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(Soundbite of cheering)

Unidentified Man #1: (Unintelligible) had his arm hit, and that's incomplete.

AUDIE CORNISH, host:

In a game like football, injuries happen all the time, like this past Thursday when the Houston Texans star receiver was taken off the field.

Unidentified Man #2: Andre Johnson is battling ankle issues all year long, came up hobbling. And they'll check on Johnson. That's horrible news for Houston right now.

CORNISH: Coaches need to know everything about the health of their players, but they sometimes withhold that info from the media and the fans. That's a drag for fantasy football players who needed to set their rosters.

Well, now, fantasy football players have their own doctor on call.

Ms. STEPHANIA BELL (Writer, ESPN.com; Physical Therapist): Johnson underwent an MRI. Apparently, nothing seriously wrong.

CORNISH: That's Stephania Bell. She writes a column for ESPN.com advising fantasy football players about real players' injuries.

Ms. BELL: I'm a physical therapist and practiced for about 20 years. And for entertainment, I started participating in a fantasy football league and what I have noticed was that many of my league mates were asking me to analyze injuries. And as somebody who's rehabbed athletes with all these types of injuries, I have a little bit better insight as to how problematic an injury can be, particularly for a given player at a given position. And that's what fantasy football owners were looking for.

CORNISH: Let's take another example from this NFL season. Forty-one-year-old quarterback Brett Favre - he's a guy who hasn't missed to start in 19 years, right? He's the Iron Man.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CORNISH: But he's been fighting a slew of injuries all season.

Ms. BELL: Well, you know, I thought I would make a list for you today of everything that Brett Favre has dealt with this year, and it's really quite amazing. He had ankle surgery. He's had two fractures in his heel and foot. The flu most recently last week. A calf strain. He had a chin laceration that required stitches. He's dealt with tendonitis in his elbow, soreness in his throwing shoulder. And the latest ailment, neck pain.

CORNISH: Wow. Sounds like a Frankenstein.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BELL: Sounds like a 41-year-old quarterback.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CORNISH: Yeah. But the thing is what kind of advice do you give then? Because if he never sits out, but you've given this long list of wounds, how is he valuable to a fantasy football player?

Ms. BELL: Because he's not necessarily valuable every week. Somebody who's an awesome football player may not be the best player for your fantasy football team, even if we get the heads up that a player's going to be on the field. What becomes important for a fantasy owner is how effective will that player be.

If they're coming off a hamstring injury, can you really expect him to run full speed, and how risky is it that a player will injure himself again?

CORNISH: I sort of wished that you withheld this knowledge to yourself and just became some like uber chic winner of fantasy football leagues, you know, like you're spilling secrets here. This is a stuff you could have used to make yourself like the winner?

Ms. BELL: Well, you know, I'd like to think that I actually try and use it to win. I am in the first place in my big ESPN league here right now.

CORNISH: Ah.

Ms. BELL: That by speaking it out loud, I haven't jinxed it forever. But there's a certain amount of luck involved and we all know the luck element means that I wouldn't necessarily have bitten everybody out...

CORNISH: Oh, okay.

Ms. BELL: ...if I'd held it all to myself. I'd like - it's a nice thought.

CORNISH: That's Stephania Bell. She blogs about football injuries at ESPN.com.

Stephania, thanks so much.

Ms. BELL: Thanks for having me.

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