Week two has concluded and many fantasy players are struggling to manage their injured roster. Today, we will discuss the week 3 fantasy football injury report, with a focus on the NFC.
Week 3 fantasy football injury report: QBs
Lance suffered an unfortunate and gruesome ankle fracture in the first half of San Fransisco’s battle against Seattle. A final diagnosis of Lance’s injury reveals a fibular fracture and ligament damage. The ligament damage likely led to a dislocation of his ankle, explaining how his foot appeared to be facing the wrong direction. The fibula is one of two lower leg bones (the tibia being the other). Fortunately, the fibula is the smaller of the two and does not take on as much of a weight-bearing role.
Lance underwent successful surgery on Monday and should be ready for week one next season. Lance appears in good spirits, understanding he has a long rehab ahead.
One challenge for Lance will be that this is his right leg. As a right-handed thrower, he pushes off his right leg to generate force to throw. With this in mind, he must fully regain strength in the entire leg and mobility in the ankle joint, particularly in the motions of inversion and eversion, which occur at the subtalar joint (figure one from the picture below). Limitations in these motions in a thrower can significantly reduce the range of motion of the throw and force the thrower to steal motion from other joints, typically the back and shoulder. This can render them prone to injury.
Commonly after complicated ankle surgeries, these motions of inversion and eversion can be restricted. Lance’s training staff will undoubtedly make re-gaining this motion a priority.
The good news for Lance is that four quarterbacks have suffered similar injuries since 2016, and all four returned to their pre-injury production levels right away. While the injury was quite devastating, the surgery and rehab tend to allow the athlete to return to full strength.
On Sunday, Winston played with four fractures in his lumbar spine. Last week, we discussed on the Fantasy Injury Team podcast how quarterbacks playing through lumbar injuries may have difficulty creating power and maintaining accuracy due to this injury. This is due to pain inhibiting motion, limiting range, and impacting the follow-through. Winston did not appear to lose any power on his throws, but his accuracy was certainly in question as he threw three costly interceptions.
It’s hard to know if Jameis’s performance last week was due to his injury, as he has a history of giving the ball to his opponents anyway. I expect him to continue struggling for another week or two until the pain subsides. He will still throw a lot and can still put up robust numbers, but accuracy may continue to be impacted.
Week 3 fantasy football injury report: RBs
Kamara sat out in week two with rib cartilage fractures. I discussed last week how a rib injury impacts every single movement we make as humans, particularly with athletic activities. With this being a rib cartilage injury (seen in the dark shade in the picture below), the strong pec muscles will pull right on the injury site, causing pain.
For a running back, the pecs will contract with carrying the ball, blocking, and sprinting, and will be stretched when reaching above the head or behind to catch the ball. Additionally, the ribs expand and recoil with breathing, which is painful when an injury is present. With athletic activity, the breathing rate increases making this pain more frequent. Additionally, several strong muscles involved in athletic competition attach to the ribs. Video of Kamara during pre-game warm-ups on Sunday shows a clear limitation in shoulder range of motion, likely secondary to pain from his rib injury.
With another weeks rest Kamara should be able to play this week against Carolina. He will be in pain if he is out there, but I do not expect this to impact his performance.
Swift was limited to 51% of snaps last week as he was managing an ankle sprain. This did not stop him from looking like his explosive self. Swift still managed 15.7 points, exceeding the average RB performance when returning from an ankle sprain. Expect Swift to see a larger workload this week, and continue to be a must start.
Conner left Sunday’s thrilling matchup against Vegas with an ankle injury. Coach Kliff Kingsberry has declared Conner “day-to-day,” indicating the injury is of mild severity. We have talked extensively about how ankle sprains can lead to chronic stiffness in the ankle, altering mechanics through the rest of the leg and the back. This consequence, however, is typically reserved for the more severe injuries, which this does not appear to be.
Fantasy players should consider that since 2017, only 28% of running backs meet or exceed their pre-injury average in fantasy points in the first game returning from an ankle sprain, scoring 2.3 points below their average. This injury, however, typically impacts athletes who specialize in agility and lateral quickness more so than a bruiser like Conner. Additionally, Conner’s baseline is high enough to withstand a 2.3-point decline and still provide fantasy players with a nice game.
