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 NFL game-status injury report and how their status might impact fantasy teams.
For those who might 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 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 Friday evening. Teams playing 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, 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 season, 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 seasons 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 because 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.
Three games will have been played in advance of Sunday. On Thursday night, the Denver Broncos beat the Indianapolis Colts. On Saturday, the Detroit Lions took care of the Chicago Bears at Ford Field and the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Los Angeles Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium in the night game. There are 13 games yet to be played between the Sunday slate and Monday night, and those fantasy-relevant injured players are represented here.
Good luck in Week 15, everyone!
Cordarrelle Patterson, Oakland Raiders, hip, 8:30 p.m. ET: Patterson has been playing through this hip injury, so it comes as little surprise he is expected to do so again. In fact, Patterson has increased his practice involvement this past week, participating fully each day. He is off the pregame injury report and is expected to be available against the Cowboys on Sunday night.
Mohamed Sanu, Atlanta Falcons, knee, Monday night: Limited practices daily were enough to get Sanu removed from the pregame injury report heading into the team's Monday night game. Expect Sanu to play again in Week 15.
Given that these are fantasy playoff times, everyone gets some extra consideration. With that in mind, there are IDP folks who merit a mention.
Sean Lee, LB, Dallas Cowboys, hamstring/back, (Q), 8:30 p.m. ET: There may be no player more integral to the Cowboys' success -- certainly on defense -- than linebacker Sean Lee. Last week, in his first game back in a month, Lee recorded 18 tackles, 10 of them solo. Lee is well aware that injuries across his career have affected his availability, a trait often regarded as equally important as the innate skill he possesses. Lee noted this week that he and the athletic training staff have come up with a plan to help manage his hamstring issue in-game, including sitting out portions of the third quarter. As far as practice, Lee was limited both Wednesday and Thursday, but did not practice at all on Friday. How that bodes for his Sunday status is unclear, but reading into his comment from earlier in the week, it certainly sounds as if Lee intends to take the field. "I know I just have to find a way to stay in every game and be a part of every game," Lee said. Fantasy players certainly hope that will be the case.
This space is intended for a list of key players, not including those who had previously been moved to injured-reserve status, who are officially listed as "out" for the upcoming game.
Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars, quadriceps: Originally listed as questionable, Fournette was ruled out Saturday, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen. Fournette has made a regular appearance on the injury report since he rolled his ankle in the Week 6 contest against the Rams. Since the team's bye in Week 8, other than one game (a coach's decision, not a consequence of injury), Fournette has played each week. As a result, it would have been easy to gloss over the practice injury report, presuming it to be a continuation of the rookie's regular pattern. This week, however, there was a change to that pattern. Specifically, Fournette was dealing with a different injury, one that ultimately jeopardized his chance to take the field Sunday against the Texans. He is now dealing with a sore quad, and even Fournette sounded unsure of his chances earlier in the week, saying he hoped to play but thought he would need to practice some Friday to be able to go. His inability to practice all week hinted at Fournette being unlikely to play, and that was confirmed Saturday.
Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals, concussion: Originally listed as questionable on Friday's pregame injury report, Mixon was not cleared to return to action and will miss his second consecutive game. Mixon was originally injured when the Bengals played the Steelers on Monday night in Week 13.
Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders, ankle: Cooper attempted to play at less than 100 percent health last Sunday and quickly aggravated his left-ankle sprain. He did not practice at all this week and was ruled out in advance of the game.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Arizona Cardinals, neck: Peterson was not making strides with the neck injury that surfaced in Week 13. This week, the Cardinals announced that he had been placed on injured reserve.
Damien Williams, RB, Miami Dolphins, shoulder: Williams returned to a light practice Thursday, his first since injuring his shoulder in Week 12. He has not progressed to the point of returning to play, however, and the Dolphins ruled him out in advance of Sunday's game.
John Brown, WR, Arizona Cardinals, toe: This will now mark one month of consecutive missed games for Brown as the result of a turf-toe injury.
Allen Hurns, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars, ankle: Hurns remains out due to a right-ankle sprain suffered in Week 10.
Already kicked off
Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills, knee, 1 p.m. ET: Taylor missed last Sunday's game with a patellar-tendon contusion (deep bruising of the tendon that anchors the large muscle on the front of the thigh -- the quadriceps -- to the shin bone) in his left knee. Although Taylor had managed a little bit of practice at the end of the week, he wasn't deemed healthy enough to take the field. This appears to have been a very wise idea in hindsight given the extreme weather conditions -- mostly in the way of slippery snow -- at New Era Field. This past week, however, Taylor was able to increase his practice activity and demonstrate improved mobility. He was convincing enough in practice that he was removed from the pregame injury report and is the unquestioned starter for Week 15. This Sunday, it is Nathan Peterman who sits out (he started in place of Taylor last Sunday but left the game early with a concussion). Joe Webb would have to replace Taylor in the event of an injury, as he did for Peterman in Week 14.
