Injury concerns regarding players heading into the Sunday and Monday games can be critical. Each week, this Saturday blog entry will be dedicated to information on those who appear on the official Friday NFL injury report and how their status may affect 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 their injury reports several times a week, identifying the body part that is involved in the injury. Early in the week, these reports will indicate whether a player is not practicing, is limited in practice or is a full participant in practice. On Fridays, all players on the injury report are assigned one of the following designations by their teams: probable, questionable, doubtful or out. The designations in this blog 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.
Probable (P): This designation indicates a player is expected to play, barring a setback between the final injury report and kickoff.
Questionable (Q): This is the most dreaded player designation, yet it manages to be the one most frequently utilized by teams (sometimes to keep everyone guessing). It means a player's status is on the fence; there is technically a 50-50 chance that he's on the field come game time, although some teams utilize the questionable designation far more broadly. Whether a player ends up active 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 has theoretically less than a 25 percent chance of playing 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). At the end, key fantasy players listed Friday as "out" for that week's games will appear as a group.
Good luck in Week 2, everyone!
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys, back (P): Romo is likely to be a regular here given that he is routinely getting Wednesdays off to rest. As long as he returns to full practice on Wednesdays and Thursdays, there should be no concerns. Romo is expected to play in Week 2.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions, right upper arm (P): Stafford took a hit to his right upper arm that rendered it weak and affected him late in last week’s game, but he insists it’s no longer an issue. Stafford was a full participant in practice throughout the week and the probable designation indicates he is expected to take the field Sunday against the Vikings.
Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders, right hand (P): Carr had a hand injury that led to an MRI. Originally the team feared he might miss Week 2 and were considering a replacement. However, the absence of a significant injury meant Carr could practice fully this week and he is expected to start Sunday against the Ravens.
LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills, hamstring (Q): The severity of McCoy’s preseason hamstring injury makes him at risk for re-injury. McCoy also acknowledged he was not 100 percent heading into the Bills’ season opener. He played a significant number of snaps in Week 1 but was not at his best. Thus, it was no surprise that he had to step out of practice Thursday due to feeling discomfort in his previously injured hamstring. Coach Rex Ryan described it as “hamstring tightness” and said he is “cautiously optimistic” about McCoy’s availability for Sunday. McCoy did return to the practice field for individual drills on Friday, suggesting the setback was not serious and increasing the likelihood of his ability to suit up in Week 2. But if he wasn’t 100 percent last week, he certainly won’t be three days after this flare-up either, something to keep in mind as Sunday approaches.
Justin Forsett, shoulder (P) and Lorenzo Taliaferro, knee (P), Baltimore Ravens: Forsett gave fantasy owners a scare when he turned up on the injury report Wednesday with a shoulder ailment. The award for the straight-to-the-point tweet of the week goes to ESPN.com’s Jamison Hensley, who provided reassurance on Thursday when Forsett returned to practice.
— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) September 18, 2015
Hensley also noted that Forsett was specifically testing the shoulder in practice and emerged no worse for the wear. After another practice Friday and a probable tag, there is no doubt Forsett will be available on Sunday.
Teammate Taliaferro has been rehabbing from a sprained MCL suffered in the preseason and first returned to practice on a limited basis last Friday. He increased his practice participation this week and is also expected to be available Sunday for his first game action of the season.
Tre Mason, thigh (Q) and Todd Gurley, knee (Q), St. Louis Rams: Mason sat out the season opener with a balky right hamstring that gave him trouble throughout the preseason. He had no practice sessions prior to last week’s game so his absence did not come as a surprise. Mason was back in practice this week, participating fully both Wednesday and Friday (Thursday was an off day so the injury report reflects a simulated practice).
Rookie Todd Gurley is getting everyone excited simply by how good he looks in practice. Gurley has now had a chance to get more physical in practice and so far is responding well. However, there is nothing that can quite simulate an NFL game, and the Rams seem inclined to protect their investment to the best of their ability. ESPN.com’s Nick Wagoner labels Mason “a better bet to play” than Gurley despite both being listed as questionable. Coach Jeff Fisher has not offered anything more specific than saying Gurley “has a chance” to play this week, but it wouldn’t come as a surprise if his debut is delayed one more week.
