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Anatomy Of An Injury - Week 10

This is a weekly column that will provide you with in-depth analysis of key injuries for the week and their resultant implications on fantasy football. This information comes straight from my perspective as a Physical Therapist and Athletic Trainer for ten years. Over this time, I have seen almost all the key injuries that can happen in this violent sport on the college level and how to treat them. Hopefully, this gives you a little more insight on certain injuries and what to expect.

Luckily, for all fantasy owners out there, it was a slow week on the injury front. Big Ben’s injury complicates things a bit, but I won’t go overboard just yet. When I first decided to attempt and write this column, I was looking to try and shed some light on all injuries that could happen and how long the players may be out. I never realized that there may be a week where almost nothing major happens from an injury standpoint. It makes for an interesting process when trying to write something about a few players, who in the grand scheme of things, probably mean very little to any fantasy team. But, when an injury does happen, there is nothing worse than having one of those players go down early in the contest and see minimal point gain from the player. I will touch upon the few injuries that did occur and see if we can analyze the second half of the season.

Player: Kyle Orton
Injury: High Ankle Sprain
Healing Time: 3-6 weeks
Impact On The Field: Orton’s high ankle injury looked to be of the severe kind. The fact that he could not put any weight on it and needed to be carted off the field was not a good sign. The high ankle sprain is different and more severe than your typical ankle sprain. The high ankle sprain is an injury of the ligaments and joint capsule that is formed by your two bones of the shin area. Directly above where your lower leg meets your ankle is where the joint is located. The difference between this joint and your ankle joint is that your ankle joint typically gets twisted inward which is how you “roll your ankle”. This injury typically heals relatively quickly and can be taped or braced to further stabilize the joint and allow a quicker return to competition. The high ankle sprain is an injury that is very difficult to brace or support and therefore must heal before allowing a return to sport.

To explain simply, the joint spreads and accepts weight when your foot hits the ground and you go to push off. If the joint is “loose” from ligament damage, then it will spread too much and cause a great deal of pain. Because it is tough to treat with support, typically, full recovery must be achieved before you can return to sport. As I stated above, Orton’s injury did not look good and I would expect this taking a longer length of time. Orton had really come on as of late and was making for a good backup/bye week replacement QB. This injury should not be devastating because I doubt that anyone was relying on Orton in the first place for any length of time. Yes, even you Tom Brady owners probably drafted a better backup. Rex Grossman will take his place and as evidence of his play from Sunday, don’t expect too much. Multiple turnovers and low yardage should come from his play. My advice: don’t pick him up.

Player: Matt Schaub
Injury: MCL Sprain
Healing Time: 1-4 weeks
Impact On The Field: Schaub twisted his left knee on Sunday and was limping around pretty good. His knee swelled up at halftime after the injury and the coaches decided to pull him to prevent a further worsening of the injury more games missed as a result. As long as there is not damage to the ACL or cartilage, he could be back on the field this weekend with a knee brace. Also, the fact that it is his left knee means that he does not have to plant to throw on that leg, meaning that it should hurt less to throw a ball. If he does miss this weekend, Rosenfels has proven to be a fine replacement. Minus his boneheaded fumbles a few weeks ago against the Colts, he is a very capable thrower of the ball. He spreads the ball around to the open receiver and all your usual plays should not see a drop-off in production. But, I think Schaub will be back very quickly from this injury.

Player: Kolby Smith
Injury: Knee injury
Healing Time: Out for the season
Impact On The Field: This is a tough blow for Smith. He was put in a position to be successful because Larry Johnson has his head in “his rear”. With Johnson out, Smith was in line for the majority of carries and was off to a nice start last weekend with 10 carries for 42 yards and a TD. But all was lost and possibly the chance to be part of the future when he tore a ligament in his knee and was put on season-ending injury reserve. Jamaal Charles was drafted as a possible RB1 and looked the part against a stout Tampa D. Herm Edwards was quoted as saying that he did not envision Charles as a 20-carry guy but, I have to believe that was used as a motivational tool. Assuming Smith is healthy next year, I would look for him to have a role as a backup but nothing more. Charles is the man to own and there is certainly a chance they draft another back next year to share the duties.

