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The Next Man Up: 2021 Rookie Injury Review

The Next Man Up crew introduces themselves for the first time to talk rookie injury histories and future outlooks after the NFL Draft.

By: Kyle Allen, Erik Kreil, & Matthew Walters

This week we are debuting a brand new podcast to the Ride or Dynasty family: The Next Man Up Injury Podcast! Host Kyle Allen and co-hosts Erik Kreil and Matthew Walters will bring you the weekly, fantasy relevant injury news all season long. The talented trio boasts various orthopedic and sports medicine certifications, a combined 20 years of schooling, and experience in orthopedic nursing, physical therapy, and athletic training, not to mention a mutual love for fantasy football.

Enough about them let’s talk rookies! For our inaugural podcast we decided to take a look at injury histories from some of the top rookies. If you’d like to listen to that episode, you can follow the link at the top of this article and by searching for The Next Man Up Injury Podcast wherever you listen to your pods.

Trevor Lawrence

Left Shoulder Labrum Surgery

The consensus 1.01 in superflex leagues, and arguably one of the most hyped prospects of this generation, Trevor Lawrence went first overall in the NFL draft to the Jacksonville Jaguars. This came as no surprise to even the most casual of NFL fans of course, but some may be surprised to learn that Lawrence had shoulder surgery in the offseason.

Luckily, the procedure was on his non-throwing shoulder and should not pose much threat to his rookie season. He reportedly played through the injury over the last couple of years and performed well at his Pro Day prior to undergoing the procedure. New head coach Urban Meyer has shared that he helped advise Lawrence on when to have the surgery to best prepare himself for 2021.

This sort of “maintenance procedure” is often done to improve the stability of the joint moving forward. The shoulder labrum is a thickened ring of tissue that helps to maintain the integrity of the ball and socket joint of the shoulder, preventing the shoulder from dislocating. The recovery for this sort of procedure is usually 5-6 months. For those of you with high hopes for Lawrence (or the 1.01 in your rookie draft)––don’t worry, he’s already throwing, and reports out of the Jaguars’ camp indicate that he is progressing well and expected to be ready to go by the end of mandatory minicamp.

Chuba Hubbard

Right Ankle Injury

One of the more frustrating aspects of writing injury reports is the ambiguous information that gets released from different programs. Unfortunately, for our research of Chuba Hubbard’s ankle injury, this is the case. It is not exactly clear what type of injury he sustained last season, but the difference in his ability to cut and move laterally was significantly impacted after the injury thus leading him to opt out of the remainder of the 2020 season to focus on recovery and preparing for the NFL Draft.

We suspect that Hubbard suffered a high ankle sprain. While he did attempt to play through the injury, his eventual decision to rest it will likely prove beneficial for his future outlook. If you look at the examples of Christian McCaffrey and Michael Thomas last season, who both suffered high ankle sprains, it is usually not beneficial for an athlete to attempt to rush back to play through a high ankle and they rarely maintain their full ability (or fantasy value) when playing through injury. he has been participating at the Panthers’ rookie mini-camp with that right ankle taped.

While his landing spot is less than ideal, Hubbard’s injury outlook moving forward is far less concerning than if he had chosen to play through the injury. He doesn’t hold much more than handcuff value for CMC at this point, but could stand to benefit from an injury above him on the depth chart.

Jaylen Waddle

Right High Ankle Sprain & Fracture

Alabama tends to stay in the national spotlight, and a key player like Jaylen Waddle always makes headlines when he goes down with injury. In October, while returning the opening kickoff against their rival Tennessee Volunteers, Waddle was tackled awkwardly from behind and the defender roll over the back of his foot. Unfortunately this caused not only a high ankle sprain, but a fracture in his ankle as well.

Waddle was flown via private jet back to Birmingham where he immediately underwent surgery to repair the fracture and was able to play in the National Championship game (in a very limited fashion) against Ohio State less than 3 months later. While watching him sprint-hobble during warm-ups and the actual game made many of us cringe, it was encouraging to see that Waddle trusted the ankle and had the desire to get back out on the field.

One more positive note for Waddle is that this injury was a contact injury rather than non-contact. Non-contact injuries, specifically recurrent soft tissue injuries are of increased concern, specifically for fantasy managers, as each recurrent issues to soft tissue are one of the two biggest predictors of future injury. He is now fully recovered from the injury and surgery, and has been turning heads during Miami rookie camp.

Rondale Moore

Grade 1 Left Hamstring Strain (x2)

We can’t talk about recurrent soft tissue injury without bringing up a guy with hamstring problems. Moore has only appeared in seven games over the last two years due to hamstring injuries that have kept him on the sideline. As we reviewed when discussing Waddle (and in previous articles), recurrent soft tissue injuries are concerning for fantasy managers.

On the podcast, Erik compared Moore’s history and injury outlook to that of Deebo Samuel: a very talent player with explosive play abilities but a concerning record of soft tissue ailments.During rookie mini-camp and full training camp this will be an issue to keep and eye on for Moore as these periods of sudden increases in workload have a direct relation to increased injury occurrence. When combined with his injury history, it is certainly a situation to monitor, especially for those looking for a big rookie season from the Purdue product.

Pat Freiermuth

Right Shoulder Surgery

There are some unknowns surrounding Freiermuth’s shoulder injury, so we will start with what we do know. He suffered a shoulder injury against Ohio State in 2020 and began wearing a shoulder harness on his right arm following that game. The shoulder harness is used to support the shoulder capsule and improve overall shoulder stability for athletes with shoulder injuries.

As illustrated by friend of the podcast, Dr. Kyle Trimble, in his Pat Freiermuth injury breakdown, the injury had limited Freiermuth’s ability to block in pass protection. Based on his injury timeline, choice to have surgery after playing through the injury, and the use of the shoulder harness, it is believed that he suffered either a labrum tear or an AC joint sprain.

With limitations to his pass blocking ability, it seems most likely that Freiermuth suffered a torn labrum, and underwent surgery to repair it, similar to what Trevor Lawrence did. For Freiermuth, this surgery would affect his game a little more than a QB who had an injury to his non-throwing shoulder. However, it is worth noting while drafting that even after having a labrum repair, there is still a 13-26% chance of reinjury.

And one more thing… don’t call him “Baby Gronk”…

That’s all we have for now, but keep an eye out for our next podcast and our weekly injury reports during the season! Last, but certainly not least… never forget that the best ability it availability!

Kyle Allen – Injury Writer/Editor
Twitter: @kallen_4

Erik Kreil – Injury Writer
Twitter: @ff_nighthawk

Matthew Walters – Injury Writer
Twitter: @fantasyferret

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