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David Chao, MD: 10 NFL Injuries All Fantasy Players Should Know About

Injuries play a major role in your winning at football . This will be your weekly injury primer on what you need to know before setting your fantasy or DFS lineups. An even more efficient way to manage your team is to use the special free Outkick link to try My Teams at ProFootballDoc.com where you can enter multiple custom fantasy lineups and on one screen quickly see all of the health issues for all of your teams. Not just reports of “questionable” but there will be insider analysis of who will play or not and their effectiveness.

We will only discuss players with a chance to dress. Already ruled out by the Friday game status reports are George Kittle, Kenny Golladay, A.J. Brown, Jack Doyle and Jamison Crowder.

Kittle deserves an extra discussion as he may be the biggest surprise rule out to some but here is why we were not surprised. The 49ers star tight end suffered a very similar injury from Halloween of last season. He suffered a bone bruise when the same left knee was hyperextended. The 2019 injury happened on the first play of the game and he continued to play the entire first half until swelling set in and he missed the 2nd half and the next two games.

Kittle being as tough as he is, this time suffered the injury very late in the first half yet again returned and played the whole second half and declared himself fine after the game. Kittle had been ruled out of practice all week before being ruled out of Sunday’s game. I expect a similar type of bone bruise injury that had delayed swelling. Despite the big new contract with the $40 million guarantee for injury, Kittle is Kittle and just wants to play but the team has to protect its investment. The contract has Kittle and the team’s long-term health in alignment thus not only is he out this week, there is no guarantee for a return next week.

On to the top 10 fantasy health unknowns.

1. Michael Thomas — The Saints WR suffered a mild high ankle sprain late in the Week 1 game when he was rolled up on from behind by a teammate on a run play. The injury was clear in real time on video but I originally thought he got his foot out in time.

Later replay showed it did get caught for a split second. Media reports have him out for several weeks but that is not official yet. Notably he did not get put on IR which is only 3 weeks now. With his game being on Monday, there is no game status yet. Despite logging two straight “did not practice,” there is still an outside chance he could play this week, but the likelihood is the team plays it safe and rest him but that may only be for one week, not multiple.

2. Chris Godwin — The Bucs wide receiver is listed as doubtful for Sunday and it would be a major surprise if he played. We wrote on Wednesday our reasons why we were sure he would be out for at least this week and maybe more. The reports of trending in the right direction will help Godwin return for next week but I just don’t see how he can get cleared by Sunday with the development of late symptoms midweek.

3. Mike Evans -— Godwin’s teammate was full practice, has no game designation and will play, but how well is the question. He surprised many by suiting up with his hamstring injury in Week 1; however, was clearly a decoy as we expected logging only one late catch for two yards as the game was well out of reach. This week, Evans will be much improved and should be effective but it is unlikely that he will be anywhere near 100%.

4. Miles Sanders — The Eagles running back was the surprise inactive for last week. Sanders was listed as questionable with a hamstring and the team postured like he would play but he did not even travel with the team. This means he wasn’t even close to playing. Or it means the Eagles decided to rest him and looked past Washington, which they shouldn’t have as it was the biggest upset of the young season.

In any case a player who doesn’t travel the previous week with a muscle injury is unlikely to be 100% the following week. My analysis of limited practice video still shows a hitch in his stride, especially as he decelerates. Sanders will play but how well and how many snaps is the question. The other worry is the still banged up offensive line that gave up eight sacks in Week 1.

5. James Conner — The Steelers running back has no injury status for the game and will play versus the Broncos. This is no surprise to us. We documented the ankle injury was minor. The two bigger concerns for fantasy owners are Benny Snell, Jr stealing touches and the right side of the Pittsburgh offensive line which has been decimated by injury.

6. Courtland Sutton — The Broncos wide receiver suffered an AC joint sprain in practice leading up to Week 1 and was said to be able to play if it was a playoff game but did not suit up. Now he is listed as questionable and given a 50-50 chance to play. I feel he plays this week and if he takes the pregame injection, he has a high ceiling as Denver’s #1 wideout.

7. Golden Tate — The Giants wide receiver has been “limited practice” all season with a hamstring issue and missed the first game. He is listed as questionable. As tough as he is, I am sure he is lobbying to play but given that he hasn’t seen a full practice yet, I doubt he does. Even if he does, I don’t see him being fully effective. The likelihood is to wait another week to avoid setback and return closer to full strength.

8. Duke Johnson — The Texans running back sprained his ankle in the Kick-Off game. He remained limited in practice all week but is trending in the right direction. Even with a standard low ankle sprain he originally was projected to miss two weeks. With the extra days before Week 2, he has a chance to play but even if he does, David Johnson showed some of his old form and likely will get the majority of chances.

9. Brandin Cooks -— The Texans wide receiver generated the most will he or won’t he play buzz ahead of the league-wide season opener. Even though he did play with a quad muscle injury he was largely ineffective and a decoy. He made only 2 catches for 20 yards and did not exhibit his usual speed and burst as a downfield threat. Cooks is still limited practice and questionable this week.  I see him being better this week but given the type of player he is, he relies on his acceleration to get separation and that is still not fully back. He is in my Scott Fish Bowl Dinosaur Toys fantasy team but will remain on my bench this week.

10. Gerald Everett -— The Rams tight end is listed as questionable with a back issue but seems likely to play. He has trended that way all week going DNP, LP, FP. Even when he is declared active, I might look at other options as Tyler Higbee is likely to get the majority of the action ahead of Everett.

Written by Pro Football Doc

David Chao, MD -- known digitally as Pro Football Doc -- is an expert contributor for Outkick. Chao spent 17 seasons as the team doctor for the San Diego Chargers (1997-2013) and is part of the medical team at OASIS in San Diego where he treats and specializes in orthopedic sports injuries, working with high-profile professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, and MLB.

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