Tom Christ, PT, DPT, OCS
The fantasy playoffs are here! After 14 hard fought weeks, it’s time to make the final push for the championship. As usual this time of the season, several key players are out with injury. The week 15 fantasy football injury report has no shortage of talent. Let’s break down the NFC.
Week 15 Fantasy Football Injury Report: Quarterbacks
Kyler Murray suffered an ACL injury on Monday night. Kyler’s ACL was fairly textbook, a non-contact injury while attempting to cut, where we can see his knee go into vagus (caving inward), and we can see the tibia moving away from the femur.
While the Cardinal’s season was already lost, this is the cherry on top of a forgettable 2022 for Arizona. With Murray’s injury occurring in week 15, he will have to work his butt off to be ready for week one next season, just 38.5 weeks away.
Historically, QBs average 46.5 weeks from the time of ACL injury to the first game. This number, of course, can be skewed as the season has a firm starting point. Joe Burrow tore his ACL in week 11 of his rookie season and started week one the following year. However, Carson Wentz injured his ACL in week 14 and did not start week one the following year.
Quick recovery from an ACL injury favors a pocket passer. The challenge of returning from an ACL is often the lateral agility, starting and stopping. These athletic attributes are what make Murray special. Murray is a good pocket passer, but his athleticism is what makes him great. It will be tough for Murray’s legs to be 100% by week one next season, but he should be playing like himself by mid-season.
Mr. Irrelevant has become quite relevant over the past two weeks. Purdy has played great in his two games, stepping in for the injured Jimmy Garoppolo. Purdy himself deals with rib and oblique injuries heading into week 15.
This injury is similar to that of Aaron Rodgers a few weeks ago. Let’s recall how the ribs and obliques impact throwing.
The ribs attach to the thoracic spine (mid and upper back). The thoracic spine is where a large amount of trunk rotation during throwing occurs. During thoracic rotation when throwing, the ribs must also rotate slightly. When injured, the ribs may not have the capacity to rotate as well. This limitation will limit the amount of rotation a quarterback has during the windup or follow-through. Limitations in windup and follow-through will impact throwing power and accuracy.
The oblique’s job is to help the trunk rotate. They contract during both the windup and follow-through phases of throwing and help generate power. If injured, these motions become painful. Pain impacts function; therefore, an oblique injury often leads to less throwing power and accuracy.
Outside of superflex leagues, starting Purdy is not advised as is. If Purdy does play, expect more dump-offs to McCaffrey and short routes to Aiyuk and Kittle, as his power may be limited.
Week 15 Fantasy Football Injury Report: Running Backs
Walker no longer has an injury designation heading into Thursday night’s game against San Fransisco. Pete Carrol was very vague with his description of Walker’s injury, but I wrote last week about how I felt it was likely an ankle impingement.
If correct, this is when the ankle bends in a way that it pinches the tendons of the extensor digitorum longus and extensor hallicus longus muscles, creating pain and swelling but no true damage. I doubt this injury impacts Walker’s fantasy output Thursday night. The challenge for Walker is squaring up against the NFL’s top-rated rush defense.
Barkley was questionable all week with a neck injury. At no point did this neck injury sound like anything more than general muscular soreness. Barkley ultimately played, but only 31% of snaps. The low snap count was likely secondary to the Giant’s getting blown out by Philadelphia.
Barkley has no injury designation to start this week and is a locked and loaded RB1.
Robinson was limited in practice to start the week with a quad injury. At this time, this does not appear to be much of a concern.
The quad is made up of four strong muscles that are highly involved in running, cutting, jumping, and all athletic motions. A quad injury can slow down a players top end speed, agility, and run power.
Historically, running backs score 2.3 points below their pre-injury average, with only 25% meeting or exceeding their pre-injury average in their first game after a quad injury. For a running back averaging 9.2 points per game, a decline of 2.3 would be significant. Fantasy players should monitor Washingtons’ practice reports and consider their options at running back.
Week 15 Fantasy Football Injury Report: Wide Receivers
Deebo suffered a scary-looking injury and was carted off the field last weekend. Fortunately, Samuel suffered only minor injuries to the MCL and ankle. Present reports suggest he may be back by week 18. This, however, does not help fantasy players.
The MCL is designed to prevent the knee from caving inward while cutting. When injured, there is a great deal of swelling that inhibits knee motion, making the knee stiff and painful. Additionally, depending on the severity of the injury, laxity (loss of stability) may occur. This would render an athlete more prone to further injury, such as an ACL tear. Lastly, the combination of pain, swelling, and laxity impact an athlete’s ability to run and cut. The MCL does have a good blood supply, allowing it the ability to heal well. Receivers average missing 2.8 games and score 4.2 points below their pre-injury average in the first game after an MCL injury.
Deebo’s ankle injury looked like a high ankle sprain, though some reports dispute that. We can see the defender roll up on his ankle from behind and the outside. This is the classic mechanism of injury for a high ankle sprain. A high ankle sprain would impact an athlete’s ability to push off firmly while running and cutting.
Each of these injuries in isolation would be a challenge for Deebo to return in the remaining fantasy season. In combination, there is very little chance that Deebo will be effective for fantasy again this year. The good news is there is no reason to expect him to not be ready for week one next year!
Moore surprisingly was placed on the IR today, ending his 2022 season. Moore, who has dealt with a groin injury, should have no trouble being ready for week one next season. This comes as a surprise as receivers average missing only 1.5 games due to this injury.
Moore injured his ankle in week 14 but began the week as a full participant in practice. The specifics of Moore’s ankle injury are unclear, but any type of ankle injury could impact a player’s lateral agility and deep speed. Speed and agility are Moore’s game, so it would not be surprising for his numbers to take a hit this week. He has been unreliable all season, and this certainly does not help his week 15 outlook.
Week 15 Fantasy Football Injury Report: Tight Ends
Goedert was activated from the IR today and has an outside chance of playing on Sunday against Chicago. Details of Goederts injury never emerged, but the video is suggestive of an anterior dislocation, likely with a labrum tear.
In the video, we can clearly see the defender falls on the back of the top part of Goedert’s shoulder, and his arm lands on the front of Goedert’s upper arm, creating a fulcrum to pop the shoulder out of the socket. This type of injury can be managed conservatively, with rehab to re-train the rotator cuff muscles to compensate for the injured labrum and the use of external support such as a shoulder harness or tape.
I would not expect any decline in fantasy output from Goedert when he returns from this injury. Re-injury risk is a possibility, however. With the Eagles playing the miserable Chicago Bears this week, I would not be surprised if they let Goedert rest one more week before a divisional battle against Dallas on Christmas Eve.