Player: Willis McGahee
Injury: Ankle sprain
Healing Time: 1-4 weeks
Impact On The Field: McGahee was listed as active this week and then was placed firmly on the bench as Ray Rice and LeRon McClain ran wild. McGahee has a regular ankle sprain and should be back on the field very soon, assuming his coaches want him out there. McGahee is clearly being phased out in the same way Edgerin James has been. McGahee had that brutal knee injury that he suffered in college and he has never been the same. He worked his tail off to get back to a professional level, but that injury could have ended his career. He has clearly lost a step since the injury and the wear and tear over the years are starting to catch up to him. He is always banged up and now is in danger of losing his job. He just looks slow and you can see the difference in speed between him and Rice.

Player: Michael Pittman
Injury: Stinger
Healing Time: IR
Impact On The Field: Pittman has what is termed a stinger. When an athlete lowers his head and braces for a hit with his shoulder pads, a blow to the top of the shoulder causes a traction force where the top of your shoulder meets your neck. This is where the nerves exit your spine and go down into your arm. It is here that you can get nerve compression which causes pain in the neck and more concerning, tingling/pain in your hands/arm. Pittman was placed on IR, ending his season.

This means we will see either Ryan Torain or Selvin Young. My money is going on Torain because he is someone fresh that Shanahan can play with for a while until he gets bored of him and drafts another RB. Torain fits the mold more so than Young, who is more of a scat back. I would think Torain has more value, but if you can figure out Shanahan, more power to you.

Player: Dan Orlovsky
Injury: Sprained ligament in the thumb
Healing Time: 2-4 weeks
Impact On The Field: I was pulling hard for Orlovsky. I was a trainer for him and his teammates when he played in high school. He was a good kid with a rocket arm and led his team to a state championship. It was nice to see him get a chance in the pros and he played relatively well except for running out of the end zone for a safety. He ended up tearing a ligament in his thumb and needed to be casted. He will be in the cast for at least 2 weeks. This means that Daunte Culpepper enters the picture. If he gets any time at all, he will be throwing 75-yard bombs to Calvin Johnson who is a stud, but will have difficulty having any accuracy on the shorter throws.

Player: Ben Roethlisberger
Injury: Sprained shoulder (?)
Healing Time: Unknown
Impact On The Field: Tough call on this one. When you hear Super Bowl Winning QB’s talking about how their shoulder “popped out”, it is a bit concerning. Considering how much is invested in him, I would think they use caution when thinking about the future. My gut says that he is out for a few weeks to let this heal. Once the shoulder is “subluxed”, it then pops back into place, but there is stretching of the ligaments that hold the joint in place. Or it is just an AC separation which is what caused his problem in the first place. It takes time to allow full healing to occur and because it is his throwing shoulder, this complicates the situation. I will have more on this next week when more information is released.

Like I stated earlier, it was a slow week on the injury front. So, I have added a little wrinkle to target players coming back from injury that may be a little undervalued at this time. Without question, if there is any way to get your hands on Tony Romo, do it. The Cowboys are a mess without him and he has an injury that will allow him to hit the ground running when he returns in week 11. The Cowboy offense will be back to its explosive ways in 2 weeks.

Jason Witten and Terrell Owens are also good buy low candidates. Witten should feel better in two weeks and that will allow him to get open in the middle of the field. Owens’ production had been off even with Romo in the game but, I would anticipate him putting up big numbers in the second half with the Cowboy offense at full-strength.

Reggie Bush is also another candidate who you may be able to pry away from an impatient owner. He only had a knee scope performed and was producing at elite levels before his injury. I would try to target him also if the price is not too steep.

And one more tidbit that I would like to throw out there is some information on Kurt Warner. Kurt Warner is on pace for 32 td’s and ridiculous yardage numbers. I own him in one league and will continue to start him no matter the defense. But, this is Kurt Warner we are talking about. This is a man who takes a lot of hits and seems to always miss time with some kind of injury. I happen to be conservative in nature and will lean towards the side that thinks that Warner will miss some time this season due to injury. I would prepare now and try to get a decent backup in case Warner goes down. A cheap investment may prove to be the wisest decision you make in your run for a championship.