Plantar fascia injuries are tricky because there’s no real cure. It’s not like a broken leg that will heal once casted up, or a sprained ligament that will be 100 percent in 2-4 weeks. This kind of ailment only gets better with rest and the pain can flare up at any time.
Over the last six weeks, we’ve seen the Saints and Jimmy Graham manage his injury spectacularly. Most importantly, he hasn’t missed a game. But the key to sustaining effectiveness has been managing his snaps so he’s on the field when it counts.
In Thursday night’s narrow 17-13 win over the Falcons, Graham didn’t play on many running downs and rotated out a significant amount. He was still the single biggest difference-maker, catching five passes for 100 yards with a 44-yard touchdown on a pretty double move. Graham also dragged defenders, tip-toed up the sideline and was used as a defender on the final play of the game to guard against a Hail Mary. Oh, and all this came just four days after playing 51-of-69 snaps against the 49ers. Oh, and he also celebrated his TD with a dunk so hard that the goal-posts had to be reset. These are all great signs going forward.
In five games since sustaining the injury, Graham is averaging 5.6 catches for 70.6 yards with five touchdowns. Now he gets to rest for 11 days before the Week 13 showdown in Seattle on Monday night. At the very thin tight end position, Graham and Rob Gronkowski stand alone. Owners that didn’t panic when they saw the words “plantar fasciitis” are getting rewarded in a big way.
SAINTS at FALCONS RANDOM THOUGHTS
Darren Sproles (ankle) was scratched. Predictably, Pierre Thomas looked special while racking up 130 yards on 15 touches. Mark Ingram missed holes and rushed nine times for just 32 yards. … The Falcons are playing musical chairs with their atrocious offensive line and it shows. Matt Ryan took five sacks and was under constant harassment. … Steven Jackson showed far more wiggle than we’ve seen all year. He finished with a 16/63/1 line, which is the absolute ceiling for him right now. … Roddy White got taken out of the game by Keenan Lewis. … Ryan chose to pick on Jabari Greer’s replacement, Corey White. That led to a fluky 6/67/0 line for Darius Johnson. … Harry Douglas had 11 more targets and is now averaging 9.8 over the last six weeks. It’s impossible not to produce with that kind of volume. … Tony Gonzalez’s toe was fine. He’s just not as effective when he’s not getting constant single coverage like he used to.
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NEWS OF THE DAY #1
Michael Crabtree (Achilles) is practicing and he’s going to be promoted to the active 53-man roster before Tuesday’s deadline. But that doesn’t mean he’s going to make a fantasy impact.
According to CSN Bay Area, the 49ers backed off Crabtree’s participation levels last week because they want him to work his way back in a controlled setting. Well, nothing is more uncontrollable than a game. The absolute earliest Crabtree is going to play is Week 13 and even that sounds like a reach at this point.
When Crabtree does return to the field, he’ll almost certainly be on a snap count. The 49ers face the Legion of Boom in Week 14 and Darrelle Revis in Week 15. There’s not very much upside in a stash here.
NEWS OF THE DAY #2
When I first saw Julius Thomas take a helmet to the knee while coming over the middle last week, I thought he’d be out a significant amount of time. Luckily, it turned out to be a mere sprain.
Thomas got back in practice Thursday, but was reportedly “very limited.” It puts owners in a hairy situation as the Broncos/Patriots game won’t start until 8:30pm ET Sunday. One play to make is to add Joel Dreessen to benches as insurance and then play it by ear. If Thomas sits, Dreessen will at least be a reasonable bet for a touchdown.
NEWS OF THE DAY #3
Jay Cutler doesn’t have a regular ankle sprain. He doesn’t even have a garden variety high-ankle sprain either. Cutler’s ankle injury is so bad that he had to have a hard cast put on. It was a surefire sign of a multi-week injury.
Thursday brought some good news as Cutler was spotted in a smaller brace as he continues his rehab. Week 13 may not be realistic for a return, but Week 14 is within reach. The Bears will face the Cowboys that week, the Browns in Week 15 and the Eagles in Week 16. Given that schedule, owners in need of quarterback help should try to find room to stash Cutler.
INJURY QUICK SLANTS: QUARTERBACK AND RUNNING BACK
Adrian Peterson (groin) missed another practice, but he’s guaranteeing he’ll play Sunday. ... Nate Burleson (arm) is practicing in full. Expect him to man the slot against a Bucs team that gets destroyed by slot receivers this week. … Trent Richardson was added to the injury report with a calf issue. Donald Brown is a better fantasy bet anyway. … New Raiders change-of-pace back Darren McFadden (hamstring) isn’t practicing and has no timetable for a return. … Joique Bell (foot) should be fine to serve as Reggie Bush’s backup.
INJURY QUICK SLANTS: WIDE RECEIVER AND TIGHT END
Keenan Allen (knee) is practicing in full, confirming the injury he sustained last week was no big deal. … Jordan Reed (concussion) has not been cleared yet. Owners can add Fred Davis and wait for more info. … Greg Jennings (Achilles) practiced Thursday. Bad news for Cordarrelle Patterson’s chances of seeing nine targets again. … Denarius Moore (shoulder) is looking questionable at best. Andre Holmes would start if Moore sits. … Wes Welker (concussion) was cleared to practice. Barring a setback, he’ll play against his former team. … Randall Cobb (leg) admitted he’s not certain he’ll be able to play again this season. … Dennis Pitta (hip) said he’s going to take it slow with his rehab. I’d be surprised if he played anytime before Week 14, and will probably be on a snap count at that point.
DEPTH CHART QUICK SLANTS
It turns out Leonard Hankerson tore his ACL in addition to his LCL. He’s questionable for next year’s training camp. For the rest of this year, Josh Morgan will re-take the Z job and Aldrick Robinson will mix in as well. It’s an extremely low-upside fantasy situation. … The Jags are talking about moving Cecil Shorts around to get him some cleaner looks. … Terrelle Pryor’s knee is good enough for him to play, but this is Matt McGloin’s job to lose now.
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