- Looking at the prognoses for Leonard Fournette, Joe Mixon and other injured fantasy football stars.
We’re two weeks into the season, and have still mostly dodged major injuries to significant stars, which feels like a minor miracle. Lower-level injuries are starting to pile up, however, with at least five every-week starters possible inactives due to injury this week. We’ll give you the injury nuts and bolts, and the fantasy spin to go with them, in the SI.com Training Room for Week 3.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills
Injury: Cracked rib cartilage
Injury take: McCoy is dealing with discomfort to the cartilage that overlays the ribcage. The majority of times, this type of injury becomes a pain-management issue and if the player can do what he generally does without too much issue. If McCoy plays, he’ll wear a rib vest and do what he can to limit the exposure area to potential trauma, which can be difficult to do when playing a contact sport. I don’t think he’ll miss any time, but it will be interesting to see how much practice time he logs.
Fantasy spin: The Bills offense is a total mess right now and McCoy has been caught up in the ugliness, running for 61 yards on 16 carries. It gets no easier with a matchup against the Vikings in Minnesota this week. The state of Buffalo’s offense, matchup and injury are all working against McCoy. If you can go in another direction this week, do so.
Joe Mixon, RB, Bengals
Injury: Arthroscopic knee surgery
Injury take: Mixon was in and out of Thursday night’s game against the Ravens due to knee trouble, and it turns out he was dealing with a loose body in the knee. A loose body can be a floating piece of cartilage, bone or something that becomes dislodged in the knee, and can limit knee function. This is a very straightforward procedue with the surgeon simply going in there to clean out the debris. The recovery is usually in the two-to-four-week window, depending on how large the loose body is and overall functionality of the knee after the surgery. Mixon should start rehab as soon as possible and could begin a higher level of activity if everything goes smoothly right out of the gate. Returning in two weeks might be optimistic, but it’s possible if there aren’t any complications. It would be a major surprise if he were out longer than four weeks.
Fantasy spin: This one seems pretty straightforward. Mixon should be back in a few weeks, and will be right back in fantasy starting lineups when he returns. In the meantime, Giovani Bernard takes over as Cincinnati’s workhorse, and should be owned and started in all leagues.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Jaguars
Injury: Strained hamstring
Injury take: Fournette was held out of Jacksonville’s win over New Engalnd in Week 2 due to a hamstring injury. He hasn’t had any setbacks, but he’ll likely need to practice in some capacity this week to ensure that he’s able to ramp up his activity without increasing any discomfort or risk of aggravation. If he doesn’t practice, especially later in the week, it’s likely he’ll be out again on Sunday. He wasn’t close to playing in Week 2, despite what the team might have said during the week.
Fantasy spin: It looks like it’s going to be another week of hoping for the best in Jacksonville. Even if Fournette suits up, he’s not likely to be 100% when the Jaguars host the Titans. It’s a solid matchup, especially with the Jaguars likely to be comfortable favorites, but that, too, could lead the team to be cautious with Fournette. They just beat the Patriots without him. Do they really need to push him to take care of the Titans at home? If he’s out, T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant will once again be on the flex radar.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
Injury: Sprained knee/bone bruise
Injury take: Rodgers suffered no more increased pain or damage after Green Bay’s Week 2 tie with Minnesota, an encouraging sign that his recovery is continuing apace. Bone bruises can take time to fully heal, and Rodgers will have to deal with some level of discomfort as he plays through the injury. With that being said, he looked mobile enough to get out of harm's way when needed, and played at a high level even with a bulky brace on his knee.
Fantasy spin: A high level? Yeah, I’d say so. Rodgers handled one of the best defenses in the league, completing more than 70% of his passes for 281 yards, 6.69 yards per attempt, one touchdown and zero picks. He was 9-for-9 for 87 yards against the blitz, too, protecting his knee in a way that hurt the defense. Run Rodgers out there in Week 3 when the Packers visit Washington.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals
Injury: Strained hamstring
Injury take: Soft-tissue injuries, especially early in the season, can be troublesome in that if the player returns too quickly, he risks aggravating the injury and can make it a chronic issue. The Cardinals offense is not looking great, and a Fitzgerald absence would only exacerbate those struggles. Hamstring strains are notorious for slow recoveries, mainly because players cannot rush the healing process. Keep an eye on Fitzgerald’s practice participation as the week progresses to determine how ready he potentially is to return this weekend, or if he might need to sit out Week 3 to ensure proper recovery.
Fantasy spin: This one sounds like it’s going to be a problem for fantasy owners. As is the case with LeSean McCoy, even if Fitzgerald takes the field Sunday, how confident can you be in him at less than 100% in an offense that cannot find its way? If he plays, he’ll likely still rate as a top-30 receiver, but he’ll be more WR3 than the WR2 he’s expected to be when healthy.
Dalvin Cook, RB, Vikings
Injury: Strained hamstring/cramps
Injury take: Cook went down with a hamstring issue in overtime against the Packers last week. It was initially deemed a hamstring strain, but after the game Cook stated that he was dealing with cramps and that the muscle is fine. His practice participation will give us a better idea as to how serious this issue is, so make sure you keep an eye out for his practice status as the week progresses on to determine if the issue is something that could compromise his status for Minnesota’s Week 3 game with Buffalo.
Fantasy spin: Cook owners breathed a sigh of relief when he said after the game that it was really a cramping issue, and not a strained hamstring. If he plays for the Vikings this week, he’s a slam-dunk starter for fantasy owners.