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Key fantasy football injury updates for Week 1

Golden Tate is one of several top fantasy wideouts on the injury report ahead of Week 1. Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

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 effect 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 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'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, 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.

Good luck in Week 1, everyone!

Quarterbacks

Players Off Game Status Injury Report:

Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts, right shoulder: When Luck appeared on the injury report as a limited participant because of a sore shoulder, there was reasonable cause for concern. After all, Luck dealt with a shoulder injury last year that caused him to miss two games and seemingly affected his play even after he returned. The Colts indicated the limited practices Wednesday and Thursday were a proactive move and Luck was upgraded to full practice Friday. Coach Pagano later said, “Andrew is fine,” adding that he would rest Luck and others based on past history. The bottom line is that Luck was removed from the injury report and is expected to start on Sunday.

Running Backs

Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs, knee, (D): Charles was limited at practice throughout the week, hardly a surprise after coach Andy Reid said two weeks ago that Charles was still, “getting trust in the leg.” The doubtful tag is a strong indicator that Charles will sit out this week and it will be a situation to monitor going forward. Spencer Ware is expected to get the start Sunday, according to ESPN.com NFL Nation Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher.

Jonathan Williams, Buffalo Bills, ribs, (Q): Williams exited the Bills’ final preseason game with a rib injury and was held out of practice the following week. He progressed to full participation daily this week and is expected to be available for Sunday’s game. Of course, LeSean McCoy, Reggie Bush and Mike Gillislee are also available, so his workload may be limited.

Chris Ivory, Jacksonville Jaguars, calf, (Q): Ivory was listed as a limited participant each day this week, showing up on the Wednesday injury report with a calf injury. While this episode doesn’t sound severe as Ivory didn’t miss any practice days, his history of lower extremity injuries makes every additional one a bit more worrisome. ESPN NFL Nation Jaguars reporter Mike DiRocco says he expects Ivory to play, noting head coach Gus Bradley said Friday the running back rotation with T.J. Yeldon would not be affected.

Isaiah Pead, Miami Dolphins, hamstring, (Q): Arian Foster is the starting running back in Miami and most of the conversation about potentially sharing carries with another Miami running back has involved Jay Ajayi. But if anyone shares carries with Foster this Sunday, it won’t be Ajayi, who was left home in Miami for non-injury reasons. That, in turn, places more importance on the health of Pead, who has been dealing with a hamstring injury recently. Pead was listed as a limited participant early in the week but upgraded to a full practice Friday. He could be available Sunday along with fellow backs Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake.

Jerick McKinnon, Minnesota Vikings, foot, (Q): McKinnon was limited Wednesday, sat out Thursday, then returned to limited practice on Friday. He is listed with a foot injury but it appears to be minor since Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said McKinnon “should be fine” for Sunday. McKinnon’s biggest value is as Adrian Peterson’s backup. Peterson is currently healthy, but it’s nice to know his insurance is intact.

Matt Jones, Washington Redskins, shoulder, (Q): Jones sustained an AC sprain in the second week of the preseason and was held out of action for the remaining two weeks. He was a full participant in practice this week and is expected to play. Despite practicing fully and despite all indications Jones will play, he is listed as questionable per the Saturday game status report. It may not be “certain,” but it would be a surprise if Jones did not suit up.

Players Off Game Status Injury Report:

Thomas Rawls, Seattle Seahawks, illness: Everyone has been keeping an eye on Rawls’ activity throughout the preseason since his return from an ankle fracture. By all accounts, Rawls looked fast and explosive in practice and he did see some preseason Week 4 game action, albeit only two snaps. His appearance on the injury report was a bit of a surprise, but he was held out Thursday because of illness, not because of his ankle. On Friday he returned to practice and his removal from the injury report suggests he will be active on game day.

