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In Street Clothes...

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.

In Street Clothes...
by Jeff Stotts
RotoWire Injury Expert

The fantasy playoffs are upon us and that means fantasy owners may face several difficult decisions regarding their playoff roster. While a player may have been an integral part of your squad making the playoffs, owners cannot afford to lose games to injuries in a tightly contested matchup. If a player isn't capable of suiting up for you, remember he can't suit up for anyone else either. Don't hesitate to drop a player that is scheduled to miss several games or is on the verge of being shutdown for the remainder of the season.

Andrei Kirilenko and Luol Deng

Both Chicago's Luol Deng and Utah's Andrei Kirilenko experienced setbacks in their respective battles with calf injuries. Deng has missed four games with a strained left calf and is expected to miss the next several games as well after aggravating the injury when he attempted to test out the leg on Wednesday. Kirilenko also attempted a comeback on Wednesday, but like Deng he aggravated his injury in Utah game against Minnesota.

Calf injuries have been a common injury this season with Deng and Kirilenko joining the likes of Mike Miller and Dwyane Wade as players to miss time with calf strains. As discussed in last week's column, the calf consists of two muscles known as the gastrocnemius and the soleus. These muscles conjoin in the Achilles' tendon and attach to the heel of the foot. Primarily responsible for pointing the foot (plantar flexion), the calf is also utilized in lower leg flexion. The calf is vital in accelerating and jumping, leaving it very susceptible to irritation and aggravation. While Kirilenko and Deng have each had resurgent seasons, the uncertainty surrounding the pair makes them a risky play going forward. Owners fortunate to secure a first-round bye may be able to wait things out but for everyone else it may be time to look elsewhere.

Joe Johnson

Atlanta Hawks All-Star Joe Johnson is also dealing with a calf ailment. However unlike Deng and Kirilenko, Johnson's injury is to his Achilles' tendon and not the muscle itself. Muscle strains can occur within the muscle belly but also in the tendon or neighboring fascia. Regardless of the location, Achilles' strains and tears limit plantar flexion and cause pain that worsens with weight-bearing and running. Johnson's injury is being called soreness, which means it is likely a minor strain. The guard has missed the Hawks' last two contests and is questionable for Friday's contest against the Bobcats. However with Johnson's ability to produce extremely valuable fantasy numbers, he is worth hanging onto and fantasy owners should show patience.

Stephen Jackson

Charlotte guard Stephen Jackson missed a recent practice nursing a bruised right heel. Heel contusions are commonplace in basketball due to the constant stop-and-go action and jumping that occurs within the sport. Fortunately for Jackson, heel contusions are easy to manage. A protective heel cup or shock-absorbent insert can be utilized to limit pain and allow the athlete to participate in activity. Jackson plans on playing Friday but keep an eye on reports out of Charlotte if the condition worsens.

Danny Granger

Injuries continue to pile up for Indiana's franchise player, as Danny Granger will be sidelined indefinitely with a facial injury. Granger sustained the injury when he was inadvertently elbowed in the cheek. Fortunately a CT scan was negative for any serious head or neck injuries but the Pacers will be cautious with their young All-Star. The Indiana athletic training staff will monitor Granger for signs and symptoms of a concussion. A concussion occurs when trauma to the head or face results in a temporary disruption of basic neurological functions such as vision, balance, and memory. Most standard concussion protocols require an athlete to be symptom free for 24 hours before they are allowed to return to play. Injuries and suspensions have forced Granger to miss 22 games already and it appears he will miss at least a few more. Dahntay Jones started in Granger's place on Wednesday but is not a solid fantasy replacement.

Wilson Chandler

New York is considering shutting down Wilson Chandler with a nagging left groin injury. With the Knicks long out of contention, it appears the team will likely avoid taking any risks with the forward. The groin is responsible for adduction and is prime component of lateral movement. Strains of this area can be particularly painful and limiting and often require extended rest. Recently acquired Bill Walker started New York's first game without Chandler, scoring eight points in 23 minutes. While Walker's initial outing was disappointing, he was plagued by foul trouble and has shown a propensity to score. He has scored over 20 points in four games this month, including a 23-point performance against the Mavericks. At this point, Chandler is expendable and Walker is worth consideration.

Stephen Curry

Golden State rookie Stephen Curry received good news on Thursday when an MRI showed no evidence of a fracture in his ailing left ankle. Instead the team is calling it a mild sprain and do not consider the injury significant. Curry initially turned the ankle in pre-game warmups prior to Wednesday's game against New Orleans. On a team marred by injuries, Curry's absence was surprisingly the first game missed for the sharp-shooting rookie. Fantasy owners can breath easy as Curry will travel with the team on its two-game road trip to San Antonio and Memphis. C.J. Watson started in place of Curry but has entered a mini-slump. The veteran has failed to score in double-digits in his last three outings and is too inconsistent to be considered as a suitable replacement.

Thaddeus Young

Just as he was entering a groove, Sixers forward Thaddeus Young will miss an extended period of time with a fractured right thumb and is currently wearing a removable cast on his hand. Fortunately the fracture occurred to his non-shooting hand making a late season return possible. Immobilization and inflammation management is key for a quick return. In the meantime, Andre Iguodala will shift over to the forward spot vacated by Young while Willie Green and Louis Williams will see action at the open guard position.

Article first appeared on 3/20/10