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Fantasy football injury outlooks for Week 4: Sorting out Seattle's injuries

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Baldwin injury is 'one to monitor'

Stephania Bell says Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is not sure how serious WR Doug Baldwin's groin injury is yet.

Injury concerns regarding players heading into the Sunday and Monday games can be critical. Each Saturday this entry will be dedicated to those who appear on the official weekly NFL game status injury report and how their status may impact fantasy teams.

For those who may be new to this blog: Injury reports provide some insight to a player's status. The NFL requires teams to submit practice injury reports several times a week, identifying the body part that is involved in the injury. This year, there has been a change in the language of injury reporting, per the league office. The most notable change is the removal of the probable designation. For more detailed information on the changes and what they mean, click here.

Early in the week, the practice injury reports indicate whether a player did not practice, was limited in practice or was a full participant in practice. On Fridays, all teams file a game status injury report assigning one of the following designations: questionable, doubtful or out. The designations listed here reflect the injury reports filed with the league office on Friday evening. Teams playing on Monday night do not have to issue their designations until Saturday. The explanation for each designation is as follows.

Out: This is the easy one; the guy's not playing Sunday.

Questionable (Q): This remains the most dreaded player designation. By definition it means a player is “uncertain to play.” How uncertain is uncertain? There is no percentage or measurement scale leaving this classification rather vague. Whether a player ends up active or inactive often comes down to a game-time decision based on how he feels on game-day morning or how he performs during warm-ups. Final inactives are due 90 minutes before kickoff.

Doubtful (D): The doubtful designation means a player is unlikely to play that week. Rarely does a player labeled as doubtful end up playing, unless he experiences a major turnaround before game time.

Each week in the Saturday blog, we run down a list of key fantasy players, by position, who appear in the Friday injury report along with the injured body part as listed on the report, player status and any relevant developments or insight. The primary fantasy positions are covered (quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end).

This year there at the end of each positional section, there is a subgrouping of players, “Players Off Game Status Injury Report.” The probable tag no longer exists so players who would have been listed as probable in previous years are now simply removed from the report. This means there will be players who appear in the practice injury reports during the week, but will not appear on the game status report Friday since they are presumed active for gameday. They are included in this blog so that fantasy owners can see where players who were on the practice injury report during the week have been upgraded in advance of the games. At the end, key fantasy players listed Friday as "Out" for the week's games will appear as a group.

The Bears and the Packers played on Thursday night, but everyone else is playing this weekend and their fantasy-relevant injured players are represented here. Also, there is an early start Sunday (9:30 a.m. ET) for the two teams playing in London this week: The New Orleans Saints “visit” the Miami Dolphins. Good luck in Week 4, everyone!

Running Backs

Rob Kelley, Washington Redskins, rib, (Q): Kelley did not play last week after suffering a rib (chondral) cartilage injury in Week 2, but he appears on track to return for Monday night’s game in Arrowhead Stadium. Kelley was able to practice on a limited basis Thursday and Friday, and the additional week of rest undoubtedly did him some good with regard to his overall discomfort. These injuries are slow to heal and Kelley may be navigating intermittent rest during the week in order to play on weekends. The schedule works in Kelley’s favor, however, as the team has a bye in Week 5. The questionable designation conveys the possibility that Kelley could sit out again this week, but given that he was eager to return to practice just three days after suffering the injury and has participated in every practice since, it’s more likely he takes the field. He would likely wear rib pads for extra protection and his ability to endure four quarters of contact is unknown, but it seems he will have a chance to find out.

C.J. Prosise, Seattle Seahawks, ankle, (D): Prosise was a nonparticipant in practice throughout the week because of an ankle injury and is not expected to play. The rotating backfield of the Seahawks adds another twist this week if Prosise sits.

Wide Receivers

Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks, groin, (Q): Baldwin suffered a groin strain in the Week 3 game that became progressively worse and forced a fourth-quarter exit. Baldwin did not return to action. He was a nonparticipant in practice Wednesday and Thursday, but did participate Friday for limited work. Baldwin had expressed optimism earlier in the week that he would be able to take the field Sunday night and reiterated his stance on Friday after practice, but coach Pete Carroll would only call him a game-time decision. In other words, wait and see what happens during the 48 hours between Friday practice and a night game Sunday. Unfortunately, the true test of health comes only when the athlete elevates to game speed, regardless of how well a player is feeling when going through drills, routes or warm-ups. Whether or not the Seahawks are willing to take a chance with Baldwin when the Colts come to Century Link Field on Sunday night won’t be official until about 90 minutes before kickoff.

