The Training Room: Week 8 Injury Updates
We are just about halfway through the fantasy year and to say I've been busy discussing injuries is an understatement. Even with all the advancements in strength and conditioning, training regimens, nutrition, etc., the number of soft tissue injuries continues to be a major topic and concern for NFL players. Hamstring strains are as prevalent as ever and the lingering nature of soft tissue injuries makes fantasy owners nervous about their star players holding up to the rigors of a full season. We have some players who are making their way back from injuries and could make an immediate impact this weekend, and some who will be forced to sit multiple weeks.
On The Mend
Dez Bryant (Jones Fracture): Dez warmed up before Sunday's game against the Giants and looked like he was moving fairly well. He'll continue to be day-to-day, but he's close to returning. He'll need to practice at some point this week to feel confident he's going to get the green light. Projection: Dez starts Week 8. The Cowboys could use Dez's big play ability to help take the pressure off Matt Cassel until Tony Romo returns. There's a good chance Dez won't be at 100 percent for the rest of the season, but he's still good enough to make a big difference on fantasy teams.
Tyrod Taylor (MCL Sprain): Tyrod dealt with increased knee soreness when trying to ramp up activity late this past week, but he'll have the bye week to get his knee back to full health. Projection: Taylor starts Week 9. The Bills need Tyrod back to help their offense, as E.J. Manuel just makes too many mistakes to feel confident in using him.
Antonio Gates (MCL Sprain): Gates concedesd he may need further testing on the knee if he's not able to progress due to the pain he's experiencing. Projection: Gates misses two more weeks. There have not been many positive reports about how his knee is progressing, so there is definite concern here. I would have a backup plan over the next few weeks if he can't ramp up his activity due to the pain or lack of stability in the knee.
Dion Lewis (Abdominal Injury): Lewis was a limited participant in practice on Tuesday, so barring any setbacks, he should have a good chance to be available for Thursday night against the Dolphins. Projection: Lewis will be active for Week 8. The Pats carousel at running back will continue to be a problem to predict, but I have some reservations about Lewis being back to full health. With the Pats holding Lewis out last week for precautionary reasons and now having to play on a short week, there's a chance Lewis' touches could be limited as he works his way back to full health.
Matthew Stafford (Bruised Hand): Stafford had X-rays on his non-throwing hand, which came back negative. He'll be day-to-day, but this shouldn't be a concern moving forward. Projection: Stafford starts Week 8.
Marcus Mariota (MCL Sprain): The fact the Titans were considering possibly using Mariota this past weekend seemed like more of a smoke screen than anything else. Mariota will test his knee out this week to see how he feels, but I would temper expectations. Projection: Mariota misses 1-2 more games. The Titans season is heading in the wrong direction, but they won't risk Mariota's long-term health just to put fans in the seats.
Emmanuel Sanders (AC Joint Sprain): Sanders will likely be limited during practice this week, but shouldn't be in danger of missing the showdown against the Packers. Projection: Sanders starts Week 8 against Green Bay. The Broncos are going to need as much help as they can get this upcoming weekend as the game could end up being a shootout.
Davante Adams (Ankle Sprain): Adams returned to practice this week with hopes of suiting up this weekend against the Broncos. If he's able to get through practices without any setbacks, he should be a popular add if he's on the waiver. Projection: Adams starts Week 8. Adams will come back into the fold as the 3rd WR behind Randall Cobb and James Jones. Whenever Aaron Rodgers is at the helm, there is always a ton of upside with his skilled players, so if Adams available, now is the time to pounce.
Jeremy Maclin (Concussion): There were reports Maclin had passed the concussion protocol last week and he was looking probable to play this past Sunday. Unfortunately, it seems Maclin must've suffered a setback as he was inactive against the Steelers. Maclin should have a better chance suiting up against the Lions this weekend. Projection: Maclin starts Week 8. He should return to a good matchup as the Lions are ranked 27th against WRs this season.
