Fantasy Football Offseason Injury Update

Fantasy Football Offseason Injury Update
Fantasy Football Offseason Injury Update

We’re closing in on August. The NBA finals and Stanley Cup have wrapped up, and we can all stop pretending we care about those inferior sports. It is officially FOOTBALL season, and that means you need to catch up on all the off-season news. Don’t worry. You’ve come to the perfect place to start your fantasy football prep to dominate this season. Welcome to the Fantasy Football Offseason Injury Update!

Player injury updates, and outlooks are constantly evolving! For the most up-to-date NFL/CFB injury news and analysis, follow me on Twitter @SGPNFootballDoc!


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Fantasy Football Offseason Injury Update

Brock Purdy (QB) San Francisco 49ers

Injury: UCL Tear (Elbow)
Injury Date: 1/29/2023
Surgery Date: 3/10/2023
Expected Recovery Timeline: 5-7 months
Time from surgery to Week 1, 2023: 181 days (~ 6 months)
Players Age: 23
Injury History: None prior

Injury Update

We’re kicking off this Fantasy Football Offseason Injury Update with the last major injury we all witnessed. In late January, 49ers QB Brock Purdy injured his throwing shoulder while being harassed by the Eagles’ pass rush. The defender hit his arm in such a way that caused him to tear the UCL in his elbow.

This is a stabilizing ligament located on the inside of the elbow that is pivotal to an athlete’s ability to throw. Typically, a UCL tear is accompanied by the vaunted Tommy John surgery. However, Purdy was able to avoid this procedure and receive a UCL repair surgery instead.

Tommy John surgery is a much more invasive procedure that works to reconstruct the UCL. Due to this, the recovery process is very lengthy and would cause Purdy to likely miss the entire 2023 season. However, the decision was made in the operating room that there was not enough damage to the ligament.

For this reason, Purdy did NOT get Tommy John surgery, but a LESS invasive UCL repair instead. This procedure typically comes with a much more reasonable 5-7 month recovery period, which gives Purdy a real shot to be available in the early part of the season.

Now, just how early is the question? Purdy has hit his rehab milestones so far and is about a month into a throwing program at this point. This is great news, but these major injuries are just as much mental as physical, especially for QBs.

Purdy has a chance to start the 2023 season, but I find that unlikely at this point. A return by Week 4 or 5 is much more plausible. 

Breece Hall (RB) New York Jets

Injury: ACL and Meniscus Tear
Injury Date: 10/23/2022
Expected Recovery Timeline: 10-12 months
Time from injury to Week 1, 2023: 320 days (~ 10.5 months)
Players Age: 22
Injury History: None before this. Played every game in college.

Injury Update

One of the biggest questions of this offseason is surrounding the health of Jets RB Breece Hall. The second-year RB showed some great flashes last year before suffering a torn ACL in Week 7. This leaves him with right around 10.5 months before Week 1 of the 2023 season to make his return. Typically a player takes around 11 months to return to playing, so it would not be unbelievable for Hall to be available for Week 1.

However, players, especially skill position guys, have a hard time adjusting to the playing speed of the NFL upon their return. It can take up to two years before a player is able to regain the normal movement patterns they had before their ACL tear. Hall has started running but has not practiced in any capacity with the team at this point.

So far, there is nothing indicating that Hall is going to be able to step right in and pick up where he left off last season.

Like 99% of RBs coming off major knee surgery and specifically an ACL tear, Hall’s performance is expected to be negatively affected this season. It may take several weeks into the season before he is able to consistently produce in the backfield. 

Kyler Murray (QB) Arizona Cardinals

Injury: ACL Tear
Injury Date: 12/12/2022
Expected Recovery Timeline: 10-12 months
Time from injury to Week 1, 2023: 269 days (~ 9 months)
Players Age: 25
Injury History: 2021 – Ankle Sprain (3 games), 2022 – Hamstring Strain (2 games),  ACL (3 games)

Injury Update

Out of all the players on this Fantasy Football Offseason Injury Update, Cardinals QB Kyler Murray is in the least hurry to return to the field. There are several reasons why I would be shocked if the Arizona QB returned before the midway point of this next season. The first is that his injury occurred so late in the season last year.

By tearing his ACL in Week 15, this gives Murray just about nine months to return by Week 1. There is a lot of evidence that discourages players from returning from an ACL tear before or at nine months due to the increased reinjury rates. Most NFL players take closer to 11 months to make their return to playing.

The second reason I expect Kyler to take his time in getting back to playing is that this is what the team is expecting. It is to no one’s surprise that the Arizona Cardinals are in a rebuilding year. They just let go of their best player in WR DeAndre Hopkins and made no plans to bring in a viable QB option in the interim. The Cardinals understand this is their franchise QB and do not want to rush Murray back for a season where they’ve set themselves up to tank.

Cardinals QB Kyler Murray will take his time in his ACL recovery. I would not expect him back before Week 7 or 8.

