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Rotowire Injury Analysis: Fantasy Football Week 9

I would like to begin this blog by recognizing those who have been affected by Hurricane Sandy as my thoughts are with each of you.  Also, I would like to thank all those who have made donations and given their time to the relief efforts which are still ongoing.  It is times like these that make us recognize how small the game of football, including fantasy football, really is in comparison to the more important things such as our health and the wellbeing of our neighbors.  At the same time though, sports can be a way for communities to join together and also a way to give us a break from our daily troubles and an opportunity to find some joy during times when their seems to be none. 

Let's now take a look at our Week 9 injuries.  There were several injuries this past weekend that could have a significant impact on your fantasy league and probably caused you some valuable points this week and potentially for weeks to come.  Not all of us got lucky and drafted the Chicago Bears Defense for our team so it's important to breakdown this week's injuries to figure out the best way to move forward with our personnel decisions.

Darren McFadden: I think this is probably the highest profile player on this week's injury list so it's only fair to talk about McFadden first.  McFadden suffered an ankle injury on his very first carry of the day and was able to return to the game briefly before calling it a day.  He would later go on to get an xray which was negative (not surprising) which at least rules out a fracture although the real question is how bad is his ankle sprain….the MRI is ordered.  Reports are saying it's a high ankle sprain which is terrible news if you're a McFadden owner or Raider's fan.  Although McFadden was able to return to play for at least a limited time which would argue against a significant high ankle sprain, it still is a high ankle sprain which means that was some injury to the syndesmotic ligaments, those are the ones that give stability to the lower part of the tibia and fibula.  This almost certainly guarantees McFadden will be missing a minimum of 2-3 games with potential to miss even more, especially when setbacks commonly occur as players typically try to return too soon with these injuries.  I don't think anyone can really be surprised that McFadden got injured as it was really only a matter of time given the fact that Michael Bush was let go in the offseason and McFadden was given the lead back role that was surely going to take its toll on him.  I think McFadden has proven with his track record over the past few years that he is most effective when he isn't given the workhorse role similarly to Reggie Bush and Darren Sproles who clearly have legitimate playmaking talent which is why sometimes less is more.  Less touches but more production as it gives them a better chance of staying healthy and in your lineup. 

What does all this mean to your fantasy football team?  There are only a handful of games left in the fantasy football season before playoffs and it looks like McFadden will miss about half of those if you want to be optimistic.  I would say you should definitely go and pick up Mike Goodson if he's available on the waiver wire but Goodson also suffered an ankle sprain after replacing McFadden and was forced to leave the game.  We are not sure how significant this ankle injury is but, nonetheless, you might want to pick up Marcel Reece who will most likely be the starter next week.  I can't really say how effective Reece will be in this Raider's offense but if you're a McFadden owner you probably don't have much choice other than to hope Reece can give you some production until McFadden can hopefully return towards the end of the season and for playoffs.

Percy Harvin: Fantasy owners of Harvin had been monitoring him for his hamstring issues that have been discussed over the past weeks but last weekend he was forced to leave the game due to an ankle injury and did not return.  Once again, he was noted to have no fracture but as we have discussed before, xrays only show bony abnormalities and do not tell us anything about ligamentous injuries which is what happens with an ankle sprain.  An MRI revealed an injury to 3 ligaments and he was spotted on crutches following the game which are all concerning signs for Harvin.  I assume that the 3 ligaments noted to show injury on MRI were his anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL), the calcaneofibular ligament (CFL), and the posterior talofibular ligament (PTFL) which are all commonly involved with a lateral ankle sprain however many times only 1 or 2 of the 3 ligaments are injured.  This means that his ankle sprain is fairly significant as a more powerful force must occur to injure all 3 and usually crutches are not necessary unless the injury is significant enough to cause pain with weight baring.  Obviously if he can't even bare weight on his ankle with walking, we shouldn't expect him to be able to run routes and absorb tackles this upcoming week.