C.J. Spiller, New Orleans Saints, knee (Q): Spiller has been invisible during his recovery from arthroscopic knee surgery and the Saints have offered very little -- as in nothing -- about the nature of his surgery or his status. Things changed this week when Spiller practiced daily on a limited basis. The Saints aren’t giving any hints as to whether Spiller will actually play this week or any limitations if he does suit up. Spiller told reporters he is not personally shy about letting people know he’s coming; he intends to make an impact whether defenses prepare for him or not. But whether that impact comes this week or next remains to be seen. Be sure to check our pregame inactives list for Spiller’s status. Thankfully, this is an early game.
Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers, knee (P): No worries when it comes to Stewart’s status. While the cynics may express a lack of surprise at Stewart’s appearance on the injury report this week, appearances can be deceiving. Like other veterans who get a day off during the week to proactively protect their joints – such as Tony Romo (back) and Percy Harvin (hip) -- Stewart had a day off Wednesday to protect his knees (and probably his feet and ankles as well). He resumed full practice Thursday and Friday and is expected to start Sunday.
Chris Ivory, New York Jets, groin (Q): Ivory was limited in practice this week with a groin injury but the indications are that it is a mild strain based on the Jets’ confidence in Ivory’s availability. According to ESPN.com’s Ohm Youngmisuk, coach Todd Bowles said Ivory’s groin issue is not a concern and he should be available Monday. However, smart fantasy owners will have a backup plan in place, just in case.
Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers, shoulder (P): The best news coming out of the Packers’ Week 1 contest, besides the win, was that Cobb appeared to suffer no setbacks with regards to his shoulder. As Cobb acknowledged before the start of the season, his shoulder is going to bother him for several weeks. He is still at risk for a setback if he directly falls on the vulnerable AC joint or absorbs a pointed blow to that right shoulder. But he said he would play fearlessly and he did. Expect that to continue when the Packers face the Seahawks Sunday night.
Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears, hamstring (Q): Jeffery managed to get through Week 1 without a setback, although he did appear limited at times during the game. He was off the injury report to start the week, participating fully in practice, but things changed Thursday afternoon. According to coach John Fox, Jeffery experienced “hamstring tightness” after practice on Thursday and was subsequently held out of practice on Friday. The late-week setback will likely make everyone more cautious and the questionable tag feels optimistic. Jeffery’s teammate Matt Forte -- who could have an expanded role this week, according to ESPN.com’s Jeff Dickerson -- appeared resigned to playing without the team’s top wideout. “We don’t have another Alshon on the team, so obviously it’s going to hurt,” said Forte.
If there is a positive to be found here, it’s that wide receivers Eddie Royal and Marquess Wilson, both of whom appeared on the injury report last week, are no longer on the report and are expected to play in Week 2.
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons, hamstring (P): Perhaps the best coach response to a question regarding a player’s availability this week came from Dan Quinn, who when asked about his level of concern regarding Jones, simply replied, “None.” Thank you, said fantasy owners everywhere. After Jones put on a crazy impressive display in Week 1, it stands to reason he would have some soreness in his hamstrings. The proactive approach was to hold him out of practice Wednesday and Thursday, but a full practice Friday proved Quinn’s point. Jones is expected to start on Sunday.
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, hamstring (Q): Evans’ status may be the most concerning for fantasy owners everywhere, in part because the situation is so hard to read. Evans, who said he felt “really, really good” after his sole practice last Friday, was determined to be not quite ready in Week 1 by coach Lovie Smith, who valued 15 additional games of health more than the season opener. Evans was able to practice daily this week but Smith was reluctant to commit to his readiness to return, as evidence by the questionable tag that will ultimately lead to a game-time decision. It seems Evans has a much better chance to play this week, given his ability to participate in consecutive practices, but fantasy owners will want to confirm his status prior to kickoff.
Golden Tate, Detroit Lions, quadriceps (P): Tate was limited in practice early in the week with a quad injury sustained on a punt return, but the probable tag indicates that the Lions expect him to take the field on Sunday. There is always concern for an in-game setback with soft-tissue injuries, but at least we know Tate is expected to be available at the start of the game.
Percy Harvin, Buffalo Bills, hip (P): Harvin is getting the veteran treatment: He had Wednesday off to rest. He returned to practice Thursday and it should be noted that coach Rex Ryan showed last week how willing he is to utilize him. The probable designation tells us that Harvin will be available Sunday, barring a surprise.
Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals, hand (P): Though Floyd made only a brief appearance in Week 1, at least it shows he is ready for NFL action. This week, Floyd practiced fully each day and should see increased action in Week 2.
Marqise Lee, Jacksonville Jaguars, hamstring (P): Lee has been dealing with a hamstring issue since the preseason. It appears he has finally turned a corner to the point where he looks ready to play. The probable tag indicates the Jaguars expect him to be there and so should we.
