Well, if you’re reading this, that means you were lucky (and good) enough to make it to the second round of the fantasy playoffs (and if you’re in a league that starts their playoffs in Week 15, welcome to the playoffs!). Week 14 was no different than any other week in the season of injuries, as I can’t remember a season that’s had the sheer volume of injuries and injuries to big name players.
In case you missed it, I covered both Adrian Peterson and Wes Welker in yesterday’s injury report (click each player’s name for yesterday’s post), so today we’ll focus on the rest of the relevant fantasy players who either suffered injuries in Week 14 or have been dealing with injuries for weeks on end. Remember that the whole story on any injury won’t be fully known until Friday’s practices are done and the official injury reports are released, so be sure to come back and check out Saturday’s weekend injury report.
Rob Gronkowski (torn ACL/MCL, placed on season-ending IR): I guess you can say this was kind of a fitting end to his 2013 season, sadly. We spent the whole offseason wondering about his fractured forearm and the subsequent infection and his surgically repaired lumbar spine. Just when we thought he was hitting his stride and really making a difference in the Patriots offense, he suffers the mother of all season enders. Just a cruel end of the season for Gronk.
There’s been a lot of talk about Gronk being labeled “injury prone”, which I think is sort of fair to an extent because of the volume of injuries he has suffered. My only qualm with that label is that the forearm and ACL/MCL injuries were both things he could not do anything about. These injuries didn’t occur because he’s brittle or didn’t take care of his body, they happened because of very fluky things. The only condition that you could say he was predisposed for was the back surgery, as he does have a history of the same procedure being done in college.
The main things to watch for in his recovery from this most recent injury is if any news comes out about other structures of the knee being involved. Was there meniscus damage? Any issues with the bone/cartilage? Also, how badly torn is the MCL? With this type of surgery, if the MCL does not need surgical repair, they could wait a few weeks to allow the MCL to heal a little bit, thus delaying his surgery and lengthening the rehab time.
He’s still only 24 years old and will bounce back from this, but we’ll likely be on Gronk-watch again this offseason, wondering if he’ll be ready for the start of the year or will we have to play the wait and see game. Only time will tell.
Reggie Bush (Calf strain, questionable): Bush tried to warm up and prep himself to play this past Sunday, but when you combine an acute muscle strain with really cold weather, it makes it difficult to get loose and ready for game action. The dilemma this week for Bush owners is that the Lions play on Monday night, which means you have to own either Joique Bell or Ray Rice as backups in order to safely wait and see with Bush. Otherwise, it just wouldn’t be worth it to wait that long. We likely won’t know more until later in the week, but as I mentioned this past weekend, calf injuries are tough to shake, so there are no guarantees until he’s running and cutting at full speed without issue. Stay tuned.
Percy Harvin (Hip surgery, no time-table for return): Harvin has missed two consecutive games after suffering a flare up in his surgically repaired hip, leading many to believe that he may not be able to return until NFL playoffs time. Coach Pete Carroll stated on Monday that Harvin is day-to-day at this point and won’t know until today whether he can practice this week or not. This remains pretty fluid, but I think all this doubt about his pain levels and hip mobility should steer you away from playing him this week, whether he practices or not. The risk seems too high for a playoff week and the Seahawks will be ultra-conservative in terms of his snap count and playing time to help mitigate his pain. We’ll know more by Friday, but I don’t think we’ll get enough positive information to trust playing him this week.
Jordan Reed and Rashad Jennings (concussion, no time-table for return): Both guys were able to do limited work in practice last week, but not enough to be cleared for contact. I feel better about Jennings’ chances than I do about Reed’s, given the drama surrounding the Washington Redskins’ lost season. Why rush Reed back, with all of his talent and promise, when the team is going nowhere fast? Reed has a history of concussions from his college days, so that may explain the very conservative approach the Redskins have taken with him, and rightfully so.
Jennings, on the other hand, has been officially cleared to return to practice this week, so if he gets through the week of full practices without a setback, he is expected to start against the Chiefs.
Jay Cutler (ankle/groin, questionable): Another QB merry-go-round in Chicago, as Cutler tries to get back on the field after dealing with a groin tear and high ankle sprain over the last month-plus. But the fact remains this: if Cutler is healthy, he’s the starter. And coach Marc Trestman reiterated that today during his press conference. Cutler has received clearance to practice at full speed and will undergo a thorough test on his ankle during workouts today, according to NFL.com. If Cutler responds well to practice this week, he will return to the lineup this week. If he has a setback or can’t return this week for some reason, Josh McCown will be the starter again. Friday will be the telling day when official injury reports are released.
Eddie Lacy (ankle sprain, missed practice Wednesday): Lacy was not able to practice today after spraining his ankle on Sunday. He was able to finish the game on Sunday after the sprain, but did look a bit limited. The severity of the ankle sprain has not been made clear, but I would have expected him to not practice today regardless, as Wednesday has become rest day across the NFL. If you’re a Lacy owner, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to pick up James Starks as a just in case if he’s available, but the ankle sprain doesn’t seem significant enough for Lacy to miss this Sunday’s game.
Keenan Allen (AC joint sprain, expected to play): Allen suffered a sprained acromioclavicular joint in Sunday’s win over the Giants, but was able to return to the field and play through it with great success. Allen was on the practice field on Tuesday and looks to be in line to play this Thursday against the Broncos. This can be a painful injury to deal with and can limit shoulder motion overhead and out to the side, but this appears to be a minor enough sprain that he’s able to play through it and be productive. Expect him to play, barring a setback before kickoff.
Jonathan Stewart (torn MCL, will miss Week 15): Stewart tore his MCL on Sunday, which effectively makes him a fantasy non-factor for the rest of this season. Without that stability on the inside of the knee and with only two (or three for some leagues) weeks left in the season, it would be awfully difficult for Stewart to get healthy enough to return to the lineup and be productive. In my eyes, he’s droppable at this point.
Maurice Jones-Drew (hamstring strain, questionable): MJD strained his hammy in last Thursday’s win over the Houston Texans and appears to be a question mark for this Sunday’s game. The good news is he’ll have those extra few days to rehab and recover, but the last thing MJD needs is something to take away his force production, burst, and quickness, or what he has left of it. He’s looked pretty good the last 3-4 weeks, so it’s a bummer to see him deal with another lingering lower extremity issue. It’s already being reported that he will not practice until Friday at the earliest, so we’ll know more then. But the rest will do him a lot of good and hopefully it’s enough to get him on the field. We’ll have to wait and see.
Aaron Rodgers (fractured clavicle, no time-table for return): Rodgers himself said he had some pain in the left shoulder last week, which definitely contributed to him missing their Week 14 win. Rodgers had previously stated that he had pain-free full ROM, so hearing him say he had pain wasn’t a great thing. However, this Sunday will mark 6 weeks since he fractured the collarbone, which puts him in a much “safer” range in regards to tissue healing and stability of the bone. Again, there’s no guarantee he’ll be able to land on the shoulder or take a hit without an irritation or re-fracture, but every week that goes by gives his body a little bit more time to get stable. The Packers appear pessimisticabout a Week 15 return, but a lot can change between now and Sunday, especially since the Packers are only 1/2 game out of a playoff spot. This will be an interesting story to watch unfold.
For more information or other injury-related questions, you can find me on Twitter at @z_dahdul or email me at email@example.com