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Injury Analysis: Don't Call it a Comeback

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.

Sam Bradford
Bradford's bounce-back campaign is over before it even had a chance to begin. Bradford suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee last October that was surgically repaired shortly thereafter. He progressed through rehab smoothly and was cleared to return to play prior to the start of training camp. Unfortunately in his second preseason appearance, he tore the same ACL despite wearing a brace on the affected joint.

The injury ends his season and is the perfect example that not all ACL recoveries go as smoothly as Adrian Peterson's. Peterson remains the exception, not the standard, and each individual responds differently during treatment. However given that Bradford completed rehab and was cleared by a professional medical team, it is reasonable to assume that the Rams felt the chances of injury or re-injury were minimal. Bradford wearing a brace should have only reduced the amount of associated risk. Unfortunately low-risk doesn't mean all risk has been eliminated and Bradford had the great misfortunate of having his knee pushed back at the proper angle and degree of force to tear his graft. His season is now over and he will need to go back under the knife. His familiarity with the procedure and rehab process will help and Bradford should be ready for training camp in the summer of 2015.

LeSean McCoy
For the second straight week McCoy makes an appearance in the column. After a minor case of turf toe, McCoy's latest injury involves his thumb. The top-rated fantasy weapon in Rotowire's current rankings injured his left thumb in the team's preseason game against the Steelers. Fortunately for those that have already drafted, McCoy appears to have dodged a bullet after x-rays and a MRI failed to uncover any bone or ligament damage. The Eagles have not specified what the injury actually is but knowing a significant sprain or fracture has been ruled out is reassuring.

McCoy insists he will be available for Week 1 and that the injury will not limit his ability to take a handoff or catch a pass. However if the joint is still tender when the season starts it could negatively affecting his ability to secure the ball. A small risk of fumbles is no reason to pass on McCoy and his spot atop the rankings remains secure.

Cam Newton
Newton suffered a hairline rib fracture in Carolina's preseason blowout loss to New England. The mobile quarterback, who spent the offseason recovering from ankle surgery, should still be available for Week 1 but the injury is another step back for a suddenly suspect fantasy option.

The injury itself is simple. An isolated rib in the ribcage was cracked in a straight-line pattern. The injury was initially ruled a back contusion, indicating the fracture is likely on the posterior aspect of the rib. Most ribs connect directly to the thoracic region of the spine but fortunately for Newton this joint appears intact.

The bone is unlikely to heal by Week 1 but fantasy owners should expect the former Heisman winner to take the field against the Buccaneers. For Newton playing will likely become an issue of pain management. Previous quarterbacks have received pain-killing injections prior to taking the field, but it won't guarantee anything. Newton is likely to aggravate the area with throwing and any violent torsion. A direct blow to the area could also illicit pain even if Newton elects to wear one of the numerous rib protectors available.

This injury should serve as another reminder of the dangers of heavily investing in Newton. His rushing yards are nice but it's hard to imagine he will reproduce last season's numbers with a still healing ankle and now a painful rib injury. Factor in a weakened offensive line and an inexperienced receiving corps and it's easy to understand why his fantasy value is diminishing.

Wes Welker
The veteran receiver suffered his third concussion in the past 10 months, leaving his status for Week 1 unknown. Welker suffered two concussions last season, including one that forced him out of Denver's final three regular season games. Since then he has been wearing a helmet designed to help further reduce the force from blows to the head. However the only way to completely prevent a concussion from occurring is to eliminate the activity that causes them in the first place. A previous concussion does not increase an individual's chances of a concussion but it does factor into the related symptoms. The effects of multiple concussions are cumulative, meaning they build on one another. As a result, Welker is more likely to experience longer lasting and more significant symptoms. The Broncos medical team is fully aware of what is at stake and will take the necessary measures to protect their player's long-term health and quality of life. With that being said, don't be surprised to see Welker sit for the first week or two of the season. He still has considerable upside given the explosiveness of Peyton Manning and the Denver offense but fantasy owners should take the necessary steps to protect their investment.

Turf Burns

Montee Ball: Denver's starting running back looked sharp in his first action since undergoing an appendectomy. He touched the ball on Denver's first five plays and finished with four carries for 13 yards and four receptions for 21 yards. Ball should be inline for a big year, particularly in PPR leagues.

Steven Jackson: For those brave enough to select the injury-prone power back, Jackson returned to practice Monday and should be ready for Week 1. Jackson has been a spectator for a majority of the preseason with a hamstring strain.

Ray Rice: Rice has been nursing a bruised shoulder for a little over a week now but there is little concern moving forward. Rice's two-game suspension will serve as forced rest and he should be healthy upon his return.

Sammy Watkins: Watkins returned to practice without any limitations and a chance to take part in Buffalo's final preseason game against Detroit. The promising rookie remains on track to play Week 1.