- Kelvin Benjamin, Julio Jones, Doug Baldwin and Melvin Gordon all seemed to dodge major injury bullets last week, but they might not be out of the woods just yet.
There was good news and bad news on the injury front in Week 3. On the one hand, no fantasy-relevant player suffered a significant injury for the first time this season. On the other, there were more minor injuries to key fantasy players than either of the season's first two weeks. We take a look at four of those injuries below, and also provide an update on Andrew Luck, who finally appeared to receive good news for the first time in 2017.
Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Panthers
Injury: sprained knee
Whenever a player goes down with an injury to the same knee that has already been through an ACL reconstruction, there’s always reason for concern. However, Benjamin had an MRI which revealed no structural damage, and that he’s just dealing with a sprain. It’ll be hard to gauge if he’ll be available for Week 4 against the Patriots, but hopefully we’ll get a better idea of where his knee stands as the week progresses. Consider him day-to-day for now, and pay close attention to Carolina’s practice reports this week.
Julio Jones, WR, Falcons
Injury: strained low back
Jones hurt his back at the end of Sunday’s game against the Lions. It appeared that he suffered the injury either as he was upended on his final reception, or as he was diving to recover the ball that momentarily looked like a fumble. You could see him get up gingerly and then limp around on the sidelines hunched over, which could indicate he was dealing with some back spasms at that time. He did later state after the game that he would’ve been able to return if needed, but this is still something to monitor. If he is dealing with back spasms, those could potentially get aggravated when he tries to play at full speed, as there are a number of large muscles in the low back that help stabilize the spine when doing any violent twisting or turning motions. He’ll be limited early in the week, but he’ll likely get enough treatment where the back becomes a non-issue. Jones has been known to play through a myriad of smaller injuries throughout his career, so the hope is that this is another one that will not limit his production.
Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks
Injury: strained groin
Baldwin suffered the groin injury late in the fourth quarter against the Titans on Sunday and never returned. Pete Carroll said that he is unsure of the severity of the groin injury, as they are awaiting the results of the tests performed on the groin after the game, although early reports indicated it wasn’t serious. For what it’s worth, Baldwin looked like a coach on the sidelines after suffering the groin injury, yelling out instructions to his fellow receivers on Seattle’s final drive. The problem with groin strains, regardless of how severe they are, is that the strained tissue can limit the player’s ability to decelerate and change direction, either laterally or with any twisting motion. That could make it difficult for a receiver to get into and out of his breaks, which would limit the effectiveness of his routes. We’ll know more as the week goes on, but consider Baldwin day-to-day at this point.
Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers
Injury: bone bruise on knee
A bone bruise is just like any other bruise in the body. The main problem for Gordon is that, depending on the location of the bruise, it can affect other structures in the knee. Namely, it can affect the articular cartilage, which lines the ends of each bone to help reduce friction as the knee moves, or it can affect the softer, more porous bone that lies under the harder outer layer. It’s even more complicated for Gordon, given that the bruise is to the same knee on which he previously had microfracture surgery. If the bruise is in a weight bearing area of the knee joint, it helps to explain why he aggravated it in Week 3 against the Chiefs. Bone bruises can be a day-to-day ordeal, or they can be multi-week injuries depending on the severity and the pain the player is experiencing. Given Gordon’s previous knee issues, as well as his importance to the team, we should expect the Chargers to play things carefully with him. He did get back on the field late in the loss to the Chiefs, so that is a good sign for his playing status in Week 4.
Andrew Luck, QB, Colts
Injury: shoulder labral repair
There are some reports that Luck is targeting to return to the Colts in Week 6 after undergoing shoulder surgery this offseason. That would mean that he is close to returning to practice, which is the next big step. The Colts haven’t exactly been forthcoming with information on Luck’s recovery, but all indications are that he hasn’t thrown a pass since his last one in 2016. Just as important as how his shoulder reacts in practice will be how it feels after practice. Only then will the Colts be able to determine the next steps in his recovery. An injury like Luck’s would typically require 2 to 3 weeks of practice to get a better idea of when Luck could be ready for game action. With major shoulder surgeries for quarterbacks, accuracy, feel, and ability to drive the ball down the field are all things they need to display. If Luck isn’t feeling any lingering soreness or discomfort, then the Colts could give him the green light to get back on the field. He’s definitely trending in the right direction. If you are in need of some quarterback help, stash him now in hopes that he can deliver when he returns.