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers, right shoulder, 1 p.m. ET: Newton maintains his regular spot on the practice injury report because of his right shoulder. He is also removed from the pregame injury report in usual fashion, indicating he is expected to take his customary spot on the field Sunday.
Tom Brady, New England Patriots, Achilles, 4:25 p.m. ET: Brady remains on the practice injury report with Achilles soreness, but he also remains off the pregame injury reports. As usual, Brady will take his place under center in Week 15.
Matt Forte, New York Jets, knee, (Q), 1 p.m. ET: Forte is again listed as questionable because of his balky knee and is again expected to be a game-time decision. Although the 32-year-old has played more often than not, the determining variable each week seems to be the swelling and soreness in his knee. After a large workload in Week 13, Forte touched the ball far less last Sunday. Between his uncertain status and a switch at quarterback for the Jets (with Bryce Petty replacing the injured Josh McCown), Forte becomes a risky play during fantasy playoffs.
Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers, shoulder, 1 p.m. ET: Despite proving he could play in Week 13 after being listed as questionable, McCaffrey remained on the practice injury report because of his shoulder. He has practiced fully throughout the week and is off the pregame injury report, indicating he will play Sunday against the Packers.
Kerwynn Williams, Arizona Cardinals, ribs, 1 p.m. ET: In the absence of Adrian Peterson, Williams has stepped up his involvement in the offense by increasing his number of carries each week, and he has done so despite cracked ribs. Each week removed from the original injury has him improving, and this past week Williams practiced in full each day. His removal from the pregame injury report cements his status as starter for the Cardinals on Sunday.
Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints, concussion, 1 p.m. ET: Kamara left the Week 14 contest after suffering a concussion on the opening drive. He might have benefited from the 10-day break between games, since the Saints last played Thursday night. Kamara returned to practice as a full participant Wednesday and never looked back. The Saints indicated that he did clear the concussion protocol, and Kamara is expected to play Sunday.
Devin Funchess, Carolina Panthers, shoulder, (Q), 1 p.m. ET: Funchess was listed as questionable last Sunday but ended up playing against the Vikings, managing three catches for 59 yards and a score. Again this past week, Funchess was held out of Friday's practice, more for maintenance and rest purposes as opposed to a downgrade based on a setback. Since the departure of Kelvin Benjamin, Funchess has moved up to the No. 1 spot at wide receiver, making his availability Sunday that much more crucial. He is indeed expected to play as the Panthers host the Packers.
Mike Wallace, Baltimore Ravens, ankle, (Q), 1 p.m. ET: Wallace participated in only one practice this past week after having two days to rest his sore ankle. On Friday, he was listed as a limited participant and given the questionable tag for Sunday's game. Despite the fact questionable means "uncertain" to play, Wallace seemed confident he would be on the field. Not only did he say he would play, Wallace told ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley he would be operating at "about 99.9 percent." That seems pretty good. The Ravens visit the Browns on Sunday, and, according to Wallace, he will be running out of the tunnel with his teammates when they take the field.
Kelvin Benjamin, Buffalo Bills, knee, (Q), 1 p.m. ET: It should come as no surprise that Benjamin is going to contend with some soreness intermittently across the remainder of the season. After all, he has a confirmed meniscus tear and just worked his way back into game play last Sunday. Benjamin was able to practice daily, albeit on a limited basis. It stands to reason that Benjamin should be active for Week 15 after consecutive practices, but the questionable tag means fantasy players should be sure to check pregame inactive reports.
Ted Ginn Jr., New Orleans Saints, rib, (Q), 1 p.m. ET: Ginn is a bit of a surprise; we're not accustomed to seeing him on the injury report. He has been limited in practice throughout this past week, undoubtedly in an effort to avoid aggravating sore ribs. Ginn told reporters he underwent an X-ray, which showed he did not fracture any ribs. The expectation is that he will play Sunday, but be sure to check the pregame inactives.
Sterling Shepard, New York Giants, hamstring, 1 p.m. ET: Shepard played last Sunday after entering the game listed as questionable. While his production was limited, he appeared to emerge no worse for the wear. He raised some concern this past week, however, when he resurfaced on the injury report Thursday as a limited participant. He repeated the effort Friday, and his removal from the pregame injury report indicates he is expected to play.
Robby Anderson, New York Jets, hamstring, 1 p.m. ET: Anderson appears to have improved from the hamstring scare that threatened his status in Week 14. Anderson was a full participant throughout this week and is also removed from the team's pregame injury report. When he takes the field Sunday, it will be with Petty under center, but these two developed a rapport last season. Perhaps it will be rekindled.
Marqise Lee, Jacksonville Jaguars, foot, 1 p.m. ET: The only difference in Lee's listing this week is that his foot is named as the injured body part instead of his knee. Given that he was involved in practice daily (more than in past weeks) and his removal from the pregame injury report, fantasy players should expect Lee to contribute as he usually does.
