Each week I will provide an injury update for positional players in the AFC. We will break down each position and provide insight into what we anticipate. Each of our injury pages provides an in-depth analysis of the injury type, anatomy, and stats upon return to play. Take a look at these to better understand how previous players have performed when they return from injury!
During this week’s post, I will look at players who dealt with season-ending injuries last year and those who were reported to sustain an injury in training camp or preseason.
Quarterback Week one Injury Update
Joe Burrow Injury Update
Burrow underwent an appendectomy on July 26, 2022. He has been limited in practice since that time. Although we do not have data on this specific injury, I do not have any significant concerns for week 1 or the upcoming season. As with any core injury or surgery, he may have to play through some pain, but I imagine the adrenaline of getting back into the game will be enough to get him through as he continues to heal.
Zach Wilson Injury Update
After injuring his knee in the first preseason game, Wilson underwent knee surgery for a torn meniscus and has been unable to fully practice. Reports state that Wilson has been practicing and doing well but is not quite ready to play. The team expects him back by week 4, but I would not be surprised if he comes back before that time.
Unfortunately, we do not have enough data on QBs with this injury to assess how they will perform upon return. This being said, we see a very minimal impact amongst running backs and wide receivers, with 75% and 100% of these players returning to their baseline PPG in their first game back. Even when Wilson does return, I am not so sure I would be starting him. Unless you are in a 2QB league or extremely desperate, there are likely better options.
Running back week one injury update
JK Dobbins/Gus Edwards Injury Update
As we all know, Dobbins and Edwards suffered season-ending ACL injuries before the 2021 season. Edwards has already been placed on the PUP, so we know he will miss at least the first 4 games of the season. Dobbins, on the other hand, may suit up as soon as week 1. If Dobbins does suit up, he will likely play on a snap count. Unfortunately for fantasy managers, running backs do not fare well when they first return from this injury. Our data shows that even up to 6 games after returning to play, only 17% of running backs returned to their baseline level of PPG.
That said, even if Dobbins plays in week 1, I would not feel comfortable starting him. There are too many question marks in this backfield, and we should have more answers within the first few weeks. Stay tuned, as we will continue to address this backfield throughout the season.
As the newest addition to the Baltimore backfield, Drake also sustained a season-ending ankle fracture in 2021. The good news is that he should be fully healed this season. Our data across all positions is promising, as there is no significant decline in performance after returning from this injury. The unfortunate thing for Drake is the general situation in the Baltimore backfield. Nobody knows if Dobbins will return for week 1 and how many snaps he may play. Even if he does not play, it is likely that Mike Davis, who has been with the team throughout the entirety of training camp, will see the majority of snaps out of the backfield. The Ravens recently released depth chart shows Drake as the RB4, behind Dobbins, Davis, and Justice hill.
Harris suffered a Lisfranc injury on the first day of training camp this offseason. His injury was kept under the radar, as it was first described as though he was simply stepped on. Luckily for fantasy managers, it appears this Lisfranc injury is a non-issue, as he was able to play the first half of the Steeler’s last preseason game. There have been no reported setbacks, and Harris should be considered fully healthy for week one. I would start him with total confidence.
Henry suffered a Lisfranc injury in week 8 last year, causing him to miss the remainder of the regular season. The good news is that he was able to return for the postseason. This, combined with the positive reports from training camp, give me complete confidence in Henry going into the 2022 season. The 28-year-old back has no concerns from an injury standpoint heading into week 1.
Similar to Henry and Harris, Etienne also suffered a Lisfranc injury. The difference is that we have never seen Etienne take a snap at the NFL level. Regardless of experience level, this does not change the rehab process with Lisfranc injuries. Given that Etienne had over a year to recover from his injury, he should be viewed as fully healthy heading into week one. Our data shows that running backs only decrease by an average of -1.2 PPG in their first game. This, combined with the fact that Robinson is recovering from an injury, gives me full confidence in Etienne’s outlook heading into the season opener.
