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  • Matthew Stafford and Zach Ertz were key players in the fantasy regular season, but will they be available in the first week of the playoffs?
By Russell Manalastas
December 05, 2017

The injury bug strikes at all times of year. It doesn’t care if it’s the fantasy playoffs, it will still pop up whenever it pleases. That reality could have the fantasy owners of the following players scrambling in Week 14.

Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions

Injury: Bruised Hand

Stafford had his throwing hand stepped on by Terrell Suggs in Sunday’s loss to the Ravens. X-rays revealed that there were no broken bones in his hand, but he is dealing with a lot of pain and swelling in the hand. Gripping the ball and being able to throw accurately are typically the biggest issues when dealing with any type of hand contusion, with the pain and swelling both limiting factors. Stafford may opt to wear a glove to see if that helps with gripping and throwing the ball, but either way I don’t see him missing Sunday’s game with the Buccaneers. How effective he’ll be if he does play is another story. Stafford had his middle finger dislocated last year on his throwing hand and was not the same quarterback after the injury.

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Tyrod Taylor, QB, Bills

Injury: Patellar Tendon Contusion

Taylor luckily avoided any major ligament damage after being carted off in the second half Sunday against the Patriots. However, a contusion to the patellar tendon can be a tricky injury, in that attempting to play with any lingering soreness and discomfort in that tendon can put an athlete at an increased risk for further irritation to the tissue. The quadricep muscle, which is the main muscle in front of the thigh, attaches to the patellar tendon, with the tendon absorbing the force generated from the muscle while running, cutting, and decelerating the leg, which means it’s under near-constant strain. Taylor is day-to-day for now, but if his recovery doesn’t progress quickly, the Bills could easily decide to hold him out Sunday.

Zach Ertz, TE, Eagles

Injury: Concussion

Ertz sustained his concussion on the second half of Sunday Night Football, making the timing an added hurdle to the typical concussion-protocol process. Ertz will be up against the clock to get cleared in time for Week 14, as the length of time to be cleared the protocol has increased over the years to make sure players are returning without lingering issues. Every athlete’s recovery from a concussion is different, as location and symptoms of the head trauma can determine length of recovery. Keep an eye on his status later in the week to see if he’s able to return to practice in any fashion. If he does, the chances of him playing improve significantly.

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Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers

Injury: Broken Collarbone

Rodgers returned to practice and is eligible to come off IR and get back on the field in Week 15. A lot will depend on where the Packers are in the playoff hunt, but, barring any setbacks with the collarbone, Rodgers could be the hammer that fantasy owners are looking for in their playoffs. If the Packers are out of contention by the time Rodgers is eligible to return, I don’t believe that he’ll play. He’s still fairly early in the recovery process from collarbone surgery, and it simply wouldn’t be worth the risk of re-injury. I would expect a little rust with Rodgers should he return, but it wouldn’t be an unprecedented return, time-wise, from the injury he suffered.

Jimmy Smith, CB, Ravens

Injury: Torn Achilles

Smith tore his Achilles tendon in non-contact fashion when he was attempting to run back and cover a pass against the Lions in Week 13. Much like Richard Sherman, Smith had been dealing with Achilles soreness throughout the season and was limited in practices leading up to each Sunday to give it as much rest as possible. Whenever an athlete is dealing with chronic Achilles issues, it puts the tendon at more risk because it’s not able to absorb as much force as usual. The Ravens secondary has been a strong point this year, and Smith has not allowed a touchdown all season. His absence could change the entire look of the defense, and make it not quite as tough a matchup as it has been for most of the year

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