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Injury Reports: Quarterback

Aaron Rodgers
QB, Green Bay Packers

Rodgers went from perennial top 3 QB to limping to the finish the past 2 seasons secondary to injuries. Let’s review. In 2017 Rodgers fractured his collarbone/clavicle in mid-October. He underwent surgery and reportedly received 13 screws and made it back with 3 games to go. He only played in 1 of them as the Packers were eliminated from the playoffs so it wasn’t worth risking him for the final 2 games of the season. Entering the 2018, Rodgers was deemed fully healthy (which I agreed with). He was being drafted as the QB1 in the middle of the 3rd round. Unfortunately Rodgers’ season didn’t exactly start off well. He suffered a knee injury in Week 1 vs. the Bears, he was able to return to the game. He reportedly suffered a sprained MCL in his knee and a bone bruise. We come to found out in the offseason that Rodgers actually suffered a tibial plateau fracture in addition to the MCL sprain. Tibial plateau fractures are usually season-ending (think J.J. Watt). This must have been the most stable fracture ever. I’m talking the subtlest of avulsion fractures. There is no doubt in my mind that this affected Rodgers the entire 2018 NFL season. It was likely very painful, limited his mobility, his footwork. Every hit he took to this knee must have been miserable. The guy’s a trooper. Respect. It sounds like he received injections (likely PRP/stem cell, possibly steroids) instead of surgery.

Alright back to the 2018 season. For the most part, Rodgers threw for the same amount of yards as his last healthy season (2016), but had 15 less TDs (40 vs. 25). Surprisingly (given what we know now), he was still able to chip in 270 rushing yards. Mind you that he suffered a concussion in the last game of the season and only attempted 5 passes that day. So let’s look forward to 2019. First off, he’s got a new coach: Matt LeFleur. He’s got a running game in Aaron Jones. He’s got a top 3 WR in Davante Adams. He’s got a WR who created separation on 70.3% of his targets last season in MVS (side note: nice kid, I used to take care of the football team while he was at USF). Overall, I think Rodgers can bounce-back in a BIG way in 2019. I’m talking top 3 QB (again). Yes I understand he’s 35, but I like his weapons. Let’s just hope he can stay healthy. I’m not concerned about any of his past injuries (shoulder, knee, concussion). Rodgers to Adams all day long.

2019 Injury Risk Rating: Low | 3/10
3/10

Cam Newton
QB, Carolina Panthers

Crazy outfit wearing Cam (haaaa, look at doc getting into the nicknames) has absorbed some hits throughout his career especially considering his running-style. My primary concern with Cam is the injuries to his throwing shoulder. He’s been dealing with rotator cuff injuries to his throwing shoulder since the 2016 season. He underwent offseason surgery in March 2017. The issue with the rotator cuff is that it doesn’t heal well (in anybody, regardless of age). It has a poor blood supply. Hell, look at Alshon Jeffry who took over 8 months to return, and these are guys who get the best therapy you can get. The other important aspect of this is that the rotator cuff is integral in the throwing motion. That’s why Cam couldn’t throw more than like 30 yards downfield last year – he likely had a decent-size tear in his rotator cuff. He was struggling to throw downfield before he even showed up on the injury report in week 8. Cam owned a league-low 7.2% of his attempted longer than 20 yards. His average target depth was poor at 7.3 yards. It helped that he had beast RB CMC catching passes. But this also caused his rushing yards to plummet, going from 754 in 2017 to 488 in 2018, with 38 less attempts.

Cam had offseason rotator cuff surgery on January 24, 2019. Fast forward 8 months that’s late August, so there’s a chance he is close to 85-90% of full rotator cuff strength. It sounds like Newton is currently throwing about 20 yards as of mid-June. I expect this to gradually increase unless he has a setback. Additionally, Cam has lost some weight after getting a new trainer & turning to a vegan diet. So let’s talk about expectations for him in 2019. He’s currently the 13 th QB being drafted, in between Mr. 6 rings and the only player to ever be drafted in both the 1 st rd of both NFL & MLB drafts (Murray), around mid-9 th rd. He’s entering his 30-year old season. He’s been really reliable, playing in at least 14 games in every season (he debuted in 2011). He will still be able to dump off passes to CMC. He’s got a potential star in D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel and a pair of TEs in Olsen and Thomas. Not elite (yet) but not awful weapons either. Overall, personally I’m not targeting Cam, as I need to see his arm strength and his ability to consistently throw the ball down the field. I don’t have much faith in the rotator cuff so I’ll be avoiding him. If his shoulder proves strong, then bump up his weapons, especially CMC, who could potentially have even more running room as the WRs & TEs will have deeper routes to run (higher ADOT).

