Week 2: Aug 3 – Aug 9
1.) Ryan Tannehill
The big news this week is about Miami Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill after he sustained a left knee injury during a practice where he was running out of bounds and his left knee gave out in a non-contact fashion. Any time a player has a non-contact knee injury you should automatically think of an ACL injury unfortunately. Tannehill partially tore his ACL in the same knee last year and surprisingly did not decide to have reconstruction surgery. Initially, the fear was that Tannehill sustained a PCL injury, but the way Tannehill injured his leg, running and non-contact, an isolated PCL injury would have been very unlikely. PCL injuries require high-impact, and are classically injured in a car accident when the knee hits the dashboard. The Dolphins admitted that Tannehill re-tore his ACL, and my suspicion (and I hope) is that he will undergo season-ending ACL repair surgery, which would put him out 9-11 months, ending his season. Some guys can come back after 6 months or so but that is usually not recommended, especially in a professional athlete. This injury should not be treated with a conservative approach for a second time, that would be a bad idea and potentially career-threatening since I don’t think Tannehill would be able to appropriately move in the pocket without a fully intact ACL. The Dolphins signed veteran QB Jay Cutler to a 1-year deal, further signaling that Tannehill will likely be out the entire season. Fantasy-wise, Tannehill would have been drafted in the 15-20 range for QBs, whereas Cutler, or Matt Moore, who will likely compete for the starting job, should not be on your radar unless you are in a 2-QB league or they start setting the world on fire in training camp.
2.) Andrew Luck
Colts coach Chuck Pagano said yesterday (Aug 8) that Andrew Luck is still without a timetable for his return. This is very concerning, as Luck should be fully recovered from offseason labrum shoulder surgery unless he either reinjured it when he was rehabbing/throwing, or if he had additional repairs during the procedure (like a possible rotator cuff repair as well). Only this would explain why he is struggling to return in a timely return. He was placed on the PUP list, but is expected to be activated before week 1. If he indeed does start the year on the PUP, he would be out the 1st 6 games, which could significantly impact not only his draft position but also T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, Jack Doyle, Frank Gore & Robert Turbin. I’m VERY CONCERNED about Luck. Scott Tolzien doesn’t hold a flame to Luck talent-wise, and we will see that this preseason. Hopefully some good news will come out over the next week, and I can provide some clearer expectations for Luck this season. Right now, his season is a bunch of question marks. If you’re drafting this week, avoid him like the plague unless you get him for a steal. Personally, I’m expecting him to be out at least the first month of the season.
3.) Cam Newton
It sounds like Cam Newton, recovering from offseason partially torn rotator cuff shoulder surgery, is making good progress. The soreness he experienced, which was completely expected for his recovery, is improving as expected. Despite not throwing a pass in live drills since complaining of soreness, he has been spotted throwing lightly on the sidelines. I expect him to play in the one of the Panthers’ preseason games, just not in tonight’s first game. I still fully expect him to be ready for Week 1, and nothing major to be concerned about yet!
4.) Amari Cooper
Oakland Raiders’ Amari Cooper has missed the last 5 practices with a leg injury, although the exact injury is unclear. My suspicion is that he is dealing with either a hamstring or calf injury, as these are very common injuries early in camp as guys are ramping up their activities. Right now this is not an overly concerning injury unless Cooper continues to miss time. Cooper posted a career-best year in 2016 with 1,153 yards with 5 TDs. Apparently he wanted to bulk up, and after playing last year at 210 lbs, this year he reported to camp at 217, but he will likely loose a good 5-7 lbs with the treacherous workouts and heat of the summer, so overall nothing major to worry about, weight-wise. Once this leg ailment heals, assuming it is not his knee, Cooper should still have the same speed and versatility as last year, and he may have even improved his strength and his ability to push off the defender with the extra muscle. Cooper is a top-10 WR, so hopefully this leg injury doesn’t impact that. I’m pretty high on him this year, and would take him over T.Y. Hilton, Demaryius Thomas and even DeAndre Hopkins.