Ben Roethlisberger (MCL Sprain): Big Ben is back at practice with Coach Tomlin stating he won't have any limitations in preparation to start this week. Big Ben will continue to ramp up his activity in hopes of not suffering any setbacks and feeling comfortable heading into this weekend. Projection: Roethlisberger starts Week 8 against the Bengals. A division game against the undefeated Bengals seems to be the perfect time for Roethlisberger to make his return. The Steelers can't afford to lose any more ground in the AFC North, so they'll need Big Ben to make an immediate impact. There's a very good chance he'll wear a brace on his knee to provide more support, but he shouldn't have too many limitations.
Victor Cruz (Calf Strain): Cruz has no timetable for returning to the field as he has not been cleared to practice (even though he currently doesn't have pain in his calf). He recently had an MRI that revealed his calf still has some damage, but any significant muscular strain could have some imaging that shows delayed recovery. Projection: Cruz misses the next 2-3 games. This is a situation to monitor, but it's fair to wonder how productive Cruz is going to be if he does return this year. Calf strains have a high incidence of aggravation if not properly managed, but it seems Cruz is going through all the necessary steps. It's just a slower process than he'd like.
The Training Room
Bottom Line: I'm not sure anyone could've seen this coming with Foster. It's another tough blow for a guy who has had a great career when he's been on the field. Unfortunately, he's spent a lot of time off the field over the past few years due to all the injuries he's been trying to come back from.
Projection: Foster could be limited at the start of 2016 season. Foster should have surgery sooner than later to repair the Achilles in order to allow him to start the recovery process ASAP. Normal recovery for an NFL player who returns form an Achilles rupture is usually around 11 months, so a full recovery would mean Foster would be at full health closer to midseason than the beginning of the season. He could progress quicker than the 11 month timetable, but as you've noticed, he puts himself at greater risk for another major injury if not properly managed.
Bottom Line: Ivory continues to be banged up with soft tissue injuries. Quad strains can be tricky. As soon as you put weight through the leg, it can cause irritation to the quad and cause pain. Ivory will be day-to-day for now, but keep an eye on his progress throughout the week.
Projection: Ivory starts Week 8. Ivory will be a limited participant in practice all week in order to get his quad pain under control. Ivory has been great since he took over lead back duties for the Jets, but his continued struggle with soft tissue injuries is concerning for his long-term health this season.
Bottom Line: Based on initial reports, it sounds like Randle will be more week-to-week as opposed to day-to-day. Oblique strains are difficult for skill position players due to the amount of rotational and twisting movement a player makes throughout the game (which the oblique plays an integral part of).
Projection: Randle misses 2-3 games. Darren McFadden will lead the Cowboys backfield, but Christine Michael should (keyword is SHOULD) see more carries to help spell McFadden at times, as well. If both McFadden and Michael form a duo that is more dynamic, it's fair to question whether or not Randle gets his job back.
Bottom Line: Mathews suffered the groin injury in the second quarter of Sunday's game against the Panthers, but was able to play the rest of the game. With the Eagles on bye this week, he'll have extra time to recover and get healthy.
Projection: Mathews returns Week 9 after bye. Mathews has been better in Chip Kelly's offense than Demarco Murray has so far. If Mathews is able to return for Week 9 without much restriction, his role in the offense could continue to grow.
Bottom Line: Dorsett's ankle requires surgery to help stabilize the fracture and let it heal properly. He'll be in a boot and walking with crutches for a few weeks, but should start rehabbing fairly quickly in the pool to try and maintain the strength in the leg until the bone fully heals.
Projection: Dorsett misses six games. It's a tough blow for the rookie WR, but he should be able to get back on the field before the season ends.
Bottom Line: Beat reporter Vaughn McClure stated on Twitter that he doesn't expect Hankerson to practice this Wednesday, which isn't a good sign to start the week. Hankerson was dealing with issues with the same hamstring prior to Sunday's game, so it appears he aggravated the issue during the game. It will be hard to get Hankerson's hamstring healthy enough to give it a go this weekend, so consider him week-to-week until we see any reports of his progress.
Projection: Hankerson misses 1-2 games. For those who have Roddy White, fire him up as he should see an uptick in targets with Hankerson out.