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Making weekly lineup decisions is one of the most excruciating aspects of fantasy football. As if it weren't enough to consider positional matchups, weather, offensive trends and such, the one thing that leaves fantasy owners in the biggest bind is injuries.

Health issues can make or break a player's value in a given week and uncertainty always looms among the slew of questionable tags. Rather than speculating on the sparse information given by NFL head coaches, we've brought in a specialist.

Each week, SPT Aaron Burger will apply his medical expertise to the NFL game in order to help fantasy football owners understand these high-profile injuries. Let's step inside the tent to see what the diagnosis is for some of the biggest names in football.

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Injury Insight

Marlon Mack - RB Indianapolis Colts

  • Injury: Marlon Mack is suffering from a hamstring strain. Depending on the severity of the strain, this injury could linger considering the hamstrings help with sprinting as well as starting and stopping.
  • Injury Date: August 10th
  • News: Mack hadn't practiced in a month since injuring his hamstring until he found his way onto the practice field on Thursday, September 6th. He practiced in a limited fashion and his status for Week 1 is questionable.
  • Outlook: The Colts' backfield is a mixed bag after they used fourth and fifth round picks on Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins, respectively. The touch leader will be difficult to predict each week considering Frank Reich's love of RB rotations. Jordan Wilkins will likely get the start if Mack can't suit up Week 1. Hines struggled with fumbling issues in the preseason and Wilkins is the safer option at this point.

Sony MichelRB New England Patriots

  • Injury: Sony Michel is dealing with what's being described as a minor knee injury. Michel underwent a minor procedure to debride, or clean up, his knee and remove fluid.
  • Injury Date: August 1st
  • News: Michel returned to practice on August 27th in a limited fashion and hasn't had a full practice since then. His status for Week 1 is up in the air at this point and he should not be relied on this week. As of September 7th, he is officially questionable for Week 1.
  • Outlook: Michel has a bone-on-bone condition similar to that of Jay Ajayi and it could reportedly shorten his career. The Patriots were not obviously concerned as they took him with the 31st overall pick. The Patriots hadn't selected a skill player in the first round since Laurence Maroney in 2006 so they clearly have plans for the former Bulldog. As always, the Patriots RB situation is difficult to project especially with Rex Burkhead recently signing an extension but Michel has the talent to emerge as a featured back if he can avoid fumbles and stay healthy.

Rex Burkhead - RB New England Patriots

  • Injury: Rex Burkhead's injury was described as a "slight tear" in his knee. It was not reported what structure was actually involved.
  • Date: First reported August 17th by Jeff Howe of The Athletic
  • News: As of Wednesday, September 5th, Rex Burkhead was not listed on the Patriots injury report and is ready to rock for Week 1.
  • Outlook: Rex Burkhead stands to benefit from the absence of WR Julian Edelman given his pass-catching abilities. He should see good volume, providing a solid floor, as Howe also reported the Patriots "expect [Burkhead] to be a focal point of the offense during the regular season, especially while Edelman is suspended." Patriots RB owners will have to monitor who receives red zone and goal-line touches as this role has been proven valuable by LeGarrette Blount who scored a whopping 15 TDs from inside the 10-yard line in 2016.

Doug Baldwin - WR Seattle Seahawks

  • Injury: Doug Baldwin was limited this preseason with what HC Pete Carroll called a "sore knee." The structure involved has not been reported but I would assume it's a cartilage or meniscus issue considering there was no true mechanism of injury.
  • Injury Date: The first report of him dealing with an injury was July 31st but Carroll told reporters that Baldwin "came into camp a little bit off."
  • News: Baldwin did not play in the preseason but started sprinting again on August 16th and returned to practice in full on September 5th. Baldwin himself though told reporters he does not believe his knee will be 100% this season and put it at 80-85% going into Week 1.
  • Outlook: With the departure of TE Jimmy Graham and WR Paul Richardson there are plenty of targets and touchdown opportunities up for grabs in Seattle. Baldwin has been the and go-to receiver for Russell Wilson and that doesn't appear to be changing anytime soon so as long Baldwin can stay on the field. The volume Baldwin should see keeps his floor high enough to produce at least WR2 numbers but his health should be monitored all year.

