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Fantasy Checkup: Week 4

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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 4 upon us and one quarter of the 2009 season about to be completed, I thought it might be interesting to look at the "Business Plan of the Body" as it compares to the business model of the NFL -- a franchise operation. Like any major franchise, the NFL operates with outlets in select cities across the United States. Each team operates under a set of rules, as outlined in the franchise prospectus.

As with most franchises, the franchisee (NFL owner) must conform to a specific set of standards such as game rules, dress code for employees, hours of operation (time of game), salaries and such. Each franchise operation can employ a specific number of salesmen (players) to provide motivation and generate sales. Sales associates (coaches) assist the salesmen to achieve their goal of maximizing sales.

Under this business model, it stands to reason that if you lose a salesman (player) to another franchise (free agency or trade), or he gets injured on the job, then your operation is in for trouble.

Last week some of the most important salesmen, NFL quarterbacks, were reported to be banged up, yet in many cases still operational. Take a look from last week's NFL injury reports.

Eagles Donovan McNabb rib injury did not practice Doubtful
Saints Drew Brees left shoulder full participation Probable
NYJ Kellen Clemens right elbow full participation Probable
Mark Sanchez knee full participation Probable
Ariz Brian St. Pierre back full participation Probable
Kurt Warner rt. shoulder full participation Probable
Wash Jason Campbell foot limited in practice Probable
Detroit Drew Stanton Knee limited in practice Questionable
NE Tom Brady rt. shoulder full particiaption Probable

The NFL QB has been placed on the endangered list by the Franchiser -- they wear a special jersey in practice, have a referee watching their movement in the backfield, can only be tackled certain ways and so forth. Yet, with all that protection this unique salesman can and does get injured on the job, and, as a result, the game can change drastically.

I have often wondered, based on my experiences in world championship boxing, MMA, and the NHL, if teams should not use the legitimate rules and target the opposing QB for extinction, such that it is a fair attack well within the scope of the rules of engagement. Here is a case in point going into week 4 where two teams, the Bills and Miami, are at a crossroads and something needs to give.

The week 4 injury report at Miami has starting QB Chad Pennington, out for possibly the rest of the season with a right shoulder injury sustained in Miami's loss at San Diego last week. Miami's back up QB Chad Henne, in his second year, is the likely starter this week against Buffalo.

Now here is where it gets interesting in terms of targeting a QB for damage. Buffalo has three of its four starting defensive backs on the injury list this week. Safety Donte Whitmer (thumb) and cornerback Leodis McKelvin (broken leg) are expected to be out this week. Safety Brian Scott is questionable with a high ankle sprain. Plus starting defensive tackle Kyle Williams has a groin injury while back up defensive lineman John McCargo has a calf injury.

Had Chad Pennington been in the game, he would have picked the Bills' second string secondary apart. Part of the Bills' game plan ought to be to knock out Chad Henne to even the game. A good avenue to the QB is through the left tackle, assuming a right-handed quarterback. When said QB throws the out and up and takes that 3-5 step drop, (Buffalo could easily look for Miami's trend) the Bills could overload the left tackle and send a missile in the form of the strong safety with his sights on the QB's mid back area (between the shoulder blades). Said blow could not only create fear in the mind of the QB but potentially reduce his ability to throw accurately the rest of the game.

I certainly am not advocating an illegal or an excessive blow, but football is a violent game, where injuries are not only accepted, but also an important part of the game, as it pertains to final victory. No one is advocating excessive violence, but let's face it, the fans seem to like it.

Let me quote directly from the book, Unleashing the Warrior Within, by Richard J. Machowicz, a ten year veteran of the U.S. Navy SEALs."Fear is not a true indicator of danger, evaluated experience is. If you let your world become constricted by fear, fear has already won. You're trapped in a kind of living death." So, I think the take away point is "perception" of fear. Make that big hit on the QB and maybe perception becomes reality in the NFL.

Speaking of QB damage control, the Rams quarterback, Mark Bulger has a bruised rotator cuff on his throwing arm that may sideline him a few weeks ,so take note San Francisco. Elsewhere, Detroit QB Drew Stanton practiced with a knee injury and Tampa QB Brian Leftwich did not practice due to a hip injury.

Looks like the QB position has challenges of its own even on the endangered species list.


