We are a third through the season already! It feels like yesterday that the Buffalo Bills and Los Angelos Rams took the field for the season opener. A month and a half later, a lot changed. This week we saw a few major injuries to players like Carson Wentz and Marquise Brown, and as always, we have many players to talk about. Let’s dive into the NFC’s week 7 fantasy football injury report!
After backup Cooper Rush led Dallas to a 4-1 record in Prescott’s absence, it appears Dallas starting quarterback will finally return this week. Prescott is now six weeks post-op from a thumb fracture. The fracture has been stable for a few weeks now, and re-injury concern is low. The challenge for Prescott will be his ability to grip the ball, which could impact accuracy properly.
With a thumb injury, the thumb is often immobilized in a cast or a splint for a few weeks. This immobilization allows the bone to heal unimpeded; however, it has consequences. Whenever a joint is immobilized, it becomes stiff, and the muscles atrophy rapidly. The thumb must have adequate mobility in all directions to properly grip and manipulate objects, such as a football.
Both mobility and grip strength have kept Prescott out the past few weeks despite rumblings that he wanted to return sooner. Dak admitted that his grip strength is not completely 100%, but it is getting close. This is right on track from a timeline standpoint. While mobility and strength are impaired due to immobilization in the thumb, both are easy to regain with a few weeks of rehab. Without proper grip strength, we would expect accuracy and his ability to prevent fumbles to be affected. Throwing power would not be impacted, as throwing power stems from the lower body and core muscles.
With six weeks to heal and rehab, Prescott should be close to 100%.
Wentz underwent surgery on Monday to stabilize a right ring finger fracture he suffered on Thursday night and will miss 4-6 weeks.
All five fingers play a significant role in gripping a football for a thrower. The ring finger, however, plays less of a role in the finesse required to place a ball accurately and plays almost no role in throw power.
Like Dak above, the fracture will take about four weeks to become stable, and the ability for Wentz to return will be due to his ring finger’s mobility and grip strength. Fortunately for Wentz, not nearly as much mobility or strength is required of the ring finger compared to the thumb. While the surgery heals, his ring finger will likely be taped or casted, reducing mobility through the immobilized joints. We will have to look out for pictures or videos of the protection Wentz is wearing after surgery to dictate how many joints are immobilized. The more joints that are immobilized lead to more stiffness and weakness that must be regained after the immobilization is removed.
With this being his ring finger, I would not be surprised if Wentz pushes to return closer to four weeks rather than six. As mentioned, this is not nearly as disabling as the thumb injury Prescott is dealing with. We saw Russell Wilson struggle when he returned from a middle finger surgery after only four weeks last season. The middle finger, however, is more influential on throwing than the ring finger. Wentz will be out for a few weeks, but we will monitor his status as he nears a return.
Winston was active last week but listed as a backup as he continues to heal from his lumbar fractures. New Orleans states he wont play until he is 100%. New Orleans plays on Thursday night this week, so luckily fantasy players will have no issue pivoting Winston out of their lineups if he does not play. For a detailed explanation of how his injury impacts throwing, see our previous post.
Fields aggravated his left (non-throwing) shoulder last week. There is no indication of him missing Monday night’s matchup against New England, and with it being his non-throwing shoulder, this is not much of a concern.
Oh, D’Andre Swift. As much talent as any player, we have seen in the past decade, this superstar has struggled to stay on the field, and naturally he appears on our week 7 fantasy football injury update. He missed weeks four and five due to an ankle injury and a shoulder injury. Detroit favored from their week six bye, and hopefully, Swift is ready to return.
The ankle injury is the one that would have the potential to influence his game the most. Swift is a shifty runner who utilizes his speed and change of direction to dominate defenders. With an ankle injury, lateral agility is impacted more so than straight-line speed. This is likely why we see a decline of 2.4 fantasy points when running backs return from an ankle sprain. However, three weeks to rest should do Swift well, and fantasy players cannot possibly have a better option than a slightly below 100% D’Andre Swift.
Conner missed week six due to a rib injury and did not practice to start week seven. Arizona plays Thursday night, which does not bode well for Conner’s availability.
We have seen Alvin Kamara miss time this season due to a rib injury. As mentioned last week, the ribs are highly influential in every motion a human makes. This includes breathing, running, and any arm or shoulder motion, including reaching up to catch a ball. The pecs, lats, and obliques are gigantic and strong muscles that attach to the ribs and are involved in the above-mentioned football actions. That means that with running, catching, or even breathing, these muscles pull on the ribs, which hurts! Additionally, getting hit hurts too!
The good news is we would not expect this injury to influence performance on a per-play basis. What is possible, however, if Conner does play is that he does not see the same workload he typically would. Luckily he plays Thursday, so fantasy players will have the ability to pivot him out of their lineups if he does not play.
For a detailed analysis of Brown’s injury see my post from earlier this week.
In summary, Brown will miss at minimum one month, but it will likely be more. A bone takes at least 4-6 weeks to heal, and when it is a bone in the foot, it needs to take on the body’s weight with every step, making it take longer.
Amon-Ra St. Brown
St. Brown played only 32% of snaps in week five after an ankle sprain. With a whole week off to recover, expect ARSB to be his usual dominant self this week against Dallas. Historically by the second game back from an ankle sprain, more than half of WRs are meeting or exceeding their pre-injury fantasy output.
