Three Injuries to Monitor After the Divisional Round: Mahomes, Pollard and McCaffrey
The Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs is in the rearview mirror, and it’s time to look ahead to the Championship round for those still in the hunt and the offseason for teams that have been eliminated. There were three major injuries from last weekend that are noteworthy from a fantasy football perspective. We’ll discuss each of them in this article and give some insight into each player’s short and long-term outlook.
1. Patrick Mahomes Suffers High Ankle Sprain
The likely MVP candidate suffered a right high ankle sprain in the first half of Saturday’s game against Jacksonville. He exited to the locker room after hobbling around for a few plays for X-rays that were fortunately negative, and he ultimately did return in the second half to finish the game with his ankle heavily taped.
Obvious high ankle sprain mechanism with possible MCL sprain. That ankle is likely to swell and worsen over the next hour. If Mahomes can continue, significant impact to his mobility pic.twitter.com/52rGvdwgF0
— Matthew Betz (@TheFantasyPT) January 21, 2023
What allowed Mahomes to continue to play through the injury was the fact that he plays QB and not WR or RB, as the physical demands on the ankle for a QB are vastly different than that of a different skill position player. However, if you watched the game, Mahomes was clearly impacted by his injury, unable to create much out of the pocket or scramble the way he normally does in big games.
Mahomes is fully expected to start and play next week against the Bengals. However, this injury is certainly going to affect his out-of-pocket mobility and his ability to pick up extra yards with his legs. Fortunately, Mahomes’ unique play style can help him compensate for the lack of push off from his right leg. His ability to use different arm angles and play effectively with off balance throws can help Mahomes mitigate some of the risk of playing through this injury. Look for Mahomes to miss practice time this week, or get in limited sessions. He’ll be out there next week at less than 100%, but I fully expect him to play effectively from the pocket.
2. Tony Pollard Suffers Fractured Fibula
Cowboys running back, Tony Pollard, suffered a fractured fibula plus high ankle sprain on Sunday as seen in the video below – WARNING – video may be graphic for some. Pollard was immediately carted off the field with his left ankle in an air cast and was ruled out shortly after X-rays confirmed the fracture.
Significant left high ankle sprain for Tony Pollard. To the locker room now for X-rays with an air cast on the L ankle, signaling the team is worried about a fracture. His night will be over pic.twitter.com/fLcwP2a0Fx
— Matthew Betz (@TheFantasyPT) January 23, 2023
Pollard was seen in a walking boot and on crutches following the team’s Divisional Round loss and is set to undergo surgery this week to stabilize the fractured fibula. This recovery typically takes about 12 weeks for patients to start returning to ‘normal’ daily activities without limitation, but for an athlete it’ll take much longer to return to pre-injury level of performance. Expect Pollard to require 6+ months of rehab to get back to 100%, potentially longer depending on the severity of associated ligament damage as this mechanism of injury results in a high ankle sprain as well as the fibula fracture. Tony Pollard is set to hit free agency this offseason. Assuming his recovery goes according to plan, Pollard has a good shot at being ready for Week 1, but it would not be surprising to see him get off to a slower start as he regains his lateral agility and explosiveness later in the season.
3. Christian McCaffrey Plays Through Calf Injury
49ers star RB, Christian McCaffrey, picked up a mild right calf injury on Sunday against the Cowboys. In the second half, he was limited to a third down role while playing in obvious passing situations as Elijah Mitchell operated as the team’s lead ball carrier. In the second half, McCaffrey was seen with a heating pad on his right lower leg while also trying to stretch out his right calf. As of this writing, specific details on the severity of McCaffrey’s calf injury isn’t known, but given that he was able to play through the injury, it’s unlikely this is anything more than a Grade I (mild) strain. These Grade I injuries typically heal in 1-2 weeks.
#49ers Christian McCaffrey on his right-calf issue:
"I was fighting but made it through, made it through great. (The calf) is nothing bad. All good."
— Cam Inman (@CamInman) January 23, 2023
Look for the RB to land on the 49ers injury report with limited reps ahead of next week’s game against the Eagles. I expect him to be available to play, but it’s possible we see Elijah Mitchell continue to be utilized to take some of the workload off McCaffrey as he deals with the calf injury. CMC was held to 57 total yards on 16 touches, his fewest since Week 13.