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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

Surgery is a word that sends chills down a fantasy owner's spine, especially when it is associated with a top fantasy option. Fortunately surgeries today are not as evasive as in the past and through advancement in modern medicine and physical rehabilitation techniques, players are recovering quicker and missing less time due to injury. Even serious procedures like anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction and the once feared microfracture surgery have seen their success rates improve while their recovery time dips. Recently several players have gone under the knife to repair injuries but thanks to evolving technology still may be available for the fantasy playoffs.

Jason Terry

The reigning Sixth Man of the Year will undergo facial surgery on Friday to repair facial injuries that include a fractured orbital bone. Terry was initially injured on Wednesday when he took an inadvertent elbow from Minnesota's Corey Brewer. While the JET was able to return for the fourth quarter, the swelling increased after the game before it was determined surgery would be required.

While the specifics of the injury have not been released, it is likely the break occurred to the medial orbital floor, the weakest part of the orbit. The surgery will repair the fracture site and Terry's recovery time will depend on the severity of the break as well as any issues related to the eye. If the fragment is displaced then the length of recovery time needed is increased. For example, Toronto swingman Hedo Turkoglu missed two games earlier in the season after suffering a non-displaced fracture and did not require surgery. On the flipside All-Star Joe Johnson suffered a displaced orbital fracture in the 2005 playoffs when he played with the Suns. He underwent surgery and missed six games for Phoenix before returning to action.

Terry has a history of returning early from injury, most notably last season when he missed just eight games after undergoing surgery to repair a fractured metacarpal bone in his hand. Regardless of when he returns, Terry will likely wear a protective mask similar to the one made famous by Detroit's Richard Hamilton. Expect the Mavericks to release a more definitive timetable sometime later today or over the weekend before dropping Terry outright. JJ Barea and rookie Roddy Beaubois should see an increase in minutes while recently-acquired Caron Butler will shoulder more of the offensive load for Dallas.

Shaquille O'Neal

The Cleveland Cavaliers center underwent surgery on March 1 to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb. O'Neal's injury was detailed in last week's column and the Cavaliers elected to undergo surgery over the weekend after the Big Diesel visited with a hand specialist. The recovery time is between six to nine weeks for an injury of this magnitude and O'Neal is optimistic he will return on the early end of that timeframe. While a six-week return would make him available for the championship round of most fantasy leagues, it appears Shaq's impact on the fantasy season is over.

Chris Paul

The return of CP3 appears to be on the horizon for New Orleans as their point guard continues to recover from arthroscopic surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his left knee. Paul has missed the Hornets' last 16 games since injuring the knee in a matchup against the Bulls. World-renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews carried out the surgery in which a small segment of the cartilage disc was excised. There is a general misconception that all meniscus tears are surgically repaired. While a repair is frequently utilized when the injury occurs to the outer portion of the disk, often a tiny tear is not repaired but instead removed or "cleaned up". It should also be noted that a partial menisectomy allows for a quicker recovery.

Paul continues to aggressively rehab but has yet to be cleared to run. The normal progression of rehab would require Paul to begin with straight-line running before he would be cleared to cut and pivot. From there he would begin basketball-related activity before he returned to game action. Despite the impressive play of rookie Darren Collision, the Hornets have gone 6-10 without their All-Star in the lineup and sit in the 10th spot in the West, five games out of the playoffs. If the Hornets do not improve in the coming weeks New Orleans may consider shutting Paul down for the remainder of the season. Fantasy owners that have shown patience with the fantasy stud thus far should continue to show restraint until more information is provided. However if your team is struggling and a late playoff is necessary it may be time to let go of CP3.

Monta Ellis

Golden State continues to play without their leading scorer as Ellis nurses a lower back strain. Low back strains are one of the most commonly occurring injuries and can prove to be one of the more difficult injuries to overcome. Low back strains can develop due to congenital or preexisting conditions but Ellis' injury appears to be the result of a traumatic incident or fatigued muscles. The muscles of the spine are a key component of the body's core muscles and a strain to this area can be detrimental to an athlete's ability to perform dynamic movements. When discussing the core muscles or the body's core, many people tend to focus on the abdominal. However the core group not only includes the back and abdominals but also the obliques, the diaphragm, and to a lesser extent some shoulder muscles including the trapezius. A weakness or limitation any of these muscles can disrupt the body's normal abilities and cause an imbalance in the system.

Rehabilitation will focus on limiting pain while improving the strength and elasticity of the lower back muscles. Ellis is a quick and explosive guard that needs a strong and pain-free core to perform to the best of his abilities. With the Warriors out of contention it may be time for fantasy owners to look elsewhere if Ellis is unable to return to action soon. They needn't look far as Golden State's offense friendly system and Ellis' absence have allowed guards CJ Watson and Anthony Morrow to become hot commodities for fantasy owners.

Article first appeared on 3/5/10