2019 Injury Risk Rating: Medium | 5.5/10
5.5/10

Andrew Luck
QB, Indianapolis Colts

Luck will be 30 right after the 2019 NFL season starts. He bounced back much stronger than many expected for the 2018 season, playing in all 16 games, throwing 4593 yards (5th in league) and 39 TDs (2nd in league) – good enough for him to win the 2018 Comeback Player of the Year. The TDs (39) and completion percentage (67.3%) were both career highs. I personally was quite impressed with Luck’s return, as he was coming back from a major shoulder surgery, tearing his labrum and likely causing some adhesive capsulitis (‘frozen shoulder’). I expected him bounce back, but what he did was very impressive. Luck is back, and not only that, he’s still in his prime. Luck could easily finish the QB1, especially given how pass-heavy their offense is, and I wouldn’t even bat an eye. Luck is currently being drafted as the 2nd QB, in the middle of the 4th round, just after Mahomes and before Rodgers. Luck has a nice arsenal of weapons at his disposal, with Marlon Mack, Hines & Wilkins backing him up, Hilton as his #1, new-comer Funchess will slide in beautifully as his #2, 2nd-round rookie Parris Campbell as the #3, and a pair of TEs Doyle and Ebron. Unfortunately Luck suffered a calf strain in mid-May. Depending on the severity of this strain, he should be completely fine come training camp. Yes calf injuries are prone to reinjuring, but as long the Colts allow Luck enough time to properly heal, this strain should be a thing of the past. In summary, I am quite excited about Luck’s 2019 season, and should be drafted as a top 5 QB. As long as there’s no rumblings about his calf injury come early August, feel free to draft Luck with confidence.

Update (8/1/19): Luck suffered a re-injury to the calf, presumably the same one. This is mildly concerning since we were under the assumption that his recent calf injury from a couple months ago was 100%. Luck is either dealing with a Grade 1 or Grade 2 gastrocnemius strain. Likely a Grade 1. These heal well but take time, think at least 3 weeks. Ideally Luck would be shut down in a boot (like Derrick Henry), but I’m not sure if that’s going to happen. Currently I have Luck as my QB1 this year, I’m not ready to change that yet but if he misses a couple more weeks I will definitely consider it. Calf injuries linger and re-injure easily (like it has this time). Will provide an update in 2 weeks.

 

2019 Injury Risk Rating: Medium | 5.5/10
5.5/10

Carson Wentz
QB, Philadelphia Eagles

Wentz, currently 26 years old, was born in Raleigh, North Carolina but moved to North Dakota when he was three. He played football, basketball and baseball in high school, growing 7 inches over the 4 years and graduated as the valedictorian. Wentz became the starting QB in his junior year at North Dakota State, leading NDSU to a 15-1 record and helped them win their 4th consecutive NCAA DI Football Championship. In his 5th year senior season at NDSU, Wentz broke his wrist in the 5th game of the season and missed the final 8 weeks of the regular season before leading the Bison’s to their 5th straight FCS title in January. At the NFL Combine Wentz showcased his athleticism as he posted top 3 scores in the 40-yard dash, broad jump and 3-cone drill among QBs as well as scoring a 40 out of 50 on the Wonderlic test. The Eagles drafted Wentz with the 2nd pick overall in the 2016 NFL Draft, and after trading Sam Bradford to the Vikings, Wentz essentially became the starter in his rookie season. Wentz, despite suffering a hairline fracture of his ribs in preseason, had an impressive rookie season in some regard, completing 379 completions on 607 passing attempts.