Darnell Mooney (WR) Chicago Bears 

Injury: Broken Fibula and High Ankle Sprain
Injury Date: 11/27/2022
Expected Recovery Timeline: 6-8 months
Time from injury to Week 1, 2023: 284 days (~ 9.5 months)
Players Age: 25
Injury History: 2021 – Ankle Sprain (1 game)

Injury Update

Unfortunately, the Bears’ explosive WR Darnell Mooney did not take advantage of his brief time as Chicago’s WR1. He had a decent year production-wise before injuring his ankle in Week 12. It was a gruesome injury that resulted in one of his lower leg bones (fibula) breaking and damage caused to his high ankle area.

The high ankle refers to the ligaments (syndesmosis) connecting the lower leg bones above the ankle, and they are commonly torn with this injury. Mooney required season-ending surgery and still has a long way to go in his recovery.

Initial reports after the season were that Mooney would be ready by OTAs, but this was clearly not the case. After not participating in OTAs at all, the team has since adjusted their timeline and is now hopeful he will be available for training camp. Based on the expected recovery time of these injuries, this would put him on a good timetable to return right around eight months from injury. Mooney will require time to adjust back to football speed and start relying on his ankle again. If his return is pushed back again, there could be some serious cause for concern.

Mooney is returning from ankle surgery but is running out of time to give himself a smooth transition back into playing before Week 1.

Zach Ertz (TE) Arizona Cardinals

Injury: ACL and MCL Tear
Injury Date: 11/13/2022
Expected Recovery Timeline: 10-12 months
Time from injury to Week 1, 2023: 298 days (~10 months)
Players Age: 32
Injury History: LONG… 2015 – Concussion (1 game), 2016 – Rib Dislocation (2 games), 2017 – Hamstring strain (1 game), Concussion (1 game), 2019 – Lacerated Kidney (1 game), 2020 – High Ankle Sprain (5 games)

Injury Update

Cardinals TE Zach Ertz is the second member of the Arizona offense on this Fantasy Football Offseason Injury Update. Both he and Murray are even coming back from similar major knee surgery. Although Ertz has about an extra month more of recovery time from the start of the season, he also had both ACL and MCL damage in his knee. Both of these ligaments work to stabilize the knee, and typically multi-ligament injuries take longer to heal than just ACL tears alone.

The Arizona TE should have more motivation to return, however, as he will likely be fighting to retain his spot as TE1 on the depth chart. Second-year TE Trey McBride showed some flashes last year and could enjoy some more opportunities early in the season with Ertz on the mend.

Although he may be motivated, it is hard to project Ertz to come in and have a major year fantasy-wise. He is an older player with a fairly extensive injury history who will be battling for targets at the TE position.

TE Zach Ertz is recovering from a multi-ligament knee surgery that will likely have him limited to begin the year. With Trey McBride in his shadow, I would not risk much for Ertz at this point.  

Michael Thomas (WR) New Orleans Saints

Injury: Dislocated Toe
Injury Date: 9/25/2022
Expected Recovery Timeline: 6-8 months
Time from injury to Week 1, 2023: 347 days (~11.5 months)
Players Age: 30
Injury History: 2016 – Foot Sprain (1 game), 2020 – High Ankle Sprain (2 games), Hamstring Strain – (2 games), High Ankle Sprain (20 games, including all of the 2021 season)

Injury Update

Hate to break it to you, MT, but at this point, “what everyone is used to” from you in fantasy football is a disappointment. For the past two years, I have been yelling from the rooftops to STAY AWAY from WR Michael Thomas in fantasy. Don’t believe me, here’s proof. Until this point, all Thomas has done is make me a profitable genius for fading him. So it is no surprise that I am again advising you to stay away from the Saints WR. 

Thomas even got off to a decent start last year, and the MT truthers were all in my mentions. However, they became VERY quiet after Week 3, considering Thomas has not taken a snap since then. After an ankle injury caused him to miss over 20 games from 2020-2021, Thomas dislocated his second toe and missed 14 games in 2022. He has legitimately not played consistent football since 2019!

The Saints WR tried to rehab his injury initially last season but ultimately required surgery later in the year. This has been a consistent theme for Thomas, who has now lengthened his recovery time for his past two injuries due to questionable decision-making.

At this point, Thomas has not returned to practice fully but claims he will be ready by the start of training camp. On paper, he should have plenty of time to recover from this injury before the season. However, my faith in Thomas’ recovery going smoothly is close to zero.

Michael Thomas has NOT PLAYED A FULL SEASON SINCE 2019. If you draft him, you deserve the inevitable headache coming.

