Fantasy Football: Fred Jackson Injury (With A Side Of Garcon)

FredEx won’t be making any deliveries soon
Photo Credit: Ed Yourdon 

Don Brown, PT, DPT is a physical therapist with a ton of experience in sports injuries. Unlike most injury reports you find on the web from fantasy “experts,” Don actually knows the human body and what it takes to come back from a wide range of injuries. His knowledge is vital to fantasy owners looking for real advice on players who are hurt, and you are very lucky to be getting these nuggets of gold from Mr. Brown. Say thank you.

Fred Jackson went down with a sprained LCL in the Bills’ embarrassing opening week beating at the hands of the Jets. If you haven’t watched the tape, it’s pretty ugly looking, and he’s probably lucky he didn’t completely shred his knee. MRI results Monday were inconclusive, which isn’t uncommon so soon after an injury as the swelling in his knee clouds the image. The Bills have set an initial timetable of three-to-eight weeks for his return, with Coach Chan Gailey admitting that it will likely take longer than three, but hopefully less than eight weeks to get FredEx back in business.

The LCL is the ligament on the outside of the knee that provides stability. You put lots of stress on this area any time you make a cut or plant your feet, something an NFL running back does all game long. A sprain is technically a tear, the severity of which varies, but with the amount of swelling in the knee (so much so that the MRI was difficult to read) the damage is likely significant. It also would not surprise me if there’s a torn meniscus or additional damage as well that hasn’t been fully discerned on the MRI. The timeline for recovery can vary from two-to-12 weeks depending on the grade of the injury, so the vague timeline of three-to-eight weeks given by the Bills is reasonable given the current information.

So what’s a fantasy owner to do here? We’ll tell you after the jump:

First, let’s have a look at the schedule. Buffalo has a bye in Week Eight, which is seven weeks from the injury date. With a capable backup in CJ Spiller and the vital nature of the LCL in terms of knee stability, I’d predict Week Nine (eight weeks from injury) as the most likely return date for Jackson. It could easily be sooner or it could be later; difficult to say with the current information we have, but if I owned him, Week Nine would be when I’d realistically plan to have him back.

The big problem I see is just what will you be getting when he does come back. Even if Jackson returns fully recovered physically, we have seen both last season and in relief of Jackson Sunday that Spiller can play at a high level. With Spiller likely to play effectively again in relief of F-Jax, a committee of sorts is almost certainly in order when Jackson returns. In short, the value of FredEx has shit the bed big time. If you can get decent value for him from an owner who thinks he’s buying low, take it. If you have Spiller and can get a king’s ransom for him, do it. He has a chance to be very good while he’s the lead back, but upon Jackson’s return, he too will become a committee back at best and a backup at worst. Best-case scenario is you own Spiller but not Jackson and can unload Spiller for a sizeable profit on the Jackson owner. Sure Spiller puts up big numbers while F-Jax is out, but when Jackson returns the other guy will be left with two timeshare RBs on the Bills while you laugh in his face. Score!

Buyer Beware: Pierre Garcon
From most reports I’ve read to this point regarding Pierre Garcon’s foot injury, there is not a ton of concern and Garcon expects to play Week Two. The comments from head coach Mike Shanahan, however, make me nervous. “It’s kind of like when you have turf toe, but it’s not the toe.” Shanny is not a doctor and anything the guy says usually has to be taken with a grain of salt, but turf toe is one of those injuries that sounds like nothing but is actually very debilitating for an athlete. It refers to torn ligaments in the big toe that make it impossible to run or cut, and usually takes at least a month (often longer) to recover from. If Garcon’s injury is “like” turf toe but not the toe, did he suffer torn ligaments elsewhere in the foot/ankle? Darren McFadden had a “foot sprain” last year and we all know how that turned out. Ahmad Bradshaw, Antonio Gates, Ben Roethlisberger… all have dealt with foot issues that can be notoriously slow to heal and nagging. Again, it’s too early to tell if this is just a minor issue or something greater, but there are some red flags here to consider if you’re looking to buy Garcon after his big Week One performance. Don’t pull the trigger on him just yet until we see the practice reports this week. If he’s able to suit up in practice, especially early in the practice week, it’ll be a good sign that the injury is indeed minor. If he’s unable to practice much, well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.


About Starbonell

Starbonell is the co-founder of Sons of Roto and one of the most insightful and colorful fantasy analysts in the game. Mixing intelligent and well-researched advice with an entertaining style of writing that is easy to digest, Starbonell is the king of info-tainment.