Well on his way to a likely MVP season in 2017, through 13 games Wentz had already thrown for almost 3,300 yards, 33 TDs, only 7 INT, with a quarterback rating of 101.9. In Week 14, Wentz unfortunately suffered a substantial knee injury, with an MRI confirmed ACL and LCL tear. Let’s talk about how substantial this injury is. An isolated ACL injury takes about 9-12 months to fully recover from. Additional damage only adds to the recovery timeline (ACL + LCL = 12-15 months). It has been reported that Wentz also suffered a torn LCL, the ligament on the outside of the leg that prevents the knee from collapsing outward. Well, in general this is not a very common ligament to injure. Its counterpart, the MCL, on the other hand, is very common. Additionally, there is a good chance that Wentz damaged what is called the posterolateral corner (PLC), which is an important stabilizing group of small tendons and ligaments in the back outside part of the knee (headlined by the LCL). Any injury to the PLC needs to be properly addressed or the knee will never be the same. Additionally, an ACL, LCL & PCL surgical reconstruction takes about 18 months to fully heal. Wentz returned to the field in Week 3, on September 23rd, only about 9 months after his ACL tear. That’s also assuming he underwent his ACL reconstruction very quickly after his injury. I just told you that an ACL + LCL injury takes about 12-15 months to fully recover from. If he indeed did suffer an additional PLC injury, then it is closer to 18 months, so he literally came back in half that time.

There is a good chance Wentz rushed his recovery and didn’t allow the knee to completely and properly heal. This will limit his mobility, strength, as well as put the integrity of the surgical graft in question. Pre-injury Wentz averaged 4.7 YPC over 64 carries in 2017. Post-injury, he averaged 2.7 YPC, with 30 less attempts in only 2 less games. Likely he was being much more cautious, but at the same time he was much less effective. Sometime in October, Wentz suffered a back injury. Despite taking the last three games of the season off, Wentz managed to avoid surgery on his back but almost 5 months later, in April, Wentz admitted he wasn’t completely fully healed yet. Unfortunately no specific diagnoses have been revealed regarding his back. Likely, Wentz suffered a transverse process fracture, which are usually clinically stable in a couple weeks but take over a year to feel 100% (Derek Carr had one of these a couple years ago).

We know Wentz is talented. There is no question there. My primary concern with Wentz is will he ever get back to his pre-injury self? Only time will tell, but I’m concerned enough to let someone else deal with him. His 2018 numbers were not very impressive: He threw for 3,074 yards, 21 TDs, 7 INT in 11 games, but his QBR dropped from 77.2 in 2017 to 64.9 in 2018, which was 12th in the league (his 77.2 would have ranked 3rd if in 2018). The Eagles locked him up for 4 years, $128M through 2024, so obviously they believe that he can return to MVP-form. The good news is that Wentz has plenty of weapons this year, with DJax, Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Miles Sanders, Jordan Howard, and JJ Arcega-Whiteside. Personally I’m skeptical about Wentz returning to MVP-form, but if he returns to 100% from his back & knee injuries, there is a good chance he can do it. Right now I have Wentz in the QB10-14 range, around Wilson, Goff, Dak and Jackson.

2019 Injury Risk Rating: Medium | 6.5/10
6.5/10

Marcus Mariota
QB, Tennessee Titans

Mariota was born in Honolulu, Hawaii of Samoan and German decent. Mariota followed in one of his idol’s footsteps, Jeremiah Masoli, a Samoan quarterback who attended Saint Louis (High) School and then eventually the University of Oregon. Mariota was a two-sport athlete, football and track. Relatively unknown until his senior year of high school when Mariota broke out to the tune of 2,597 passing yards, 64.7% completion rate, 32 TDs, 5 INTs, but also rushed 60 times for 455 yards (7.6 YPC) and 7 TDs. He was named to the NUC All World Game alongside another QB you might have heard of – Johnny Manziel. Also a standout track and field athlete, Mariota won the 2010 National Underclassman Combine with a 4.48 second 40-yard dash.

