Week 18 Injury Report

The week 18 injury report may forever be the hardest injury article to write. Of course, we only cover traditional fantasy football positions at the Fantasy Injury Team, but we all know there is a much more significant, devastating injury at the moment. Our deepest thoughts and prayers are with Damar Hamlin and his family during this tragic time. I can not say enough about the heroism performed by medical providers on the field, and fortunately, Damar is in tremendous hands with some of the best medical providers in the country. We continue to monitor his situation and root for him and his family.

While we continue to hope for the best for Damar, there will be football played this weekend. Week 8 traditionally is outside of the fantasy season, but for those who play through week 18, or those who play daily, the week 18 injury report is here to help you construct your roster!

Week 18 Injury Report: Quarterbacks

Jalen Hurts

The MVP candidate logged a limited practice on Wednesday but is hopeful of playing in week 18 against the New York Giants. Hurts, who practiced some last week, continues to rehab a sprain to his right sternoclavicular (SC) joint.

As I mentioned last week, I am not very concerned about this injury in his production. The SC joint must move during the throwing motion. During the wind-up, the SC clavicle must elevate, retract (move backward), and rotate back. During the follow-through motion, the clavicle must make the opposite motion (move down, protract, and roll forward). A lingering, untreated SC joint injury can cause one of two issues. If the sprain is bad enough that ligament tearing and laxity have occurred, the joint may move too much, throwing off the control of the throwing motion. On the other hand, swelling, muscle guarding, and improper healing can cause the joint to become stiff, limiting the range of motion during the throw.

Hurts injury was never thought to be severe, making it unlikely significant ligament damage occurred. Hurts has also now had three weeks to rehab. This time frame is often enough to restore full motion at the SC joint. Combining the reports and the time frame tells me this injury is unlikely to impact Hurts production much. One possible negative would be if Philadelphia calls less-designed runs for Hurts in an attempt to protect him.

Lamar Jackson

A month after suffering a PCL injury, Jackson still has not practiced. I previously explained the PCL injury in-depth and why I do not see Lamar being the Lamar that we know and love again this season. I do think that he will be 100% by the start of next season.

A brief summary of how the PCL impacts a player like Lamar Jackson. The PCL has two significant roles in the knee. It helps stabilize the tibia and the femur, preventing the knee from bending in a direction it is not meant to. It also provides proprioceptive input. Proprioception is our body’s ability to sense where our limbs are in space without looking. Proprioception allows a player like Jackson to confidently cut on a dime and change direction, knowing exactly where he is planting his foot without looking.

Week 18 Injury Report

The stability component of the PCL is less of a concern to me, as other ligaments and muscles can make up for the loss of stability. The proprioceptive loss is what will impact his production the most. Ligaments have a significant amount of sensory receptors that contribute to proprioception. If proprioception is affected, an athlete is less likely to make crisp cuts, is at higher risk for injury, and cannot cut as quickly. We all know Jackson is great because of his running. If he cannot restore his confidence in his ability to cut, he will not be himself.

The positive is that he now has had a whole month of rehab. Proprioception can be trained. Undoubtedly, Jackson has been training with all sorts of exercises that challenge his balance and agility. It is possible he can still run at a high level come playoff time, but I would be surprised if he is at 100%.

Trevor Lawrence

Lawrence has been dealing with a toe injury for several weeks now, but it has not stopped him from performing at the highest level of his career. A toe injury can be very impactful for a football player. Luckily, Lawrence plays the position that is least likely to be negatively impacted by a toe injury.

The big toe undergoes 90 degrees of extension when running. When injured, this hurts a lot and can influence an athlete’s ability to push off when running, thus making them slower. We often see compensation where the athlete will turn their leg and foot outward to avoid rolling through the big toe.

Since Trevor has been able to play so well with this injury, there is no reason for concern in week 18.

Justin Fields

Fields will miss the season finale with a “strained hip.” No details have been provided on what muscle was strained, but the hip flexors can often be strained. This is not the type of injury that would linger into the offseason, so Fields should have the entire offseason to train.

Teddy Bridgewater

Bridgewater is dealing with a dislocated pinky finger on his throwing hand. I know, the pinky seems invaluable, except that it’s really valuable! Footballs are not small. It takes all five fingers to properly grip the ball and throw it accurately!

With a finger dislocation, often the ligaments that support the finger are injured. Ligament injury causes swelling pain and, depending on how severe, can cause instability. With how small the fingers are, there is not much space to accommodate swelling. Because of this range of motion becomes significantly restricted when a finger is swollen. Without the full range of motion, gripping the football is a challenge.

For Bridgewater, we will have to wait and see if the pain and swelling can get under control. If not, Skyler Thompson is up again, as Tua has already been ruled out.

Week 18 Injury Report: Running Backs

Christian McCaffrey

CMC is on the week 18 injury report as he did not practice Wednesday as he tends to an ankle sprain. At this time, McCaffrey’s ankle injury appears mild but is one to monitor. Like Jackson above, the ligaments in the ankle that are injured with a. sprain are highly involved in proprioception. However, proprioceptive loss typically occurs with more severe injuries.

