Week 15 fantasy football injury analysis: Julio Jones toe woes
Leading the Week 15 NFL injury report, Falcons receiver Julio Jones is expected to miss another week with “turf toe,” which, as Jeff Stotts explains, is a metatarsophalangeal sprain of the big toe that is often a tricky injury to manage.
It sounds like the Falcons are expecting to play without their top receiver for the second straight week. The All-Pro wide out is currently managing a case of turf toe that has left him limited and in pain. “Turf toe” is a metatarsophalangeal (MTP) sprain of the big toe usually suffered following a forced hyperextension. It’s named so because the mechanism of injury often occurs on the unyielding surface of artificial turf fields. When this force is applied, the area that bridges the bone of the toes and the midfoot is stressed, which injures the ligaments, joint capsule and occasionally the sesamoid bones of the big toe.
While a toe injury may seem insignificant, the digits of the foot actually play a critical role in both balance and weight-bearing. The big toe is particularly important digit in regards to weight-bearing, as it often assumes up to 70 to 100 percent of the body’s weight during movement. Furthermore, the toes help extend the lever arm of the foot allowing for a player to better accelerate up field in a fluid manner.
These innate properties are exactly why turf toe can be such a tricky injury to manage, especially for receivers and cornerbacks. Alterations to the athlete’s foot wear can help, but they could prove difficult in this instance. Jones has been known to sport specialized cleats designed to divert excessive force away from his previously fractured fifth metatarsal. Altering his shoes now could do more harm than good if the changes made to help the toe increase stress on the outer aspect of his foot.
The Falcons matchup against the 1-12 49ers may also influence Atlanta’s decision to take the conservative approach with Jones’ treatment. Getting him healthy for a potential playoff game is their primary focus, much to the chagrin of fantasy owners. Given the complexity of the injury and its surrounding problems, prepare for Jones to be in street clothes on Sunday.
The Lions are looking to keep pace with the Falcons in the NFC playoff picture but will be forced to proceed with their quarterback at less than 100 percent. Stafford suffered a dislocated middle finger on his throwing hand in the team’s win over the Bears. He managed to play through the injury, though it cleared affected his throwing ability. His accuracy and velocity appeared diminished, and Stafford completed just 15 of 28 passes, including two interceptions, after the injury occurred.
Stafford has been down this road before. In 2011 Stafford broke the index finger on his throwing hand. He donned gloves similar to the one he’ll now be forced to wear and threw nine interceptions over the next three weeks. This is an unsettling precedent for fantasy owners even if his latest injury didn’t involve extensive bone damage. The forced dislocation on Sunday did disrupt ligaments and will still negatively impact his grip. His grip issues could be compounded by the schedule, as Detroit’s Week 15 game will be played outdoors where weather conditions at the Meadowlands are expected to be cold and wet. As a result, Stafford’s fantasy value will be lower than normal for the next few weeks and expectations should be adjusted accordingly.
Matt Forte: In New York, Forte is considered “day to day” after suffering a knee injury early in the Jets win over the 49ers. The team isn’t offering much more information, which makes Bilal Powell a legitimate waiver wire addition if he’s still available. Monitor Forte’s availability throughout this week’s practice and anticipate a game-time decision.
Melvin Gordon: The Chargers running back was carted off the field on Sunday after suffering what appeared to be a serious hip injury. Fortunately, further testing and examination revealed Gordon’s injury to be merely a strain. A mild sprain of his knee was also discovered. The team is hopeful Gordon will return at some point this season. He’s currently considered “day to day” though a Week 15 appearance appears doubtful. Rookie Kenneth Farrow will take over the starting running back position, and Ronnie Hillman should help shoulder the load. Playoff teams fortunate enough to advance despite Gordon’s injury should rush to add Farrow for the week ahead.
Jordan Reed: Reed’s presence in the lineup was a bit of fool’s gold as the Washington tight end managed just one catch for 10 yards. His severe AC sprain is undoubtedly limiting his abilities, specifically his range of motion, and utilizing him in any formats is a clear risk.
Theo Riddick: Riddick was a late scratch Sunday with an undisclosed wrist injury. The Detroit running back did not practice Wednesday but did manage to participate in a limited capacity on Thursday and Friday. However, the team opted to roll with Dewayne Washington on Sunday against Chicago. Washington finished the game with 64 rushing yards on 16 carries. It’s hard to get a good gauge on the situation so keep an eye on the early morning inactive lists come Sunday.
Aaron Rodgers: The Green Bay quarterback has scoffed at the idea of missing time despite two lower extremity injuries. Rodgers entered Week 14 nursing a left hamstring strain and then strained his calf on the opposite leg on the third play from scrimmage. He managed to stay in and excelled, throwing for 246 and three touchdowns. With his mobility limited, it appears as though Green Bay has tailored their approach by having their receivers run quicker, shorter routes. Look for Rodgers to see minimal practice time this week but take the field on Sunday in Chicago. While the weather could come into play, the matchup and upside is too promising to consider benching the former MVP.
Ryan Tannehill: The Dolphins will not have Tannehill for the next few weeks but did get a bit of good news regarding his long-term health. An MRI taken on his injured left knee revealed mild to moderate sprains of his ACL and MCL. However, complete tears to either ligament were avoided and surgery won’t be required. As a result, Tannehill will spend the next few weeks completing nonsurgical rehabilitation in hopes of a late-season or postseason return. Backup quarterback Matt Moore will take over for Tannehill.
Michael Thomas: Thomas popped up on last week’s midweek injury report with a foot injury. The Saints leader in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns ultimately was ruled out for the game. New Orleans had previously expressed optimism that Thomas would not miss any time, which should provide fantasy owners a glimmer of hope entering Week 15. Brandon Coleman will look to build on his Week 14 performance of five receptions for 47 yards if Thomas remains out.