The curse of San Fransisco ball carriers continues. One week after losing Elijah Mitchell for 6-8 weeks due to an MCL sprain, the Niners will be without rookie RB Tyrion Davis-Price for a few weeks due to a high ankle sprain. High ankle sprains are variable in time missed. The typical timeline is 4-6 weeks; however, many RBs return much sooner in the NFL. RBs average missing three games due to a high ankle sprain, ranging from 0-6 games.
When returning from a high ankle sprain, RBs do see a modest decline in fantasy points, averaging 1.1 points below their pre-injury baseline. This decline quickly returns to the mean as by games 2-3, 59% of RBs have met or exceeded their pre-injury averages.
The challenge for TDP will be rehabbing this injury and what San Fran does in the meantime. The Niners are notoriously not loyal to running backs. Time will tell if Jeff Wilson Jr. or Jordan Mason can take the lead of this backfield.
Week 3 Fantasy Football Injury Report: WRs
Julio missed week two against New Orleans due to a knee injury. The 33-year-old did not practice Wednesday putting his status for week three’s matchup against Green Bay in question. Unfortunately, the Bucs continue to simply report this as a “knee injury” with no more details. The lack of clarity makes it impossible to provide any insight.
LA never revealed the details of Jefferson’s “minor knee surgery” this offseason that has kept him out the first two weeks of the season. McVay said he does not expect Jefferson to play in week three.
Based on the timeline, we can speculate that his knee surgery was a clean-out of some type. If a tissue repair were to take place, his time missed would be much longer; think Irv Smith Jr. last year when he missed the entire season due to a meniscus repair.
With a clean-out procedure (similar to Zack Wilson), the ability to return to sport is based on how well the athlete’s pain and swelling can be managed. Pain and swelling will both impact function. Any clean-out procedure does have an elevated risk for further injury. Two examples in the NBA are Lonzo Ball and Robert Williams III last season. Each had a meniscus surgery during the season, attempted to return to playing, and subsequently is undergoing a second procedure this week.
Godwin missed week two with a hamstring injury suffered in week one. Godwin did not practice Wednesday and appears unlikely to play this week against Green Bay. Keep in mind that when he does return, he is still rehabbing from the ACL tear suffered last season.
Wide receivers average scoring 2.5 points below their pre-injury average when returning from a hamstring injury, with only 28% meeting or exceeding their pre-injury average. Week 3 fantasy football injury report: TEs
Week 3 fantasy football injury report: TEs
Kittle is still recovering from a groin injury that has forced him to miss the season’s first two games. Kittle was limited in practice on Wednesday, and fantasy players will need to continue to follow up on his status throughout the week.
The good news for Kittle owners is, surprisingly, we see no decline in fantasy stats when players return to the field across all position groups. With this in mind, fantasy players can start Kittle with full confidence whenever he does return.
Schultz suffered a rare PCL injury against Cincinnati on Sunday. This is the same injury teammate Ezekiel Elliot dealt with in the second half of the 2021 season. The PCL’s primary job is to prevent the tibia (shin bone) from translating backward on the femur. It also assists the ACL in preventing unwanted rotation and inward collapsing of the knee. The difference is the PCL prevents these motions when the knee is already bent significantly. Because football is not played with our knees bent to 90° or more, the PCL injury is less impactful on athletic performance than its counterpart, the ACL.
Grade I and II PCL injuries are typically treated non-surgically. Since Shultz is questionable for this week’s game, it is clear his injury is a grade I or II. Swelling management is critical for Schultz’s ability to return to the field. Swelling can impact muscle function; this, combined with a compromise to a stabilizing ligament, can lead to knee buckling and further injury if not managed properly.
Dallas should not rush him back to the field, but when he does return, it would not be surprising to see him lose some speed and agility due to this injury. We saw an evident decline in Elliot’s production after the same injury last season. What Schultz does have going in his favor is his position does not require as much pounding or cutting as the running back.
For more information check out our injury pages! Week 3 fantasy football injury report for the AFC will be coming out shortly. We discuss each players outlook on our weekly podcast, and daily updates on twitter!