Historically RBs see a decline of 2.2 fantasy points when they return from an ankle sprain. CMC is built differently, though. As long as McCaffrey can log practice before Sunday’s game, he remains a locked and loaded RB1 for fantasy.

Derrick Henry

The king missed week 17’s meaningless game with a vague hip injury but is off the injury report. He logged a full practice Wednesday and is ready to go against the Jaguars.

Reporting on Henry’s hip injury has been vague, making it impossible to provide accurate analysis. What is clear, however, is that it is minor. Any hip injury has the potential to slow down acceleration, cutting, and sprinting; however, with his being minor and a week off, there is no reason for concern. He likely would have played in week 17 if the game had any meaning. Fantasy players can fire up Henry as they typically would.

Tony Pollard

Pollard logged a full practice after missing last week with a thigh injury. A full practice early in the week is encouraging and gives insight into Pollard’s status. Full practice on Wednesday tells us he is likely close to 100%.

Week 18 Injury Report

Thigh injuries are typically quad injuries. The quad is a group of four big, powerful muscles that are highly involved in acceleration, sprinting, and cutting. Historically running backs see a bit of a decline in fantasy production when returning from a quad injury. However, Pollard’s injury appears past him, and he is likely close to 100%.

Elijah Mitchell

Elijah Mitchell is on the week 18 injury report after being designated to return from IR after his second significant MCL injury of the season. The MCL helps support the inside of the knee, preventing a valgus moment at the knee (knee caving inward). The MCL has good blood flow, allowing it to heal well, but this takes time. Challenges with rehabbing an MCL and ankle sprain include reducing blood flow, restoring full range of motion, and restoring balance and proprioception. The ability of the athlete to demonstrate single-leg stability is paramount in their ability to regain their athleticism.

Running backs average a decline of 2.5 fantasy points compared to their pre-injury average in their first game after an MCL sprain. With Christian McCaffrey the lead of the backfield, expect San Fransisco to ease Mitchell back into the lineup.

James Conner

Conner missed practice Wednesday due to a shin injury that knocked him out for part of week 17. X-rays were negative, so Conner is likely dealing with either a bruise or a strain to the foot and ankle extensor muscles. Coach Kingsbury is not concerned with Conner’s injury, indicating they may have just given him the day off. Keep monitoring Conner’s status throughout the week.

Week 18 Injury Report: Wide Receivers

Deebo Samuel

Samuel has returned to practice and has a shot at playing this week. Samuel suffered an MCL and ankle injury in week 14 when he was carted off the field. Luckily, the injury was less severe than initially thought.

A description of the MCL injury and its rehab can be found above with Elijah Mitchell. With an MCL injury, we see a significant decline of 4.2 fantasy points in the first game back for receivers. However, this stat should be taken lightly, as the sample size is only 7. San Fransisco will be cautious with bringing their star back to the field. If Samuel plays this week, it is hard to trust him to meet his standard production. For Samuel, however, a dip from his standard is still effective.

Tyler Lockett

Lockett missed practice Wednesday as he deals with both a shin injury, and continues to heal from his metacarpal fracture a few weeks ago. Apparently, Lockett’s hand is not giving him any issues, which is astounding. Reports on the shin injury are vague. At this time we do not know if it is a bone injury, a muscle injury, or a classic case of shin splints.

Week 18 Injury Report

In any event, a shin injury could impact a player’s speed and agility, but typically these injuries feel better when a player gets warmed up. We will continue to monitor Lockett’s practice schedule ahead of their week 18 matchup against the Rams.

DeAndre Hopkins

Hopkins has been declared out for week 18 with an undisclosed knee injury. His season is over. This injury should not impact Hopkins into next season.

Jacoby Meyers

Meyers was limited in practice Wednesday with a shoulder injury. Meyers states that he is fine, but we will continue to monitor him. Shoulder injuries usually do not impact receiver production. Shoulder injuries do not affect running but obviously could be a cause for concern for catching the ball if adequate range and strength are not available. Typically, players will not be on the field if they don’t have sufficient shoulder range and strength. If Meyers plays, I do not expect much impact on his production.

Week 18 Injury Report: Tight Ends

Irv Smith

Smith, who is returning from a high ankle sprain, was designated to return from the IR. Smith may not be activated ahead of the week 18 matchup, but will begin to practice.

High ankle sprains impact the ability of a player to cut. The ligaments that hold the tibia and fibula together are injured with a high ankle sprain. This creates a gap between the two bones. This gap between the tibia and fibula makes it hard to push off to generate power. With this much time to rehab, I expect Smith is close to ready to go. A concern after a significant ankle sprain is the development of chronic ankle stiffness. This can impact a player’s foot and ankle mechanics, with negative sequala up the chain, potentially contributing to injuries in the knee, hip, back, etc, down the road.

Tight ends average a significant decline of 5 fantasy points compared to the pre-injury baseline in the first game after a high ankle sprain. This stat, compounded with TJ Hockensen’s arrival, makes Smith hard to rely on if he plays.

Juwan Johnson

Johnson did not practice Wednesday as he is dealing with a quad injury. An explanation of quad injuries can be found above with Tony Pollard. Tight ends average a decline of 1.2 fantasy points in the first game after a quad injury.

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