Injury concerns regarding players heading into the Sunday and Monday games can be critical. Each Saturday this entry will be dedicated to each player who appears on the official weekly NFL game status injury report and how his status may impact fantasy teams.
For those who may be new to this blog: Injury reports provide some insight into 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 is 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, so this classification remains 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, at the end of each positional section, there is a subgroup 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 game day. 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.
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears, right thumb, (D): Considering the injury to Cutler’s right (throwing) thumb forced him out of the Monday night game this week and was presumed to be a multi-week injury, it’s a bit surprising that Cutler even has a chance to suit up. Granted, the doubtful tag tells us the Bears are planning on starting Brian Hoyer, but Cutler has been trying to do what activity he can this week, even if he is not considered a practice participant. The oft-maligned quarterback is generally tougher than he is given credit for, but in the case of a thumb injury, it is as much about being effective as it is playing through pain. Cutler acknowledged Monday night that the interception he threw was the result of him not being able to adequately grip the ball. It certainly seems as if the Bears would not take those risks unnecessarily this week. Expect Hoyer to start.
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts, right shoulder, (Q): Last week we said the appearance of Luck on the practice injury report during the week with a removal Friday from the game status injury report might become a regular occurrence. Luck did indeed appear on the practice injury report this week but the pattern has changed. After not participating at all Wednesday, Luck returned to a limited practice Thursday followed by a full practice Friday. The bigger change? He is not off the game status injury report. Instead, Luck is listed as questionable, but coach Chuck Pagano suggested people are reading too much into his situation.
Really? It’s the Colts who have downgraded his status to questionable this week. Since questionable translates to “uncertain” to play, why wouldn’t there be more concern now considering Luck has been off the injury report the past two weeks? ESPN.com’s Mike Wells took a closer look at just how often Luck has appeared on the injury report along with how much physical contact he has absorbed early in the 2016 season. While it appears that Luck will make his Sunday start this week, the concern about his ability to stay healthy across the remainder of the season has merit.
Players Off Game Status Injury Report:
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals, hip: It’s worth noting players who are not on the game status injury report but who are listed on the practice injury report during the week. Dalton is one of them in Week 3. A full participant in practice daily, Dalton was nonetheless listed during the week with a hip ailment. The good news is that it hasn’t appeared to limit him in any way and he will be the starter for the Bengals when they host the Broncos Sunday.
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks, ankle: Even if Wilson wasn’t quite himself in Week 2, just one week after getting stepped on and suffering a high ankle sprain, his performance was impressive considering the injury. With another week of recovery under his belt, Wilson -- who practiced fully each day this week -- should be in even better shape when the 49ers come to visit Sunday.
Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs, knee, (D): Charles is again listed as doubtful after participating in practice on a limited basis, again working primarily with the scout team. Coach Andy Reid did say Charles was “a little bit better” this week than last but it remains to be seen whether next week is the week he makes his debut.
Thomas Rawls, Seattle Seahawks, shin, (D): Despite the Seahawks’ early reports that the injury Rawls suffered (a shin contusion after being kicked) was minor, he is unlikely to play in Week 3. It may have been minor on the surface but it was problematic enough to keep Rawls out of practice all week. The good news is that this latest injury is completely unrelated to the ankle injury that limited Rawls in the preseason, according to Seahawks’ head coach Pete Carroll. In the meantime, fantasy owners should expect a boost in work for Christine Michael.
Chris Ivory, Jacksonville Jaguars, not injury related -- illness, (Q): Ivory had a minor calf strain heading into Week 1 but appeared poised to participate in the season opener until he ended up in the hospital on game day with an undisclosed medical condition. While the Jaguars have not shared details related to the condition that sent Ivory to the hospital, he has made steady improvement since then, to the point of returning to practice on a limited basis Wednesday. On Thursday, Ivory upgraded to full practice and repeated the effort Friday. He is expected to play on Sunday, but his workload may be limited in his first outing.
Rashad Jennings, New York Giants, thumb, (Q): Jennings suffered a left thumb injury in Week 2 and has sported a cast with a protective wrap throughout the week. His participation on a limited basis throughout the week is encouraging for his game status this Sunday. ESPN.com’s Jordan Ranaan expects Jennings to play this week, noting he will likely wear similar protection on that thumb and may be forced to carry and catch the ball in his right hand. The fact Jennings practiced all week wearing what he is likely to wear in the game for thumb protection increases confidence in his ability to perform.
