The NFL is modifying injury reports this season by no longer including “probable” as a category.
In years past, “probable” was assigned to injured players with a likelihood of 75% or better of playing that next game, “questionable” at 50% and “doubtful” at 25%.
In confirming the change, the NFL said that roughly 95% of players listed as “probable” in recent years played in the game they were listed as such for. That discrepancy between the 95% who played and the 75% intent prompted the change.
In modifying the report classifications, they’ve also redefined the “questionable” and “doubtful” classifications from quantitative to qualitative terms. "Questionable" players are intended to be listed for those who are "uncertain" to play. “Doubtful” refers to those “unlikely” to play.
While this seems like a relatively minor change, it actually has the potential to have a huge impact for one simple reason:
Coaches will have to determine whether to list or not list players that had previously been listed as probable
In recent years as noted above, players listed as “probable” were all but certain to play. Now, coaches will have to decide whether or not to list them as “questionable”. Not doing so means not disclosing an injury to the public (read: betting public). Doing so for a relatively minor injury will cause more concern than the previous classification would have.
Think about it like this. Todd Gurley picks up a minor ankle sprain. He’s able to participate in practice, albeit perhaps at a limited rate, maybe 70% on Wednesday, 80% on Thursday and 90% on Friday (that’s the traditional practice routine, not the Tuesday-Wednessday-Friday one the Rams began using last year).
If Fisher lists him on the report, bettors, fantasy football players and Rams fans in general are going to be concerned that he won’t be able to play despite the reality that he would clearly be able to. If Fisher doesn’t list him, it gives no indication that he’s not 100%. Whether that affects his performance or not (and the fact that it clearly makes him susceptible to further injury) wouldn’t even be known to the public (read: betting public).
This also puts quite a bit of pressure on the local media with access to Fisher. As the Rams only credential traditional media, they remain the gatekeepers for gleaning any information that doesn’t come directly from the team. So if Gurley is listed on the report, it’s up to them to help decipher the level of injury he’s actually dealing with (regardless of whether or not Fisher responds honestly).
In any case, it’s going to be an interesting change that will have Vegas and fantasy football players on edge on Sunday mornings this year...