Jones Fractures and Wide Receivers: The Deebo Samuel Breakdown

By Kyle Allen and Matthew Walters

The most recent question to take fantasy football by storm is, “What do I do about Deebo Samuel, and what does his injury mean for my team?” This article has got you covered; we provide you with an in-depth breakdown of what precisely a Jones fracture is, how it happens, why it is so common amongst NFL wide receivers, how some have recovered, and what it might mean for Deebo going forward. Let us know what you think by reaching out on Twitter to @kallen_4 and @M_Walt_10!

A Jones fracture is a fracture that occurs at or near the proximal base of the fifth metatarsal. The metatarsals are the five long bones of the foot that span from just below the ankle to the toes.

This injury typically happens just ahead of the base of the fifth metatarsal. In layman’s terms, a Jones Fracture is a broken bone midway on the outside of the foot that impairs the ability to run, jump or push off the side of the foot.

Jones fractures generally occur due to overuse. They are often caused by repeated stress on the fifth metatarsal (jumping, cutting, and planting) resulting from sudden forceful impacts or large amounts of concentrated force, common in wide receivers. Whenever a receiver runs a route, they place pressure and repeated stress on the outside of the foot. Which, over time, may lead to a Jones fracture.

Jones fractures caused by an acute process may occur when an athlete suffers excessive adduction, or supination, of the ankle (rolling over the outside of the foot). The force of the foot striking the ground in this manner causes the fracture.

Due to the nature of the injury, it is also common amongst basketball players. Some notable NBA players to suffer Jones fractures include Ben Simmons, C.J. McCollum, Brook Lopez, Julius Randle, and Kevin Durant.

There is a long list of notable receivers in the NFL who have suffered Jones fractures in their careers. They include Julian Edelman, Marvin Jones, Sammy Watkins, Dez Bryant, Julio Jones, Michael Crabtree, Devante Parker, and now Deebo Samuel, but each has had a unique recovery and outcome. In this article, we will examine Julian Edelman and Sammy Watkins’s injury journeys

Julian Edelman & Sammy Watkins

Edelman suffered his injury in November of 2015 against the Giants and immediately underwent surgery. The operation cost him the final seven games of the regular season. However, he did return to practice after four weeks of rehab, but would not see game action until the playoffs. It was apparent that he was not his usual self, and he eventually underwent a second procedure in the offseason to replace a screw that had loosened from the first surgery presumably because he rushed his rehab.

While in Buffalo, Sammy Watkins played much of 2015 with a stress fracture in his foot. When athletes, through injury, their bodies naturally compensate to avoid impacting the injured body part. In his case, Watkins most likely changed his foot strike from his natural running stride and repeatedly placed unusual force on the outer aspect of the foot along the fifth metatarsal, leading to the initial Jones fracture.

He had surgery in April of 2016 and was subsequently reactivated in early August, even appearing briefly in a preseason game. The first surgery was performed in a manner that would promote increased vascular perfusion to the area to help aid in healing and prevent complications. Watkins made it clear that he wanted to avoid a second operation.

He played in two games in 2016 before a teammate stepped on his foot in practice, reaggravating the injury. He was then placed on injured reserve, causing him to miss seven games before returning in week 12. Watkins finished the season, playing through pain, and eventually had surgery on his foot for the second time in 9 months.

The need for additional procedures or revisions is not uncommon due to the foot’s anatomical limitations. The area in which a Jones fracture occurs does not receive adequate blood flow to promote an efficient healing process. The body needs vitamin D to help absorb calcium and rebuild bone. Because these nutrients do not adequately perfuse to the area in need, the bone cannot heal or bind to the hardware placed during surgery. The lack of blood flow is what ultimately leads to hardware loosening, pain, and the necessity for surgical revision.

With all of this in mind, what should you do with Deebo Samuel? The short answer is to invest low as a dynasty manager. This injury typically does not completely derail a career. As exhibited by Edelman and Watkins, even if a player suffers setbacks in recovery, it is well within the possibility to recover and bounce back from a Jones fracture.

In his first season back after his second surgery, Watkins appeared in every game and scored 8 TDs on the Rams season. Since joining the Chiefs in 2018, he has endured multiple injuries, including a foot injury, but this time it was his right that hobbled him. Watkins has had no documented issues with the left foot after the second surgery.

Edelman’s 2017 season was derailed due to a torn ACL, but his 2018 and 2019 seasons proved fruitful as he averaged over 6 receptions per game in both seasons. He finished those years as the WR20 and WR7, respectively.


But what does this mean for fantasy football in 2020 and beyond? The start of the NFL should begin the second week of September (San Francisco’s first game is on 9/13), which is, at the time of this article, precisely 12 weeks away.

At best, Deebo could be ready for the start of the season, but the 49ers would be wise to pace their young star’s rehab process and allow this injury to heal before putting him back into the fray. Expect to see him drop a few rounds for redraft leagues due to the risk of missed time, but dynasty managers may be able to get the young star at a discount. If you find yourself in either situation, swing for the fences and try to snag a stud while others are looking the other way.

Some names to consider are Brandon Aiyuk and Jalen Hurd if you are looking at the fallout around him. Aiyuk is a rookie out of Arizona State that could push for a starting role in Samuel’s absence and not have much competition for touches outside of San Francisco’s run-heavy scheme and target monster George Kittle. Hurd is entering his second year in the league but missed all of last season with a back injury. At 6’5″, 230 pounds, he is a massive target for Jimmy Garoppolo in the red zone and carries touchdown-dependent upside in deeper leagues.

As always, do not forget to follow @rideordynasty on Twitter and listen to the podcast on Spotify, Podbean, or anywhere else you listen to podcasts!

Kyle Allen – Injuries/Redraft
Ride or Dynasty

Matthew Walters – Bestball/Dynasty/Injuries
Ride or Dynasty

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