After attending a football camp at the University of Oregon, the team’s offensive coordinator became impressed with Mariota and eventually offered him a scholarship. Mariota was ranked as the #2 prospect in Hawaii, and the #12 dual-threat QB in the nation by Rivals.com, overall he was considered a 3-start recruit. After redshirting his first year, Mariota became the first freshman to start a season opener for the Ducks in 22 years. He started all 13 games, threw for 2,677 yards (68.5%), 32 TDs, 6 INTs and rushed 106 times for 752 yards (7.1 YPC) and 5 TDs. At one point in the 2013 season Mariota had attempted 353 passes without an interception. Mariota sprained the MCL in his left knee but continued to play. He finished the 2013 season with 4,380 yards of total offense, becoming the only player in Oregon history to eclipse 4,000 yards in a season.

Returning for the 2014 season, Mariota won the Heisman Trophy (88.4% of 1st place votes), along with the Davey O’Brien Award (Best QB), Walter Camp and Maxwell Awards (best overall football player). Mariota bested his 2013 season by eclipsing over 5,000 yards of total offense, including 57 total TDs. Running a 4.52 second 40-yard dash at the Combine, scoring a 33 on his Wonderlic test, Mariota was the 2nd pick of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans (behind Jameis Winston). In October, Mariota was rolled up on and suffered a sprained MCL of his left knee, causing him to miss 2 games. Then, less than 2 months later, Mariota sprained his other (right) MCL and missed the final 2 games of the season (he played 12 games that year). The MCL is the ligament that runs north to south on the inside of the leg and is commonly injured when a player’s knee gets hit on the outside – very common for a rushing QB.

In 2016 he posted decent numbers, playing in 15 games, completing 61.2% of his passes, 26 TDs, 9 INT, and rushed for 349 yards and 2 more TDs. His season ended prematurely when he suffered a broken leg (fibula), which required surgery and caused him to miss the final game of the season. Long-term this shouldn’t really affect him, as the fibula only controls about 15% of the leg’s total weight. It is integral to the ankle joint, so depending on the location of the fracture, these usually require surgery with a plate and screws. Mariota played 15 games (he missed 1 game with a mild hamstring strain) during the 2017 season, with similar passing yards to 2016 but only half as many TDs. He led the Titans to their first playoff berth in almost 10 years.

Mariota’s 2018 season didn’t start ideally, as he left the season-opener with an elbow injury. It is unclear exactly what he injured. It does not sound like fractured anything. It sounds like he injured the ulnar nerve (‘funny bone’ nerve), which controls some of the muscles of the hands as well as the 4th & 5th fingers. This nerve runs through a space called the cubital tunnel and is most commonly injured in baseball pitchers or just randomly. My suspicion is that Mariota likely got his elbow or distal upper arm hit (helmet?) and this lead to the nerve impingement. The issue with these is that they don’t heal particularly quickly. Most people who suffer these can tolerate the discomfort but most people aren’t trying to throw a football. Forced to return less than 2 weeks later when backup QB Blaine Gabbert suffered a concussion, it was obvious that Mariota just wasn’t 100%. Another week of rest helped significantly, as Mariota looked better but often these take much longer (including rest) to heal.

Mariota played in 14 games in total in 2018, but personally I don’t think Mariota was ever 100% (due to his elbow injury) at any point during the 2018 season. It is unclear if Mariota suffered a reinjury in both November and December, or if he suffered separate injuries. A stinger occurs when the neck or shoulder are jerked quickly and one of the major nerves coming out of the neck, usually C5, gets stretched. For most people this leads to full numbness, tingling, and sometimes complete paralysis (temporary) of one upper extremity (for less than 48 hours). Mariota reportedly suffered 2 of these, one in Week 11 that resolved quickly and he was able to play the following week. Then, in Week 16 he landed on his elbow after taking a big hit, which caused him to miss Week 17.

