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Fantasy Checkup Week 2

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Welcome back to Fantasy Checkup, where our medical professionals provide us analysis of significant injuries that could affect your fantasy lineups. Come back each Friday to hear what Brion Gardner, the staff orthopedist at Camp Lejeune, and Mackie Shilstone Executive Director of The Fitness Principles have to say about each week's injury report.

Mackie Shilstone's Analysis:

With Week 2 of the NFL season coming this Sunday, we have several injury trends developing that are worth noting. But first, we need some background on NFL injury statistics which we can derive from a study provided to the NFL owners and executives in May of this year.

As reported in a May 28,2009, article by Judy Battista on nytimes.com, "the study used data from the league's injury surveillance system, comprised of detailed information compiled by team medical staffs, to determine the number of players missing games each week from 2003 - 2007." The average for players missing games in the regular season was 2.7 players per team each week. When it came to post season games, the average dropped to 1.2 players per team.

Football Outsiders has developed a way to measure the effect of the loss of a specific player to his respective team, based on a specific set of parameters (i.e. his position, caliber of player, etc.). From what I can read, the loss of an offensive player has more effect than the loss of a defensive player.

Bill Barnwell, reports in Some N.F.L. Injuries May Hurt More Than Others, which discusses the stats from Football Outsiders, that "players listed on the (NFL) injury report with hamstring injuries missed 149 more games than they would have been expected to, far surpassing any other body part."

The reason that I am pointing out this background information is because it seems we have a trend, developing early in the NFL this season that may have an negative impact on certain teams when it counts the most, such as the hamstring strain on Arizona Cardinals's wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who was limited in practice on Wednesday and Thursday of this week.

As of 9/17, I counted 20 incidents of hamstring involvement on the Week 2 NFL injury report. And one team, the Seattle Seahawks, reported three hamstring injuries.

According to the reference book, The Sports Medicine Bible, by Lyle J. Micheli, M.D., hamstrings injuries are "one of the most common injuries in sports and one of the most debilitating. The likelihood of a hamstring strain is dramatically increased, if the muscles are not sufficiently warmed up."

The hamstring, composed of three muscles located behind the thigh, spans two joints- the hip and knee. Research points to the fact that "the incidence of (hamstring) strain injuries rises from 16% in previously uninjured players to 34% in players with a history of hamstring strains."

The causes of hamstring strains ( stretches, tears, or ruptures) can include poor lumbar posture, previous injury, lack of flexibility, inadequate warm up, strength imbalances, and poor coordination, among others. It also seems that the belly of the hamstring muscle (the long head of the biceps femoris) is the most commonly injured site, which accounted for about 80% of the hamstring injuries, based on imagery analysis of 170 athletes post injury, according to "Hamstring Muscle Kinematics during Treadmill Sprinting," which appeared in the Journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise ( 2005).

I think you can see that the Seahawks need to nip their hamstring outbreak sooner rather than later. Yet, rushing these players back too quickly can and will cause them to reinjure themselves, if you believe the research, and, I do. The Seahawks need to figure out what they are or are not doing to stop this trend.

Elsewhere, around the NFL, the knee leads the way, as one of the most injured sites on the body. This week it raked up 30 notations on the injury report as of 9/17 with roughly 38% from offensive players. Remember the fact that injuries to offensive players may have a bigger effect on a team, generally speaking, than on defense.

There were also 17 ankle injury notations which is a cause of concern, especially as it effects players like Dallas QB Tony Romo, who will likely need to scramble out of the pocket against the Giants on Sunday night. A change in the ankle mechanics can also predispose a player to a knee injury due to a change in the gait pattern. It is, as they say, all linked together -- the kinetic chain.

More to come, I am sorry to say, as the train wreck continues.


Dr. Gardner's analysis:

There are several key players on the injury report this week. Most notably the two biggest names that are out are Brian Urlacher with a dislocated wrist and Troy Polamalu with an MCL injury. Urlacher's season is over. This is bad news for Chicago fans. Palomalu likely will return in a couple of weeks.