Players Off Game Status Injury Report:
Jerick McKinnon, Minnesota Vikings, toe: Without Adrian Peterson available for at least the next few months, the Vikings need McKinnon. Thankfully, it appears they -- and fantasy owners who drafted him along with Peterson -- will have him. McKinnon appeared on the practice injury report with a toe injury but practiced in full each day and will start for the Vikings on Sunday against the Panthers.
Matt Forte, New York Jets, knee: The knee is not a big worry for Forte or his fantasy owners as he was able to participate in practice fully both Thursday and Friday after a limited showing on Wednesday. His removal from the game status injury report also signals confidence in his health.
Matt Jones, Washington Redskins, shoulder: Jones remains on the practice injury report because of his shoulder but is participating fully each day. He is off the game status injury report again this week and is expected to make the start against the Giants.
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons, calf, (Q): Despite the questionable tag, Julio Jones says he will play Monday night. And he sounds confident not only in his game status but in the actual health of his calf, which kept him out of practice until Saturday. On Saturday, Jones returned to a limited workout, but coach Dan Quinn told reporters he “looked explosive in and out of his breaks.” For anyone who thinks Jones will serve simply as a decoy, Quinn’s remarks certainly imply that will not be the case. He noted they ran a range of plays during Saturday’s walk-through to see where Jones was and they were encouraged. The questionable tag is understandable given there are 48 hours until game time. Jones will likely take the field early to allow for plenty of warm-up but, as of now, he is expected to play against the Saints.
Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills, foot, (Q): Watkins did not practice one single day this week. Coach Rex Ryan acknowledged it isn’t looking good for Watkins to suit up Sunday but is willing to allow him another 48 hours before making a final decision about his status. It sounds as if the team will take it to the wire, perhaps allowing Watkins to test his foot in pregame warm-ups. Still, the fact that he had his foot stepped on this week complicates the situation, and regardless of whether he plays or not, Watkins is clearly still not back to his pre-injury self. In fact, he may now be experiencing more pain than he was a week ago when he indicated his foot felt more “tired” than painful.
If he does suit up this week, an ailing Watkins against an Arizona Cardinals defense could be a tough combination. Thankfully for fantasy owners who may be on the fence, Watkins’ status will be known early as this game kicks off at 1:00 p.m. ET.
Brandon Marshall, New York Jets, foot/knee, (Q): Marshall revealed quite a bit when he spoke to reporters on Friday. First, he confirmed that he sustained a foot injury on the same play that injured his knee in last Thursday’s game. (For anyone who saw the unnatural position forced on his left leg, it is no surprise that more than just his knee was ailing.) Second, he explained that a pregame Toradol injection, taken to help fend off the pain and inflammation associated with other issues, contributed to his ability to return to the game and play through the injuries. Marshall went on to describe what often happens post-game to athletes who get injured during a game but are surprisingly able to continue: The pain and swelling increase, limiting function.
“The problem with injuries is after a few hours, in the next day or two, there's a lot of blood flow to that area, so swelling increases," Marshall said. "Usually what you're fighting is getting the inflammation out, get the swelling out, and getting the flexibility back. So that's the deal.”
Coach Todd Bowles has labeled Marshall a game-time decision and it appears as if his status will very much come down to how he feels just before kickoff. Marshall says he wants to be on the field, noting he has missed very few games in his career, yet he also wants to be smart, understanding it is still very early in a long season and the risk of re-injury exists. There is no doubt his mobility will be limited if he plays, but that alone hasn’t stopped Marshall from providing fantasy value in the past. One only has to go back to the 2014 season when Marshall was with the Bears and he entered the game very questionable due to an ankle injury. To the surprise of many, Marshall played and while he wasn’t stretching the field with long runs, his size and physical ability allowed him to notch five receptions, three of which were touchdowns, against an equally surprised 49ers defense. His performance at less than full capacity makes this situation a tough call.
Unfortunately for fantasy owners, this game kicks off at 4:25 p.m. ET and everyone should have a backup plan in place, because the decision of whether or not he plays may go down to the wire.
Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears, knee, (Q): Jeffery is back on the injury report, but this time a soft tissue injury is not the culprit. Jeffery is dealing with a sore knee that limited him in practice Wednesday and kept him out of practice entirely on Thursday. On Friday, Jeffery was back on the practice field, an encouraging sign that he could be ready to go Sunday. It appears Jeffery is leaning towards playing, but fantasy owners will want to be sure to check the pregame inactives, keeping in mind this is a Sunday night game against the Cowboys.
Willie Snead, New Orleans Saints, toe, (Q): Ah, the dreaded Monday night game-time decision. That is what Snead will be after he made enough progress late in the week to be given the chance to play on Monday night. Snead's toe was injured when it was caught in the turf as he was tackled last week (“just kind of stretched the ligaments out”), and the Saints' wideout says his toe is feeling better but is not a hundred percent recovered. Like several other players dealing with injuries this week, Snead appears to recognize the challenge between balancing the desire to play, especially against a rival like the Falcons on a Monday night, against the concern for worsening the situation and compromising the remainder of the season.
Turf toe injuries can present with a broad range of severity, and Snead’s concern is valid. If the ligaments are “stretched,” as he claimed, but the joint remains relatively stable, that is a positive. If the damage worsens to tear the deepest ligaments or the capsule encasing the joint, the situation becomes far more severe.
The possibilities for Snead on Monday night include sitting out, playing without incident, playing on a limited basis by design and playing but suffering an in-game setback that not only forces an early exit but worsens the injury situation, all of which make for a very tough decision for fantasy owners. At the very least, for those who will wait until Monday night to make that call, having a backup in that game is critical.
T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts, knee, (Q): Hilton first showed up on this week’s injury report on Thursday as a limited participant. He did not practice at all Friday. With teammate Donte Montcrief out of the picture for multiple weeks, the Colts need Hilton on the field. Perhaps the best way to help ensure that he’s able to be effective is to give him rest during the week. It’s worth noting that Hilton appeared on the injury report last week as well, then played the entire game. It appears he will suit up Sunday but fantasy owners will want to be sure to check pregame inactives.
DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins, hamstring, (Q): Parker was listed as questionable last week, but he was deemed healthy enough to make his season debut. The results were promising as Parker notched eight catches for 106 yards. The Dolphins held him to limited practice throughout the week, but the expectation is he will play again in Week 3.
Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks, knee, (Q): Lockett suffered a knee injury during last week’s game but was able to return in the fourth quarter. This week Lockett was limited in practice Wednesday but upgraded to full on Thursday and Friday. Despite his listing as questionable, head coach Pete Carroll told reporters Friday that Lockett should play. Fantasy owners may want to double check the pregame inactives to be sure.
Josh Doctson, Washington Redskins, Achilles, (Q): Doctson has now played in two consecutive games and appears poised to play in his third, despite still being listed as questionable. Doctson is still being held to limited practice reps throughout the week, and his activity in games is still being controlled as well.
Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans, hamstring, (Q): Wright has missed the first two games because of his hamstring injury and is in line to miss a third. He is making progress in that he is now listed as a limited participant in practice each day, but all reports suggest he will be sidelined for another week.
Players Off Game Status Injury Report:
Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars, illness: Robinson missed practice Wednesday due to illness but was able to participate fully both Thursday and Friday. He is off the game status injury report, which indicates the team plans on having him in their lineup Sunday.
Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos, hip: Last week Thomas was coming off a hip injury that originally looked as if it might cost him some playing time. The 10 days between the Week 1 and Week 2 games allowed Thomas some extra recovery time, however, and he not only played in Week 2, he was able to be on the field for the bulk of the game, posting 90 receiving yards in the process.
Perhaps more importantly, he appeared to come out of last week’s game without any major setbacks. Although he remained on the practice injury report this week while continuing to receive treatment, Thomas was a full participant in practice daily. He is off the injury report heading into the Week 3 game and is expected to make his usual start.
Eric Decker, shoulder and Quincy Enunwa, ribs, New York Jets: Unlike his teammate Brandon Marshall (who is questionable for Sunday’s game), there is no question as to Decker’s status. He expressed confidence earlier in the week that he would play, despite being listed as limited during Wednesday’s practice. Decker was a full participant both Thursday and Friday and the team moved him off the injury report, indicating he is expected to play. Enunwa has been receiving treatment since injuring his ribs in Week 1 but he played in Week 2 and, after practicing fully all week, will play again in Week 3. Should Marshall be inactive, Enunwa is likely to see even more opportunities on Sunday.
