The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Fantasy Football Friday: Percy Harvin’s Big Ankle Sprain and How You Can Replace Him

Posted by on Friday, November 9th, 2012


You know the maxim “Perception is reality?” Well, it’s true–really, really true. Once people perceive someone a certain way, it can be almost impossible to get them to change their minds, no matter how strong the evidence may be otherwise. For example, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin came into the league with a reputation for suffering from debilitating migraines. Fans glommed onto the perception that he was a fragile player who couldn’t be relied on. Yet in his four seasons in the league, Harvin has missed only three games, a better track record than many players who are considered to be “tough.”  Additionally, he’s become one of the most productive receivers in the league.

Now, though, Harvin is dealing with an injury that may keep him out this week, if not more–or maybe it won’t. All that hedging comes courtesy of the fact that Harvin has an ankle sprain, and ankle sprains can take widely varying times to heal.

Harvin injured his ankle last weekend (NFL Week 9) during the Seahawks victory over the Vikings. On Monday, Harvin was seen at the Vikings’ facility on crutches, and there were reports that Harvin had sprained his ankle “in three places.” A sprain occurs when you strain or tear a ligament. There are multiple ligaments holding the ankle joint together, so saying that Harvin “sprained his ankle in three places” likely means that he damaged three different ligaments, or one or two ligaments in several places.

So how bad can it be? Many a football player has sprained an ankle, had it taped up, and gone right on playing. But determining a healing time for an ankle sprain, or any soft tissue injury, is really tricky. A broken bone is a broken bone, so you can confidently give that a standard healing time of six to eight weeks. Ankle sprains, though, can range from a Type I, where a ligament has minor damage and doesn’t inhibit the player, to a Type III where a ligament is completely torn and the player can barely walk. If, as in the case of Harvin, there are multiple damaged ligaments, then that can really fog the picture.

On Monday, there were reports that Harvin was likely going to miss at least one game. However, on Wednesday, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Harvin had shown a lot of progress and that they were hoping he would be able to practice by the end of the week in order to play in Sunday’s game against Detroit.

So if you have Harvin on your fantasy team, what should you do? Well, the Vikings and Lions play at 1:00 so you could wait until Sunday morning to find out if Harvin is going to play. That may be the best thing to do if you don’t have anyone available in your league who rates as even a respectable replacement. If it were me, though, I would just pick up someone and not take a chance on Harvin–if the injury was that bad, then even if he does play, he might not be able to contribute much.

As always, I like to choose replacement players by looking at opponents’ weaknesses. The New York Giants have done a poor job defending against receivers, so you might want to pick up a Bengals receiver. Their top receiver, A.J. Green is undoubtedly not available, but you could add Andrew Hawkins, who’s available in 75% of Yahoo! leagues.  The Titans are also weak at defending receivers so Miami’s Davone Bess might be another good option; he’s available in 73% of Yahoo! leagues. Speaking of Miami, they’re not exactly shutting down receivers either, so you could try the Titans’ Kendall Wright. None of these players are on Harvin’s level, but they’re better than ending up with a zero or two points because Harvin didn’t play or went out in the first quarter.

Now the important question–if you’re a fantasy league player and you have a sprained ankle, will it keep you out of action? Again, it depends. If you have a sprained ankle but can put some weight on it, then you can ice it, elevate it, and rest it, and you’ll probably be okay to update your roster. If you’re having a hard time putting some weight on it or if it doesn’t seem to be improving after a day or two, then you should contact a podiatrist at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900).  Just as the NFL learned with the replacement referees this year, it’s better to let the pros do their jobs.


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.