Will Fuller - WR Houston Texans

  • Injury: Will Fuller is dealing with a hamstring strain. The hamstrings help with sprinting as well as starting and stopping so depending on the severity, this could linger past Week 1.
  • Injury Date: He got injured the week of August 19th before the preseason game against Rams.
  • News: Fuller notably missed the third preseason game where the starters often get the majority of their game action during the preseason. He remained limited in practice Thursday, September 6th after being listed as limited Wednesday. His status should be monitored throughout the weekend.
  • Outlook: Fuller played at an unsustainable rate Weeks 4-6 and Week 8 last season. During these four games Fuller caught 13 passes with seven of them being touchdowns (53.8%). He's due for negative regression when he's back and healthy but given the offensive potential of Deshaun Watson, Fuller could have a solid year with TD potential as defenses focus on DeAndre Hopkins.

Alshon Jeffery - WR Philadelphia Eagles

  • Injury: Alshon Jeffery is recovering from surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff.
  • Injury Date: According to reports, Jeffery tore his rotator cuff during the 2017 training camp and played the whole year before getting surgery following their Super Bowl win. *insert eyes emoji*
  • News: The Eagles' WR is considered week-to-week at this time and was working out on the field prior to the Week 1 Thursday Night game. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Jeffery will miss "at least" the first two games of the year. It's looking like he'll be out a few weeks.
  • Outlook: Jeffery will likely be back for Week 3 or 4 but until then Nelson Agholor has solid PPR value. Once Jeffery returns, he will likely have Carson Wentz back as well. Jeffery posted a 57/789/9 line last year, making him a respectable WR2 in STD and PPR formats. His height and familiarity with the offense should serve him well when he returns to the lineup healthy.

Carson Wentz - QB Philadelphia Eagles

  • Injury: Initially, it was thought Carson Wentz only tore his ACL against the Rams in Week 14. After further tests and imaging, it was reported by Ian Rapoport that he would require surgery to repair a torn ACL and LCL, partially torn IT band, and to repair meniscus damage. The ACL is crucial for the stability of the knee joint so it'll be worth monitoring how confident Wentz appears on his left knee when he debuts this season.
  • Injury Date: December 10th, 2017
  • News: As of September 6th, it is being reported by Rapoport that Wentz isn't expected to play for a few more weeks. The Eagles are not bringing their star QB back until he is "100% healthy." During warm-ups before the Week 1 Thursday Night game, Wentz was on the field throwing passes.
  • Outlook: Wentz was fantasy's QB2 last year before he was injured in Week 14. The Eagles return both a high powered offense and stout defense so the scoring opportunities will be available once Wentz returns to the lineup. Expect some regression this year from Wentz but it's clear he can be a Top-10 QB once again in 2018 when he returns. Personally, I'm predicting the Eagles' franchise QB to return Week 3 at home against the Colts and former offensive coordinator Frank Reich.

Jerick McKinnon - RB San Francisco 49ers

  • Injury: Grade III ACL Sprain (Complete Tear)
  • Injury Date: September 1st
  • News: It was reported that Jerick McKinnon tore his ACL during team activities on September 1st. Reportedly, he attempted to make a cut and was injured without contact. It was reported on September 3rd by Matt Maiocco that McKinnon will have surgery on his ACL once the swelling decreases.
  • Outlook: With McKinnon out for the year, Alfred Morris, who is familiar with the Shanahan offense from his days in Washington, is in the position to handle short yardage and goal line work. Matt Breida is listed as the starter though and should be more valuable in PPR formats compared to Morris.

Thanks for checking in for this week's RotoBaller Injury Analysis! Come back next week and all season for insight regarding fantasy's biggest injuries!

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