NFL Wild-Card Injury Watch
Cole Beasley, WR, Buffalo Bills: Left Knee injury
Beasley, the Bills’ electric slot receiver, left his Week 16 matchup against the Patriots with a left knee injury and has not practiced since. He has been termed “week-to-week” by head coach Sean McDermott, which has historically meant that it is a multi-week injury. The specifics of the injury are not clear, but he could be dealing with a quadriceps strain or a meniscal injury based on the video available. Betting and Fantasy Outlook: The Cole Beasley injury presents a lot of uncertainty whether he plays Saturday, and right now, he’s trending in the wrong direction. However, the Bills throttled the Dolphins in Week 17 who coming into the game had the league’s top-scoring defense. Buffalo is -6.5 at home against the Colts, according to PointsBet, even with Beasley’s status up in the air. If Beasley plays, expect him to be a possession receiver with few yards after the catch. If he doesn’t play Saturday, he might return if Buffalo reaches the divisional round. Regardless, make sure to take the Over on Buffalo to win some easy money.
Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Left knee hyperextension
The veteran wide receiver suffered a worrisome left knee injury while trying to haul in a touchdown pass and did not return for the remainder of the game. There were initial fears of an ACL tear ending his season, but according to reports, Evans avoided any structural damage, suffering only a hyperextended knee. These injuries can take between 2-4 weeks to fully recover from. Performance-wise, there will be some instability within the knee joint along with pain and swelling. This will limit his effectiveness especially with jump balls and runs to his right side having to push off the left leg. Betting and Fantasy Outlook: While that news is excellent for Tampa Bay’s playoff prospects, this may mean a reduced workload for Evans or even use as a mere decoy. If you’re looking to make a prop bet on Evans’ receiving yards, I’d take the under and put more money on Tampa Bay -8 (-110), according to PointsBet, to cruise past Washington.
Roquan Smith, LB, Chicago Bears: Left elbow injury
Roquan Smith, the latest monster of the midway, seriously put his playoff hopes in doubt, going down with a left elbow injury Sunday. Reports indicate that he may have dislocated his elbow in attempting to complete the tackle on Packers’s running back Jamaal Williams. By video, his forearm/elbow area appeared to move unnaturally as he fell which could support the possible dislocation. Betting and Fantasy Outlook: While the elbow is a stable joint and a return to play following a dislocation is possible, it is not likely within a week. There will be notable pain and swelling, significantly limiting the range of motion and strength available. This will make shedding blockers and wrapping ball carriers up very difficult if he attempts to play. If the Bears can pull off an upset and eliminate the Saints, Smith could return in the divisional round with bracing on the area. But this may be a mismatch too great for the Saints offense to exploit and an opportunity to take the over 47 points according to PointsBet.
David Bakhtiari, LT, Green Bay Packers: ACL tear
The Packers were dealt a huge blow right before the New Year with the news that the Packers cornerstone left tackle went down with an ACL tear in practice. Aaron Rodgers losing his blindside left tackle right before the playoffs could spell trouble for a team with Super Bowl aspirations. According to PFF, Bakhtiari has only allowed one sack through 420 snaps and overall, his offensive line has kept Rodgers the cleanest he’s ever been in his career with just 20 total sacks allowed. Betting and Fantasy Outlook: Fortunately, the Packers do have a first-round bye, which will allow them to shuffle pieces around in order to gameplan for their divisional round opponent. I would expect that the left tackle position is still a point of weakness and depending on where they pull his replacement from, could be another weakness. This could pose some problems for Rodgers’ ability to work in the pocket if he encounters a blitz heavy defense. Along with the Packers’ concerns about Rodgers’s blindside, this will bleed into next season with a return difficult for Bakhtiari for Week 1. It’s very possible he ends up on the PUP list to start the season before he is ready to regain his starting role. Kyle Trimble is a licensed physical therapist who also works as an injury spotter for Dr. David Chao. Kyle has extensive experience in outpatient orthopedics, skilled nursing, acute care hospital, and home care. He’s also a member of Bills Mafia and runs the website Banged Up Bills. Disclaimer from Kyle: My opinions are my own. Any thoughts I have on the injuries are based on media reports, my knowledge of the injury, and speculation based on the information currently available including video and print media. This information is subject to change based on the information released by the team.
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