Just a few weeks into the 2015 NFL season, a lot of fantasy football players are feeling anything but fantastic.

A number of high-profile players — including three starting quarterbacks — recently have suffered injuries that have taken them off the field and have taken some fantasy football players out of the game. A LawnStarter review of eight of the most prominent NFL injuries in 2015 found that five of the players were hurt on fields with artificial turf and three were hurt on fields with natural grass. Of course, our review is by no means scientific, but it does offer a snapshot of the injury landscape.

See related story: “Artificial turf making a comeback at NFL stadiums, MLB ballparks.”

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NRG Stadium turf

Workers install AstroTurf at NRG Stadium in Houston.
AstroTurf

Here are the five star players who’ve been injured recently on artificial turf:

  • Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints quarterback, shoulder.
  • Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver, shoulder.
  • Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver, hamstring.
  • Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks running back, hamstring.
  • Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, knee injury.

Here are the three star players who’ve been injured recently on natural grass:

  • Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers wide receiver, ankle.
  • Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys quarterback, collarbone.
  • Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills wide receiver, calf.

University of Phoenix Stadium

University of Phoenix Stadium
Flickr/Kevin Schraer

Note: This post has been updated to correctly put Soldier Field (Chicago) in the natural grass column and to add the Miami Dolphins’ stadium. Data is for the 2015 season.

Getting Hurt on Turf

So, how much of a connection is there between artificial turf and injuries? It depends on who’s answering the question.

A study by an NFL panel showed that certain serious knee and ankle injuries happened more frequently on FieldTurf, the most popular brand of artificial turf, than on natural grass. When the panel’s findings were released in 2010, the NFL cautioned against drawing any conclusions about what caused the injuries that were analyzed.

Meanwhile, FieldTurf touted its own study indicating that college football players suffered up to 20 percent fewer injuries on FieldTurf surfaces than on natural grass during the period examined. The FieldTurf study, released in 2010, was led by Michael Meyers, an associate professor at Idaho State University.

“In the past, serious injuries were attributed to playing on artificial turf,” Meyers said in a FieldTurf news release. “New generations of artificial turf were developed to duplicate the playing characteristics of natural grass. … My findings indicated that FieldTurf is, in fact, safer in many cases [than] natural grass.”

nrg-stadium-turf-1

Following complaints from players, grass at NRG Stadium is being replaced with AstroTurf.
AstroTurf

Survey Says …

A 2010 survey by the National Football League Players Association found that a majority of NFL players favored natural grass over artificial turf; 82 percent said they thought artificial turf triggers more injuries than natural grass does.

In the same survey, NFL players ranked the Arizona Cardinals’ University of Phoenix Stadium as the league’s best grass surface, with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Heinz Field being rated as the worst grass surface. Among artificial-turf surfaces, the Indianapolis Colts’ Lucas Oil Stadium ranked No. 1, while the Minnesota Vikings’ now-closed Metrodome brought up the rear.

The NFL Players Association hasn’t surveyed its members about turf conditions since 2010.

Heinz Field

Heinz Field
Flickr/Matthew Paulson

Turf Battle

A LawnStarter review of turf at the NFL’s 31 stadiums shows that 17 are equipped with artificial turf and 14 with natural grass. In all, 32 teams compete in the NFL; the New York Giants and New York Jets share a stadium.

Both natural grass and artificial turf have stirred up their share of controversy in the NFL. Natural grass draws complaints about torn-up sod — and sloppy playing conditions — while some research suggests that artificial turf causes more player injuries than natural grass.

For some players, it doesn’t matter whether they’re competing on artificial turf or natural grass. That includes J.J. Watt, a defensive end for the Houston Texans, who played Oct. 8 on the brand-new artificial turf at Houston’s NRG Stadium. “I’d have some objections if we were playing in a parking lot,” Watt recently told reporters.

Replacement of NRG Stadium’s grass with AstroTurf comes after complaints that the stadium’s field was the worst in the NFL. Some critics have questioned whether the NFL should require artificial turf at all stadiums. “While a great grass field is better than FieldTurf,” NBC football journalist Mike Florio wrote, “FieldTurf is better than a bad grass field.”

Grady Miller

Grady Miller of North Carolina State University
NewLife Turf

Fields of the Future

Nick Vena, co-founder of Purchase Green, which sells artificial grass primarily to residential customers, says he senses that more NFL teams are moving toward artificial turf.

“One holdout is stadiums that are used for football as well as other sports – the fields that were more easily repurposed with natural grass for a while. Now, as the turf industry is developing for other applications, even artificial baseball fields, that looks to be something that could change,” Vena says.

Natural vs. Artificial

Here is a rundown of the types of turf at the NFL’s 31 stadiums.

