft. Steven Jackson, Vince Young, Brian Westbrook, Shaun Alexander, and the list goes on and on and on. It seems that the difference between winning and losing, both on the field and in the fantasy field, could come down to minimizing the damage injuries do to your team. I can help with that, so let's get to it.
Reason #234 why not to trust the official injury reports: Steven Jackson wasn't even on the league-mandated post-game injury report despite the team obviously knowing about his Grade II strained groin. Ignore the descriptors used in this story like "partially torn." As you know by now, all strains are muscle tears. The accurate term here is that there's a significant strain, but the muscle is structurally intact. The tear will heal, and there is no rupture. The question now is how long it will take to heal and how it will affect him once he's back. Given the nature of his position and the location of the strain, which sources tell me is "very high" on the muscle, this is pretty bad. Jackson's going to have the most problem with quick lateral movement, and if you've seen him play, he does a lot of hops and cuts. He could make the adjustment to a more powerful, drop-the-pads style, and you may see that over the first few games back, though this is going to be a bigger problem given all the injuries to the Rams line. Ideally, Jackson could follow his blockers for yardage, popping out, but now he's following too many second-stringers to count on that strategy leading to many points. Every year, we have RBs that are consensus first rounders fall this way, and I'm beginning to wonder if our risk adjustments are big enough.
I escaped the embarrassment of an 0-3 start in an experts league by the skin of my teeth. When Deuce McAllister went down in the first half, I lost my second running back of the season and worse, he was my No. 2 behind Brandon Jacobs. (See, RB injuries are about as unpredictable as they come, making those risk adjustments higher across the board.) Worse, reports are that McAllister has a torn ACL in his left knee. That makes a matching pair for the aptly named Deuce, who came back from the same injury in his right knee for the 2006 season. This is a big negative for McAllister and the Saints this season, as he's done for the year, but there's no reason to think that he can't return again with similar results. There would be more worry if this was an "ACL plus" injury, but my sources are telling me that this is a pretty straightforward turf injury. One note - ignore reports that he was having trouble with the left knee prior to the game. It was his rebuilt right knee that had some minor swelling and was mentioned on the injury report. If you're in the same boat as me with McAllister on your roster, it's time to start scanning the waiver wire. If you own Reggie Bush, you now have the Saints only productive running back, though Aaron Stecker should see more touches.
Results are what matter, but sometimes, we can be decieved. Vince Young didn't appear to be having any problems in the second half of Monday's game, passing well, though we got a great shot of him warming up and wincing a bit with each throw. The wrist doesn't appear to be a problem, but without the in-game treatment, the wrist might show some more symptoms this week. Again, we'll have to wait for practice reports, though I'm not concerned here. One last question ... Michelle Tafoya pointed out the bloody spot on Young's arm after he came back out in the second half. Why did he need an IV at all? He had an injured wrist. Go ahead, Titans. I want to hear this explanation.
No, I'm not concerned in the least about Shaun Alexander. News that he has a broken bone in his wrist is interesting, in the sense that we now know exactly why he's been wearing the brace. Still, the focus has to be on results, not semantics and for that, there's no change at all in his status. Alexander has been playing pretty well for the Seahawks with the brace, and the news won't change that. Part of being a medhead is understanding what information is significant and what is trivia.
It's one thing to guess about an injury, relying on book knowledge and percentages, but when it comes to confusing ones like Brian Westbrook's, the type that seems to change from day to day rather than week to week, the only way to really get a grasp on it is to get on the phone. My best source tells me that Westbrook's knee is not swelling significantly after activity, a big change from last year and that he's "learned to deal with the pain. He's used to it." That's hardly a positive, but it gives us more insight into what is actually happening with the knee. I noted last week that it wasn't the same knee problem as plagued him during 2006 that he was dealing with now. Instead, it's a very mild sprain of the MCL in addition to the "low grade grinding his knees will always do." If we're focusing on results not semantics, then Westbrook, risk and all, leaps into the elite level. If you have him, play him and ignore as much about his knee as you can.
