- Taking a look at last week's biggest injuries, and the impact they will have on Week 2.
Injuries are the singular attendant evil in all sports, especially football. If we could wish them away, we would, but they will always be an outsize part of the game, from both real-life and fantasy perspectives.
We’ll cover both those perspectives in the SI.com Training Room every week. For the real-life take on every crucial injury, we’ll turn to 4for4’s Russell Manalastas, a sports physical therapist and strength coach based in Fairport, New York. Then, our Michael Beller will dish on the fantasy side of the equation, taking Russell’s injury expertise and distilling it into fantasy advice.
With that, let’s get into the Training Room, breaking down Week 1’s biggest injuries and the effects they will have on the Week 2 fantasy landscape.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
Injury: Sprained knee
Injury take: It was encouraging to see Rodgers return to the game after being carted off in the first half. However, he is likely going to experience more discomfort and stiffness in the knee, which will definitely play a factor in his ability to stay on track for Week 2. Rodgers will likely undergo testing to determine the extent of the sprain, and although one would think he’ll suit up in Week 2 based on the fact that he returns, and played exceedingly well, last week, this is a fluid situation. I’m optimistic that he’ll be on the field, but like we saw in the win over the Bears, the extent of the injury can definitely affect how he moves in the pocket, as well as his ability to push off the leg when throwing. The biggest concern is whether putting Rodgers out there in Week 2 increases his risk of injury, which is what the Packers will try and figure out as the week progresses.
Fantasy spin: If Rodgers plays this week, it seems likely he’ll be at less than 100%. Given that, and the tough matchup with the Vikings, he wouldn’t have the ceiling he typically does, but his owners should feel confident rolling with him if the Packers do. I could see pivoting if you could cut a non-essential player from your roster for a high-end streamer like Alex Smith or Jimmy Garoppolo, but the likelihood of threading that exact needle is slim, and Rodgers, as he showed against the Bears, is still Rodgers.
Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans
Injury: Elbow soreness
Injury take: Mariota explained the injury after the game by saying that he was having difficulty gripping the ball, and having issues with feeling his hand after taking a late hit. It sounds like what he is dealing with is a nerve irritation, which can be uncomfortable and can also take time to heal, depending on how irritated the nerve is. As Mariota was being evaluated on the field, you could see him shaking his hand and holding his last two fingers, which could indicate the nerve involved is the ulnar nerve, otherwise known as the funny bone. There seems to be some optimism currently based on initial testing, but we’re unlikely to get more information until later in the week. I’d consider him day-to-day for now and would bet on him playing in Week 2.
Fantasy spin: Mariota and the Titans have a brutal matchup this week against the Texans, and then visit the Jaguars in Week 3. Mariota isn’t going to have it easy the next two weeks, and the injury only exacerbates that matchup-based reality. He’ll be without Delanie Walker, who suffered a broken ankle, as well, making this an even tougher spot. It’s early, but you should likely be looking elsewhere this week.
Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers
Injury: Fractured foot
Injury take: It is never good when a player hurts an area or part of the body where they previously had surgery. Such is the case with Olsen, who fractured in Week 1 the foot he broke last season. Putting an athlete on crutches and in a walking boot is pretty standard practice to prevent any further irritation to the involved area, but previous injury history can play a major factor when having to recover from an issue. It's going to be some time before we see Olsen on the field again.
Fantasy spin: Olsen was always a significant risk, entering this season at 33 years old after missing nine games due to injury last year. IMuch as it might hurt to do so, you should feel free to cut him rather than burning a roster spot on an extra tight end. Some players you should be considering as replacements are Jared Cook, Eric Ebron, Jonnu Smith and Will Dissly.
Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks
Injury: Sprained MCL
Injury take: News out of Seattle is that Baldwin is dealing with a grade 2 MCL sprain. These types of injuries usually require 2-3 weeks of recovery depending on how the athlete feels. He’ll likely wear a brace upon his return, but it sounds like Baldwin might not miss as much time as originally thought. It all just depends on his ability to progress through rehab.
Fantasy spin: I like the optimism Russ is sounding in his portion of the Baldwin discussion, but the fact that both his knees are now injured concerns me. Maybe this turns out to be a blessing in the long term, forcing him to give his previously injured knee time to heal rather than palying through it. Maybe this second injury makes it even unlikelier that he ever plays a down this season at 100%. At this point, you obviously can’t cut him, and you shouldn’t be trading him for 50 cents on the dollar, either. It’s a true wait-and-see situation.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Jaguars
Injury: Strained hamstring
Injury take: Doug Marrone is calling Fournette’s hamstring issue “minor,” but the biggest issue is we know is the risk these soft tissues can be re-aggravated if a player comes back too soon. Hamstring strains usually occur as they help to decelerate an athlete when attempting to change direction, which is crucial for a running back. In short, there’s really no such thing as a minor hamstring injury, especially for a running back. I would think the Jaguars will be cautious with Fournette and not rush him back too soon. If anything, he’ll likely be a game-time decision to test out the hamstring before Week 2, but even then I don’t feel like the Jaguars will force the issue if he doesn’t feel ready.
Fantasy spin: Like Russ said, there’s really no such thing as a minor hamstring injury. If I’m a Fournette owner, I want them to take it easy with him and let him sit this week. Better to have him put this fully in the rear-view mirror than have to deal with it longer than is necessary. Go get T.J. Yeldon if you can.
Marquise Goodwin, WR, 49ers
Injury: Strained quadriceps
Injury take: Goodwin injured his thigh against the Vikings in the second quarter and attempted to return and play through the discomfort, but was forced out for the entire second half. The quadriceps muscle is the first muscle that has to be engaged when attempting to put full weight on the leg, so it can be very uncomfortable when trying to play through this injury. I would consider Goodwin questionable at best for Week 2, as he might not recover quick enough to be ready to suit up on Sunday.
Fantasy spin: As is the case with Fournette, this sounds like a situation where the team would be better off letting the player get all the way back to 100% rather than having him play at 80% or 85% just for the sake of not missing one game. If Goodwin is out this week, Dante Pettis and Pierre Garcon both become more interesting in a matchup with the Lions.