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Injury Analysis: Still Waiting on Rodgers

Le'Veon Bell
If you were gathered around the TV late Thanksgiving night you likely witnessed one of the scarier injuries of the season. Late in the Steelers loss to the Ravens, Bell suffered a concussion following a violent hit at the goal line. Bell's helmet fell off and the running back crumpled to the turf. Bell was clearly unconscious and his hands and arms went rigid in a condition known as the fencing response. The fencing response is a neurological motor response following a significant head injury. This type of abnormal posturing is used as an indicator of head trauma, particularly to the brainstem. Bell has displayed other concussion-related symptoms including both anterograde and retrograde amnesia, meaning he cannot recall events before and after the hit. The rookie will have to complete the NFL's mandated concussion policy in order to play.

Another troublesome aspect of the collision was the fact that Bell's helmet was dislodged from his head. When a helmet comes off that easily, it's a good sign that the helmet did not properly fit the player. The value of a helmet is driven on the idea that the headgear is appropriately fitted to the individual's head. There are specific guidelines to helmet fitting that can help insure effectiveness. For example when helmets are first tried on, a player should wet their head and hair to simulate how the helmet will fit when the athlete begins sweating. These steps must be carried out for the athlete to be properly protected. If a player is continually having helmet issues than he's a high risk for a head injury.

Percy Harvin
Harvin was drafted in multiple formats in hopes of a late season resurgence. However fantasy owners have to keep in mind that injured players like Harvin and even San Francisco's Michael Crabtree have to be considered nothing more than lottery tickets. The odds of it working out aren't in your favor and you have to be prepared to lose. The chances of the Harvin ticket paying out continue to dwindle as the Seattle receiver is still dealing with hip pain associated with offseason surgery. Harvin reportedly needed a cortisone injection in the joint to help treat lingering inflammation that was resulting in soreness. While the injections will help with the swelling and indirectly help with the pain, chronic inflammation is a good indicator that the joint is not fully recovered from the labrum repair performed in late July. Harvin has been limited when he has played and relying on him to produce during the fantasy playoffs would be an unnecessary risk. Look elsewhere for the remainder of the season and hope a lengthy offseason can prove beneficial for the often-injured wideout.

Aaron Rodgers
The former MVP will undergo tests this week to determine the integrity of his fractured collarbone. If the developed callus is deemed strong enough to withstand contact then Rodgers could be back for a must-win game against the Falcons. If Rodgers is unable to play then a Week 15 return may come down to the outcome of a game in which he will not be an active participant. Green Bay's playoff odds would take a substantial hit with a loss to Atlanta and the Packers would strongly lean toward shutting down their franchise quarterback for the remainder of a lost season.

Turf Burns

Jay Cutler: Chicago's upcoming contest against Dallas remains Cutler's target date to return but the team still considers him week-to-week. Cutler, recovering from a high ankle sprain suffered November 10, would be a risky play with the team not playing until Monday night. Josh McCown would remain the starter if Cutler is ruled out.

Lance Dunbar: Dunbar suffered a posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) injury in his left knee that will require surgery and end his season. Dunbar has not been a particularly useful fantasy player but the injury does move Joseph Randle up the depth chart. Randle will continue to backup starter DeMarco Murray, a talented but injury prone back.

Andre Ellington: A mysterious knee injury suffered during practice kept Ellington on the sidelines Sunday. The Cardinals have not revealed what is causing the rookie running back's knee pain but were obviously concerned enough to keep him out of game action. Closely monitor his workload during the week to see if he will be available against the Rams in Week 14. If he can't go then Rashard Mendenhall would assume the starting role.

Rashad Jennings: The Raiders running back was yet another player to suffer a concussion in Week 13. However since Oakland played on Thanksgiving, he will receive an additional three days of rest. Rest and minimal activity is the only true treatment for a concussion so Jennings will have a minor advantage in completing the concussion protocol. However the recovery varies from person to person and he will likely be a game-time decision. If Jennings can't play then former starter Darren McFadden would be asked to takeover.

Calvin Johnson: Megatron took his customary day off on Monday to rest his ailing knee. Johnson has routinely done this for the past two seasons and there's no reason to believe he won't play and produce Sunday against the Eagles.

Jordan Reed: The Redskins tight end experienced a reoccurrence of symptoms associated to his concussion and was unable to play Sunday night against the Giants. He had previously completed the NFL concussion protocol but reported headaches during pregame warm-ups. Reed will now be placed back into the protocol and will likely be a game-time decision once again.

Ben Tate: Tate will have a short week of recovery with the Texans slated for a Thursday night game against the Jaguars. The Houston running back has been playing with fractured ribs and recently suffered a minor ankle injury. His availability seems to center around his pain tolerance and Tate has shown no signs of slowing down.

DeAngelo Williams: A quadriceps injury kept Williams out of the lineup Sunday in a win over Tampa Bay but he remains hopeful about a Week 14 return. However given Williams' erratic numbers and the location of the injury it would be wise to search out other options. The quad is responsible for hip flexion and knee extension and any limitation would significantly hamper his ability to run.

Jeff Stotts is a Certified Athletic Trainer, MAT, PES and the Injury Analyst for You can follow him on twitter @RotoWireATC.