Chris Hogan, New England Patriots, shoulder, (Q), 4:25 p.m. ET: Hogan returned to action in Week 14 for the first time in more than a month, but his production was limited, much to the disappointment of those who started him in their fantasy playoffs. It's fair to point out that Hogan had only just returned to practice in the week ahead of the game in which he returned to play, still perhaps less than 100 percent recovered from an injury that resulted from a big hit. It's also worth noting that the Patriots were also without Rob Gronkowski in Week 14, as he was serving a one-game suspension. The absence of Gronkowski might well have affected Hogan, who managed only one reception, although he was targeted five times. This Sunday, Hogan is one week further along in his recovery and the Patriots get their star tight end back in the lineup. Both work in Hogan's favor. Expect him to take the field Sunday as the Patriots visit the Steelers.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers, hamstring, (Q), 4:25 p.m. ET: Smith-Schuster had a hamstring ailment that was labeled "small" by his head coach, yet it cost him a game in Week 12. Perhaps it was a proactive measure designed to prevent a small soft-tissue injury from turning into a bigger one, but it would seem that it is rearing its head again now. Smith-Schuster was added to the injury report Thursday in a limited session and was limited again Friday. The good news is that he was able to work out on back-to-back days; the less-good news is that despite sitting out last Sunday's game (due to suspension), the speedy wide receiver is still contending with a hamstring ailment. This is a late game, so for those considering playing Smith-Schuster, be sure to have a backup plan in the event he sits.
Robert Woods, Los Angeles Rams, shoulder, 4:05 p.m. ET: After Woods injured his shoulder in Week 11, coach Sean McVay indicated the injury wasn't as severe as the Rams thought it might be. He later hinted at a Week 15 return, then retreated from that statement, suggesting there was no timetable. Either way, Woods is now going to make that Week 15 projection come true after putting in daily practices this past week, including back-to-back full practices Thursday and Friday. While the matchup against the Seahawks might be tough, it's not necessarily as daunting as it might have been at the start of the season due to the slew of injuries in Seattle. The removal of Woods from the pregame injury report confirms he is expected to play.
Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings, ankle, (Q), 1 p.m. ET: Rudolph was in a walking boot after last Sunday's game due to an ankle injury, and his status was not looking good after he failed to practice even once. Rudolph was listed as doubtful when the team filed its Friday pregame injury report and seemed almost certain to sit Week 15 out. On Saturday, Rudolph was upgraded to questionable, apparently having improved enough that the Vikings believe he has a chance to take the field against the Bengals. Naturally, the concern is that Rudolph could take the field, aggravate what will clearly be a less than fully recovered ankle injury and make an early exit (see: Cooper, Amari).
Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles, concussion, 1 p.m. ET: In Week 14, it initially appeared Ertz was on track to play, but ultimately he was not cleared to return to game action. It was a different story ahead of Week 15, as Ertz was cleared from the concussion protocol earlier in the week. He was a full participant in practice for three consecutive days and was removed from the pregame injury report. Ertz is fully expected to play Sunday when the Eagles visit the New York Giants.
Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers, foot, 1 p.m. ET: Olsen returned to action last Sunday after resting his sore foot in Week 13. Early in the game, Olsen got his foot rolled up on, and it appeared he might be headed for another early exit. He did indeed leave, but it was just for a few plays as he got further reinforcement for his foot and ankle with additional tape. Once he came back, he remained in the game, ultimately playing a total of 59 snaps -- more than twice as many as he did in his initial return from injury. Still, he had zero receptions on a single target. This past week, Olsen was a full participant in practice daily, an uptick from previous weeks. It appears he is continuing to progress in his return to health, but it is hard to count on his production when it has been so limited to this point.
Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills, knee, 1 p.m. ET: Clay is often listed as questionable, so his removal from the pregame injury report is a big improvement. Although his post-surgical knee keeps him on the practice injury report, Clay was on the field daily (limited Wednesday and Thursday and full participation Friday). He is again expected to take the field for the Bills.
Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks, ankle, 4:05 p.m. ET: Graham has now graduated from a questionable tag to being removed from the pregame injury report. Given his recent production, it doesn't seem to matter what he does during the week. It appears he will be a regular on the practice injury report for the remainder of the season, but no one will mind if it leads to increased Sunday productivity.
Landon Collins, S, New York Giants, ankle, (D), 1 p.m. ET: Collins has never missed a game in his career, but it appears that's about to change. The standout safety injured his left ankle last week in the game against the Cowboys. This is the same ankle Collins injured (high ankle sprain) earlier this season, although the exact nature of this injury is unclear. Although he has said it is a mild injury, it may still be too much to get past in time for this week. Collins did participate in a limited practice on Thursday, but returned to not participating on Friday. Even though he might want to play despite the injury, the team's designation of "doubtful" indicates their lack of confidence in his ability to take the field on Sunday. The fact they didn't rule him out, however, leaves the door ajar -- but it appears to be a very narrow opening.
Be sure to check out Fantasy Football Now on Sunday on ESPN2 at 10 a.m. ET (note new start time -- a full three hours of news and analysis) for last-minute inactives, rankings, injury impact and more!