Injury Expert: Gronk, Richardson, Broyles, Blackmon, Davis

Injury Expert: Gronk, Richardson, Broyles, Blackmon, Davis

By Russell Manalastas (Injury Expert), last updated Sep 12, 2016

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 the start of NFL training camps only a few days away, the excitement around fantasy football has returned (or has never left) for managers looking to crown themselves champion this year. There will be plenty of storylines to follow as training camps get under way, with injuries always being a major topic of concern for those prepping for drafts. Below I cover five fantasy football relevant injuries leading into training camp in an effort to give you a medical perspective, and the bottom line fantasy implications. Use this information to help make decisions as to whether you take a leap of faith on a player, or you let someone else take that chance on draft day..


Rob Gronkowski

Lower Back Surgery, Forearm Fracture Repair x4 – The discs that help support the vertebrae take a lot of stress when performing high level sports. Continuous force and compression to these discs can lead to an accelerated rate of degeneration which can cause the disc to protrude into the spinal column and irritate nerves responsible for innervating muscles of your lower body. Prolonged irritation to these nerves can cause abnormal symptoms (pain, tingling/numbness, weakness) which make it difficult to perform even the simplest of tasks. Surgery is performed to shave any disc material that is protruding into the spinal column to reduce the irritation to the corresponding nerve.

Reports are that Gronk is making good progress since his back surgery. The problem is that nobody really knows what his symptoms were before he had the surgery, so it makes it tough to project how soon he can return and contribute in an impactful way. If the back injury was causing weakness in any portion of his lower leg, that can result in a longer recovery. With regards to his forearm, whenever you have multiple surgeries to clean out an infection after the original surgery, it’s a concern. Prolonged muscle wasting can occur when performing multiple surgeries in the same region which makes strengthening those muscles more difficult.

Bottom Line – Four forearm surgeries is nothing to overlook as his strength and grip becomes a major factor when catching passes. The best case scenario is he returns from these surgeries in the early weeks of the regular season and is as dominant as he was prior to all the surgeries. Worst case scenario, and a scenario that is very possible, is the Patriots put him on the PUP list to start the season and he misses the first 6 games. I think the reason they may opt for this decision is so he can return as healthy and strong as possible to help make a push towards the postseason. The first 6 games of the Pats schedule is a manageable stretch (@BUF NYJ TB @ATL @CIN NO), and even though they are very shallow at the receiver position, this isn’t the first time they’ve had a lack of depth. Gronkowski has freakish athletic ability and motivation, but the amount of surgery he’s had in a small timeframe will likely result in a longer recovery timetable than the best-case scenario. (current 12-Team ADP: 3.08)


Ryan Broyles

ACL reconstruction – The ACL is the main ligament in the knee that helps prevent rotational/twisting motions and prevents the lower leg from moving excessively on the upper part of the leg.

Broyles is 7 months removed from ACL surgery on his right knee. His rehab most likely consists of agility, cutting, and change of direction activities to allow proper re-education of his body and his knee to perform at an optimal level. It sounds like he is performing very well and his knee is responding positively to the new drills that he is participating in. Physically, everything sounds like he’s on track to be ready for Week 1, but it’s the mental aspect of the recovery that is usually the last hurdle in returning to 100%.

Bottom Line – Barring any setbacks, Broyles could prove to be a nice addition to fantasy football teams and could provide immediate impact. Even I might have some fantasy value if I started opposite Megatron so you know Broyles provide some value if he’s healthy. Keep an eye on him in the later rounds of your draft. (current 12-Team ADP: 11.12)


Trent Richardson

Shin Pain - Your "shin" refers to the front side of your tibia which is the main bone in the lower leg.

Richardson is developing into one of those players with the "brittle" tag as he has dealt with injuries since he's come into the league (knee surgery, broken ribs, ankle sprain). His latest issue is his left shin that didn't allow him to be a full participant in OTA's. The Browns are saying they're trying to be conservative with Richardson to prevent causing his body to break down as the season progresses.

Bottom Line - Richardson has shown that he can play through injuries, but it's the fact that he deals with them too often that makes him a risky acquisition. For a running back that’s supposed to be the workhorse for his team, it's never encouraging that his team is already doing things to ease his workload so that he makes it through the season. I think he'll be OK once Week 1 rolls around, but make sure he's participating fully in camp and pre-season games before using a first-round pick on him. (current 12-Team ADP: 1.08)


Justin Blackmon

Groin Surgery - Your adductor muscles are the muscles that make up your groin. Your groin muscles originate from your pelvis and have attachments as far down as the inside part of the knee.

Blackmon underwent surgery without any real indication that he was dealing with any issues. There aren't any specifics to what the surgery entailed but it could be similar to what Greg Jennings had last year which forced him to miss 7 games. Even though they consider it a groin surgery, there is a close relationship between your groin muscles and the lower muscles of your abdomen which could cause some tearing of the lower abdominal wall which leads to pain (most classify this as a sports hernia which is closely related to any groin issue)

Bottom Line – Blackmon is suspended for the first four games of the season due to substance abuse, so he shouldn’t really be on anyone’s radar at the beginning of the year. If Blackmon can stay out of trouble and continue to build up his endurance, he should be as close to 100% barring any setbacks when eligible to return. It’s very difficult to put a timetable on his return due to the lack of information about his surgery, so keep an eye on his status as the season approaches. He has the talent to be a solid contributor in fantasy, but the situation he’s in along with the questions at quarterback could make it tough for him to be relevant even when he does return. (current 12-Team ADP: 8.10)


Fred Davis

Achilles Tendon Repair – 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. 

Davis tore his Achilles in week 7 of last year and reports are that he's looked good and is ahead of his rehab schedule. Even though he didn't participate in OTA's, it was more precautionary due to not wanting to rush his progress and cause any increased irritation.

Bottom Line - Expect Davis to be a full participant in training camp. Keep an eye on how he performs in preseason games and if he looks like he's got good explosion off his leg, he could be a nice flyer in the late rounds of your draft especially as RGIII continues to get healthy. (current 12-Team ADP: 15.06)


Filed Under: Preseason, 2013

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