Stadiums With Real Grass

Arrowhead Stadium
Kansas City Chiefs

Arrowhead Stadium

Arrowhead Stadium
Flickr/Harpers470

Bank of America Stadium
Carolina Panthers

Bank of America Stadium

Bank of America Stadium
Flickr/North Carolina National Guard

EverBank Field
Jacksonville Jaguars

EverBank Field

EverBank Field
Tumblr/Stadium Love

FedEx Field
Washington Redskins

FedEx Field

FedEx Field
Flickr/Joseph Glorioso Photography

FirstEnergy Stadium
Cleveland Browns

FirstEnergy Stadium

FirstEnergy Stadium
Flickr/Erik Drost

Heinz Field
Pittsburgh Steelers

Heinz Field

Heinz Field
Flickr/Jaime Dillen-Seibel

Lambeau Field
Green Bay Packers

Lambeau Field

Lambeau Field
Flickr/Mike Morbeck

Levi’s Stadium
San Francisco 49ers

Levi's Stadium

Levi’s Stadium
Flickr/Chris Martin

Lincoln Financial Field
Philadelphia Eagles

Lincoln Financial Field

Lincoln Financial Field
Flickr/Peter Miller

Nissan Stadium
Tennessee Titans

Nissan Stadium

Nissan Stadium
Flickr/kanegen

O.co Coliseum
Oakland Raiders

O.Co Coliseum

O.co Coliseum
AEG

Qualcomm Stadium
San Diego Chargers

Qualcomm Stadium

Qualcomm Stadium
Flickr/Kevin Baird

Raymond James Stadium
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Raymond James Stadium

Raymond James Stadium
Flickr/Matthew Paulson

Soldier Field
Chicago Bears

Soldier Field

Soldier Field
Flickr/Esteban Monclova

Sun Life Stadium
Miami Dolphins

Sun Life Stadium

Sun Life Stadium
Photo: Miami Dolphins

Sports Authority Field
Denver Broncos

Sports Authority Field

Sports Authority Field
Flickr/Craig Hawkins

University of Phoenix Stadium
Arizona Cardinals

University of Phoenix Stadium

University of Phoenix Stadium
Flickr/Tim Rawle

Stadiums With Artificial Turf

AT&T Stadium
Dallas Cowboys

ATT Stadium

AT&T Stadium
Flickr/Anthony Roderman

CenturyLink Field
Seattle Seahawks

CenturyLink Field

CenturyLink Field
Flickr/four12

Edward Jones Dome
St. Louis Rams

Edward Jones Dome

Edward Jones Dome
Flickr/Dave Herholz

Ford Field
Detroit Lions

Ford Field

Ford Field
Flickr/MGoBlog

Georgia Dome
Atlanta Falcons

Georgia Dome

Georgia Dome
Flickr/Dustin Bergene

Gillette Stadium
New England Patriots

Gillette Stadium

Gillette Stadium
New England Patriots

Lucas Oil Stadium
Indianapolis Colts

Lucas Oil Stadium

Lucas Oil Stadium
Flickr/Alberto Cabello

M&T Bank Stadium
Baltimore Ravens

M&T Bank Stadium

M&T Bank Stadium
Flickr/Keith Allison

Mercedes-Benz Superdome
New Orleans Saints

Mercedes-Benz Superdome

Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Flickr/Will Gurley

MetLife Stadium
New York Giants
New York Jets

MetLife Stadium

MetLife Stadium
Flickr/U.S. Department of Defense

NRG Stadium
Houston Texans

NRG Stadium

NRG Stadium
AstroTurf

Paul Brown Stadium
Cincinnati Bengals

Paul Brown Stadium

Paul Brown Stadium
Flickr/Robert Batina

Ralph Wilson Stadium
Buffalo Bills

Ralph Wilson Stadium

Ralph Wilson Stadium
Flickr/Idibri

TCF Bank Stadium (temporary venue until new stadium opens in 2016)
Minnesota Vikings

TCF Bank Stadium

TCF Bank Stadium
KARE11.com

Sources for turf information

http://houseofhouston.com/2015/02/08/report-new-turf-installed-nrg-stadium/
http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20141007/BLOGS04/141009903/chicago-parks-embrace-turf-but-soldier-fields-still-out
http://www.sandiego.gov/qualcomm/about/factguide.shtml
http://www.mercurynews.com/mark-purdy/ci_28597450/purdy-49ers-levis-stadium-still-plagued-by-turf
http://www.sportingnews.com/nfl/story/2015-08-21/cowboys-49ers-levis-stadium-turf-grass-injury-concern
http://www.latimes.com/sports/angels/la-sp-angels-report-20150901-story.html
http://www.philadelphiaeagles.com/news/article-1/Eagles-Get-Fresh-Turf-To-Begin-Stretch-Run/9b3a375f-cd19-4174-91c7-6f42fb8ae4d4
http://heinzfield.com/stadium/heinz-field-facts/
http://www.purdue.edu/uns/html3month/1990-95/9111.Tally.AthleticTurf.html
http://www.bucsnation.com/2015/2/5/7989035/aaron-rodgers-blames-raymond-james-stadium-grass-for-injury
http://www.buffalobills.com/tickets/stadium/facts-and-figures.html
http://www.bengals.com/stadium/facts.html]
http://prod.static.bengals.clubs.nfl.com/assets/images/misc/ubu-sports.pdf
http://www.patriots.com/news/2014/03/24/gillette-stadium-upgrading-field-surface
http://www.csnmidatlantic.com/redskinsblog/rams-defensive-lineman-calls-fedex-field-turf-horrible
http://www.fieldturf.com/en/featured-installations/seattle-sounders-centurylink-field
http://www.cleveland.com/browns/index.ssf/2015/04/firstenergy_stadium_makes_form.html
http://blogs.baltimoreravens.com/2010/05/05/ravens-install-new-turf-at-mt-bank-stadium/
http://www.packers.com/fan-zone/faq.html
http://www.titansonline.com/stadium/stadium-facts-figures.html
https://www.glendaleaz.com/stadium/

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