Q: How concerned are you about Julio Jones’ back injury?
A: It’s somewhat concerning, but if there is anyone out there who has proven that they can tough it out and play through injuries, it’s Julio Jones. Last season, he made some incredible plays despite a painful foot/toe injury. He missed a few meaningless games late in the year but put up strong numbers when he was on the field.
This week Jones will be limited at practice, but it is looking like he will play. This injury could linger for 3-4 weeks and continue to bother him at times but knowing Julio, he will play through it and play well. If the Falcons become concerned that this is a more serious injury, they won’t have him play and risk making the injury worse.
Q: Do you think Cam Newton isn’t playing well because of injuries or for other reasons?
A: Probably a mix of both. It has been just over six months since Newton underwent surgery on his throwing shoulder, and it takes many quarterbacks much longer to recover. So not only is his shoulder a concern, but his body is breaking down. He took way too many hits in 2016, and 2017 hasn’t been much better. Newton already suffered a sprained ankle in Week 2, and he could be dealing with other bumps and bruises. He isn’t rushing as much this year, an intentional move to protect him from injuries, but that also lowers his Fantasy floor.
There are other injury concerns on the Panthers that also affect Newton. Greg Olsen was lost for at least eight weeks after his foot fracture in the season opener. Now Kelvin Benjamin is hurt too, so Newton could be without his favorite target this week. On top of the injuries, the Panthers’ running game has not been as powerful as in years past, putting more pressure on Newton to throw, something he isn’t historically great at. His value is in his legs. There are many reason to bench Newton in Fantasy (for now). Just do it.
Q: Is Doug Baldwin going to play this weekend?
A: All signs from the Seahawks point to yes, but this is a team that is often misleading when reporting on injuries. Baldwin has made it clear that he wants to play, but groin strains are tricky. We have calculated a three week Optimal Recovery Time for Baldwin, so the safe move is to bench him for this week and maybe next so he can get healthy.
The Seahawks’ offense has really struggled this season, and losing Baldwin would make a bounce-back game against the Colts even tougher, but it’s the right move. They need him healthy for the rest of the season, and by rushing out there this week he is putting himself at risk of suffering a more serious injury that could sideline him for months, not weeks.
Q: Is Melvin Gordon’s knee injury as minor as it sounds?
A: Typically a minor bone bruise would be a concern for just a few weeks, but because of Gordon’s history of injuries in the same knee, it’s a red flag. Gordon underwent microfracture surgery in January 2016 to repair cartilage damage, then last season he suffered a torn PCL that forced him to miss the final three games of the season.
It sounds like Gordon is going to try to play, and he was able to get in a limited practice on Wednesday, but long-term this isn’t a good sign. A bone bruise can turn into a small fracture in the joint. If he makes the injury worse, he could be looking at a multi-week absence. If nothing else, the Chargers need to limit his snaps over the next few weeks to keep him fresh.
Q. Is Jordan Howard’s shoulder injury a concern going forward?
Howard hasn’t been anywhere near 100 percent since suffering an AC sprain in Week 1, but despite the injury he continues to put up solid numbers. Howard was limited at practice ahead of the Bears’ Week 2 and Week 3 games due to the shoulder injury, but when he took the field he proved his toughness, fearlessly plowing through defenses.
Now Howard has been removed from the injury report ahead of the Bears’ Thursday night matchup with the 2-1 Packers, but his shoulder certainly still remains a concern. After the Week 2 game, Howard was seen with his arm in a sling. Then in Week 3 he left twice to receive treatment on his shoulder after painful plays but returned to lead his team to a victory.
By playing through the injury, Howard is lengthening his recovery time. Typically, two to three weeks would be enough for a standard AC sprain, but now it could take him four-plus weeks to get healthy. Still, Howard is proving he can be successful despite the injury. The question now is how long can he keep this up? At some point he could take a big enough hit that he is knocked out of the game and is then forced to miss multiple games. If Howard can escape Thursday’s game without worsening the injury, he will have 10 days to rest and recover. That could be enough time for him to get close to 100 percent, but for now his shoulder remains a concern despite the reports coming out of the Bears’ locker room.
For now Howard remains an RB1, but with the injury and Tarik Cohen lurking in the background, we have to wonder how long he can keep this up.
Q: Are Jordan Reed and Rob Kelley going to be back this weekend?
A: Reed and Kelley both missed Week 3 after suffering chest injuries the prior game. Kelley was diagnosed with a chest cartilage injury. The biggest concern here is pain-management, so he has a good shot to suit up Week 4, but it may be painful.
Reed suffered a sternoclavicular (SC) joint sprain, which is a bit more concerning. Again, it is mostly a pain management issue, but Reed’s injury history is incredibly concerning. He has been battling a foot/toe injury since the 2016 season, and a few weeks ago it was reported that the injury involves a toe fracture. Then there are the concussion concerns. The Redskins need to shut Reed down for multiple weeks so he can rest and allow his body time to heal. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like they are are going to do that, so he is a High Injury Risk.
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