Fantasy Football: Concussed Athletes Have Double the Risk of Leg Injury

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It’s the middle of August, and that means the long wait for football season is almost over. If you’re a fantasy football junkie like myself, it also means that we’re a step closer to drafting our fake team, praying they stay healthy, and wasting away on the couch for hours cross referencing what we see on TV with our iPhone fantasy football app.

I can’t wait.

One of the interesting things that happen when you’re a chiropractor that’s into sports is that your friends start to ask you about player injuries and what they can expect from a recovery stand point. Because of that, I decided to do a little fantasy football preview for today and bring up a little known fact about sports injury.

Concussions Injure More than the Brain

It’s been a busy year for sports medicine journals when it comes to covering concussion research. Two studies that have some important fantasy football implications are linked below:

Acute Lower Extremity Rates Increase Following Concussion in College Athletes

Concussion Frequency Associates with Musculoskeletal Injury in Retired NFL Athletes

If you’re new to the blog because you’re a Fantasy Football Fan, this is all you need to know from those studies:

College athletes who had a concussion have DOUBLE the risk of having a lower extremity injury within a year than non-concussed counterparts

These numbers increase exponentially with every successive head injury. i.e.- a player with 3+ concussions can have a 75-165% increased odds of a serious musculoskeletal injury.



Why Does this Happen? (Fantasy Football Fans Can Skip to the bottom for my predictions)

Just to keep things simple, I’ll say it like this. Whenever you injure your brain, your body loses a small part of it’s ability to control movement.

Athletes rely on precision timing for movements of their musculoskeletal system. Just the act of jumping requires your brain to send information to your foot, ankle, hip, and knee muscles to prepare to land. The timing of how all of these muscles fire is important because it:

  • Protects the ligaments and cartilage from unnecessary sheering
  • Allows the lower extremity to prepare for the next movement

If you suffer a brain injury and you lose some of this motor control, your joints can have moments where a weakness can be exposed. This loss of motor control is likely what leads these athletes to have more sprained ankles, torn ACL’s, and pulled hamstrings.

Football is a brutal enough sport as it is. Even ball players with a clean history of injury will get hurt simply becaues of the violent and rapid pace of the game. If you combine that with a brain that is responding just a split second slower, you have a recipe for greater injury, even without contact.


Fantasy Football Injury Tips

Fantasy football injuries have cost me dearly the past 2 years. Because of that, I decided to do some homework on what things tend to make a player a bigger risk.

I was looking at some of the data that was putting out, and it doesn’t appear that they account for this increased risk quite yet. That being said, the numbers they crunch and predictions trends that they notice are phenomenal. So here is your factors to look out for when screening players for injury:

  1. More years in the league = more durable. It’s counter intuitive, but think of it like natural selection. If a player is still in the league, they are likely the ones tough enough to handle it. Rookies and 2nd year players have a much higher injury risk than tested veterans. Just ask Frank Gore and Marshawn Lynch.
  2. Injury Rap Sheet – If you see players that are constantly on the “Questionable” status before a game, they are more likely to get hurt at some point in the season. While coaches play games with a player’s status, the Sports Injury Predictors noticed that the more times a player’s status is in doubt, the more likely they will fall during the season. Look at a player’s status history to make a judgement call on similar players. has a great list here.
  3. Size – Pretty straight forward. Guys with less mass are generally more prone to injury in contact sports.


Dr. Chung’s Concussion Risk List

I took a look at the concussion history of key players in fantasy football. I focused my list on wide receivers, running backs, and tight ends because these are the guys where their history of concussion might make a difference on who you select. With quarterbacks…you’re probably going to pick who you want to pick regardless of what their injury history looks like.

However, choosing between Le’Veon Bell, LeSean McCoy, or Adrian Peterson, their concussion history and liklihood of lower extremity injury may become the thing that makes or breaks your draft pick.

fantasy football graphic


I’m sure there’s more that could be added to this list, but I figured these guys will likely play a big role in important parts of a fantasy draft. Remember, this is NOT just about recovering from a concussion.

Concussions mean that a lot of these guys may go down more frequently with pulled groins, torn meniscus, sprained ankles, and more. Consider some of those other factors first, but when it comes time to pick one of these guys and there’s a comparable talent available, I’m going to be drafting the other guy.

How Did You Like This Article? Let me know what you think on Twitter @drjonathanchung or on the Keystone Chiropractic Wellington Facebook Page

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