Fantasy Football Week 14: Injury outlooks for Melvin Gordon, James Conner, Chris Carson, and more

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Editor's Note: Every week over at SportsLine.com, we've had Brandon Bowers, PT, DP breaking down the latest injuries from around the NFL, giving a unique perspective on what those players might be facing as they return to action. With some key Fantasy studs on the injury report in Week 14, we're putting Bowers' injury analysis right here for you to read. If you want more, subscribe to SportsLine.com now using the promo code PASS for access to playoff-winning projections and advice for season-long and DFS from our team of experts for just $1 for your first month.

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Melvin Gordon LAC • RB • 28
InjuryKnee
RiskHigh

Melvin Gordon sustained an unfortunate knee injury in Week 12 and was diagnosed with a Grade 2 medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain following the game. This injury involves the overstretch and partial tearing of the MCL and results in a level of instability, pain, weakness and impaired function through the knee.The typical course of care for a Grade 2 MCL sprain involves physical therapy in order to address the aforementioned deficits and facilitate a smooth return to sport. Gordon's injury sidelined him last week, but he has made some good progress in an effort to return this week. Although a return to play in Week 14 would be nice for Fantasy purposes it may not be the smartest move medically. When dealing with Grade 2 MCL sprains the usual return-to-play timetable is 4-6 weeks; of course, some players will come back faster and some slower, but this is what is observed clinically most often.

For Gordon to return this week he would need to demonstrate the ability to come in and out of cuts without pain or instability and be able to perform straight line running without these deficits as well. This Sunday will mark two weeks since the initial injury, which usually isn't enough time for the body to elicit a sufficient healing response. Considering the Bengals are the Week 14 opponent for L.A., the Chargers would be smart to hold Gordon out at least one more week before legitimately considering a return to game action. A premature return to play for the running back would leave him incredibly susceptible to further MCL injury as well as additional new injuries. Gordon did not practice on Wednesday.

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James Conner PIT • RB • 30
InjuryAnkle
RiskHigh

James Conner went down with a lower leg injury against the Chargers last week. Initial reports from the Steelers stated the diagnosis to be a lower leg contusion but it was later revealed he sustained an ankle sprain. At times NFL teams will initially opt to utilize "contusion" as a diagnosis before additional testing is performed, only to reveal a more significant injury thereafter, and this was the case for Conner.

His injury occurred as a result of a defender rolling up on the outside of his lower leg forcing his ankle into a position of eversion. Eversion (turning of the foot outward) as well as rotation of his lower leg is the classic mechanism for a high ankle sprain and although the Steelers haven't specified the type of sprain for Conner, a high ankle sprain is the likely diagnosis.

High ankle sprains involve an injury to the syndesmosis, which is the joint formed by the articulation between the tibia (shin bone) and fibula (outer lower leg bone). This joint is located directly above the ankle joint, hence the term high ankle sprain, and is unlike other joints throughout the body, as it does not have much mobility. The syndesmosis joint is designed to be stable in order to allow the true ankle (talocrural) joint to move normally – when the syndesmosis is sprained it is no longer able to function and provide stability in the capacity that it normally does.

Rehabilitation in physical therapy is initiated immediately following a high ankle sprain and serves to reduce pain, improve stability and improve function. The question for Conner now becomes: Will he be able to return from this injury this season? And if so, when?

A reasonable expectation for his return can range anywhere from 3-5 weeks, provided no setbacks occur along the way. A return three weeks following the injury would be Week 16, with a return five weeks after the injury coming in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Conner's ability to contribute in any capacity for Fantasy football the rest of the way is seriously in doubt, however, he could still play a relevant role for the Steelers pending their level of post-season success this year. Conner has been ruled out for Week 14.

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Matt Breida SF • RB • 22
InjuryAnkle
RiskMedium

Matt Breida re-aggravated his ankle sprain in Week 13 while warming up for a game against the Seahawks. The initial injury occurred in Week 5 and has caused issues for him since. Breida was able to play last week, albeit in a limited fashion, and tallied five carries for six yards along with 51 yards receiving on three receptions. He has played through this injury for the better part of this season, and now it may cause him trouble the rest of the year.

If Breida missed a couple of games earlier in the season to allow his ankle to completely recover, there is a good chance the issues he is having now would not be as significant. Looking at his track record, he is not one to miss games so expect him to return for San Francisco in short order; anticipate an absence of one or two weeks at maximum. Bear in mind this injury may not completely heal until the off-season and there is moderate to high risk of further aggravation by continuing to play through it. Breida has been ruled out for Week 14 against the Broncos.

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Chris Carson SEA • RB • 32
InjuryFinger
RiskLow

Chris Carson suffered a finger dislocation in Week 13 and is expected to be available to play in Week 14 for Seattle. Bending or twisting of a finger in the wrong direction can lead to dislocations and bones no longer maintaining normal approximation. With any dislocation, the ligaments which stabilize the joint become stretched and, in some cases, can tear. Addressing a finger dislocation clinically is pretty straightforward – a distraction (pulling) force is applied to the dislocated finger, followed by a glide back into place. Following a dislocation and the subsequent reduction of the injury – soreness, decreased mobility, function and strength can result.

This injury should not have a significant impact on Carson's ability to play or to be effective and there is minimal risk of re-injury the rest of the season. The Seahawks will provide their first practice participation report Thursday in advance of a Monday Night Football matchup with the Vikings. Expect Carson to practice in some capacity initially, with increasing levels of participation as the week goes on.

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DeSean Jackson TB • WR • 11
InjuryThumb
RiskHigh

DeSean Jackson first appeared on the injury report for his thumb injury during Week 12; he was able to play in that context, however, did not play in Week 13. A formal diagnosis has not been provided by the team at this time. The exact course of care to address this issue is still being determined by team medical personnel as Jackson has received evaluation from team doctors as well as a second opinion elsewhere. A second opinion is usually garnered in situations when the first opinion doesn't yield the best news.

Additionally, Jackson utilized a brace last week in practice before eventually being ruled out for the game against the Panthers; braces are indicated in situations of joint instability. There is a good chance he is dealing with some sort of ligamentous injury in the form of a sprain.

The possibility of a return to game action for the veteran remains to be seen at this time and the outlook could go either way. The thumb accounts for 40% of total hand function so any injury to this important digit can create significant functional limitations. Expect to know more about the results of the second opinion on his thumb as well as his status for Week 14 in the coming days; Jackson did not participate in practice on Wednesday, and he is not expected to practice Thursday either. There is moderate to high risk of worsening of this injury the rest of the season.

So who should you sit and start? And what shocking quarterback could win you Week 14? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy football rankings for every single position, and see which shocking QB finishes in the top 10 this week, all from the model that out-performed experts big time last season.

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