Playoff time! Fourteen teams continue their Super Bowl run. This week’s Super Wild Card has six great matchups spanning from Saturday to Monday. As always, there are many notable injuries to monitor, discussed below. The Wild Card Injury Report contains must-read content for those playing daily fantasy or placing prop bets this week. Let’s break down the injuries by game.
Wild Card Injury Report: Seahawks at 49Ers
Fant missed Tuesday’s walkthrough with a vague knee sprain. Reports at this time are not concerning for Fant missing Saturday’s Super Wild Card kickoff game. Any knee injury could slow down an athlete’s agility and sometimes straight-line speed. However, Fant being a big-bodied tight end, can use his size to create passing lanes and is unlikely to be impacted by this minor injury.
Wild Card Injury Report: Chargers at Jaguars
Williams left Sunday’s game on the cart after suffering a back injury. Luckily, an X-ray and MRI ruled out any structural damage, and Williams appears to be dealing with simply a contusion and likely muscle spasms.
Reports only say a contusion (bruise), but any time an injury occurs, the body protects via muscle spasms and muscle guarding. Often lingering pain after the injured tissue has healed is due to persisting muscle guarding. The contusion alone can impact muscle function. A contusion is simply swelling, creating pain and inhibiting muscle function. In the back, this is seen as stiffness and unwillingness to move.
For Williams to play, he will have to demonstrate the ability to perform football motions pain-free or with little enough pain to perform at a high level. This is possible in the given time frame (LAC plays Saturday night). Following local beat reporters will be critical this week, and we will continue to provide analysis on the injury updates via Twitter (@FantasyInjuryT, @Injury_Fantasy). If Williams feels well enough to play, this injury should not limit his per-play upside but could limit his snap count.
Lawrence continues to deal with the same toe injury discussed in the previous several weeks. This has not slowed him down to date, as he is playing the best football of his career. While Lawrence is limited in practice to start the week, there is no reason for concern now.
Wild Card Injury Report: Dolphins at Bills
Tua continues to be in the NFL’s concussion protocol and has been ruled out for Sunday’s playoff game against Buffalo. Last week, I wrote about how when someone has previously experienced a concussion, especially in the same season, it takes less of an impact to cause a subsequent concussion. Additionally, the subsequent concussion often takes longer to recover from. It will be a real challenge for Miami to take down Buffalo with out Tua.
Bridgewater continues to rehab his dislocated right pinky finger and his knee injury. Let’s remember that gripping a football takes all five fingers! When a finger dislocates, oftentimes ligaments are injured (ligaments typically hold the bones in place, preventing dislocation). When a ligament is injured, this creates pain, swelling, and instability. All three of these factors will impact a player’s ability to grip a football and, thus, his ability to throw accurately and prevent fumbling.
Ligaments take several weeks-months to heal, depending on the grade of injury. In many cases, surgical repair is needed. It does not appear that Bridgewater needs surgery at this time, though Miami may just be delaying surgery in hopes he can rehab enough to play.
If Bridgewater does play, which does not appear likely, I do not expect him to be at 100%. I would expect several inaccurate balls and possibly more fumbles than usual. Whether its an injured Bridgewater or a healthy Skyler Thompson, this does not bode well for the Dolphin’s offense.
Mostert is dealing with a “significant break” in his thumb. This is major for the 30-year-old running back. The thumb is literally what separates humans from other species and has allowed up to evolve to manipulate objects. One of those objects we have learned to manipulate is a football.
Pain is one thing, but with this being an upper-body injury, the pain will not limit his athleticism as it would a lower-body or core injury. A thumb fracture will not allow Mostert to grip with the injured hand, making it impossible for him to carry the ball in that hand and unlikely to be utilized in the passing game. Mostert can, however, wear a protective brace, or sometimes even a club, on his hand and carry the ball in the other hand. With a brace or club in place, he can still run the ball without any limitations but will not be used in the passing game whatsoever. The inability to be used in the passing game will lead to a lower snap percentage than usual for Mostert and more snaps for Jeff Wilson.
Waddle is dealing with an ankle injury but is not expected to limit him on Sunday. Ankle injuries are tricky for a player like Waddle, who relies on his speed and quickness. An ankle injury can limit agility and explosiveness due to the injures impact on stability, sensory awareness (proprioception), and pain.
Most ankle injuries are sprains, an injury of one of the many ligaments. These ligaments are essential for the stability of the ankle, as well as proprioception (brains awareness of where limbs are without looking). An athlete cannot push off the ground as quickly and forcefully without proper stability. Without proper proprioception (discussed at length last week with Lamar Jackson), an athlete cannot cut as precisely and confidently. Pain inhibits motion, and athletes cannot create as much speed and power when running on a painful ankle.
That last paragraph was to educate readers on ankle sprains but is not necessarily what Waddle’s situation will be. The severity of a sprain makes a significant difference in the ability to play. A minor sprain, which Waddle’s is described as, sees very little to no loss of stability and proprioception. With a minor sprain, athletes can typically tape it up and be ready to go. As of this writing, the reports suggest Waddle will be fine. The bigger concern will be his quarterback situation.
McKenzie is rehabbing a hamstring injury going into the wild card weekend and was limited in practice on Wednesday. Practicing in any capacity on Wednesday is a good sign, but hamstring injuries often impact receivers significantly in their first game after suffering the injury.
On average, receivers see a decline of 2.7 fantasy points compared to the pre-injury baseline. The reason this impacts receivers more than other positions is how much they run. The strain on the hamstring increases dramatically when increasing sprint speed from 80-100%. In order to get up to 100% sprint speed, an athlete needs 40-50 yards. Receivers are the only position that routinely runs this far on a given play.
McKenzie’s game is built on his speed and quickness. I do expect this to limit him on Sunday.
Wild Card Injury Report: Giants at Vikings
No fantasy-relevant player injuries to report!
Wild Card Injury Report: Ravens at Bengals
Jackson continues to miss practice 38 days after suffering his PCL injury. Below is a blurb from my previous posts describing this injury, and why this is so hard for him to return from.
“A 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. 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.”
Baltimore appears to be preparing for another week of Tyler Huntley, who has limited in practice himself.
Edwards suffered a concussion on Sunday and is not practicing to start the week. No practice in any capacity on Wednesday is never good, as this makes it very challenging to be able to pass through the NFL’s 5-stage concussion protocol. We will continue to monitor Edwards’s status ahead of Wild Card Weekend.
Huntley missed week 18 with both shoulder and wrist injuries. He was limited in practice on Wednesday but was not seen throwing. Both joints can negatively impact a thrower. The shoulder must have an adequate range of motion and strength to throw with accuracy and power. His shoulder injury is unclear, but any sprain or strain can create pain and swelling. Pain and swelling can inhibit muscle function and reduce the range of motion on the throw, thus reducing power.
The wrist is vital for gripping and finessing the ball. Subtle wrist motion at the end of the throwing motion is critical in applying a tight spiral with a sprain, similar to the shoulder above; pain and swelling impact strength and range of motion.
Hopefully, with last week off to recover, Huntly is closer to 100%. We will continue to monitor practice reports, but Huntley will likely not be at 100%, impacting his throwing numbers. This could mean even more rushing attempts for the Ravens.
Higgins missed practice due to an illness. We will continue to monitor his status ahead of Wild Card Weekend.
Wild Card Injury Report: Cowboys at Buccaneers
Julio’s injury riddled season continues. Jones suffered a PCL injury early in the year and it appears to continue to impact him. A description of the PCL injury can be seen above in the Lamar Jackson section. I do not expect Julio to make much of an impact if he plays.