The next big name having a slightly less severe injury is Donovan McNabb. He has a single rib fracture. He did not participate in practice this week, which doesn't rule him out for the game. Pain will determine whether he will suit up. He likely will be a game time or at least game day decision. If he is able to run and throw with little or minimal pain, he will play. He will be needed against the Saints as we know they can put up massive points. In McNabb's absence, Kolb will play. If he is ineffective, Jeff Garcia will take the reins. I suspect Garcia will get a lot of playing time and McNabb may sit this one out. (Look for him next week).

It seems that this is the year of the MCL injury! Every year seems to have a "most common injury". It is the MCL's year. The MCL (medial collateral ligament) is the ligament that prevents your knee from buckling inward. Obviously, this is very important in providing stability when changing speed and direction.

The Colts were dealt a significant blow when Anthony Gonzalez injured his knee during the game last Sunday. He was expected to replace future hall of famer, Marvin Harrison. He is listed as "knee ligament injury". Watching the highlights of his injury it appears that he has AT LEAST an MCL injury. Often times with a non-contact injury, like his, the ACL is injured too. (Anterior Cruciate Ligament provides stability with pivoting and changing direction. Also it prevents the shin bone from going forward on thigh bone during stopping). Gonzalez will be out for several weeks. If it is only an MCL, it is likely a high grade (2 or 3) and he will return this season. If it turns out to have more than one ligament injured, be prepared for him to miss most of the season.

Felix Jones was initially reported to have a thigh contusion which was a cause for concern. He was not listed on the latest injury report. I would suspect he will have no difficulties this Sunday.

The New Orleans Saints have two integral members of their offense on the list. First, Pierre Thomas has a knee injury that is sparking much discussion around the Big Easy. There is speculation that he has already had a knee scope or his knee requires a scope. He was inactive last week but has given interviews this week saying that he is ready to play. It is unclear by report the nature and extent of his injury. What is clear is that if his is hobbling, the Saints will be fine in the running game because Mike Bell looks like he is off and running. (143 yards last week).

Jeremey Shockey has an ankle injury. He participated in practice this week. I haven't read anything to lead me to believe that he will be slowed down. Look for him to be a big target in the red zone. If his ankle is bothering him at all, he may not go on long routes, but he can still run 10 yards and turn around in the end zone.

LT again? Despite high hopes for LaDainian Tomlinson, he is on the injury report, AGAIN. He has an ankle sprain which limited him in the second half of Monday night's game. There was a lot of preseason talk that he is 30 and rolling over the hill. This injury does nothing to dispute that. He did not participate in practice which is a bad sign. He will likely suit up for the game, but Sproles will get the majority of the work. This injury will linger throughout the season. Hopefully, with physical therapy and a brace he will be able to produce at the level we are accustomed to.

TJ Houshmandzadeh missed two practices with back spasms. He is still likely to play and will be productive as always. The Seahawks other receiver, Deion Branch, is still nursing a hamstring injury but also is projected to play. Walter Jones is nursing a knee injury and possibly could make his season debut Sunday against the 49ers.

Kris Jenkins was limited in practice because of an ailing back. But, expect him to be full force in the effort to put pressure on Tom Brady. (who, by the way, is listed on the injury report, but nothing is hurting with his shoulder... just one doctor's opinion...)

I will end with my review of the Redskins injury report. Perennial all pro left tackle, Chris Samuels, was limited in practice because of a sore knee. He will play this Sunday. He is needed to protect Jason Campbell's backside and jumpstart the passing game. As a team, the Redskins are healthy. They are playing the Rams who have been struggling the last couple of years (although they beat the Skins at home last year, one of their two victories... I digress) so there is no excuse for poor performance or a loss at home.

By Emil Steiner  |  September 18, 2009; 3:04 PM ET  | Category:  Fantasy Check Up , Fantasy Football , NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I'm no doctor but i think you need your ribs not to be broken to play in the NFL. You can get waiver wire advice at www.fantasy-football-first.com

Posted by: JC | September 18, 2009 5:28 PM

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