Tight Ends

Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins, rib/sternum, (Q): Reed entered last week’s contest as a game-time decision with an injury to his sternoclavicular (SC) joint and appears as if he will do the same this week. There were hints prior to the Week 3 game that Reed was more likely to sit than to play, including the severity of the pain he described, as well as his lack of participation in blocking drills which would have undoubtedly aggravated that pain. This week, his improved participation in practice would seem to signal a much better chance for Reed to play. Listed as a limited practice participant throughout the week, Reed took part in blocking drills and portions of team practice Thursday, according to ESPN.com’s John Keim. Following Saturday’s practice session, Reed again expressed optimism about his status for Monday. The team has a bye in Week 5, and while coach Jay Gruden stated that will not factor into Reed’s game status for Monday, it is certainly something comforting to look forward to for a player attempting to return from a painful injury. Reed made it clear that his inability to perform all his duties at tight end last week factored into the decision to rest; his improvement in those areas at practice certainly elevate his chances to take the field Monday night against the Chiefs.

Players Off Game Status Injury Report:

Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks, ankle: Graham escaped what could have been a serious injury for his left ankle when he was rolled up on from behind in Week 2. After just one day of practice last week, Graham returned to action despite a questionable designation and managed to catch seven balls for 72 yards, his best performance of the season. After a day of rest on Wednesday, Graham returned to full practices for the remainder of the week. His removal from the pregame injury report removes doubt from his status for this Sunday night contest against the Colts.

Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts, foot: Doyle was limited in Wednesday and Thursday practices because of his foot, but he returned to full practice on Friday. The Colts removed him from the game status injury report, which is helpful as the Colts don’t play until Sunday night in Seattle.

Out

This space is intended for a list of key players, not including those who have been moved to injured reserve status, who are officially listed as "Out" for the upcoming game.

Sam Bradford, QB, Minnesota Vikings, knee: Last week, after Bradford consulted with his orthopedic surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, there was immediate relief that no surgery was required, but it also became apparent that a return to action could take time. Andrews’ recommendations included rest to allow the symptoms to subside, and Bradford’s status was labeled as week-to-week. It is no surprise then that he is not ready to take the field just one week later. In fact, Bradford did not even return to practice, indicating the team is prepared to take a conservative approach with ramping up his activity, perhaps as a part of looking at the bigger picture of a long season. For Week 4, Case Keenum remains at the helm for the Vikings.

Tyler Eifert, TE, back, and John Ross, WR, knee, Cincinnati Bengals: ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported earlier this week that Eifert was expected to miss multiple weeks because of injury, and this will be his second consecutive absence this season. Eifert has said he has no timetable for return, and it certainly doesn’t sound as if that return will be anytime soon. Ross continues to nurse a knee injury and has not yet returned to practice. He too remains sidelined.

Matt Forte, RB, New York Jets, knee, toe: Forte suffered a turf toe injury in Week 3, and his inability to return to practice by Friday signaled early that he would miss this game. It is expected to be the Bilal Powell show on the ground for the Jets as they host the Jaguars.

Corey Davis, WR, Tennessee Titans, hamstring: Once again, Davis was absent from practice the entire week, and he sits out Week 4 against the Texans.

Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts, right shoulder: It appeared Luck might return to practice this week, but ultimately that did not happen. Even after he returns, it will likely take him time to be game ready. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported the team was eyeing an approximate target of Week 7. The situation remains fluid.

Mike Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers, back: Williams continued to participate daily in practice on a limited basis. The consistency with which he has been on the practice field is encouraging, but he will have to increase his involvement before he is declared game ready.

Games underway

Jay Ajayi, Miami Dolphins, knee, (Q): Ajayi has been listed as questionable for consecutive weeks now because of his knee, yet he has suited up each week. In fact, Ajayi practiced more this week than last. Last week, his only work day was Friday. This week, Ajayi was off on Wednesday, but was listed as a full participant both Thursday and Friday. Oh, incidentally, the Dolphins play in London this week, the city where Ajayi was born. As ESPN.com’s James Walker notes, this week is a “personal celebration” for the young running back who was an injured rookie when the team last played overseas. Expect Ajayi to play, barring a setback.

Adrian Peterson, New Orleans Saints, not injury related: Players listed on the injury report as “not injury related” don’t usually make this column; most of those players are either veterans getting an off day for rest or players getting a day off from the team for personal reasons. However, those days off usually come on Wednesday. Peterson’s initial listing as a nonparticipant in practice on a Thursday led to concern that there was an underlying injury, some potential alternative explanation for his lack of production thus far in the season. When the Saints listed his off day as not related to injury, and Peterson followed that up with a full day Friday, the health concerns were alleviated, at least temporarily. At 32 years old, Peterson is coming off a season lost to injury following knee surgery to repair his lateral meniscus. It would not be surprising to see him garner off days going forward.