Last December, Robinson suffered one of the most devastating injuries at the NFL level. Achilles tears are simply not good. We have yet to see a fantasy-relevant player return successfully in the NFL. Our data on Achilles injuries is undoubtedly not reassuring when considering whether or not to play Robinson. Despite all this information, Robinson is expected to play in week one, and reports on the running back have been generally positive. One of the most significant issues with returning from an achilles injury is the lack of speed, quickness, and power that the player can produce. Robinson is not exactly known for his speed, posting a 4.64 40-yard dash at the combine. If he cannot return to his previous level, things could get ugly quickly. It is likely worth stashing Robinson on your bench until we see how he can perform in week one.
Wide Receiver Week one injury Update
In the offseason, Higgins underwent a labral repair for a shoulder injury he sustained last year. He did not play in the preseason and sat out of practice intermittently during training camp. More recently, he was listed as back at practice this week. Assuming he remains at practice heading into the game, I expect him to be full go for week one.
Diontae Johnson was reported to suffer a shoulder injury in the last preseason game. He landed directly on his shoulder during a deep ball while securing the catch. Based on the video, Johnson likely suffered a mild AC joint sprain. The good news is that head coach Mike Tomlin has already stated that if it were a regular season game, Johnson likely would have returned. Our data is generally promising, with WRs only missing 1.4 games with this injury, and most players return to their baseline PPG by games 2-3 back from injury. I do not have any concerns for Johnson going into week one. We will continue to monitor practice reports, and if anything changes, we will provide updates.
Robert woods is one of several players returning from an ACL tear this season. Woods has been reported to be on track for a week 1 start. I discussed his ADP and outlook in a previous post, looking at how I expect wide receivers to perform this year. In this post, I initially advised holding woods on your bench for at least the first week. However, with continued positive reports, he may be worth the start. Several reports note that Woods has easily been the WR1 for the titans. With the trade of AJ brown, they don’t have too many options when throwing the ball. Our data on ACL tears are not great in the first game back, with only 22% of receivers meeting their baseline level of PPG. However, this jumps to 44% in games 2-3 and 78% in weeks 4-6. If Woods is fully ready in week 1, he may be a sneaky play, especially in DFS formats.
Waddle’s injury has brought a lot of curiosity in the preseason. He was held out of practice for most of the preseason with an undisclosed lower body “soft tissue injury.” All reports coming out of Miami are that the team is not concerned about his injury but is just being cautious with his recovery. Waddle returned to practice on Monday and is on track to play in week one. It sounds as though there is nothing to worry about with Waddle, but again we will have to continue to monitor the situation ahead of week 1.
JuJu Smith Schuster
JuJu was held out of the team’s final preseason game and several practices with knee soreness. There were reports detailing that JuJu had his knee drained, which typically is not a great sign, as it means there is some sort of swelling in his knee. I would not be surprised if this end up being a weekly thing where JuJu misses some practice, has his knee drained, but is then active for the games. This being said, he did return to practice last week, and there have not been reports of any setbacks thus far. He should be a full go for week one.
Tight End Week one injury Update
Waller sat out most of training camp with a hamstring injury and contract dispute. It is not exactly clear which of these factors caused him to sit out, as he magically returned to practice as soon as he signed a new contract with the Raiders. Going into week one, Waller has come out and said that he expects to play against the Chargers. Although re-aggravation of hamstring injuries happens often, I have little to worry about heading into week one.
After Noah Fant’s trade to Seattle, many fantasy managers have been hyping up Okwuegbunam in the pre-season. Some have been hopeful that the Denver TE will put up big numbers this season, with Russel Wilson throwing the ball. Okwuegbunam has been dealing with lower body “tightness” recently but was able to return to practice today. From an injury standpoint, I would not expect Okwuegbunam to be limited in week 1. In typical 12-team formats, there is likely a better option for week 1, but again in DFS formats or in deeper leagues, he may be another sneaky play.