Fantasy Football Injury Report: Danny Amendola’s Return

Columnist
Physical Therapy

Last Sunday’s Week 5 matchup with the Bengals brought plenty of bad news for the New England Patriots, who suffered their first loss of the season. But quarterback Tom Brady (along with fantasy football players everywhere) had at least one reason to rejoice: Wide receiver Danny Amendola has returned to the field.

After missing three games due to injury, Amendola had a team-high four catches for 55 yards in the Patriots’ 13-6 defeat at Cincinnati. The 5-foot, 11-inch dynamo led New England with nine targets, while seeing only 38 of 63 snaps.

The oft-injured Amendola had been sidelined for the past three weeks with a torn groin muscle: the adductor longus, which attaches from the back of the femur to the pubic ramus and pubic symphysis.

While not as well known as the hamstrings or anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), it is crucial in pulling the leg inwards into adduction and stabilizing the pelvis. The former Ram, who was signed to a hefty contract this off-season, left both his real-life and fantasy owners in a bind after suffering the injury in Week 1, but has since made a relatively swift recovery.

Amendola’s rupture of the adductor longus tendon fell on the ugly end of the muscle tear spectrum, which typically requires six weeks of taking it easy and watching reruns of Friends. Rehabilitation begins with three to five days of complete rest, while icing and wrapping the limb to keep inflammation at bay.

Players may then begin moving their leg into flexion, extension, adduction and moderate abduction (no crazy splits just yet!). More challenging exercises, such as squats and lateral lunges, are slowly added as long as there is no pain.

In order to return the muscle to its prior level of function, a rehabbing athlete must strengthen the adductor to lessen the likelihood of a repeat tear and normalize the strength of other muscles for body balance.

Occasionally, players opt for surgery, in which the adductor longus is anchored back onto the pubic bone. Post-operative recovery takes longer, and interestingly, the results are not necessarily better.

In a 2009 study, Schlegel et al. found that NFL players who received non-operative treatment for an adductor tendon rupture required six weeks to return to pre-injury status, compared to 12 weeks for players who received operations. Furthermore, non-operative treatment provided an equal likelihood of return to play and avoided surgical complications.

Though the Schlegel study did not explore long-term outcomes for non-operative athletes, Amendola could end up just fine.

Electromyography (EMG) studies have shown that adductor longus activity is minimal during sprinting and other high-level motions. It is, however, important for hip stabilization. So when he’s making a cut over the middle, Amendola’s hips could still be doing the samba in a different direction, which would put him at risk for other biomechanical problems.

As for this season, fantasy owners should start Amendola with confidence. His first game back was marred by a lackluster Brady performance in the rain, but the quarterback will be sure to look his No. 1 receiver’s way early and often this week at home against the Saints.