Seattle’s receiver popped up on the injury report late last week with a hamstring injury. He proceeded to play on 82% of snaps but left fantasy players disappointed. He did not practice to start this week, and we will continue to monitor his hamstring as the week progresses.
Consistent with Lockett’s poor fantasy output last week, we see a decline of 2.7 fantasy points in the first game after sustaining a hamstring injury, with only 27% of WRs meeting or achieving this number. In games 2-3, which Lockett is now approaching, the decline is only 0.7 points, and nearly 50% can meet or achieve their pre-injury baseline. If Lockett plays this week, he is a worthwhile start, pending any contradicting reports from Seattle beat writers.
Lamb has been dealing with a mysterious hip injury. This did not appear to impact him last week, as he still drew ten targets on a 93% snap rate. He was limited in practice to start the week, but it does not appear to be a concern at this point. Lamb will get his star QB back this week.
Thomas is becoming very frustrating. His toe injury occurred in week three, and he was initially expected to play in week four, but yet here he is appearing on our week 7 fantasy football injury update. He has already been ruled out for week seven. Injuries don’t always heal at the pace we expect, and misdiagnoses of severity do occur and is clearly the case here.
In last week’s episode of the Fantasy Injury Team Podcast, I discussed the turf toe injury and how that impacts a football player. Essentially, a turf toe is an injury to the tendons or ligaments on the underside of the big toe. Every time we walk, our big toe must extend up to 60°, running its 90°. This puts a lot of stretch and tension on the injured tissues.
Furthermore, if these tissues are not functioning properly, the foot is not able to push off the ground as well. This is due to the unique ability of the foot to change shape depending on the phase of gait. When our foot hits the ground and accepts weight, the muscles of the foot elongate and allow our arches to lower slightly to absorb shock. When we are ready to push off the ground, the muscles and tendons contract to supinate the foot and tighten up the foot bones to make a rigid lever to push off; this is triggered by the big toe extending, again stressing the tissues that are injured with turf toe.
This explains why this injury often lingers and can be hard to return from. In Thomas’s case, his injury must have been more severe than initially reported, and New Orleans is allowing him proper time to rehab. We will have to monitor to know when Thomas will be ready to play, but it won’t be week seven.
Olave has been cleared from the concussion protocol and will start Thursday night. Olave’s teammates, Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry are both out, so expect Olave to see a lot of targets coming his way. We don’t typically see any issue with fantasy output when a player returns from a concussion.
Landry will miss his third consecutive game due to an ankle injury. We talk all the time about how ankle injuries have the potential to contribute to chronic ankle stiffness going forward. This stiffness occurs when there is a very severe ankle sprain or multiple throughout a lifetime. With Landry now set to miss his 3rd straight game, it appears this sprain is somewhat severe.
Whenever Landry does return, it is common to see a dip in fantasy output from WRs in the first game after an ankle sprain. Landry is not the most valuable fantasy asset, so fantasy players will likely keep him on the bench even when he returns.
Cobb shows up on our week 7 fantasy football injury update as he appeared to have suffered a devastating ankle injury on Sunday. Fortunately, it turned out to be a high ankle sprain with no fractures. Cobb is expected to miss 2-4 weeks, indicating it is a moderate-severity sprain.
The two shin bones, the tibia, and fibula, typically fit snuggly on the foot bone called the talus to form the ankle joint. With a high ankle sprain, the tibia and fibula are separated. This creates a gapping, leading to instability in the ankle. This creates pain and makes it hard to push off when running and cutting.
Receivers average missing 3.4 games due to a high ankle sprain, and Cobb sounds like he will fall right into that duration. In the first game after a high ankle sprain, WRs average a decline of 2.7 fantasy points, and only 30% meet or exceed their pre-injury average.
This week, Dotson returned to limited practice after missing the previous two games due to a hamstring injury. This type of injury can linger and recur throughout the season when a player returns too quickly. Dotson was quickly ruled out for a few weeks after his injury in week four, which tells us Washington knew right away it was more severe than some.
If Dotson is to play this week, fantasy players should warrant caution with playing him. WRs average a decline of 2.7 fantasy points in their first game returning from a hamstring injury, with only 27% meeting or exceeding their pre-injury baseline.
Brate is not practicing to start the week after being carted off the field last week with a neck injury. Reports state that he did not suffer a concussion and that no significant injury to his neck occurred.
Often, with a head or neck injury, even without structural damage, the cervical and shoulder muscles will spasm to “guard” the head and neck. This often persists even after any injury or inflammation has resolved. This is commonly seen in patients who have been in a car accident or have fallen. Manual physical therapy techniques combined with stretching and exercise help restore the muscles’ normal integrity, allowing people to function again.
It sounds like Brate will not play this week. With him being a lower-tier tight-end option, fantasy players do not need to keep him rostered.
Schultz has scored just north of 10 fantasy points in four games this season. He has missed two games due to a PCL injury that likely will affect him on and off throughout the season. PCL injuries don’t actually heal, meaning the PCL tissues won’t realign together. His PCL injury is minor, meaning only some of the ligament’s fibers are torn, and the remaining fibers are intact, which is why he can still play. The issue is this type of injury leads to recurring swelling and pain, which impacts his ability to play and play well.
Schultz logged a full practice on Wednesday and will be getting his starting QB back. These are both reasons for optimism for Schultz, but Schultz has burned fantasy players several times already this season. He is hard to trust this week.