Will Carroll
Thursday October 13th, 2011

What's that? My guys from numberFire joined the team? Now that's a dream team ... wait, that moniker hasn't worked so well lately. We're adding to the awesome here at SI Fantasy ... but remember that it's your team. You're the head coach. Think of me as your medical staff, Gary Gramling and Eric Mack as your coordinators, and Nik Bonaddio is the guy running numbers, just like pro teams have. Of course, they call them "quality control" or other ridiculous titles, but with all that at your disposal, it still comes down to you. Well, Coach, sit down ... it's time for this week's briefing about the injuries around the league, so let's get to it:

As Addai limped off the field early in Sunday's loss to the Chiefs, Colts fans had to be thinking "could it get any worse?" Well, yes, and it's not going to get better soon. Addai has a significant strain of his hamstring and it's likely to be at least a few more weeks before Addai is ready to return. Delone Carter will get the carries with Donald Brown mixed in, but this is very bad for Curtis Painter and the passing game. Addai has never been a "great" running back; he's been good enough and a solid pass blocker. With Peyton Manning, that was enough. But Painter doesn't have the same quick release. Carter has shown some promise, especially running straight ahead, but that's not where the Colts are strong. This is just a bad mix of things for virtually everyone on the offense. If you hadn't already dumped everyone, you can do it for Week 6, if not beyond.

The Steelers seem confident that Mendenhall will be back this week, but most are focused on whether he'll lose a split. Jonathan Dwyer had a nice game in Week 5, but let's face it -- he was fourth on the depth chart for a reason. If Mendenhall is able to go as expected, he could lose a couple touches here or there, but the Steelers staff realizes his production is as much a function of the line play as anything Mendenhall has or has not done. The hamstring was not ready to go last week -- he truly was an emergency back who would have only pass blocked -- but the minor tear and its odd location makes it likely he'll be productive this week.

The Chargers are 4-1 and yet no one has played over their head. Philip Rivers has been adequate at best, Antonio Gates has been out or ineffective, and now their top two RBs are injured at the same time. The bye week couldn't come at a better time. Mathews' breakout season looks a lot like Jamaal Charles' 2010, rating No. 5 so far according to Football Outsiders. That's heady company, but a calf strain could quickly derail things. Mathews left Week 6 in a walking boot, leading many to believe the strain is very low on the calf, near the Achilles. The boot and crutch combination adds to this belief, so Mathews becomes pretty risky over the next couple weeks. Any calf strain would cause a loss of explosiveness, which is a key to Mathews' game. With Tolbert coming off a concussion, Jacob Hester becomes an interesting option. He's sure to get touches and goal line carries, but he's more a Tolbert replacement than a Mathews replacement. Jordan Todman may end up seeing more carries if Mathews is unable to come back, but with the bye week, we won't know until this time next week how valuable Todman might be. He's worth a stash pickup if you have Mathews and the roster space.

Is a "banged knee" or a "bruised thigh" worse for Schaub? How about both? Add a bruised shoulder to the mix and you'll see that the Raiders did what Al Davis said -- the QB went down hard. Schaub's been relatively durable, but like any QB, it's not usually one hit that hurts them, its the cumulative effect. Schaub's knee is the major concern, and whether or not its the anatomical knee or anatomical thigh, the effect is that he's a bit slower, a bit less powerful and a bit less mobile. That might lead to him getting hit more, especially with the team headed to Baltimore. It's the worst possible matchup and something the Texans will have to fix in a hurry.

Adding to the Texans' woes is the loss of Williams for the season. His pectoral strain is very similar to Tarvaris Jackson's, but was even more complete. He'll likely need surgery to reattach things, but he should be able to return next season.

Sometimes precise terms actually confuse things. Jackson has a pectoral strain. When most people think pectoral, they think chest. This is accurate, but the pectoral muscle also attaches up near the shoulder. Put your hand in between your shoulder and chest, then do a throwing motion. That action is why Jackson's going to have a tough time coming back, even with the bye. It's a slow healing area, and with Jackson's moderate (Grade II) strain, there's a worry that any exacerbation will lead to a need for surgical intervention. Muscles are very difficult to fix and any work tends to happen at the tendon. Think about cutting a rare steak and then trying to sew it back together. Jackson's return is going to matter entirely on the location and severity of the strain. Without that information, we're speculating. For their part, the Seahawks are holding it close to their chest.