T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts, knee (Q): Hilton bruised his knee in Week 1 and the early comments from team owner Jim Irsay hinted at an extended absence. After Hilton underwent an MRI, coach Chuck Pagano confirmed there was “zero” structural damage and expressed optimism about Hilton’s potential availability for Monday night. Hilton admitted the injury was a bit anxiety-producing, particularly since his knee swelled up quickly and was sore to the touch, but he acknowledged it was rapidly improving. Although he was not a participant in practice through Friday, that may have been by design in an effort to eliminate as much pain and swelling as possible. The key to Hilton’s availability on Monday will be whether those symptoms have dissipated to the point of him having adequate range of motion and strength to be functional at his position while not exposing him to unnecessary risk. Hilton was back on the practice field on Saturday, a positive sign that confirms his progress. Now the test will be how his knee responded to practice. It will come down to a game-time decision on Monday night, but as ESPN.com’s Mike Wells notes, the Colts seem confident he will play based on what they saw Saturday.
Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans, hand (Q): After last week’s game, Walker left the locker room with a cast on his hand but told reporters he had no broken bones. If that was indeed the case, the immobilization was there to protect him from motion and he most likely suffered a ligament injury. Reports of a wrist sprain support that notion. Walker did not practice until Friday and most assumed he would not play, but then he turned up as a full participant Friday with a questionable tag, leaving the door open for Sunday. ESPN.com’s Paul Kuharsky noted Walker is wearing a glove on his injured hand and points out the Titans have the depth at the position to accommodate his absence, should that be necessary. His status is shaping up to be a game-time decision, but regardless, his wrist/hand is unlikely to be at full strength even if he does play -- which would make catching passes challenging and, perhaps to a greater degree, make blocking difficult.
Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins, quadriceps (Q): Reed is such a talent at the tight end position and proof of his value to the quarterback was on display in Week 1. Unfortunately, he is also oft-injured, something also on display coming out of the season opener. Reed has a quad strain and was limited in practice. But as he told the Washington Post, “Yeah, I’m going to play. 100 percent.” OK. But keep in mind, he may not actually be 100 percent.
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.
Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans, groin: Foster continues to make progress in his recovery from surgery to repair a torn groin muscle, as evidenced by his return to practice this week. He participated on a limited basis Thursday and Friday but will need to get more reps at increased intensity before returning to the playing field. That return doesn’t appear too far off now, perhaps within the next couple of weeks.
Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals, knee: Ellington’s absence this week doesn’t come as much of a surprise. He sustained a sprained PCL in Week 1 and coach Bruce Arians suggested Ellington could be sidelined from one to three weeks. It’s worth noting that these injuries can vary greatly in terms of recovery time, depending on the individual.
Reggie Bush, RB, San Francisco 49ers, calf: Although the Niners have indicated Bush’s injury isn’t as serious as it could have been, there still wasn’t enough time in a short week for him to return for Week 2. On Friday, coach Jim Tomsula announced that Bush would not make the trip to Pittsburgh, instead staying home to rehab.
Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants, calf: Cruz explained his slow progression from the calf strain he suffered in the preseason by saying doctors saw “a little bit of blood in the calf” and wanted to limit his activity. Understandable. Keep an eye on his practice activity in the coming weeks.
Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys, foot: Bryant underwent surgery this week to repair a fifth metatarsal fracture in his right foot. He will be out at least a month, probably closer to two. For more details on the variables involved in Bryant’s injury and recovery, click here.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Washington Redskins, hamstring: Jackson’s hamstring injury was serious enough to immediately suggest he would miss multiple weeks. Plan on a month without Jackson, knowing things could change along the way.
Josh McCown, QB, Cleveland Browns, concussion: McCown was not cleared to return to full football activity by the independent neurological consultant involved in his care, hence he will sit this week out. Johnny Manziel gets the start.
Julius Thomas, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars, hand: Thomas returned to practice but he is not nearly ready to return to game action. His hand is still healing from surgery earlier this month and he is not expected to play for at least two weeks. The good news about Thomas participating in limited practice is that it allows him to gain some football-specific conditioning so he can hit the ground running when he does return.
Breshad Perriman, WR, Baltimore Ravens, knee: Ellington fantasy owners take note: Perriman is still recovering from a sprained PCL suffered in the preseason. While no two injuries are identical, it serves as a reminder that these particular injuries can be hard to gauge. Perriman has not returned to practice and his return date is still unknown.
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