Willie Snead, New Orleans Saints, hamstring, (Q): Well, it originally looked as though the Saints would see the return of Snead to the playing field Sunday, but his addition to the injury report with a hamstring ailment Friday and his questionable tag heading into Sunday’s game make that far from certain. Integrating with a team after being absent for three weeks is much more difficult when not participating in practice. Likewise, potential aggravation of a hamstring injury that could cause a receiver on the cusp of returning to miss additional extended time could be very costly. It seems as if the Saints have more reasons to give Snead an additional week off than to play him, but the official decision is not expected until game time. As a reminder, this game is being played in London and kicks off at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Rex Burkhead, New England Patriots, ribs, (D): Burkhead was not able to practice all of last week because of an injury to his ribs and was held out. This week, his first attempt at practice did not come until Friday, and even then it was limited. The rarely used doubtful tag suggests Burkhead will sit out again this week.

LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills, wrist: The sore wrist is still enough of a factor for McCoy to result in his appearing on the practice injury report. It is such a small factor that it hasn’t kept him from missing practice reps. This week, McCoy was listed as a full participant daily and, as usual, has been removed from the pregame injury report.

Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals, thigh: Bernard was limited both Wednesday and Thursday, but returned to a full practice Friday. The light work earlier in the week may have been largely proactive, given Bernard’s removal from the game status injury report.

Isaiah Crowell, shoulder and Duke Johnson Jr., shoulder, Cleveland Browns: When a team’s top two running backs appear on the injury report simultaneously, it is not a good sign. They were even dealing with injuries to the same region (shoulder). Both backs returned to full practice Friday, and both were removed from the pregame injury report. Crowell and Johnson should both be available when the Browns host the Bengals on Sunday.

Alfred Blue, Houston Texans, ankle: Blue keeps making improvements on the injury front. After missing the first two weeks of the season with a high ankle sprain, Blue came into Week 3 with a questionable designation. He didn’t end up on the playing field, but given that his practice participation was limited, it was not a surprise. This week, Blue was integrated into full practice daily and is now removed from the game status injury report. It would appear that from a health perspective, Blue is ready to go. Whether he has an opportunity to play remains to be seen, given the emergence of D’Onta Foreman.

Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions, hamstring, (Q): Golladay has not been much of a factor for the Lions since Week 1 and doesn’t appear as if he will be again this week. Limited to only portions of one practice early in the week, Golladay did not participate in any practice after Wednesday. It’s hard to imagine him taking the field this week or being in tip-top shape if he does.

Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers, knee: Benjamin had a scary moment when his left leg got bent underneath him, hyperflexing his knee and putting an extreme stretch on his quad. Benjamin left the game and remained on the sideline, icing his sore knee and thigh. Imaging on his ACL-reconstructed knee came back negative on Monday, and Benjamin quickly progressed from riding the stationary bike on the sideline Wednesday to full practices Thursday and Friday. His removal from the injury report reflects the Panthers’ confidence in Benjamin’s readiness to play.

Sammy Watkins, concussion, and Tavon Austin, concussion, Los Angeles Rams: Both Watkins and Austin left the Week 3 game with concussions. The 10-day break between games came at a useful time for the Rams. Both receivers were back in limited fashion on Wednesday, then followed that session with back-to-back full practices. Coach Sean McVay told reporters Thursday that the receiving pair was “good to go.” Their official removal from the injury report serves as confirmation.

Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh Steelers, illness: Bryant was dealing with a stomach virus and headaches this week, which led to consecutive missed practices on Wednesday and Thursday, according to ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler. Bryant returned to full practice on Friday and told Fowler he was “good to go.” His removal from the pregame injury report supports this.

Danny Amendola, knee, and Phillip Dorsett, knee, New England Patriots: Both Amendola and Dorsett were able to play last week after being listed as questionable, with Amendola also recovering from a concussion sustained in Week 1. This week, both players were limited in Wednesday and Thursday practices with an upgrade to full practice on Friday. Their removal from the injury report indicates both are expected to be available again in Week 4. Of note, fellow receiver Chris Hogan was on last week’s injury report with a knee ailment after taking a helmet to the leg in Week 2. He played in Week 3 and was not present on the practice injury report at all this week, suggesting the issue is entirely behind him.

Will Fuller, Houston Texans, shoulder: Fuller is coming off surgery to repair a clavicle (collarbone) fracture sustained in the preseason. He has been working his way back in limited practice the past couple of weeks, and this week, he upgraded to full practices daily. Even coach Bill O’Brien, usually quiet when it comes to a player with any type of injury status, indicated earlier in the week that he expected Fuller to play Sunday. Now eight weeks removed from the injury, Fuller will take the field Sunday when the Texans host the Titans.

