Fantasy Football: Understanding Injury Designations

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We always hear about the PUP during training camp and football season, but what the heck is it? How does it work? Does it affect my fantasy team? And what does it stand for? Is it different than the injured reserve? Let’s understand a crucial component of injuries in the NFL so that you can be a more knowledgeable fantasy player.

Worried about injured players? Check out this DO NOT DRAFT list of Players Returning from Injury by Matthew Betz.

The Physically Unable to Perform List

PUP stands for ‘Physically Unable to Perform.’ In the football world, you will commonly hear people refer to the acronym more often, hearing things like “Andrew Luck may start the season on the PUP,” or “Jordan Reed remains on the PUP list.” Okay, great so you know your player is on some list of injured players, but will he play this week? When can I expect him back?

The PUP has different rules during training camp and during the regular season. During training camp, players can be placed on the PUP for football related injuries at any time without penalty. Teams can move the player to the active roster as soon as he is able to participate. Because this allows for greater flexibility on the roster, you will often see teams utilizing the PUP more freely. This is why star players like Jordan Reed and Andrew Luck are on the PUP during training camp this season. As soon as they are healthy, they are activated to the roster and they can be treated like any other player on the roster.

After the preseason ends, the PUP operates a bit differently. If a player is placed on the PUP entering the season, he is required to sit out for a minimum of six weeks. At that point, teams have an additional five weeks where they can decide whether or not to allow the player to begin practicing. Once a player begins practicing, teams then have 21 days to decide whether or not they will activate the player to the 53-man active roster. If the player does not begin practicing within five weeks, or they are not activated to the 53-man roster within 21 days after they begin practicing, he will have to remain on the PUP list for the rest of the season.

Injured Reserve

A third commonly used injury designation is the Injured Reserve list, or the IR. Like the PUP, there are two types of IR. The first type of IR is used for players who are done for the year due to injury. Once placed on IR, the player is ineligible to return for the rest of the season, so it’s common to see players placed on IR after season ending injuries like ACL tears. However, each team is allowed to use the ‘IR/Designated for Return’ tag on two players each season. As the name implies, this player is eligible to return within the season. Once the team uses this right, the rest of the players on the team’s IR must remain on the IR for the rest of the season.

Remember the real-life Injured Reserve is much different than the IR spot in fantasy football. In most leagues, you are able to move a player into an IR spot once they have the ‘Out’ designation for any given week. However, once that player no longer has the Out designation, you most likely cannot make any roster moves until you’ve moved that player off the IR and back onto your Bench.

Understanding these injury labels can be overwhelming at times, especially when making those tough add/drop decisions. Hopefully this article was helpful and you can reference it as injuries pop up this season, as they always do. After all, being the most educated fantasy player in your league can help you bring home the #FootClan Title.

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