After the season it was reported that Mariota was dealing with ‘several’ nerve issues. We know one is to the ulnar nerve of his throwing arm. The other sound like they are stemming from his shoulder/neck. As far as his neck injury Mariota avoided surgery. He likely got an MRI of his cervical spine to check a couple things, but if all checks out then don’t expect him to really worry about this issue. The elbow nerve issue on the other hand should have been surgically addressed. The nerve was likely being compressed by nearby tissue and that needs to be debrided and cleaned out. Mariota is planning on putting on about 13 pounds of muscle heading into the 2019 season. Now being backed up by Ryan Tannehill, Mariota needs to prove his effectiveness and his ability to stay healthy. I would not be surprised if this was not the last time we heard about Mariota’s elbow and neck issues. I’m avoiding him this year.

2019 Injury Risk Rating: Medium | 4/10
4/10

Jimmy Garoppolo
QB, San Francisco 49ers

Garoppolo was drafted out of Eastern Illinois in the 2nd round of the 2014 NFL Draft. In his senior year he threw for 5,050 yards (8.9 YPA) and 53 TDs, breaking the school record previously held by another QB you might know – Tony Romo. Drafted as Tom Brady’s backup and eventual predecessor, Garoppolo played sparingly in 2014 and 2015, but continually learned from one of the greatest NFL QBs of all-time. In 2016 Garoppolo took over for Brady as he was suspended in the hilariously unfounded Deflategate scandal, and he was playing well until he suffered a shoulder injury in Week 2. Those were the only 2 games Garoppolo played that year. There were rumors swirling before the 2017 season that the Patriots were going to trade Garoppolo before the season started but they ended up waiting until the end of October, and sent him to the 49ers for a 2nd round pick. Starting in Week 12 for the 49ers, he lead them to 5 straight wins, passing for 1,560 yards, 7 TDs, 8.8 YPA. With excitement growing heading into the 2018 season, Garoppolo only lasted 3 games before suffering a substantial knee injury.

As far as we know, Garoppolo didn’t suffer any injuries during his time in college, which is pretty impressive I must say. In Week 2 of the 2016 season Jimmy G suffered a sprained shoulder, AC joint. Depending on the severity, these can take anywhere from 1 week to 8 weeks to fully heal. He didn’t require surgery on it and didn’t actually play in another game the entire year (since he was the backup). There are no long term concerns with this shoulder. After signing the largest guaranteed contract in NFL history ($90M) with the 49ers, Garoppolo suffered a torn ACL as well as MCL damage on September 23rd, but the damage must have been minimal given how quickly he had surgery, only 10 days later. Most elite athletes return to the field after suffering a ACL tear is 9-12 months. Now the position and amount of running will impact how quickly the athlete feels back to full strength, flexibility and agility. Garoppolo will be about 11 months post-operative when he suits up in Week 1 this season, and he should feel pretty confident entering his age-27 season.

Jimmy G has the potential post some sneaky numbers in 2019, as he has a solid unit of weapons this year including top 3 TE George Kittle, Dante Pettis, rookie Deebo Samuel, underrated rookie Jalen Hurd, oft-injured speedster Marquise Goodwin and receiving backs Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida and (currently injured) Jerick McKinnon. Garoppolo was posting respectable yards-per-attempt (YPA) in 2017 of 8.8, and anything close to 9.0 is impressive (9.9 is the highest in modern-day football by Kurt Warner during his historic 2000 season). With Kyle Shanahan running the show, he has produced 6 top-ten offenses in his 11 seasons. He loves to utilize play-action plays, was middle of the road with pace-of-play (16th) but that will likely increase this year with a healthy Jimmy G. Currently being drafted as the 19th QB off the board in PPR leagues, going in the 12th round after Dak and before Cousins. Jimmy G has MVP-potential especially with an exciting cast around him. Draft him with confidence.

2019 Injury Risk Rating: Medium | 4/10
4/10

Players Coming Soon:

  • Jimmy Garoppolo
  • Andy Dalton
  • Matthew Stafford

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4 thoughts on “Injury Reports: Quarterback”

  1. blumsden09@gmail.com

    I saw one of your mock drafts on the channel and you were more than happy with pairing Wentz + DJax. Are you confident in using Wentz season long in 1-QB leagues? I ask because of the 6.5 risk rating and him being ranked right behind Matt Ryan.

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