5.) Tavon Austin
LA Rams WR Tavon Austin has been dealing with a hamstring injury that has caused him to miss 5 straight practices. Hamstring injuries have a tendency to nag if they are not allowed to properly heal. Hamstring muscles are particularly important in WR, TE, RB, & DB’s because of how much they have to run. Expect the Rams to continue to rehab Austin & give him the appropriate care he needs to return to the field. The last thing they want is for him to further reinjure it, turning the strain from a presumably light grade 1 strain into a more serious grade 2, which would set him back a good 4 weeks. As it is, Austin missed the entire offseason program as he recovered from wrist surgery. These reps in training camp are important. The Rams are trying to utilize Austin as an outside threat, hoping to get more out of him after finishing each of the past 2 years with between 50-60 catches, and around 500 yards. Austin was expected to serve as the Rams’ WR2 alongside Robert Woods, with Cooper Kupp as the WR3. Austin needs to develop a rapport with Jared Goff, and this hamstring injury has sidelined him during a valuable part of training camp. Hopefully Austin is able to utilize the Rams’ medical staff to his benefit and get him on the field sooner rather than later. As of right now, Austin should not be on your radar for drafting except in deep PPR leagues.
6.) Josh Doctson
Like many other WRs so far in training camp, Washington Redskins WR Josh Doctson is dealing with a mild hamstring strain, likely a grade 1, which an MRI has confirmed. After dealing with an Achilles injury in last year’s training camp, which caused him to land on the IR after only 2 games last season, hamstring injuries are much more common and typically easier to recover from, depending on the severity. In early OTAs, Doctson reportedly looked quick and healthy, with coach Gruden calling him “impressive” as he is competing with Ryan Grant to play the Z receiver role that was manned by Pierre Garcon last year. Doctson is expected to serve as the Redskins’ WR3, behind Terrelle Pryor and Jamison Crowder, who is also dealing with a hamstring injury of his own. The other major target in the Redskins offense, Jordan Reed, is currently dealing with injuries as well. I think Doctson has upside in the late rounds of drafts as long as he can stay healthy and put his leg injuries in the rear-view mirror.
7.) Quincy Enunwa
The New York Jets lost arguably their best WR Quincy Enunwa this week with a season-ending neck injury. Enunwa has a bulging disk in his neck that coach Todd Bowles revealed will keep him from being cleared for 6-9 months. He sustained the injury during a Jets scrimmage Saturday evening, and the most likely scenario for Enunwa will be to undergo a procedure called a discectomy, which is the same procedure that Rob Gronkowski underwent last year. Enunwa was very effective in running after the catch last season, as he compiled 800 yards. Offensively without Enunwa, the Jets will have to depend on RB Matt Forte, WRs Robby Anderson, ArDarius Stewart and Charone Peake, and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, if he can stay healthy.
8.) Coby Fleener
Saints TE Coby Fleener has missed 3 consecutive practices with an undisclosed injury. Fleener is expected to be the #1 TE for the Saints, and hopefully he can develop a rapport with pass-happy Drew Brees. Fantasy-wise, if you are drafting this week, I currently have Fleener as the 16th TE off the board in the same range as Ebron and Brate, but he continues to miss time I may be a little more concerned. I think Fleener can have a sneaky productive season this year if he get and stay healthy. Once more information about what he is dealing with then we at The Fantasy Doctors will relay the information on after analyzing it.
9.) Jordan Reed
Redskins TE Jordan Reed, who I discussed extensively last week, continues to be bothered with a toe injury since last season and throughout the offseason. He underwent a stem cell procedure, whereby stem cells are injected into the problematic area in a hope to help regenerate some healthy tissue, after minicamp. Then when Reed arrived at training camp his toe flared up on him a bit, causing him to go visit foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson in NC last week. In addition to the sprained big toe, Reed is also dealing with a low-ankle sprain, which is reportedly mild. The Redskins are being extra careful with Reed, and I don’t blame the organization as he’s quite important to the team and their potential in the NFC. There has been limited information on him this week, and it does not appear Reed has resumed practicing. At this rate hopefully he can get in some time during one of the last preseason games to renew his rapport with Cousins. Fantasy-wise, if you are drafting this week, I currently have Reed as the 4th TE off the board behind Gronk, Olsen & Kelce, but he could continue to slide if he can’t get healthy enough to practice.
