Injury Expert: 10 Injuries on the Fantasy Radar

Injury Expert: 10 Injuries on the Fantasy Radar

By Russell Manalastas (Injury Expert), last updated Aug 27, 2013

Russ Manalastas's picture

Russ is a Board Certified Sports Physical Therapist and Clinical Director at Lattimore Physical Therapy in Rochester, NY. He has a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University at Buffalo as well as his Bachelors Degree in Exercise Science. His board certification credentials in sports is what is required for PT's that work at the NFL level. Russ provides a unique perspective on NFL injuries as they relate to fantasy football.

Follow Russell on Twitter: @russmanalastas.

With meaningful preseason games coming to a close, position battles, injury questions, and sleepers are coming into focus for many owners getting ready to draft. There are still many questions lingering in regard to injuries. Here is a rundown of some of the latest and most impactful injuries heading into the final week of fantasy drafts and Week 1 of the NFL season.


Arian Foster – Low Back Pain

Pain in the lumbar aspect of your spine can occur in many different ways and take many different forms. Some people can strictly have localized pain, while others can have pain that can radiate down their leg (radiculopathy).

Foster has returned to full practice and says he feels no pain in either his back or calf that has kept him sidelined up until recently.

Bottom Line – For some reason I just don’t feel comfortable with how things have played out with Foster so far. He just had injections to help alleviate his back pain and it seems he is being rushed back just to show he’s healthy. The back could be an issue moving forward as his position leaves him more vulnerable to wear and tear, which is a reason it’s taken this long to ramp up. Foster is a risky player to draft just because there are so many questions about his health. He could pan out and finish as a top-of-the-line RB1, or he could be the oft injured RB that will make you question all year long why you drafted him. I’m looking elsewhere.


LeVeon Bell – Midfoot Sprain

The main role of the midfoot/forefoot is to help stabilize the foot and dissipate forces as the foot lands and pushes off the ground to walk or run.

A lot has been made of Bell’s foot injury whether it’s the kiss of death foot condition known as a Lisfranc injury or if it’s just a midfoot sprain. Reports are that it may be just a midfoot sprain and he’s expected to miss six weeks with the injury.

Bottom Line – The main difference between a midfoot sprain and a Lisfranc injury is the severity and location of where the injury or tear occurred in the midfoot. Even if it is just a sprain, it’s still something to be concerned about, even if he does return in the projected six weeks timetable. Keep an eye on him in drafts and any updates leading up to your drafts, but I don’t think he’s worth more than a mid- to late-round pick.


Jordy Nelson – Knee Arthroscopy

A knee arthroscopy is a minor procedure where they clean up any scar tissue or tissue that could be affecting the knee from functioning properly.

Nelson had surgery on August 6th to clean up some tissue in his knee that had been causing some nerve irritation. Since he’s had this nerve issue in the past, the Packers thought addressing the issue now before it became an issue later in the season was the best plan.

Bottom Line –Nelson looks primed to be ready to return for the regular season as he was back at practice yesterday. I don’t see his minor knee surgery being an issue moving forward and would draft Nelson without reservation.


Randall Cobb – Bicep Contusion

Your bicep is the main muscle in the front aspect of your upper arm. It allows you to bend your elbow and rotate your palm up towards the sky.

Cobb hasn’t played in a preseason game so far but participated in practice yesterday along with his fellow wideout Jordy Nelson.

Bottom Line – Bicep issues can be irritated if continued trauma is experienced to the area. The Packers are being conservative with him to avoid tackles or contact to the area that would make it worse, but I don’t see him being in danger of missing any time once the regular season starts. I wouldn’t consider this a serious issue.


Marques Colston – Plantar Fascitis

The plantar fascia is a thick band of fibrous tissue on the bottom side of your foot. It helps to maintain structures in the foot/arch, while also helping to stabilize and distribute forces as the foot makes contact with the ground and pushes off of it. Repetitive loading to the plantar fascia can lead inflammation, and if not treated properly, can lead to degeneration in the fascia, which makes the condition painful.