Kenny Britt, Cleveland Browns, knee: The pattern for Britt was slightly altered this week. Normally a full participant throughout the week despite appearing on the injury report, Britt was held out of practice Wednesday and Thursday. He was listed as a full participant on Friday, but the Browns merely conducted a walk-through. Still, Britt’s removal from the injury report indicates the team expects to have him available Sunday.

Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans, hamstring: Walker was listed as a nonparticipant in Wednesday’s practice with a sore hamstring. His return to full practices both Thursday and Friday removed the uncertainty from his status. Walker’s removal from the pregame injury report cements his availability.

Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers, knee, (Q): Gordon was a late (Thursday) addition to the injury report in Week 3 with soreness in his left knee, raising concern on two levels: His left knee is the one on which he underwent microfracture surgery in early 2016 and a late-week problem is never encouraging. Gordon was active in Week 3, but he was forced to exit the game for a period of time because of the knee. He returned to finish out the game, but the worries about his knee health were elevated given the midgame exit. This week, Gordon was given Wednesday off to rest the knee, but he did return to practice on Thursday. Both Gordon and head coach Anthony Lynn expressed optimism about his availability for this Sunday’s contest against the Eagles and Gordon’s listing as a full practice participant Friday was encouraging, despite the fact that it was a light workout. Still, the questionable tag by definition indicates uncertainty about his status, and things can change -- for better or worse -- overnight. While Gordon is expected to play, fantasy owners should have an alternate plan in place as a precaution. This is a late afternoon game (4:05 p.m. ET start).

Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers, hip, (Q): Hyde, who was hurt in the Week 3 game against the Rams, originally was listed as questionable to return with a left hip injury. But return he did, finishing the game with a solid performance that included two touchdowns. It wasn’t especially surprising that Hyde was limited in practice early in the week, but when he remained limited at the end the week, his status for the game appeared less certain. On Friday, coach Kyle Shanahan indicated Hyde would be a game-time decision (never easy for fantasy owners when it is a 4:05 p.m. ET kickoff). Interestingly, when speaking with reporters post-practice Friday, Shanahan referenced an oblique injury for Hyde. An injury to the oblique muscles, which are part of the abdominal core musculature, can be very painful and limiting when it comes to rotational movement or with power activities such as explosive running or jumping. There is no doubt Hyde is dealing with some pain; the question becomes whether he can be effective in the presence of the discomfort. Given his performance last Thursday night, the concerns about effectiveness are somewhat alleviated and would suggest that Hyde, ultimately, will play. The bigger-picture concern is whether Hyde will be able to adequately recover if he does continue to play uninterrupted. The 49ers' bye does not come until mid-November in Week 11, so there is no built-in opportunity to rest for nearly two months. This will likely be a situation to monitor for a while.

Michael Crabtree, Oakland Raiders, chest, (D): Crabtree suffered a chest injury in Week 3 as he was hit going up to attempt to catch a pass. While X-rays were reported to be negative, and as coach Jack Del Rio pointed out, Crabtree was given medical clearance to return home with the team following the game (indicating no serious lung or other internal organ injury that would prevent flying), he appears to remain limited by the injury, and his status is uncertain. Crabtree practiced on only a limited basis Wednesday and Thursday, then was absent entirely from Friday’s practice, a topic Del Rio declined to elaborate on when questioned by reporters. The combination of the nature of his injury, the late absence from practice (albeit for unclear reasons) and the prospect of facing a strong Broncos defense -- in Denver -- for a late afternoon game stacks the odds against Crabtree heading into Sunday’s contest. (Note: On Saturday night, the Raiders downgraded Crabtree from questionable to doubtful. It now appears Crabtree will sit out Sunday's game.)

John Brown, quadriceps, and J.J. Nelson, hamstring, Arizona Cardinals, (Q): Last week, coach Bruce Arians said it would have been miraculous if Brown suited up. As expected, he did not. It certainly seemed as if he were still quite a ways from returning. Interestingly, his activity has picked up in practice this week, and now there is a reasonable possibility that Brown returns to the playing field. After taking part in portions of practice daily, Brown is listed as questionable, but coach Bruce Arians indicated he is expected to play. Just what that workload looks like in what will be Brown’s second game of the regular season is unknown although Arians made it clear it will be limited. Meanwhile, his teammate J.J. Nelson was active Monday night despite a hamstring injury, but his productivity was a sharp contrast from the prior week. In Week 2, Nelson recorded five catches for 120 yards and a score; in Week 3 he had zero catches and was targeted just three times. Nelson remained limited throughout the week in practice and may be limited in volume again in Sunday’s game.

Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders, knee: Cooper has been an injury report staple, and this week is no different. Limited reps on Wednesday are followed by full practices on Thursday and Friday with removal from the game status injury report. There are far more questions about the availability of Cooper’s teammate, Michael Crabtree, this week.