Offseason Injury Update Part Two: 11 Injured RBs & QBs to Keep an Eye on During Training Camp
We are back with Part Two of the Offseason Injury Update (Part One here), with this column specifically covering running backs and quarterbacks. The running back position was a disaster last year, as many of the top backs suffered season ending injuries that left many fantasy owners struggling to find a replacement. Although the running back position continues to be important in fantasy, the growth of committees and specialty type running backs makes it less likely a workhorse running back will be used these days. Organizations are trying to preserve the health of these players and reduce the tread over the long haul.
With quarterbacks, in standard one quarterback fantasy leagues, the position is so deep that even if you wait until the middle or late rounds to choose your starter, you should be satisfied with the outcome. Quarterback is such an important position in real life, but in fantasy, streaming quarterbacks has been a common strategy to maximize the talent at other positions.
In most cases, when a player is returning from a season ending injury that required surgery, the medical staff will most likely be cautious with workloads during OTA's and training camp to reduce the risk of setbacks. NFL players have a short shelf life to play in this league, so being ready for the start of the regular season is always the ultimate goal.
Bottom Line: Limited in training camp, Ready Week 1. Bell's knee is a big question mark heading into the regular season. The PCL and MCL were both repaired, and although the MCL repair shouldn't be much of a concern, the PCL is a little more worrisome. The PCL's main job is to prevent the lower leg from sliding backward on the femur, and it also helps resist rotation just like the ACL during cutting/twisting motions. The amount of instability an athlete suffers when dealing with either a partial or complete PCL tear is fairly significant, with simple tasks such as walking or going up and down stairs being really difficult. When it comes to recovery, the projected timetable to start running, jumping, cutting are very similar to that of the ACL. However, because the PCL is much bigger and stronger than the ACL (as to why you don't see too many PCL tears), the maturation and strength of the reconstructed ligament could take longer to recover. Some players over the past few seasons have dealt with PCL sprains (Eric Decker, Breshad Perriman, Andre Ellington to name a few), and other than Breshad Perriman's knee (which ended up not being surgically repaired because the PCL was intact and healing, just slowly) I can't remember there being a player with a complete PCL injury that required surgery. Bell is currently undergoing blood flow restriction (BFR) training, which is a method that utilizes blood pressure cuff tourniquets around the legs, which causes the muscles to have to work much harder due to the lack of blood flow available. This type of strength training is utilized to maximize strength gains while using significantly lighter loads that an athlete is normally used to lifting. The purpose of BFR training is to reduce the amount of joint related stresses on athletes who have degenerative conditions, or for those who underwent surgery and are restricted as to how much they can lift initially. We'll know more about Bell's status as the summer progresses, but for now you should expect him to be ready for Week 1.
Bottom Line: Limited in training camp, Ready Week 1. Charles had previous ACL surgery in 2011, and will be roughly 11 months removed from his 2nd ACL reconstruction at the start of the regular season. Although the latest report states Charles is not yet cutting, that should happen within the next few weeks. The fact that Charles is coming off his 2nd torn ACL and will be 30 this year might keep some fantasy owners from investing this year. I'd like to think of that as an opportunity to get him at a discount.
Bottom Line: Limited in training camp, ready Week 1. Lewis tore his ACL on November 9th, so he is currently around 5 months removed from surgery. He'll continue to ramp up his sport specific drills and cutting/turning activities to see how the knee responds, but all signs point to Lewis suiting up in Week 1. He'll only be 10 months removed from surgery by the time the season starts, so it might be good to temper expectations early on with him getting stronger as he starts to feel more comfortable.
Bottom Line: Limited in training camp, ready for Week 1. Foster is another big question mark this offseason due the Achilles rupture he's currently recovering from, the amount of injuries that have piled up on Foster over the past few years, and the fact that he'll be 30 heading into this season which is when running backs tend to hit a wall. I would not expect Foster to be the workhorse back that he was with Houston, as the explosiveness and burst can be difficult to regain coming off an Achilles rupture. There's a chance Foster can still contribute in fantasy if he lands with the right team in the right situation, but he'll likely be used more as a receiving or change of pace back.
Foot Stress Fracture Surgery
Bottom Line: Possibly limited in training camp, ready for Week 1. The worry here is that Chip Kelly's offense is very fast paced, with him utilizing his running backs often. There's a very high chance that the 49ers limit some of Hyde's workload during training camp so they don't risk the chance of aggravating his foot that he had surgery on. He's an intriguing pick in drafts this year, as he could be undervalued due to the injury and lack of production last year from those who spent a high draft pick on him.
Bottom Line: Limited in training camp, ready Week 1. Rawls will resume running within the next couple of weeks and should continue to build strength and endurance to help get his lower leg back into shape. I still believe the Seahawks will take it slow with him as the fracture won't really be the issue, it'll be the surrounding ligaments and tissue that will be more difficult to return from. The Seahawks have been connected to Arian Foster, and still have Christine Michael who did play better down the stretch last year, but I expect Rawls to be the lead back if he's healthy enough to fill that role.
Bottom Line: Slight limitations for training camp, ready for Week 1. With Khiry Robinson gone and C.J. Spiller a huge question mark in terms of how he'll be used heading into this year, Ingram should remain the featured back for the Saints. Bernard Pierce is the last running back who underwent rotator cuff surgery that I can remember, and although he was largely ineffective, it wasn't due to his health. Ingram should be a full go once the regular season starts.
Bottom Line: No limitations for training camp, ready for Week 1. Forsett seems to have had a smooth recovery process after a nasty forearm fracture that was sustained at the hands of the Rams Aaron Donald. Forsett is not guaranteed to be the Week 1 starter, and with the Ravens having a plethora of running backs, it looks like this could be a full blown committee heading into this year. Health concerns at this point are the least of fantasy owners worries, it's a matter of who is going to get the ball most in a crowded backfield.
Bottom Line: Limited in training camp, ready for Week 1. Flacco's recovery has gone as well as the Ravens had hoped so far. The Ravens medical staff will continue to progress Flacco as tolerated, but there is no rush to get him back for anything other than the start of the regular season. Flacco had not missed a game since he was drafted before this injury, so there's no real reason to question his availability.
Bottom Line: No limitations in training camp, ready for Week 1. There has been much talk about Romo's left collarbone that's been fractured three times since 2011. Although the surgery is to his non-throwing shoulder, there is still some risk that he could sustain another injury. Unfortunately, he won't see any real contact until the regular season starts, so it's tough to predict whether or not you can trust his shoulder if you draft him. I'll say this, if you draft Romo, you better have a backup plan.
Bottom Line: No limitations in training camp, ready for Week 1. Last year I wrote about a Packers player who had arthroscopic surgery in the offseason and stated that I wasn't concerned about his return. Apparently I was dead wrong, as that player was Jordy Nelson, who tore his ACL during training camp. Rodgers situation is much different, as he underwent a clean up procedure in his knee and is already close to full strength with training camp a few months away. I would draft Rodgers as you normally would unless he suffers some sort of setback during training camp, but I don't see there being any significant long term impact from his knee surgery.