Below is a no-nonsense quick-hitting analysis of current player injuries that could impact performance on game day. For any questions related to this article such as “should I drop [player A] for [player B] just in case?” please refer to the staff’s weekly projections. In reality, there isn’t much to glean from Wednesday practice reports and this article is primarily in preparation for the Thursday night game. However, definitely bookmark this as it will be updated and fleshed out through Sunday morning.
Even the mildest of the mild groin strains take a few weeks to resolve. The idea that Monty will suit up and be physically unrestricted just two weeks after being diagnosed with a seemingly significant strain are, in my mind, low. This injury typically takes 2-8 weeks to heal depending on the severity… and if players come back to soon, well, DeSean Jackson in 2019 can take it from here. Montgomery did practice on Wednesday, but individual drills on the side are a far cry from planting and cutting at full speed with 300lb defenders barreling towards you. Monty would have to practice in full at least once this week for me to have any sort of confidence in him. Let’s cross that bridge when (if) we get to it.
Update: Okay well here’s the bridge, isn’t it? Monty has practiced in full twice now this week but I’d rather take a wait and see approach on that groin strain that was managed without surgical care. Any soft tissue type issue can recur at any moment which is why he’s a volatile player in 2020 from an injury perspective. Who knows if he’ll see a full workload, but even if he does, how confident are you in a player who was writhing in pain on the ground just two weeks ago? Don’t forget DeSean Jackson tried coming back too early from his injury in 2019. Keep in mind a retear is the absolute worst case scenario, but that’s my job is to lay out the floor of every player.
FINAL: Reports indicate Monty will see his full workload which is fine, but from a health perspective he is volatile until he shows us that he’s truly over that groin strain. High volaility.
On August 19th, a “lower body” injury was reported for Sanders. Sunday will be three weeks and four days since the injury occured. The average amount of time players miss for hamstring strains is 13 days. With all of that said, here’s my analysis: he’s fine. If you want to fade him due to workload concerns as he’s missed practices, fine. But don’t get cute when it comes to his health.
Update: Sanders is admittedly not as far along as we’d like to see in practice, but the Eagles are a sharp organization who is likely taking it slow with a soft tissue injury to their star RB (see 2019 D-Jax situation above). Of course snap count and workload become a concern in Week One simply due to lack of practice time, but Sanders should be healthy in 2020 moving forward given the conservative approach Philly is taking.
Travis Kelce (get the joke?)
Don’t panic. He was a full participant in practice on Wednesday.
From Monday to Tuesday, Cooks was downgraded from partial participant to non-participant then practiced in part on Wednesday again. It’s never a good thing to see a player be downgraded, even if the reports are that this injury isn’t new. As Houston manages the injury, they obviously found it best to sit Cooks out of practice indicating he might not be ready to roll quite yet. Add in the volatility of his concussion history and Cooks is a Wild Card in Week One from a health perspective.
Is Bruce Arians ever going to shoot straight with us? This week he mentioned that Evans might be a “game-time call,” but let’s be real: after the entire RoJo Fournette debacle, it’s tough to trust anything he says. History tells us Arians’ explanation is completely plausible, as Evans just came off a massive hamstring tear in 2019 and has an extensive list of groin and hamstring injuries dating back to his rookie year. As you know if you’ve been following me this offseason, at 26 years old with that history, Evans could very well have a season where he tangos with hamstring injuries (read more about managing hamstring injuries here). I mentioned in my WR Physical Volatility Tiers that Evans doesn’t come without risk this year. Could this be the beginning of that risk materializing? Then again, plenty of veterans are coming out of quarantine with altered and disrupted workout regimens.
Maybe this is just a blip on the radar.
Maybe Arians was just trying to throw the Saints off the trail.
Maybe Mike Evans will have one of his vintage 40 point fantasy games.
Update: Maybe not indeed. Evans is doubtful and unlikely to play. Given his history (2014 groin strain, 2015 groin and hamstring, 2019 hamstring) he’s a high risk player in 2020 from a soft tissue injury perspective. Evaluate your own risk tolerance moving forward.
Final: Evans will be on a “pitch count” today and is very hard to trust due to the chance of re-injury which is also on the table. His floor is zero today.
Williams is “being brought along slowly” after suffering an AC joint separation/sprain. Additionally, Sunday will be just three weeks since the injury, and considering this is a 2-4 week injury on average, I would be shocked if Williams even suited let alone saw a normal amount of volume. Why? Because when players are brought back too soon from this injury, the results can be near-catastrophic as they were for James Conner who suffered this injury in 2019. Williams is another Wild Card this week.
Update: He’s questionable and has been limited in practice all week. There have also been reports the Chargers expect him to be out the whole month of September. While I wouldn’t go that far, I’m not holding out hope for Williams this week. Even if he suits, there’s no guarantee he’ll see the snaps or perform well due to the AC sprain average time frame as his playing style leads to jump balls and physical play that could cause him pain. As a late-afternoon game, I would find other options.
