Zach Sudfeld: Hamstring Injury Analysis and Fantasy Value

David Pratt, DPTContributor IIISeptember 12, 2013

Aug 16, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots tight end Zach Sudfeld (44) is tackled by Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Keith Tandy (37) during the second quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots undrafted rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld disappointed fantasy owners with his dismal Week 1 performance. He played 20 of 91 snaps and caused an interception by tipping his only target of the game to a defender.

Sudfeld left the game in the third quarter after pulling a hamstring and did not return. Due to this lack of production and acute hamstring strain, his fantasy value for the remainder of the season appears bleak.

As of Wednesday, the official Patriots injury report has Sudfeld listed as questionable for Thursday night’s game against the Jets. It also states he was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday. This is a promising sign that Sudfeld’s hamstring injury is not of a serious degree.

A hamstring pull is synonymous with a hamstring strain. A muscle strain occurs when active muscle fibers are stretched beyond their threshold for elasticity and become torn. Local vascular structures are also damaged, and localized bleeding and pain occurs.

There are three grades of muscle strains. A grade 1 strain occurs when a small number of muscle fibers are torn resulting in some pain, but the person still has almost full function. A grade 2 strain is when a significant number of muscle fibers are torn, and the person has a moderate loss of function. A grade 3 muscle strain is when all muscle fibers are ruptured, resulting in a major loss of function.

The healing rate for this injury is slow. Typically, a grade 2 or grade 3 strain will keep an athlete out of competition for an average of 14–27 days. However, a grade 1 strain usually heals readily.

Because Sudfeld is already participating in practices on a limited basis, it’s likely he has a grade 1 strain. If this is the case, there is a modest chance he could play in the Thursday night game. Nevertheless, he would undoubtedly have functional deficits that would impede his performance.

Not only would Sudfeld have functional deficits if he plays Thursday night, he will also have an increased chance of re-injuring his hamstring. Once an athlete sustains a hamstring strain, their chance of sustaining another strain is significantly higher, ranging from 12-31 percent.

Because of all the aforementioned reasons, Sudfeld is a risky fantasy player this week. He is virtually unstartable in all fantasy football formats for Week 2.

As for Sudfeld’s fantasy value for the remainder of the season, it will decrease significantly when Rob Gronkowski begins playing in games. Recent reports have indicated that Gronkowski is currently participating in practices on a limited basis. This is a sign that he could return to play in the next few weeks and that Sudfeld is soon to be relegated to fantasy irrelevancy.

Anyone who owns him should acquire a tight end with higher fantasy upside. Noteworthy tight ends owned in less than 85 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues: Martellus Bennett (83.1 percent), Julius Thomas (82.7 percent), Jordan Cameron (52.7 percent) and Brent Celek (15.2 percent).