The gifted wideout had a small procedure to remove scar tissue from his hamstring tendon. There was a lot of speculation about the procedure, with people saying he'd had a tendon release (cutting the tendon, which is possible since it's a redundant structure) and others saying there was a re-attachment, which is impossible in the three- to six-week timeframe. Both are wrong. Johnson had a simple procedure that barely qualifies to be called surgery. The surgeon went in with a scope and basically pulled away some rough scar tissue, then used platelet rich plasma therapy and some painkillers on the area. It's a direct treatment that's also odd. Was this aggressive? Yes, but sources tell me that Johnson's prior PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) injury contributed. Scarring in that area was rubbing against scarring in the hamstring, creating an unnatural friction and healing issues. Johnson is back to physical activity this week, but it's unlikely he'll go from jogging lightly to being ready to play. Three or four weeks is looking much likely, which is interesting in that a Grade II strain like he had is normally three to four weeks, meaning all this was done to get him back to normal.

Many asked whether the Giants' decision to send Snee to the hospital after his concussion was standard. It's not something the NFL's procedures discuss, but it is the best practice when having significant symptoms, as Snee was having. Keeping him overnight for observation is what we hope the Giants would do for any player, or the standard of care any player at any level would get. It's not, but it's a nice step. While there are HIPAA concerns, opportunities like this are a great chance for the league or even the NATA to market and educate. Athletic trainers would be better served to that end rather than bugging me on Twitter to "please capitalize Athletic Trainer." Snee's status will depend on how his symptoms dissipate and how he clears the procedural and medical hurdles to a return.

LeGarrette Blount looks out for this week, which makes Earnest Graham a decent enough desperation pickup. Blount's knee injury is a bit more serious than originally thought with most of the speculation focused on a small cartilage tear ... Arian Foster has another injury? After last week's hip issue didn't slow him too much, he came out of last week's loss with a thigh bruise ... Brandon Jacobs still isn't back at practice. His knee sprain is likely to keep him out this week as well ... Tim Hightower's shoulder injury is costing him practice time, which is likely to cost him carries in the Washington RB committee ... Daniel Thomas was back at practice on Tuesday. The Dolphins anticipate him being in the mix for carries, sharing with Reggie Bush. Week 6 is make or break for the Dolphins running game ... Danny Woodhead was back at practice, but his status in the developing timeshare in the Pats backfield is as hurt as his ankle ... The bye week and time off appear to have Miles Austin back and ready to go, but don't get too excited. He's shown he's subject to recurrences and doesn't control his effort well ... Julio Jones is out for at least Week 6 due to his hamstring strain. He's had some leg issues in the past so the Falcons will be cautious with him ... Worse for the Falcons, Roddy White now has a knee issue. It's a cascade from his thigh bruise and the turf ... Donald Jones will miss a month with his high ankle sprain, opening targets for this week's hot sleeper, Naaman Roosevelt ... The bye week seems to have done Lee Evans some good. No one seems to know if he gets the full WR2 targets if he's back or if Torrey Smith did enough to stay in the mix ... Antonio Gates will take all of the bye week off as the Chargers go with the "Hail Mary" plan for his foot. If he's not back after the bye, he's likely done ... James Casey has a pectoral strain. It's not nearly as bad as Mario Williams', but Owen Daniels will get more targets this week as a result ... No update on Jerod Mayo. His "doubtful" status is likely to linger a few more weeks as his MCL sprain heals ... Julius Peppers looks very iffy for Week 6 with his knee issue. If he doesn't practice by Friday, go to Plan B ... Kerry Collins has not yet been cleared to play. Yes, this is a little odd, but I spoke with a league source who says there's no rule stating that a player has to go through the clearance procedure. It's a loophole no one expected ... Excited about this week's SI Inside Fantasy podcast. In addition to the usual great stuff, you're going to want to hear about how one of DIY Network's stars remodels his fantasy teams as well as high end bathrooms.

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