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Injury Analysis: What's Next for Marshawn?

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.

Marshawn Lynch

The remainder of the Seattle running back’s season is in doubt because his abdominal injury is not improving. Lynch was slated to meet with specialist Dr. William Meyers on Monday to determine the extent of the injury and whether or not surgery for a sports hernia is necessary. Dr. Meyers has become the go-to orthopedic surgeon for abdominal and groin surgeries and his list of NFL clients includes Donovan McNabb, Arian Foster and countless others.

The term sports hernia has become somewhat a catch-all diagnosis that can also be a bit misleading, as a true hernia may not accompany the injury. While acute tears are possible, injuries that are called sports hernia often develop as consistent and repetitive forces are diverted through the trunk and into the groin and abdominal muscles. Over time, micro-tears develop within the muscle, causing the abdominal wall and inguinal canal to weaken. This causes the athlete to experience pain and functional limitation.

In some cases, a hernia will develop and protrude through the weakened area. Surgery is often needed to repair the tear and return any herniated protrusion to its usual location. If a protrusion is present, a surgical mesh is used to fortify the area and prevent reoccurrence. Fortunately for Lynch, the procedure has a high success rate and players are generally able to return six weeks after the surgery.

Unfortunately, that offers little solace to owners who could be left without one of their top picks during the fantasy postseason. Reserve Thomas Rawls becomes a must-add in all formats and is coming off a dynamic performance in which he scored two touchdowns and rushed for 209 yards. Rawls will have a tougher time rushing against a Steelers defense ranked in the top five against the run, but he’s still well worth the investment.

Baltimore Ravens

No team appears as snake bitten as the Ravens, who have already lost their top quarterback, running back, and wide receiver to season-ending injuries. Veteran Steve Smith saw his season end in Week 8 when he ruptured his Achilles' tendon. This past week, both Joe Flacco and Justin Forsett went down in the team’s win over the Rams. Flacco injured his knee on the game-winning drive but was still able to get the team in position for the go-ahead field goal. Tests after the game revealed a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and torn medial collateral ligament (MCL). Flacco will undergo surgery in the near future and is expected to spend the next eight months recovering. He can use Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer as a measuring stick, after the latter returned from the second ACL tear of his career in a little over eight months. If he can recover on a similar timeline, Flacco should be ready for the start of the 2016 season. Veteran Matt Schaub will become the starter in Baltimore, though his recent productivity and limited available weapons suggest he should be left on the waiver wire.

Forsett’s injury was a bit more gruesome, as the running back suffered a fractured forearm early in the game. He was taken off of the field with the arm in a vacuum splint and X-rays taken at the stadium revealed breaks of his radius and ulna. Forsett was scheduled for Monday surgery in which hardware will be utilized to stabilize the fracture site. Fortunately, bone heals well and Forsett should be an active participant in offseason activities. Rookie Javorius Allen filled in nicely on Sunday and should be picked up in all formats, especially with the run-porous defenses of the Browns and Dolphins on the schedule for the next two weeks.

Turf Burns

Matt Forte:
A quick turnaround for a Thanksgiving Day game could slightly complicate Forte’s return from a sprained MCL. The Bears continue to say Forte is on track, after the Pro Bowl running back completed an extensive workout prior to Sunday’s game against the Broncos. However the short week may force Chicago to lean more heavily on rookie Jeremy Langford. The expectations for Forte should be a bit tempered for Week 12.

Devonta Freeman: Atlanta’s running back has been one of the breakout stars of the 2015 season. Unfortunately, a concussion prematurely ended his Week 11 after just three carries. Freeman has been placed into the league’s mandatory concussion protocol and will not be cleared to practice until each step of the program has been completed. The Falcons are reportedly happy with his progress thus far, though the severity and the unpredictability of concussions simply cannot be ignored. Tevin Coleman would become the lead back in Atlanta if Freeman were unable to play.

Brian Hoyer: Despite the success of T.J. Yates, Hoyer will resume the starting quarterback responsibilities in Houston after completing the concussion protocol. Hoyer has a favorable matchup against the Saints this week, though his schedule gets considerably tougher after that, with games against the Bills and Patriots looming.

Darren McFadden: The Cowboys running back looked unencumbered by his nagging groin injury despite playing in harsh conditions in Miami. McFadden rushed for 129 yards on Sunday, including 11 carries on the Cowboys’ final drive. The heavy workload earned him time off on Monday, when he was listed as a non-participant in Dallas’ walkthrough. The rest will be short-lived with the Cowboys making their annual Thanksgiving Day appearance on Thursday against a hard-nosed Panthers defense. As a result of the tough matchup and McFadden’s previous injury history, I would consider D-Mac a bit of a precarious play this week.

Charcandrick West: The Chiefs are calling West day-to-day after he suffered a strained hamstring in a win over the Chargers. A day-to-day designation for hamstring injuries isn’t overly encouraging and injuries of this nature tend to be particularly problematic for running backs and wide receivers. The explosiveness required for these positions taxes the hamstring muscle group and any associated restriction would be severely limiting. Anyone counting on West should make a strong play for Spencer Ware, who looked more than capable of holding his own, rushing for 96 yards and two touchdowns following West’s departure.