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Tony Pollard (RB) Dallas Cowboys

Injury: Fibula Fracture and High Ankle Sprain
Injury Date: 1/22/2023
Expected Recovery Timeline: 6-8 months
Time from injury to Week 1, 2023: 228 days (~7.5 months)
Players Age: 26
Injury History: 2019 – Knee Sprain (1 game)

Injury Update

Cowboys RB Tony Pollard is now the second player on this Fantasy Football Offseason Injury Update with this same injury. Pollard had a very public, gnarly ankle injury where he broke his fibula and also damaged his high ankle ligaments. This is an injury that most players do return from (~90%), but not typically at the pace he is going. Pollard has said himself that he is “ahead of schedule,” and I would have to agree with him. He has returned to OTAs in a limited capacity just four months after the injury and claims he does not feel limited at all.

Overall, this is fantastic news for Cowboys fans and Pollard fantasy owners. It typically takes players between six and eight months to return to playing, and at this pace, Pollard is on track for closer to five or six.

His situation and participation levels will be important to monitor during training camp, but at this point, I am more optimistic than typical with this injury. Of course, there is always the risk of reinjury if Pollard returns too soon, but the training staff should feel no need to rush him at this point in the offseason.

Pollard is surprisingly ahead of schedule in his rehab, and if his training camp performance lives up to the hype, I may have to buy in.

Rashod Bateman (WR) Baltimore Ravens

Injury: Lisfranc Injury
Injury Date: 10/27/2022
Expected Recovery Timeline: 10-12 months
Time from injury to Week 1, 2023: 315 days (~10.5 months)
Players Age: 23
Injury History: 2021 – Groin Injury [5 games]

Injury Update

Baltimore WR Rashod Bateman is another young player on this Fantasy Football Offseason Injury Update who’s had trouble staying healthy. Both of his first two years in the league have been cut short due to injuries. Last season, he suffered a Lisfranc injury that required season-ending surgery. A Lisfranc injury refers to damage to the bones in the midfoot or ligaments that support the midfoot. The midfoot serves to absorb shock from ground impact and to stabilize the foot on uneven surfaces.

The average return to playtime with a Lisfranc injury is just over 11 months. Bateman is looking at about 10.5 months of recovery time before Week 1, meaning it is not a sure thing he will be 100% to start the season. At this point in the offseason, he has not been medically cleared by the team to fully participate in practice.

In fact, he was held out of minicamp by the team and given a cortisone injection in his foot by the team to reduce pain and swelling. The team is hopeful Bateman will be a full participant in training camp, but I am not as optimistic. This is 1000% a situation to monitor as research shows a decline in performance in year one post-injury, and his recovery has not been the smoothest.

Bateman still faces a tough recovery road to make it back to 100% before the season. At this point, I am not calling for a breakout season by the young Ravens WR. 

Javonte Williams (RB) Denver Broncos

Injury: ACL, MCL, and PCL Tear
Injury Date: 10/2/2022
Expected Recovery Timeline: 11-12 months
Time from injury to Week 1, 2023: 340 days (~11 months)
Players Age: 23
Injury History: None prior

Injury Update

Broncos RB Javonte Williams suffered arguably the worst injury out of any player on this Fantasy Football Offseason Injury Update. Not only did he tear his ACL, but he also tore his LCL and PCL. These are all major stabilizing ligaments in your knee that will all need to heal properly for a smooth recovery. The average NFL return to play for just an ACL tear is about 11 months, and this timeline is typically longer for injuries involving multiple ligaments. 

There has been inconsistent reporting coming out of Broncos camp this offseason. The team originally stated that they had no timeline for his return and were unsure if he would be ready to start the season. Then on May 25th, Williams actually joined the team on a limited basis, and there is optimism from Denver that he could be ready for Week 1. There is a LONG way to go until then, but at this point, it is more likely Williams will be inactive in Week 1 than for him to be 100% back.

Williams is dealing with a gruesome injury that typically severely decreases a player’s performance the following year, but he does seem ahead of schedule, already practicing. 

Trey Lance (QB) San Francisco 49ers

Injury: Ankle Fracture
Injury Date: 9/18/2022
Expected Recovery Timeline: 4-6 months
Time from injury to Week 1, 2023: 354 days (~11.5 months)
Players Age: 23
Injury History: 2021 – Knee Sprain (1 game), Finger Injury (Affected throwing mechanics)

Injury Update

Trey Lance and good news have been two phrases that have not gone together much in his short NFL career. He has dealt with significant injuries his first two years in the league and has not seen much playing time. However, there is a bit of good news for Lance in this Fantasy Football Offseason Injury Update. Medically, the 49ers young QB is cleared and ready to go.

The team officially cleared him in March, and has been a full participant in team activities, including OTAs. His ankle was surgically repaired early in the season last year, and he will have almost a full year of recovery time before Week 1. This is more than enough time for this injury to heal and rehab completely. However, from a fantasy standpoint, my concern for Lance is that he may legitimately be QB3 on his own team.  

Medically, I am not concerned about Lance’s ankle heading into the season, BUT his lack of experience and talent is a concern for playing time. 

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