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Offseason Injury Primer: Quarterbacks

For the purposes of this article, we will focus on fantasy relevant quarterbacks who finished the 2018 season on injured reserve or who missed at least Weeks 16 and 17 because of injury.

Cam Newton – Newton actually had a pretty solid season in 2018, at least for the start of the year, posting some of the best statistics of his career from an accuracy perspective. However, as the season progressed, Newton’s performance suffered drastically due to the limitations of his right shoulder. From Weeks 1-9, Newton was the QB4, but from Weeks 10-15 before his season was ended early, he was the QB21 in fantasy. In recent weeks, details have emerged regarding his surgery from late January on his throwing shoulder. The surgery performed was done arthroscopically, and fortunately for Newton, no structural injury was found to his rotator cuff or labrum. As a result, the procedure was done as a “clean up” procedure, and carries minimal implications from a rehab perspective because no tissues were repaired. Newton should be throwing a football sooner than later. However, given that Newton’s doctor recently confirmed there was a cartilage injury, there is a good chance that he will develop early arthritis in the shoulder, which could limit the longevity of his career as he ages.

*For details about Cam’s surgery, view is latest vlog post on YouTube.

Andy Dalton – Dalton’s 2018 season ended in Week 12 when he suffered a sprained ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right thumb. The UCL sits on the side of the thumb and helps to create stability in the thumb when gripping a football, making it painful and difficult to play through this injury. Dalton’s sprain was severe enough that it required surgery to repair the ligament. Per a recent article on the Bengals’ website, Dalton has started throwing a football and shooting a basketball again, so he appears to be right on track for where he should be now about 3 months out from surgery. Expect Dalton to be a full participant throughout the summer.

Jimmy Garoppolo – The 49ers new starting quarterback didn’t last long in 2018, suffering a torn ACL in his left knee in Week 3. Garoppolo attempted to decelerate and cut off his left leg, causing his knee to buckle in the classic non-contact mechanism of injury for ACL injuries. Fortunately for Jimmy G, his injury happened early in the year, so he’s got a very good chance at being at full strength once training camp rolls around in August. I expect him to be ready well ahead of Week 1 in 2019.

Alex Smith – Smith suffered a gruesome right lower leg injury in Week 11 when he got his ankle trapped under a defender, causing it to buckle in the wrong direction. Smith suffered a compound fracture-dislocation of his right ankle, which required season ending surgery. Then, in December, news broke that Smith was dealing with post-operative complications due to an infection. This infection has significantly affected Smith’s 2019 availability, as it remains unlikely that he plays this season. His infection has caused the need for multiple surgeries, and with each subsequent surgery, the timeline for Smith to return gets pushed back. It’s a truly unfortunate and unlucky situation. It’s up in the air if Smith ever plays again in the NFL, but for 2019, he should be considered out.

Carson Wentz – Wentz’s career thus far has unfortunately been defined by injuries, and while he didn’t technically go on injured reserve in 2018, there was no way the team was going to let him play through a fractured vertebrae in his lower back. Wentz first popped up on team’s injury report in Week 7 but continued to battle through lower back soreness and spasm off and on for the next few weeks. However, in Week 14, a new MRI showed a stress fracture in his lumbar spine, which forced him to miss the remainder of the season. Stress fractures develop slowly over time, so this is a different scenario and situation compared to let’s say a broken forearm. He will not need surgery and simply needs to rest to allow his bone to heal over the course of a few months. Given that he’s been resting since early December, it’s reasonable to expect Wentz to be a full go for OTAs and certainly for training camp. Additionally, it’s important to remember that Wentz was coming back from a torn ACL and LCL in his left knee, which he suffered in 2017. The first season back from a multi-ligament knee surgery is usually a subpar season for a player, as we saw with Wentz in that his mobility wasn’t the same as it was in 2017. This is normal and shouldn’t scare owners away from Wentz. His footwork, mobility, and confidence in the knee will be much better in 2019.

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About Matthew Betz

I'm a sports and orthopedic physical therapist currently working in Burlington, VT. I've been a sports fan my entire life and when I became a PT, I decided to combine my two passions into one awesome hobby. My goal is to provide injury analysis and information so that you can win your next dynasty title. Follow me on twitter: @TheFantasyPT