Dr. Gardner's analysis:

This week we will focus on a group of elite running backs who will be slowed in the next couple of weeks. Two of the teams should have adequate production in the running game because they are blessed with depth at the position. The other two teams will have to get creative, as they are not blessed with such depth.

Just when the Cowboys are expecting Marion Barber to return to the lineup, their exceptional back, Felix Jones, has a knee injury. Preliminary reports are that he has a sprain of his Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL).

As I mentioned in the injury report two weeks ago when discussing Anthony Gonzalez, this is a potentially significant injury. A ligament is a type of connective tissue that connects two bones together. The PCL connects the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone). It's main function is to prevent the tibia from moving too far backward (posterior) in relation to the femur during deceleration or contact. It also has a minor role in providing pivoting stability.

A sprain of a ligament occurs when there is stretching of the ligament. It can be graded on a scale of 1 to 3, depending on the severity. A Grade 3 sprain is actually one in which the ligament tears in the midsubstance or pulls off of its attachment to the bone. Grade 1 and 2 sprains generally do not require surgery, and return to play can occur with a brace in four to six weeks in the lower severity injury. Grade 3 sprains usually require surgery, which obviously is season ending with a recovery time of six to nine months.

There are no reports Jones is going to have surgery, so I would expect he will be out a couple of weeks. Tashard Choice has been playing extremely well, and Barber participated fully in practice. The Cowboys probably will continue to have a successful ground game.

Willie Parker has been diagnosed with turf toe This is an extremely common injury with football players. It is a injury that results in the sprain of the joint of the big toe. It is caused when there is a hyperflexion (toe bent too far backward) injury to the joint of the big toe. The ligaments becomed stretched, and it is excructiatingly painful. It is difficult to immobilize the toe and be able to play, so often several weeks are missed. The toe is still painful even when returning to play.

I expect Parker to miss at least three weeks. The Steelers will rely heavily on Mewelde Moore and Rashard Mendenhall.

Frank Gore has an ankle injury that is unrelated to his previous ankle injury, supposedly. He received an MRI that reportedly was read as an ankle strain and a hindfoot sprain. These terms are slightly inaccurate.

Muscles and tendons (connective tissue that connects muscle to bone) can be strained, ligaments get sprained. If he has a chronic ankle sprain with an injury to the ligaments around the ankle, he should recover from this in three weeks or so. If he has a high ankle sprain, it may be longer. The high ankle sprain involves a injury to the ligament between the two bones of the lower leg (tibia and fibula). This notoriously requires a long time to heal and sometimes surgery.

The hindfoot strain (or sprain) is a little more dubious. This would suggest he has an injury to the joint just below the ankle (subtalar joint). This is the joint formed by the calcaneus (heel bone) and the talus (bone that rotates up and down with moving ankle up and down). This is a chronic injury that requires a long period of immobilization and potentially surgery.

Either way, I think Gore will be battling these injuries for many weeks. As evidenced by his 207 yards gained on his previous ankle injury, he should be dangerous if he does suit up. The 49ers need him desperately.

Kevin Smith has a knee injury and a shoulder injury. There hasn't been much in the way of detail concerning either. He did have limited participation in practice this week and is expected to play. I don't get the sense these injuries are significant. I expect his level of play to be at his usual level.

Brett Favre has appeared on the injured list for the first time this year. He has complained of pain in virtually every part of his body. His (un)official diagnosis is old age. Judging by his miraculous winning touchdown pass, he will continue to be Favre-like this week.

And to wrap things up, we will conclude with the Redskins. Carlos Rogers and DeAngelo Hall had limitations in practice because of ankle injuries. They are both expected to play. Albert Haynesworth did not practice because of a gluteal (buttock) injury. Not sure how this will affect him this weekend. This may limit his explosiveness off of the line.

Clinton Portis did not practice because of a calf injury. He needed the rest and will play this weekend. The Redskins fans are on the injured list with Broken Hearts. The treatment for this is for their team to play and inspired game with a victorious result . . . prognosis undetermined.

By Gene Wang  |  October 3, 2009; 9:48 PM ET  | Category:  Fantasy Check Up Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Any update on Hasselbeck? Is this going to be an all season nagging injury?

Posted by: W Leung | October 3, 2009 12:11 PM

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