Perhaps more concerning for fantasy owners is his position -- No. 2 -- on the Seahawks running back depth chart. For the season opener, it appears Christine Michael will get the start. Michael has had an impressive preseason, but the question has always been whether he can carry that through to the regular season. This may be the weekend where we get the answer. ESPN.com’s NFL Nation Seahawks reporter Sheil Kapadia expects both backs to see action and notes that it’s a fluid situation. But with Rawls coming off a significant injury and a late week illness, he may not see heavy volume in Week 1, something coach Pete Caroll hinted at days ago.

Charcandrick West, Kansas City Chiefs, elbow: West was on the injury report because of a minor elbow injury but practiced fully each day. His removal from the injury report indicates the Chiefs expect him to be active Sunday. Given Jamaal Charles’ doubtful status, it is likely to be the Spencer Ware and West show. Despite all the buzz about Ware, ESPN.com’s NFL Nation Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher points out that West played more snaps in the red zone in 2015. Ware is expected to start, but both backs will get work.

Wide Receivers

Golden Tate, Detroit Lions, ankle, (Q): Limited Wednesday, Tate turned in a full practice Thursday and Friday. Despite the uncertainty implied by the questionable tag, Tate -- who hasn’t missed a game since 2012 -- is expected to take the field on Sunday.

Kevin White, Chicago Bears, hamstring, (Q): White did not appear on the practice injury report until Thursday when he was listed as a limited participant. He remained limited on Friday and the concern appears legitimate when it comes to White’s questionable status for Sunday. His appearance in a regular season game has been much anticipated as White was sidelined for the entire 2015 season due to injury. After having a rod inserted in his lower leg to repair a tibial stress fracture, White spent the year recovering and preparing for 2016. That start may be delayed if White is deemed not ready to play and, if he does play, he won’t be operating at 100 percent health.

Jeff Janis, Green Bay Packers, hand, (Q): Janis underwent surgery to repair a fracture in his hand in mid-August and is still limited as he recovers. He was able to practice in full every day this week. (It should be noted the Packers did not actually hold practice on Thursday, so the listing for that day is an estimation of what Janis would have done.) If Janis does take the field Sunday, it may be in a limited role, but he is not a receiver fantasy owners should be targeting.

Chris Hogan, shoulder and Malcolm Mitchell, elbow, New England Patriots, (Q): Hogan didn’t play in the first week of the preseason because of his shoulder and is now listed as questionable heading into the Patriots’ opening night game. He was a full participant in practice throughout the week, however, and appears likely to play.

Mitchell, who suffered a dislocated left elbow in mid-August, was projected to miss approximately a month. He remained limited in practice each day this week and continues to wear a large brace on his arm to protect the elbow. While his presence in practice is encouraging, it’s not clear if he’ll be available Sunday night and it could come down to a game-time decision.

DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins, hamstring, (Q): Parker did not practice Wednesday or Thursday (although it’s worth noting the entire team was off Thursday). Parker did return on a limited basis Friday in Seattle with his teammates. Issues with his hamstrings have nagged at Parker since training camp; if he is at significant risk of re-injury, it’s tough to imagine him taking the field. This is a 4 p.m. ET kickoff; fantasy owners should make alternate plans.

Charles Johnson, Minnesota Vikings, quadriceps, (Q): Johnson was limited in practice with a quadriceps strain throughout the week, leaving his status uncertain for Sunday’s game. According to ESPN.com NFL Nation reporter Ben Goessling, Johnson said Wednesday he plans to play, but fantasy owners will want to check pregame inactives to be sure.

Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints, ankle, (Q): Thomas was added to the injury report Thursday as a limited participant with an ankle injury. He remained limited on Friday leading to his questionable designation.

Josh Doctson, Washington Redskins, achilles, (Q): Doctson has been gradually making improvements from his Achilles injury throughout the preseason. He recently began practicing with the team on a limited basis, but he was upgraded to full participation Saturday. Saturday workouts are typically light, so Doctson may not have convinced the team he is ready for primetime. Even if he does suit up, the chances of him seeing a full workload are slim.