Colston was activated off the active PUP list on August 5th, dressed for this past preseason game, but didn’t see the playing field during the game. He recently admitted his foot is still not 100% but feels confident that he’ll be ready for the season.

Bottom Line – Constant running and cutting continues to irritate the bottom side of the foot where the fascia is located which makes it difficult to manage. Thankfully, Colston is a veteran wideout who can afford to miss practice throughout the season to get treatment and be ready on game days. Look to see if he plays in the final pre-season game this week and even if he doesn’t, I wouldn’t feel too concerned with his status come Week 1. It should be noted, however, that Colston is 30 years old and has dealt with a lot of injuries in his career. Lance Moore, Kenny Stills and Nick Toon would benefit if Colston were to miss time.


E.J. Manuel – Knee Arthroscopy (See Jordy Nelson)

Manuel continues to rehab after having his knee scoped August 18th in hopes to be ready for the start of the regular season.

Bottom Line – With Jeff Tuel, yes Jeff Tuel, tabbed as the Week 1 starter, it would be in everyone's best interest for Manuel to return ASAP. With that being said, this is the Bills franchise quarterback so they won’t rush him unless they feel he’s completely ready. I believe he’ll be ready by Week 2. Manuel is a QB2 candidate in the late rounds of your draft.


Ryan Williams – Patellar Tendonitis/Fat Pad Irritation in the Knee

The patellar tendon is the main tendon that connects the quadriceps to the upper part of your lower leg. Excessive load to the tendon can cause damage to the tendon, which makes it difficult to treat due to the lack of blood flow to tendons. The fat pad which helps with shock absorption when loading the knee can also become inflamed and is a high source of pain.

Williams played limited time this past preseason game against the Chargers.

Bottom Line – It looks like the Cardinals are making Williams available before final cuts, which shows that he’s not a big part of their plans for this year. His talent can’t be overlooked, but unfortunately, his injuries can’t be overlooked either. I wouldn’t think about drafting him until his situation becomes clearer and he shows us something on the field (this may be never).


Victor Cruz – Bruised Heel

Direct trauma to the heel can cause a contusion which makes it painful to put full pressure when walking or running.

Cruz just shed the walking boot he has been wearing for the past week and says his heel is feeling much better.

Bottom Line - Nothing to see here folks. He’ll be ready to roll come Week 1.


Heath Miller – Torn ACL/PCL/MCL

The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is the main ligament in the knee that helps prevent rotational/twisting motions and restricts the lower leg from moving excessively on the upper part of the leg. The PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) limits posterior movement of the lower leg with respect to the femur and also stabilizes against rotational movements. The MCL (medial collateral ligament) is the main ligament on the inside of the knee that prevents the knee from buckling inward when an external force is applied to it.

Miller has been doing individual drills on the side during practices and continues to rehab from his significant knee surgery.

Bottom Line – Miller doesn’t look like he’ll be ready to even start practicing until the regular season begins, which makes him a possible candidate to start on the reserve/PUP list. The Steelers other TE Matt Spaeth just had foot surgery to repair a Lisfranc injury so the Steelers are very thin at the TE position. Even if Miller avoids the reserve/PUP list, there’s a good chance he sits out several games. It is tough to gauge how he will respond when/if he finally returns. Look elsewhere for TE production.


Kendall Hunter – Partially Torn Achilles Tendon

The Achilles tendon is the main tendon in the back of your lower leg that connects your calf muscle to your heel. The primary job of the tendon is to allow you to push off the ball of your foot and generate force when planting into the ground.

Hunter played in this past Sunday’s game against the Vikings and didn’t look slowed by the Achilles injury that he suffered last year. They took him out after only three carries as to be conserve him for the regular season.

Bottom Line – Hunter looks to be the primary backup behind Frank Gore with LaMichael James being the change of pace back. I would draft him in the later rounds confidently as Gore’s handcuff but wouldn’t break the bank for him.


Filed Under: Preseason, 2013

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