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals, knee: This has been a pattern for Fitzgerald since the start of the season. A preseason MCL sprain has resulted in continued treatment on Fitzgerald’s knee during the week and limited practice on Wednesday but by Friday he is off the injury report and ready to roll. Oh, and he’s been the most productive Cardinals’ receiver through the first two weeks.
DeSean Jackson, Washington Redskins, knee/ankle: Jackson appeared on the injury report with two lower extremity ailments accompanied by a non-participation level Wednesday. He returned to limited practice Thursday and was confident when speaking to the media about his expectation of playing in Sunday’s game. That confidence appears well-founded as Jackson upgraded to full practice Friday and was removed from the game status injury report.
Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings, groin: Here’s what you never like to see: A team’s star wide receiver goes on the injury report on Friday as a “did not participate” because of a groin injury. You do like to see his name off of the game status injury report however, a sign that the Vikings expect him to play Sunday in Carolina. ESPN.com’s Ben Goessling reports coach Mike Zimmer said Diggs was held out for precautionary reasons. Given the team’s lengthy injury list, this may have been a very wise move. Expect Diggs to make his Sunday start against the Panthers.
Markus Wheaton, Pittsburgh Steelers, shoulder: Wheaton missed the first two weeks of the season with a shoulder injury but was making strides last week when he returned to practice. This week Wheaton upgraded to full practice each day and his removal from the injury report indicates he will be active Sunday.
Tyrell Williams, San Diego Chargers, shoulder: Williams was a full participant in practice throughout the week and his status was never really in doubt. His removal from the final injury report cements his status for Sunday’s game against the Colts.
Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks, knee: Baldwin got knocked around in Week 2 and ended the game with a sore knee and an ailing back. The back spasms resolved and an MRI on the knee came back negative, allowing Baldwin to participate in practice as early as Wednesday. By Thursday he was a full participant, and he repeated the effort Friday. Now off the injury report, Baldwin is expected to play Sunday.
Mohamed Sanu, Atlanta Falcons, ankle: Sanu played last week despite being on the practice report because of his ankle, and he will do so again Monday night. Sanu got a rest day on Thursday, returned to limited practice Friday and was listed as a full participant Saturday. His removal from the game status injury report further underscores the expectation that he will be active.
Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans, hamstring, (Q): Walker was not a participant in practice Wednesday, a limited participant Thursday, then didn't participate again on Friday. The up and down of his practice status raises questions about just how healthy Walker is, even if he ends up playing Sunday. Coach Mike Mularkey certainly didn’t provide encouragement when he told the Tennessean Walker wasn’t coming along as expected. On Thursday, Walker insisted he would play, saying there was “no chance” he’d miss the game. This is the time to remember that players are always more optimistic about their status than anyone else -- and that optimism doesn’t always translate to game day. Whether sitting out Friday was intended to improve his chances of suiting up or simply give him additional rest -- or both -- is not clear, but the bottom line is that Walker’s status appears as if it will come down to a game-time decision.
Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers, hamstring, (D): The 36 year-old tight end is not likely to see the field Sunday after not practicing at all this week due to a hamstring injury. Although the Chargers have not ruled him out officially, the doubtful tag indicates he is unlikely to play. Coach Mike McCoy noted that the veteran doesn’t need much practice time to be able to play, thus allowing the window to remain open until Sunday. He has, however, been praising Hunter Henry this week, suggesting he is in line for a bigger receiving role if Gates is sidelined. The Chargers have already lost key players to season-ending injury (Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead both suffered torn ACLs); it’s hard to imagine Gates risking something worse by returning to action too soon.
Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune posted this note about the expected promotion of tight end Asante Cleveland from the practice squad today, further adding to the likelihood that Gates sits.
Chargers expected to promote TE Asante Cleveland from practice squad today. Antonio Gates (hamstring) doubtful vs. Colts. Must clear spot.
— Michael Gehlken (@sdutGehlken) September 24, 2016
This game tips at 4:25 p.m. ET so fantasy owners are advised to make alternate plans.
Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals, ankle, (D): The doubtful status represents an improvement for Eifert who in prior weeks was ruled out on Friday in advance of the Sunday games. Eifert is clearly making progress in his workload lately, returning to team practice on a limited basis. Still, the doubtful tag means it is unlikely that Eifert will play, which is not a surprise as he said two weeks ago he was targeting a return in Week 4. It is starting to look like that is indeed a possibility.
Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions, back, (Q): Ebron is a frequent visitor to the injury report, and he is there again this week -- not because of the ankle injury he sustained in the preseason but because of his back. After not practicing Wednesday, Ebron increased his participation level Thursday to limited and Friday to full. The designation of questionable indicates the team is not quite ready to make him a lock to be active, but ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein believes he will take the field. Fantasy owners considering using Ebron should be sure to check pregame inactives.
Players Off Game Status Injury Report:
Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks, knee: Graham remains on the practice injury report during the week (limited Wednesday, full Thursday and Friday) but off the game status injury report. He played over eighty percent of the offensive snaps in Week 2; now it is just a question of whether his fantasy production will increase.
Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings, groin: Rudolph’s injury may be under the radar given that he does not appear on the game status injury report, but it was enough to limit him in practice Wednesday. Rudolph was back to full practice Thursday and Friday, which explains his removal from the report. Still, this is worth documenting given that Rudolph has an extensive injury history, including core muscle repair surgery two years ago. It appears the current issue is not enough to threaten his game status, but the hope is certainly that it does not turn into something bigger.
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.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings, knee: Peterson tore the lateral meniscus in his right knee during the Week 2 Sunday night game. He underwent surgery Thursday, and the team issued a statement confirming the meniscus was repaired and there was no other structural damage. They also indicated Peterson’s rehab would begin immediately. The team placed Peterson on injured reserve and the soonest he could return, should he become the player designated by the Vikings for return, would be Week 11. The typical timetable for recovery from a lateral meniscus repair ranges from three months to up to six months, making it highly unlikely Peterson returns before December. It’s worth noting that nothing about Peterson is typical, and it will be worth monitoring his progress.
Arian Foster, RB, Miami Dolphins, hamstring: Foster entered the Week 2 contest with a hamstring ailment left over from the preseason. It didn’t appear to be limiting him, but now he has another issue to address. Foster sustained a groin injury in last week’s game and will now get this week off to rest. Despite reassurances the injury is minor, Foster -- already coming off an Achilles repair to start the season -- couldn’t practice the entire week. Better for him to sit now than to force a return and provoke a major injury. Jay Ajayi is expected to get the start this week with Kenyan Drake also seeing some work.
Donte Moncrief, WR, Indianapolis Colts, shoulder: Moncrief suffered a fractured scapula (shoulder blade) and is expected to miss at least a month.
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers, hamstring: Stewart injured his hamstring in Week 2, and the Panthers have already indicated he will miss several weeks. There is likely to be a committee approach to replacing Stewart involving Cameron Artis-Payne, Fozzy Whittaker with some Mike Tolbert near the goal line in the mix.
Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Chicago Bears, hamstring: Carey was unable to participate in practice throughout the week after sustaining a hamstring injury in the Week 2 game. Originally listed as doubtful, Carey did not travel with the team to Dallas and was ruled out on Saturday.
Kenneth Dixon, RB, Baltimore Ravens, knee: Dixon is out again in Week 3 as he continues his recovery from a sprained MCL. He has yet to practice with the team although he has been increasing his workouts.
Corey Coleman, WR, Cleveland Browns, hand: Coleman broke his hand in practice Thursday. According to a statement from the team, Coleman will not require surgery but is expected to miss four to six weeks.
Josh McCown, QB, Cleveland Browns, left shoulder: The good news is that the injury is to McCown’s non-throwing shoulder. The bad news is that he has a fracture. The Browns confirmed Friday that McCown actually has a break in his collarbone (clavicle).
Virgil Green, TE, Denver Broncos, calf: Green was not able to practice all week due to a calf injury, and he will be out this week when the Broncos travel to Cincinnati.
Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles, rib: Ertz is still not practicing with the team and will sit another week. The Eagles have a bye in Week 4 and it will be worth watching what Ertz does in practice coming out of it. A Week 5 return might be a possibility, presuming he gets medical clearance.
Be sure to check out Fantasy Football Now, Sundays on ESPN2 at 11:00 a.m. ET for last-minute inactives, rankings, injury impact and more!