Players Off Game Status Injury Report:

Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons, ankle: Jones dealt with a minor ankle ailment in the preseason and remained on the practice injury report this week as he was held to a limited practice Wednesday. On Thursday and Friday, Jones put in full practices. His removal from the injury report indicates he will play and on Friday coach Dan Quinn said Jones is “ready to go.”

Will Fuller, Houston Texans, hamstring: Fuller was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday with a hamstring ailment but was upgraded to full practice on Friday. The Texans are clearly confident enough in his health to remove him from the injury report and he is expected to be active.

Brandon Marshall, New York Jets, hip: Marshall was listed as limited in practice Wednesday but returned to full practice both Thursday and Friday. In the second half of the preseason he had been reportedly dealing with some hip soreness, but the team dismissed it as non-serious. This removal from the injury report supports that notion and Marshall is expected to play on Sunday.

Tight Ends

Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks, knee, (Q): Graham practiced in full all week and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has said Graham will indeed play. What a terrific story for Graham, who sustained a torn patellar tendon last season, perhaps the most difficult injury for an NFL player to overcome. Graham did not play a single snap during the preseason, however, and this week marks his first full week of practice. Given that this will be his first game action, expectations for fantasy purposes should be tempered. That said, it’s easy to imagine Graham lining up in the red zone for a play designed to get him the ball in the end zone. Can anyone imagine a better way to come back than to make a play in the end zone, not only to punctuate his return to action with a score but to erase the memory of the spot where he sustained that devastating injury just last year? It could happen.

Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions, ankle, (Q): Ebron was a full participant in practice from Wednesday through Friday, suggesting he will be active when the Lions face the Colts. When Ebron went down with an injury during the first week of training camp, there was concern that he had sustained something much more severe than an ankle sprain. Thankfully that was not the case, but he still missed the entire slate of preseason games as he recovered. ESPN.com NFL Nation reporter Michael Rothstein believes he will play in the season opener and could be an effective offensive weapon for quarterback Matthew Stafford against the Colts.

Dennis Pitta, finger and Maxx Williams, knee, Baltimore Ravens, (Q): Both tight ends were listed as full participants in each of the Ravens’ practices this week yet are listed as questionable. ESPN.com NFL Nation Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley wrote about Pitta’s anticipated return following two major hip injuries and a fractured finger, suggesting he is expected to take the field. No matter what amount he contributes in the stats department, Pitta’s return will be impressive after the odds were highly stacked against his ever returning to competition on a football field. As for Williams, he too is expected to play. It could be a tight end by committee game.

Players listed as 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.

Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots, hamstring: Gronkowski revealed quite a bit without saying much when he told reporters earlier this week that he was not 100 percent healthy. After injuring his hamstring in mid-August, Gronkowski has been restricted to limited practice. Aggravation of a hamstring injury now could cost the valued tight end multiple weeks later. Better to rest him and allow more time for healing. As Gronkowski said, “Taking this week by week.”

Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys, back: No surprise here. Romo is out with a compression fracture in his low back. Dak Prescott gets the start and will continue to do so until further notice.

Kenneth Dixon, RB, Baltimore Ravens, knee: Dixon is recovering from a sprained MCL and is expected to miss several weeks.

Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals, ankle: Eifert is still recovering from offseason ankle surgery and has said he is targeting a Week 4 return, although that timetable is not set in stone.

Jay Ajayi, RB, Miami Dolphins, not injury related: The interesting fact here is that Ajayi is not missing this game due to injury. Either way, it’s Arian Foster to start at running back in Week 1.

Kendall Wright, WR, Tennessee Titans, hamstring: Wright is definitively out this week -- but he could be out for longer. A hamstring injury limited him early in training camp and shortly after he returned to practice he sustained a setback. Hamstring injuries are always tricky but warrant extra caution after a setback.

Markus Wheaton, Pittsburgh Steelers, shoulder: Wheaton did not practice on Thursday and Friday because of a shoulder injury. Although Wheaton has referenced the injury as “minor,” ESPN.com NFL Nation reporter Jeremy Fowler reported earlier Wheaton was expected to be out Monday night and now it’s official.

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!