The Niners take a tough blow as the muscular Vernon Davis has yet another injury. Just as he seemed to be getting involved in the offense, he's now out for the next month with a sprained MCL. The bye week will extend his recovery time a bit without the fantasy hit, but it's still the loss of at least two games, having to get re-integrated into the offense, and comes on the heels of last year's broken leg, making many wonder if Davis is too injury prone to establish himself as an elite TE. The upside is that he's more a power TE than shifty receiver, so once he's able to get back in, the knee injury shouldn't affect his style of play significantly.
The Bills have enough issues that they didn't need to lose their leaders. J.P. Losman will miss at least two weeks with a sprained MCL, though sources are telling me that it's all going to depend on Losman's response to treatment. One source believes that Losman's immobility will actually work in his favor here. "He's not Bledsoe, but you're not going to see him dancing around. He just needs a stable platform to throw from." Expect him back and braced a bit faster than most will predict. The news isn't as good on the defensive side where rookie Paul Posluszny was establishing himself as a cold-weather Zach Thomas. Posluszny's out for the year with a broken forearm. Downgrade the Bills defense even further.
Elbow "strain" says John Fox about his QB, Jake Delhomme. Since a strain is a tendon or muscle tear, we can assume that the damage wasn't structural, but supportive, when Delhomme was slammed on his throwing elbow by John Abraham. Or can we? "It hyperextended a bit and put some pressure on the ligaments, just as you'd expect." That would be a sprain and much more in line with what we'd expect from that type of mechanism. Either way, it looks as if Fox will turn to David Carr to be ready, if not start. We'll wait to see whether Delhomme practices much this week, but if you've been using Delhomme and riding his solid results, it's time to warm up Plan B. David Carr is a serviceable option in deeper leagues if he plays, and last we checked, he was unowned in 75 percent of Yahoo! Sports leagues.
The news on Andre Johnson is pretty negative. After being immobilized all week, he's just beginning to get some range of motion in his injured left knee. The sprained PCL is still swollen and painful, meaning he's out for this week and probably one more, though sources tell me that surgery is an option that's been discussed over the last week. Johnson's rehab will take an important step this week as the process gets a little more aggressive. His response to that will be key. The key we're looking for is running, and once you see that, it's the stage where you can try to steal Johnson for your roster.
Note to Ahman Green: The pointy beard and braids aren't the best look. It's fine if you're rushing for 1,000 yards. Do that and you can wear a pink tutu to practice, but at this stage of your career -- you know, the rapid decline stage -- it just looks silly. Green's knee is going to be a problem all season long, but like Brian Westbrook without the production, Green should be a week to week decision. With Ron Dayne back from a chest injury and some depth with Samkon Gado, Gary Kubiak has options when it comes to the running game. For fantasy players, none of those options is very good.
We didn't get to see much from Kevin Jones last week, but what we did see gives hope. Jones didn't do much cutting and certainly didn't put on a show during his limited action, but he was on the field and better, had no problems afterwards. Jones should get more in the mix at practice this week which should give him more action in the games. He's not yet ready to get significant carries and seems destined for a third-down role for the first half of the season, but Tatum Bell's leaving the door open, and Jones is a better fit for the offense. Calvin Johnson is a great fit, but he took a very hard fall, leaving his back bruised and painful. There's not much more here than that, but is it enough to keep him out next week? That depends on his response to treatment, something we don't really know about Johnson. Natural athletes sometimes don't heal quickly, so watch to see that he's practicing normally by Friday.
Bumps and Bruises: Remember what I said about Donovan McNabb not liking his brace? Yeah, not wearing it seemed to make a difference ... Jay Cutler had an MRI on his "mild ankle sprain." Keep your eye on this one with Patrick Ramsey the backup ... No one in Browns camp seems too worried about Kellen Winslow's shoulder soreness or his knees for that matter ... The Ravens never said the word, but Todd Heap had a concussion in Week 3. He's likely to play unless there's significant post-concussion symptoms this week ... Eddie Kennison will miss another game for the Chiefs, though he made progress in the last week ... Santana Moss is out for Week 4 with a groin strain, but so are the Redskins. Off, that is. The team doesn't have a groin strain. It's mild enough that the off week could have it healed up in time for the team's return.
[Carroll is the author of several books, including Juice: The Real Story of Baseballís Drug Problems and Saving the Pitcher, writes the "Under the Knife" column for Baseball Prospectus and comes to us after serving as the injury expert for the short-lived The Fantasy Show on ESPN last season.]
Article first appeared 9/25/07