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NFL Injury Analysis: Painful Week 2

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.

Week 2 was an injury-loaded affair that could alter the fantasy landscape after just two matchups. No one was immune to the problem, as quarterbacks, running backs and receivers alike all fell victim to the injury bug.

Adrian Peterson

The former MVP was carried off the field in Minnesota’s home opener after suffering a right knee injury. A subsequent MRI performed on the area revealed a torn meniscus.

Between the bones of the upper leg and lower leg sit two fibrocartilage discs. These menisci are distinctively designed to absorb a high degree of stress while retaining their overall elasticity. This specialized characteristic allows the meniscus to serve as both a shock absorber and a stabilizer. Unfortunately, its position on the knee leaves the meniscus vulnerable to injury, especially the peripheral portions of each disc. Once torn, the injured individual is generally faced with two surgical options: a repair or a removal.

If the tear is located in a specific portion of the disc, a true repair is possible. By keeping the disc intact, the athlete’s long-term outlook is improved, as the risk of conditions like osteoarthritis is reduced. However, repairs are accompanied by significantly longer recovery periods.

For this reason, most professional athletes turn to a meniscectomy. Instead of fixing the sustained damage, the injured portion of the disc is simply removed. With the root of the problem gone, the athlete can often return to play as quickly as two weeks, though four to six weeks is a safer estimate. This rapid return to play comes at a cost, as the individual’s long-term odds of developing chronic conditions increases.

The Vikings are still trying to determine what course of action to utilize in the case of Peterson, though a meniscectomy could be on the horizon. If that is the case, look for AD to miss the next few games. The Vikings have a bye week in Week 6 so Week 7 would be a realistic target date for Peterson’s return.

Jimmy Garoppolo

Last week, I broke down the bone structures of the collarbone and scapula when analyzing the shoulder injury of Robert Griffin. Just one week later, another quarterback, New England’s Garoppolo, went down with a shoulder injury to the same area. Garoppolo suffered a sprained acromioclavicular (AC) joint when he hit the turf in the second quarter of New England’s win over Miami.

The AC joint is located where the collarbone and shoulder blade unite and is fortified by multiple ligaments. After it was initially believed he would miss a considerable amount of time, further testing revealed Garoppolo’s sprain to be minor. Still, the fact that the injury occurred to his throwing shoulder makes it highly unlikely he starts in Week 3 against the Texans. There is talk he could assume the backup role to would-be starter Jacoby Brissett, but that appears to be an extreme best-case scenario.

With Brady set to return from suspension in Week 5, Garoppolo’s fantasy value takes a significant hit. Even if he is able to be back by Week 4, Garoppolo will be relegated to a likely limited one-week fill-in role.

Jay Cutler

The Bears quarterback reportedly suffered a thumb injury in Week 1 that was then aggravated in the team’s Monday night loss to the Eagles. Cutler is dealing with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his throwing hand and was spotted in a cast after the game. The UCL of the thumb is one of the primary stabilizers of the area and located near the webbing of the thumb and pointer finger. Its primary responsibility is to fortify the metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint, particularly when performing the pinching motion or attempting to grip an object, like a football.

Any issue with the UCL would negatively impact Cutler’s ability to handle the football, making it harder to throw and increasing his propensity for fumbles. The injury becomes more difficult to manage based on the severity of the damage. Given the appearance of the cast and rumblings from within the organization, it looks like Cutler could be sidelined for a while. Keep in mind, this is Cutler’s second significant injury on the joint following his 2011 fracture that required surgery to mend. Brian Hoyer would assume the starting quarterback position should Cutler miss time.

Turf Burns

Ameer Abdullah: X-rays performed on the running back’s foot failed to uncover a fracture, though additional tests will be performed. For now, Detroit is calling the injury a foot sprain, though that diagnosis is a bit vague. The foot is comprised of more than 25 different bones that form roughly 30 different individualized joints. Numerous ligaments stabilize these various points of articulation, so referring to the injury as a sprain is a bit open-ended. If the sprain occurred to one of the smaller joints than Abdullah could miss little to no time at all. However, if the Lisfranc joint is involved, than he’s staring at a much more difficult road to recovery. The Lions will continue their evaluation of the area over the next few days and hopefully provide more details soon. In the meantime, Theo Riddick becomes a must add for fantasy owners invested in Abdullah.

Doug Baldwin: The Seahawks got good news on Baldwin’s injured knee, as the MRI came back negative for structural damage. The receiver has dubbed himself “good” though expect to see him limited throughout the week. He’s also dealing with back spasms.

Arian Foster: The veteran running back is considered day-to-day after leaving Sunday’s game with a groin strain. Foster’s name has become synonymous with injury and he has previously missed time with a groin injury that ultimately required surgery. Even if he’s able to suit up on Sunday, his productivity thus far does not outweigh the potential chance of a re-injury. Jay Ajayi doesn’t exactly inspire confidence either but could be worth a look if your running back corp was decimated by injury in Week 2.

Julio Jones: Another week down and another seemingly minor lower extremity injury for the Falcons wide receiver. Already playing on a gimpy left ankle, Jones suffered a right calf strain in Atlanta’s victory at Oakland. The team is optimistic he will play in Week 3 against the Saints, though the game is a Monday night matchup. Fantasy owners willing to play Jones anyway should scale back their expectations. Calf injuries often limit an individual’s ability to accelerate and make explosive movements. That could equate to a big problem for a downfield receiver like Jones.

Brandon Marshall: Marshall did not practice Monday due to his sprained MCL. The stability of the joint is reportedly sound, indicating this is a low-grade sprain. The Jets will provide a better insight to Marshall’s status when injury reports are released on Wednesday, but expect this to be a true game-time decision.

Doug Martin and Jonathan Stewart: Both NFC South running backs sustained hamstring strains in Week 2, leaving their owners short on stats. In Tampa, the severity of Martin’s injury remains unknown, though an MRI is on tap for Tuesday. The Panthers have been more forthcoming regarding specifics and have already ruled out Stewart for Week 3. Charles Sims and Fozzy Whittaker both see a bump in value and should be considered if they’re still hanging around on the waiver wire.

Donte Moncrief: Moncrief is headed for additional tests on his shoulder injury that limited him to just nine snaps Sunday. Keep an eye out for the results to get a better read on the situation. Should Moncrief be unable to play, Phillip Dorsett would assume a big role in the Colts offense.

Thomas Rawls: The Seattle running back’s return to top form after undergoing offseason ankle surgery may be complicated by a lower leg contusion sustained in the second quarter of the team’s loss to the Rams. The Seahawks will lean more heavily on Christine Michael in Week 3 as they continue to ease Rawls back.

DeMarcus Ware: The Broncos defensive end suffered a fractured forearm, specifically the ulna, in the team’s win over Indianapolis. He underwent surgery to repair the break and should be back in four to five weeks.

Danny Woodhead: One week after Keenan Allen suffered a torn ACL in his knee, the Chargers lost another key component of their offense to the same injury. Woodhead has already been placed on the IR and will not play again this season. The timing of the injury should allow him to return for the start of the 2017 season.