Fantasy Football Injuries to Monitor for the NFL Playoffs
As The Fantasy Footballers’ lead injury analyst and sports physical therapist, I’ve been recapping the previous week’s injuries and giving a projected timeline for recovery all season long. Let’s look at the biggest injuries from the last few weeks, including Week 17, and discuss how these injuries might affect these players in the NFL Playoffs.
Sad that fantasy football is over for the year? You don’t have to be! The injuries in this article will help anyone who’s playing DFS in the NFL Playoffs or who is playing in a fantasy football playoff league. Be sure to check out the Fantasy Footballers DFS Podcast as well, as Kyle and I will be previewing the Wild Card Round for this weekend’s upcoming DFS slate.
Left Knee Sprain and Bone Bruise: Likely Out or limited in Wild Card
Mike Evans hyperextended his left knee on Sunday in the Bucs’ regular-season finale against the Falcons and didn’t return. He received the results of his MRI on Sunday, which per head coach Bruce Arians didn’t show any serious structural damage. While it’s certainly great news that Evans didn’t suffer major ligament damage, the issue with this hyper-extension mechanism of injury is that it usually leads to a bone bruise inside the knee joint, which causes a high level of pain and swelling in most athletes. I expect the Bucs to take this one all the way up until Friday, but Evans is certain to miss practice time this week. If he’s active, he won’t be at 100% and could be ineffective battling through pain.
Here’s the Mike Evans left knee injury where his knee hyperextends. The concern is a ligament sprain and/or posterior capsule sprain
Day likely done. Expect team to get an MRI tomorrow pic.twitter.com/yeJp5Q7bGu
— Matthew Betz (@TheFantasyPT) January 3, 2021
On Covid-IR: Likely to play in Wild Card
Kamara and the other Saints RBs missed Week 17 as they were considered close contacts to Alvin Kamara, who was added to the Covid-IR list on Saturday. With the Saints playing on Sunday against the Bears in the first round of the NFL Playoffs, Kamara is eligible to play if he continues to test negative throughout the week. This is a situation to monitor throughout the week.
Returning From High Ankle Sprain: Will Play in Wild Card
The last time Michael Thomas was on the field for the Saints was Week 14, but with the Saints having their eyes set on a playoff run, the team decided to shut Thomas down for three weeks, placing him on IR. Thomas originally suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 1, finally returned to the lineup in Week 9, but he was still battling through soreness in the ankle. Now with three weeks off, I fully expect Thomas to come back healthy and be effective in the playoffs.
Knee Sprain: Questionable for Wild Card
Cole Beasley suffered a mild knee sprain in Week 16 and ended up sitting in Week 17 after missing practice every day last week. I expect Beasley to continue to be listed on the Bills injury report this week and to miss practice time. As of now, it’s too early to tell if he will be available in the first round of the playoffs for Buffalo. After the injury in Week 16, Sean McDermott labeled Beasley as “week to week.” It’s worth noting that Buffalo brought in free agent WR, Kenny Stills, for a visit prior to Week 17, a potential signal that Beasley is still a week or two away from returning.
Hamstring Strain: Likely to be effective in playoffs
Tyreek Hill sat in Week 17, along with other Chiefs starters, but that was likely more of a precautionary move rather than a move that correlates with Hill’s mild hamstring issue that’s been bothering him for a few weeks now. Hill has remained effective in Weeks 15 and 16 despite showing up on the Chiefs’ injury report, suggesting this is more of a maintenance issue rather than an injury that causes concern. With K.C. locking up the first-round bye, Hill will have an extra week to recover, and he should be full-go when the Chiefs play in the second round of the playoffs.
Left High Ankle Sprain: Likely to return to the lineup in two weeks
The Chiefs’ rookie RB suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 15 against the Saints and hasn’t played since. When Kansas City takes the field in two weeks, it will have been four weeks since the date of his injury, which gives some optimism that he’ll be back. However, his effectiveness is in question, as it’ll be difficult to project CEH’s role and playing time as it’ll be his first game back on the field. I expect the Chiefs to limit his workload and for the rookie to split work with Le’Veon Bell as Edwards-Helaire acclimates back into the lineup. Significant high ankle sprains can linger for up to 6 weeks, so the rookie RB is likely to be at less than 100% through the Super Bowl.
Players impacted: Le’Veon Bell, Darrell Williams
Calf Strain: Likely to return to the lineup in two weeks
Watkins missed Week 17 with a mild calf strain, but there is optimism he is back in the lineup when the Chiefs play in the AFC playoffs in two weeks. Look for Watkins to pop up on the injury report next week for Kansas City ahead of their Divisional Round game, but as of now, the belief is that Watkins will return for that game. It’s worth noting that Watkins has missed several weeks this season because of a hamstring issue, so the team may decide to be cautious with their wide receiver in his first game back.
High Ankle Sprain: Out for Wild Card Round
Darrell Henderson picked up a high ankle sprain in Week 16, forcing him to miss the Rams’ Week 17 game against the Cardinals. The Rams actually placed Henderson on IR ahead of Week 17, signaling that he will miss their first playoff game. When fellow RB, Cam Akers, picked up his ankle injury, the team did not place the rookie on IR, suggesting Henderson’s injury is likely more significant than Akers’, who returned to the lineup in Week 17 and touched the ball 25 times.
Right Thumb Surgery: Likely to play in Wild Card Round
Goff suffered a fractured thumb in Week 16, which required surgery on 12/28/20. As a result, he missed Week 17, but I expect him to be back in the lineup this Saturday when the Rams take on the Seahawks in the Wild Card round. The only question is whether or not Goff decides to play with a glove or a splint to help with stability and ball security on his right hand. Monitor the practice reports this week.
On Covid-IR: Unlikely to play in Wild Card
Cooper Kupp reportedly tested positive for Covid-19 on 12/31/20, and given that the Rams play on Saturday, Jan. 9, it appears unlikely that Kupp will not be eligible to play given that this date falls nine days after the positive test. According to the NFL’s protocols, a player is not eligible to return until it has been at least 10 days since the positive test and the player is asymptomatic. If the Rams advance in the playoffs, expect Kupp back in the lineup but he is likely out for the Wild Card game against the Seahawks.