What does all this mean to your fantasy football team?  Harvin has been a valuable fantasy football player and a multidimensional player for the Vikings offense so of course they want him back in their lineup as soon as possible but given all the signs I'm seeing, I think Harvin is definitely out this week and probably the week after as well.  Ultimately, we will have to see how Harvin progresses over the next 1-2 weeks to make better long term predictions but I would look elsewhere for the next couple weeks as even when he does return, he is susceptible to reinjury and will also likely not be at 100|PERCENT| speed upon his return.

Jordy Nelson: I was surprised that the Packers had Nelson in the lineup this past weekend especially since they have a bye next week and they could have really given Nelson some quality time to heal up his hamstring but obviously this was not the case and instead he went out there against Arizona and in the first quarter injured his right ankle.  I'm not saying that his hamstring injury caused him to suffer his ankle injury, but there's no doubt that when a player is not 100|PERCENT| due to some injury, they are more susceptible to other injuries as they don't have the same strength and stability as they usually do.  With this said, after watching the play that Nelson was injured on, I am concerned that he may have a high ankle sprain.  Best case scenario is a medial (inner) ankle sprain due to injury to the deltoid ligament but we can definitely say he does not have the common lateral ankle sprain. 

What does all this mean to your fantasy football team?  We will see how he progresses in practice after the bye week which will ultimately give us an idea of the significance his ankle injury.  Stay tuned for an update following next week. 

Antonio Brown: This past weekend the Pittsburgh Steelers took on the N.Y. Giants  in an emotional game given the circumstances following the devastating storm that hit the East Coast.  During this game, Antonio Brown injured his left leg when he got tangled with another player in the end zone.  At first when he appeared to have a limp, some thought this was due to his shoe falling off but as he came to the sideline he repeatedly grabbed his left foot and then when spotted being attended to by the Steelers medical staff on the sidelines.  The injury report is stating that Brown suffered an ankle injury rather than a foot injury.  This seems odd to me as there did not appear to be a mechanism on the play for an ankle injury and one could see Brown clearly grabbing his foot on the sidelines after the injury.  While I really hope it is an ankle injury for Brown's sake and for his owner's sake, I am concerned that he has suffered this year's well-known injury….the midfoot sprain.  Only time will tell and we will get a better idea for what the injury really is during the course of this week's practice but even if we go with what they are reporting which is a high ankle sprain, we would have to expect him to miss at least a couple games.

What does all this mean to your fantasy football team?  The Steelers are reporting Brown's injury as a high ankle sprain which really makes a return this week unlikely and even next week in doubt.  Either way, there's not enough information to really give us a timetable on his return but this should reveal itself over the next few days as we see if he's present or not for practice.  I would look for a replacement for at least this coming weekend's game and likely the next one as well.

DeMarco Murray:  Back in my Week 6 injury analysis, I stated Murray would miss 2-3 games at a minimum with potential for even more missed time and last week I again urged all Murray owners to consider trades and other means to fill the whole that Murray has left in their lineup as I was concerned this may in fact be a lingering injury that could sideline Murray for even more weeks.  Well, we are looking at Murray missing his 4th straight game this upcoming week as he once again is not practicing which shows he's not even at the stage of testing the foot out yet, let alone actually withstanding forces on the foot that occur in a game.  This is bad news for Murray owners and you have to really ask yourself how bad his injury really is and is there even potential that Murray is gone another few weeks or even for the season after he tries to test the foot out and realizes he just isn't going to be able to cut it.

What does all this mean for your fantasy football team?  Hopefully he's not even on your team anymore and you acted on my previous analysis and sold him when there was hope.  As the weeks go on, he becomes even less valuable sitting on your bench and the light becomes dimmer.  Probably by now, no one in your league will give you very good talent for him which really makes you then decide if you want to take the trade that you feel is unfair because of your preseason expectations for Murray when you drafted him, or do you want to just keep him on your bench and pray that he comes back full force in a few weeks?  I'll leave this one up to you.

Follow me on Twitter @DoctorKenton for more updates/injury analysis in the upcoming games this week.

Wishing all your players quick recoveries,