RotoWire Partners

Injury Analysis: Red Flags for MJD

Jeff Stotts

Jeff Stotts

Jeff Stotts works as a Certified Athletic Trainer (MAT, ATC, PES, CES). He won the 2011 Best Fantasy Football Article in Print from the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.

Most NFL teams have just put on pads but already the hits and injuries are piling up. For those daring to draft this early, let's start with the players still recovering from last year's ailments.

Maurice Jones-Drew

There was a sense of relief in Jacksonville as Jones-Drew was recently medically cleared to return to the field. MJD missed the majority of last season with a Lisfranc fracture suffered in late October. He attempted to treat the injury conservatively before undergoing surgery in December.

Receiving a green light from the medical staff is a testament to MJD's hard work but doesn't necessarily mean he's out of the woods just yet. The Lisfranc joint is located in the midfoot and is an essential part of the integrity of the entire foot. Any lingering discomfort or instability in the area would cause pain and could potentially lead to further reinjury or injury. One of the most common complications associated with the surgery is hardware failure so MJD must show the foot feels good AND is durable. I'd like to see what kind of workload he is able to carry over the next few days and weeks before I would consider taking him anywhere higher than the late second round.

Furthermore the track record for running backs and receivers coming back from a Lisfranc injury does not instill much confidence that Jones-Drew will quickly return to form. Oakland's Darren McFadden endured a similar injury in 2011 before producing a largely disappointing 2012 in which he finished with a career-low 3.3 yards per carry. Additionally, Jets receiver Santonio Holmes has yet to be cleared after sustaining a Lisfranc injury of his own in Week 4 last season. While the severity of Holmes' injury is considered more significant, it's another example of the unpredictability associated with the injury.

If training camp progresses and Jones-Drew continues to see a high number of reps without any complications than opportunistic fantasy owners could get great talent at a discounted price. However, keep in mind there are an abundance of red flags here and anyone selecting Jones-Drew must be willing to exhibit plenty of patience.

Ahmad Bradshaw

If you feel like you reaching on Jones-Drew ask a Bradshaw owner what's it like to own a running back with foot problems. For four seasons Bradshaw has dealt with foot problems, undergoing four surgeries the last two years alone. His initial injury was a fractured fifth metatarsal, specifically a Jones fracture.

The metatarsals are the long bones within the foot that connect the bones of the midfoot to the bones of the toe. While the Lisfranc joint may serve as the linchpin of the foot, the fifth metatarsal sits on the outside of the foot. Here it is able to act as an attachment site for several muscles, but making it particularly vulnerable to fractures when the ankle is forced inward. Unfortunately, the location of Bradshaw's break was in a spot that receives a poor supply of blood, making surgery a necessity to insure proper healing.

Over the years Bradshaw has required additional procedures to repair failed hardware, a common complication I previously mentioned with Jones-Drew. His most recent surgery involved the insertion of a larger screw into the bone. The hope is the larger hardware will be more durable and work better toward creating a true union of the bone, a belief backed up by a recent study that confirmed larger surgical screws are more effective in treating Jones fractures.

Still, I'm avoiding Bradshaw and looking for a more reliable option at running back. He has already demonstrated a high propensity of reinjury and we haven't even factored in his other injuries, including additional ankle problems, which have piled up over the years.

One last note, both Bradshaw and Jones-Drew used the same surgeon, Dr. Bob Anderson, a well-respected foot specialist. Dr. Anderson has successfully worked on numerous players in the NFL, including Matt Schaub, Michael Crabtree and Hakeem Nicks.

Arian Foster

Foster was a name that popped up on the Physically Unable to Perform List that could actually benefit fantasy owners with a mid-to-late first-round pick. Foster has recently been limited by a calf strain that he suffered in OTAs. While it's worth keeping an eye for the immediate future, the move appears to be more precautionary than anything. Furthermore, the situation is remarkably similar to how Foster began the 2011 season. He strained his right hamstring in early August and was limited for a majority of the preseason. He missed two of the team's first three games but finished the year with 1,224 rushing yards, 617 receiving yards and 12 total touchdowns.

This time around the injury is to the opposite leg and happened much earlier than his prior strain. With his previous experience to guide him, there's no reason to believe fantasy owners should hesitate to use a top-5 pick on the Pro Bowler. If other owners are scared off by the PUP designation, feel free to take advantage of the situation as reports are already starting to surface that he could be back at practice by the end of the week.

Percy Harvin

Harvin has been one of the more injury-plagued receivers since entering the league. Chronic migraines and a severe ankle sprain limited him in Minnesota but an offseason trade to Seattle was a chance at a fresh start. However, the transition has not gone as smoothly has hoped, and the wide receiver is weighing his options after suffering a partially torn labrum in his hip.

The labrum of the hip deepens the surface of the pelvis and adds to the stability of the head of the femur. A partial tear to the cartilaginous ring would affect an individual's speed and ability to jump. Although Harvin could elect to play through the injury, it would obviously be painful and severely limiting.

Harvin's other option would be surgery that would cost him a majority, if not all, of the season. He is mulling over his choices after getting a second opinion Tuesday.

Regardless of the ultimate decision, fantasy owners would be wise to look elsewhere. The potential in a healthy Harvin is enticing, but it looks like that isn't going to be possible this season. It's also worth noting that even in his lone healthy season he failed to eclipse 1,000 yards receiving and has never scored more than eight total touchdowns in one season.

TURF BURNS

Jeremy Maclin:
Maclin will miss the entire season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee. This will be the second ACL repair on Maclin's right knee, but the timing of the injury should make him available for training camp in 2014.

Dennis Pitta:
Pitta will also miss the 2013 season after dislocating and fracturing his hip. Surgery has already been performed and no ligament or cartilage damage was discovered.