Final: Expected to be OUT.
Golladay is (oddly) a player flying under the radar from a health perspective who was limited in practice on Wednesday with a hamstring strain. However, there isn’t much to discuss yet as Wednesdays, in the grand scheme of things, tend to be a throwaway day in terms of injury reports.
Update: Golladay is highly unlikely to play as he’s doubtful, but other than that copy/paste a relatively 2020 season for Baby Tron (trademarked by JJ Zachariason).
The following fantasy relevant WRs are also listed on their respective injury reports as “questionable” and/or were limited or missed practice on Wednesday. I’ve ordered them from players I’m most concerned about being active/performing to least concerned as of today.
Coming off a tweaked hamstring, Parker practiced in full for the first time on Friday. Again, the theme this week is workload and snap share, so be aware of the floor for Parker which is a reduced role. However, the Dolphins will likely be down big and need to pass the ball. Temper expectations for Parker, especially in cash games.
Coming off his second ACL tear since high school, I'm curious to see how Williams bounces back in his second year. I’m not very high on him for 2020 given the nature of the late season ACL and the fact that hamstring strains following this surgery are common.
Unfortunately it’s hard to trust Aiyuk as a rookie coming off a limited practice on Friday. Yes, San Fran has to throw the ball to someone, but I’m not banking on it being Aiyuk. At least not yet.
Officially declared out. We’ll likely see Deebo back in a week or so once he’s up to speed with the offense. Regardless, he’s crushing the six week timeline predictions from back in June.
He’s not a bionic man. The median return to play after his specific injury is three weeks. It’s great to see him back, but I want to see how that shoulder will hold up as the re-dislocation rate in this study was 55% for NFL players. Not to mention if he’s wearing a sling, his catch radius could be impacted. Worst of all, there’s a clinical test for shoulder dislocations called, no joke, the Apprehension Test. A positive test indicates a potential labrum tear/previous dislocation history. A jump ball and rapid shoulder movements in a game could cause massive apprehension and impact his ability to play well. The final outcome? Likely somewhere in the middle, but I’m personally out on Reagor in 2020.
Additions, Odds, and Ends
On Thursday, Sutton suffered an AC sprain per Adam Schefter and his sources. The MRI was suspicious as typically a step-off deformity is clearly visible when a player separates his shoulder like Sutton allegedly did. Generally imaging studies that comprehensive are used to view the labrum/joint structures after a dislocation. Nevertheless, Denver decided it was prudent to know the full extent of the shoulder damage and declared Sutton would return to practice on Saturday. An odd move that seems precautionary more than anything. In a best-case scenario, Sutton might not report that his symptoms are too intense and the MRI came back “clean”. The worst case scenario is that Denver knows this is a bad injury that will require the average 10-28 days to heal and Sutton has no real shot at suiting up let alone performing through pain. Although a quick Toradol shot before the game could help him get by, any injury worth numbing is an injury worth watching. A WR needs full range of motion of the shoulder to make catches, ward off defenders, and even block. Guess what the hallmark deficit of an AC joint sprain is? Loss of pain free shoulder range of motion and strength. This is all to say that Sutton’s range of outcomes are as wide as the margins of my student loan interest rates and I’m not going anywhere near him in any format this week. I’ll sleep well at night regardless of the outcome.
As a carrier of the sickle Cell Trait, he really might miss Week One due to the poor air quality in California impacting his oxygen capacity. He didn’t practice Friday and his status is truly in question for Sunday.
Final: Status is still in question
His mystery injury is to his hip. But as Ethan Turner points out in his Rookie Injury Guide, Swift has had two groin strains, both in 2018. His “hip” injury could be a groin strain in disguise as Patricia does his best (that’s to say a terrible) Belichick impersonation of hiding injuries. This is something to watch in 2020 despite a full practice by Swift on Friday.
Soft Tissue Injuries
In 2011 there was a lockout and players couldn’t use the facilities or practice with coaches. The end result was a spike in non-contact injuries such as muscle strains, which makes sense as routines were altered in a big way. This could be what’s going on in 2020 so far (no mini-camp/OTAs etc) but it could also simply be that the soft tissue injuries are happening to fantasy-relevant players versus practice squad guys this year. Nevertheless, dudes who are currently dealing with muscle strains face a 23% recurrence rate in this calendar year.
My own research, though not robust in sample, showed about a 10% production dip in WRs coming off a hamstring strain the first week back. The p-value (also known as “significance” in medical literature) showed this was, well, significant. Don’t take it as gospel but if you’re looking for a slam dunk/high floor player in cash games for example, maybe don’t go with a guy suffering from hamstring injuries this week.
Check back at least once on Sunday morning for a final update. If you still have questions or think I missed a fantasy relevant player, tag me in the Discord channel and we’ll Dis-cuss. Happy Week One.