ProFootballDoc: Top 10 NFL Injury Questions and Line Movers Headed into Week 15

The hidden injury advantages have paid off again, and we enjoyed a 4-1 week against the spread. The Bears won easily, the Bucs covered, the Titans romped, Washington won outright and only the Packers failed to cover. We typically pick and count only five games, but even the four bonus picks went 3-1 for a combined 7-2 week. Of course we will count only the five main picks, pushing the season record to 42-24-4 for a +18 margin.

There is no clear injury advantage for tonight’s AFC North showdown, except the Browns top two corners remain out.

I will still be watching intently as I currently sit precariously in eighth place for the conference semifinals in Scott Fish Bowl X Fantasy contest. Only the top 10 advance to the conference finals. I am out of players, and the fantasy managers chasing me have either Lamar Jackson, Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb or Mark Andrews. I need 3 of these 4 to have sub 20-point games. Whether my beginner’s luck runs out or not, I have enjoyed my first real fantasy competition.

Here are the top 10 injury concerns headed into next week:

1. Alex Smith – The Washington QB left just before the half with a calf strain on the same leg that has already endured 17 surgeries. Smith’s leg has been weakened due to the loss of muscle and nerves from the infection. Undoubtedly, part of his calf muscle was used to help cover his exposed bone, which also contributed to the weakness. I believe Smith could have played, but it made sense not to risk it. Although there was little or no risk to his left leg, a weak push-off would further affect his escape ability and chance another injury. The calf is unlikely to be significantly better by next week, so there’s a real possibility that Dwayne Haskins starts for the NFC East leaders, which is why we made the game versus the Seahawks a line mover at Surely the current SEA -3.5 FanDuel line will rise significantly when news about Haskins as the starter is revealed. Lock your numbers in early.

2. Matthew Stafford – The Lions QB was folded over near the goal line and likely has a rib cartilage injury from which he did not return. There is no rib fracture, but a soft rib injury can be just as painful as a fracture, if not more so. Expect Stafford to miss practice time, but he could still play. He is as tough as they come. He even played through a back fracture. Next week, he may need a rib block injection to dull the pain and play, but that can easily be done by the team physician.

3. Kyler Murray – The shoulder issue is behind him. He played well and even ran the ball 13 times. Murray did pick up a new shin injury, however. He was leg whipped on the right side and limped some but stayed in the game. I expect him to be hurt and sore but not injured. He is certain to play next week against an Eagles secondary that could be missing 3 out of 4 starters (Darius Slay – concussion, Avante Maddox – knee and Rodney McLeod -possible ACL.) With Murray healthy and the Eagles secondary injured, we have projected that the AZ -6.5 line will rise and cross the TD barrier.

4. Deshaun Watson – The Texans QB injured his throwing elbow on a helmet. By video, he hit his “funny bone,” which means his ulnar nerve was hit, sending shooting pain/tingling into the outside of his wrist and hand. Thankfully these injuries are typically transient. Watson finished the game and should have no problem practicing and playing next week.

5. Daniel Jones – The Giants QB was clearly slowed by his right hamstring strain, and it showed. He never ran, and he took six sacks before coming out of the game. Jones will play and be a week better next week, but do not expect him to be 100% with his running. His throwing and mobility should improve some.

6. Drew Brees – The Saints will likely bring back their starting QB this week versus the Chiefs. With the loss to the Eagles, New Orleans has given up the No. 1 playoff seed to the Packers, based on the head-to-head matchup. It was my opinion that Brees could have played this week, but the Saints had good reason to go with the backup, Taysom Hill. Hill had won the three previous games as the starter, and the Saints have gone 8-0 without Brees in the last two seasons. Perhaps they wanted their QB a week healthier and figured they could win one more game without him. Unfortunately, they were wrong, and the Saints lost.

7. Deebo Samuel – The 49ers WR was injured on the first play from scrimmage. On an end around play, Samuel pulled up lame, aggravating a previous hamstring injury, and did not return. Given this re-injury and the team’s record, he is unlikely to return in Week 15 and maybe even beyond.

8. A.J. Brown – The Titans WR re-injured his right ankle with a mild inversion sprain. Expect Brown to miss practice time but make the call to face the Lions in Week 15.

9. Keenan Allen – The Chargers WR left late in the victory with a hamstring injury. The Chargers play Thursday versus the Raiders though, which seems like a tough turn around. Allen will likely be out.

10. Mike Gesicki – The Dolphins TE injured his right shoulder. By video, the worry is for a shoulder subluxation/dislocation that shifts out of place and tears the labrum. Even though he may need surgery, it could be put off. He may return to play in a shoulder harness/strap before the end of the season, but a Week 15 return would be ambitious.

We have already opined that Christian McCaffrey and Antonio Gibson would be unlikely to play Week 15. Go to for analysis of all your unanswered questions. Also see the whole set of line mover videos to get down early for the best numbers.

Written by Dr. David Chao

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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