As Aaron Rodgers was carted off to the locker room after landing on his right shoulder during week six of the 2017 season, fantasy owners across the Nation, as well as every Green Bay Packers’ fan were left holding their breath, anxious for news on the seriousness of the injury. Later that day it was revealed that Rodgers had sustained a right clavicular (collarbone) fracture and would likely miss the rest of the regular season. This article will help address his injury in greater detail and will project Rodger’s fantasy relevance for the future.*
LONG TERM OUTLOOK
Aaron Rodgers now joins scores of others throughout the game of football, and life in general, who have sustained a collarbone fracture, as this tends to be the most common broken bone in the body. The good news is that a broken collarbone, especially one that is surgically repaired like Aaron Rodgers’ was, should not affect his throwing motion in the long term. Whether he returns this season or the next, Aaron Rodgers’ play shouldn’t be affected by this injury, however, I suspect he will fall in draft value due to weary fantasy managers. This is preposterous! Yeah, I said it, preposterous. Aaron Rodgers was on track for 4,374 yards, 41 TDs, 9.6 interceptions with a QB rating of 106.14. That puts him right at his 2016 numbers when he led all QBs in fantasy points scored. If you are worried about who Rodgers will be next year, don’t be. He is probably going to be the same old consistent and spectacular fantasy QB he is every year. To quote Rodgers himself, “R-E-L-A-X.”
SHORT TERM OUTLOOK
To have a better idea on the time-table of Rodger’s short-term return, we need a better understanding of the injury itself. Currently we know that Rodgers broke his collarbone and there is no indication that it was anything more than a typical break. This means it’s likely to be a mid-shaft fracture and shouldn’t involve any significant “collateral damage.” So basically, we are just dealing with a healing bone. Typical bone healing time is 6-8 weeks. He had a plate installed to help support and bridge the fracture which should also assist in the short term to facilitate healing. This will also help prevent a re-fracture if he is going to return this season. He will, at best, be in a sling for three weeks before beginning some gentle range-of-motion exercises based on pain tolerance. He will then need at least three to four weeks to gain back his strength and accuracy, but an Aaron Rodgers operating at 80% of his best is better than most NFL starting quarterbacks.
Before you get all giddy and do the math and figure out that an eight-week healing process means he is back for the last two games of the regular season, there are few outliers to think about. The greatest concern is that it will more than likely take up to 12 weeks for the collar bone to be strong/healed enough to hold up to the typical pounding suffered by quarterbacks throughout the length of an NFL game without significant risk of re-injury. That realistically puts his return at the beginning of January, with Green Bay needing to make the playoffs and probably win at least one postseason game in order for Rodgers to see the field again this season. The Green Bay offensive line is banged up (for now) and if Rodgers were to return for the last 2-3 games of the season, his risk of re-injury would be significant. Would the Packers be willing to risk it? Or Rodgers himself for that matter? Maybe, but I suspect not, especially if Brett Hundley does a decent job filling-in for the eventual Hall-of-Famer.
While it would make a great narrative to have Aaron Rodgers return for the second to last game of the season and face off with the Vikings, the Packers fiercest rival and the very team who injured him, it is highly unlikely to occur. However, if Brett Hundley’s performs well enough to get the Packers into the postseason, we might just see Rodgers return in time make a signature playoff run.
Rodgers is only worth stashing if you have an open IR-spot or a very deep bench. He is highly unlikely to return during the fantasy playoffs, and will probably not be back before week 17. If you can trade him away for anything, do so. Otherwise, let him sit on waivers and set your eyes on the best streaming-option QB for each coming week.
*Matt is a Nurse Practitioner with several years of experience in family medicine, who loves to use his knowledge to help out fellow fantasy football managers.*