10.) Travis Kelce
The Kansas City Chiefs’ Travis Kelce has missed the last 4 practices as he has been dealing with left knee swelling. Kelce underwent microfracture knee surgery on his left knee in 2013, which is a very complicated and significant surgery. As of now he should be viewed as day-to-day. Videos surfaced from yesterday with him wearing a compression sleeve on the left knee doing some on-the-field exercises trying to loosen up. The good news is that as far as know Kelce’s knee ligaments are all intact. Kelce has shown no signs of issues after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery, where he had his shoulder ‘cleaned out’ (I wrote about it here). As it stands right now this knee injury should not be viewed as a big deal unless it continues to swell, bothering him and causing him to miss time. Kelce is a top 3 TE this year, after posting monster numbers last year, with 85 catches for 1125 catches and 4 scores. Personally I am not letting this minor knee swelling impact Kelce’s draft position, as I currently have Kelce as the 2nd TE off the board only behind Gronk, and I can justify taking him over Gronk due to injury-risk. If Kelce’s knee continues to swell and he has trouble running and cutting with it, I would obviously be more concerned. Hopefully the knee quiets down and he is able to give it a full go this season.
11.) Mike Gillislee
New England Patriots’ RB Mike Gillislee has been sidelined this past week with a hamstring injury. He’s been out since August 2, being limited to only side-field work. He should be back in the next few days assuming the hamstring injury is just a grade one. The average time to return to play for a grade one or two hamstring injury is about 12 days. As it always is with the New England Patriots, their backfield is a bit of a question mark, and that is no different this season. Currently the Patriots have Dion Lewis, James White, Rex Burkhead, Gillislee and Brandon Bolden in the mix at RB. Personally I’m pretty high on Gillislee and think he has the potential to be a top 25 RB in non-PPR, and falling to the mid-30s in PPR leagues.
12.) Latavius Murray
Former Oakland Raiders and now Minnesota Vikings’ RB Latavius Murray spent about 2 weeks on the PUP list with an ankle injury. Murray underwent a minor ankle surgery in March to remove bone chips after dealing with ankle issues during the second-half of the 2016 season. The rehab from this surgery caused Murray to expectedly miss all of OTAs and the past 2 weeks of training camp, which puts him a little behind schedule. Murray should be looked at as the short-yardage back this year in Minnesota, with 2nd rounder Dalvin Cook wowing folks in training camp expected to be the starter. Murray has the potential to vulture several TDs this year from Cook, as Murray scored 9 TDs for the Raiders last year inside the 5-yard line, and converted 13-of-18 short-yardage tries on 3rd & 4th downs. Murray, assuming his ankle holds up and doesn’t give him many problems, and Cook the potential to form a nice 1-2 combo for the Vikings this year. Draft-wise, Murray should be viewed in the same area as Darren Sproles, Thomas Rawls and Kenyan Drake in PPR-leagues, assuming he’s healthy.
13.) Cairo Santos
Kansas City Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos is currently sidelined with a groin injury. Groin injuries in general have the potential to linger, but these injuries are especially important in kickers. It is unclear of the severity of the strain, but if it is a grade one, expect Santos to return to play after about 2-4 weeks, as he needs to give it time to heal and appropriate rehab. Avoid picking Santos as your team’s kicker during (hopefully) the last round of your fantasy draft, as groin injuries in general scare me because of their high-risk of re-injury.
14.) Tyrone Crawford
DL of the Dallas Cowboys, Tyrone Crawford, suffered a lateral ankle sprain after stepping on the back of Ezekiel Elliott’s foot, causing him to roll his ankle badly. This will likely keep him out the rest of the preseason at a minimum. Best-case scenario, Crawford will only miss about 2 weeks, but the worst-case scenario is that Crawford suffered an ankle fracture, which would put him out 8-12 weeks. Crawford plays an important role for the Cowboys as he is the edge-setter against the run. Stay tuned for more details.
15.) Malik McDowell
Seattle Seahawks 2017 second-round pick DT Malik McDowell is currently suffering from concussion along with other head injuries, possibly a facial bone fracture. He has returned to his home in Michigan and is without a timetable for a return. At a minimum, he will miss at least the first 6 games of the year as he is starting the year on the NFI (non-football injury) list. Reports have surfaced that McDowell may miss the entire 2017 NFL season after he was involved in an ATV crash on July 30th. The good news is that the injuries are not career or life threatening, but will take time to heal from. Very unfortunate news, as McDowell was expected to play a pivotal role as an interior disruptor for the Seahawks along with Michael Bennett, Jarran Reed, Ahtyba Rubin and Nazair Jones.
This was written for the @TheFantasyDRS by Dr. Jesse Morse. I am a Board-Certified Family Medicine physician, and I am currently completing a Sports Medicine Fellowship at the University of South Florida in Tampa. If you have any questions or comments, you can contact me directly at @DrJesseMorse or visit my website at: www.DrJesseMorse.com. Keep an eye out for my next article!