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Understanding Injuries for Your Football Fantasy Draft

Football season is just around the corner. And that means it's draft season! Just as in years past, it is always nerve racking to bet on an injured player. So here are some helpful hints to determine if those injuries will just last preseason, or be season ending.

1. Shoulder Injuries: Shoulder injuries are most common among quarterbacks. More often than not, quarterbacks will suffer from tendonitis or bursitis - an inflammation of the tendon or bursae sac around the shoulder. These injuries can affect arm strength, but generally do not cause season ending injuries. However, rotator cuff tears or labral injuries can be more serious and may require surgical intervention, The rotator cuff consists of the “SITS” muscles (Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres Minor, and Subscapularis). These muscles control the arms ability to lift overhead, throw and rotate. A tear to the external rotators of the shoulder (Infraspinatus and Teres Minor) can be more detrimental to a quarterback’s throwing capabilities. Surgical intervention of the rotator cuff calls for no active motion for at least 2 weeks and a sling must be worn all day. Strengthening after surgery will not occur until at least 4-6 weeks. Therefore the return to play after a shoulder surgery can be as long as 12 months. Famous shoulder injuries include Chad Pennington, Bret Favre, and current player Jay Cutler. So it may make you think twice about drafting Cutler as a deep backup.

2. Foot Injuries: Foot injuries can be complicated to manage when it comes to football players. Simple foot injuries usually refer to muscle strains and ligament sprains. However, more serious sprains, like Turf Toe - a sprain of the tendon along the big toe, may require more rest and less playtime. A Lisfranc injury is much more complicated and may require surgery. The Lisfranc injury describes an injury to the midfoot (between the toes and ankle). On average, return to play can take up to 11 months, but often these players do not perform as well post-injury. When it comes to fractures of the foot, these injuries can also be tricky. Due to limited blood supply, fractures to the navicular bone, 1st Metatarsal or 5th Metatarsal (as called a Jones Fracture) bone can be season ending and may required complex surgery. Famous injuries of the foot include Santonio Holmes, LeVeon Bell, and current player Lucky Whitehead.

3. Knee Injuries: Knee injuries are by far, the most common injury in football. The knee joint is a hinge joint – meaning it swings forward and backward. As a result, there is little give in the joint upon impact. The knee is held together by 4 ligaments – ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), PCL (posterior cruciate ligament), MCL (medical collateral ligament), LCL (lateral collateral ligament). The most common ligaments injured in football include the ACL and MCL, also the most difficult to rehab. The ACL protects against instability of the knee in multiple directions. It is the most important ligament of the knee, and a tear of the ACL will require surgery. The good news is surgical repair to this ligament has improved greatly, and players can return to play. However, return to play should never be sooner than 9 months, with 12 months being the optimal time. Sprains of any of these ligaments will require significant rest due to their limited amount of blood supply. Players with minor sprains could miss 2-4 weeks of play, but more serious sprains can be up to 6 weeks for return to play. The meniscus is another structure that can also be damaged during football. This structure sits inside the joint and acts as a cushion for impact. Commonly, it can be torn when both the ACL and MCL are torn due to its common attachments (also called an Unhappy Triad injury). Surgical repair of the meniscus is more complicated then the ligaments, and outcomes may not be as good. However, with rehab and strengthening, players will often return to play. Famous knee injuries include Tom Brady, Willis McGahee, and Adrian Peterson.

For more information about injuries and rehab of them, visit

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