Welcome to Week 6! There are just two teams on bye this week: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Minnesota Vikings. The Denver Broncos and the San Diego Chargers played on Thursday night. That leaves 28 teams to battle it out in what remains of the sixth week in the NFL season.
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 article: 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 this Saturday feature, 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 article 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.
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers, concussion, (Q): Newton sat out Week 5's Monday night game as he recovered from a concussion sustained the week prior during a rushing play. Newton returned to light football activities early in the week and continued to progress to the point of returning to practice on a limited basis Wednesday. He was a full participant Thursday and Friday with no setbacks. The questionable tag was issued as the team awaited final clearance for Newton to play. He is fully expected to resume his role under center on Sunday.
Players off game status injury report:
Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals, concussion: Palmer was cleared to return to practice early in the week after missing Week 5 with a concussion. He practiced fully each day and was removed from the game status injury report Saturday.
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts, right shoulder: Luck continues to appear on the practice injury report during the week and is off the game status injury report on Friday. He will make his usual start Sunday.
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks, ankle/knee: Despite his listing on the practice injury report, Wilson continues to practice in full, and his removal from the game status injury report confirms his status for Sunday.
Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers, hamstring, (Q): Stewart had been making steady progress in his recovery from his hamstring injury but had not taken to the practice field before this week. He returned Wednesday to limited participation, then upgraded to full practices Thursday and Friday. His careful progression back to action would suggest there will be no limitations for Stewart, despite the questionable tag in the game status report.
Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers, ankle, (Q): The confidence in Lacy's playing status continues to rise as Sunday approaches. After suffering an ankle sprain that forced him out of the Week 5 game in the third quarter, Lacy was unsure of what his status would be for the next game and coach Mike McCarthy echoed the uncertainty. As the week progressed, however, Lacy appeared at practice, first on a limited basis Wednesday, then a full participant Thursday. (The Packers did not practice Friday, but they projected Lacy as a would-be full participant.) With teammate James Starks cropping up on the injury report with a knee injury, one that is now expected to sideline him for multiple weeks, it became obvious the Packers were planning on Lacy's availability. Full healing of his sprain within a week is not to be expected, but Lacy has given the team enough confidence in his health that they have not added any depth at the running back position this week. According to ESPN.com's Rob Demovsky, the Packers could turn to their wide receiving corps for additional run support if need be.
LeGarrette Blount, hip, and Brandon Bolden, knee, New England Patriots, (Q): Blount is still participating in only limited practices because of his hip, but the good news is he was on the field every day. He also played through the issue last week. Despite the questionable designation, he should play again in Week 6. His teammate Bolden was not in practice until Friday, and then only participated in limited fashion. His status appears to be more uncertain.
Arian Foster, Miami Dolphins, hamstring, (Q): Foster's last listing was doubtful, so questionable represents an upgrade. He has practiced on a limited basis daily but it was coach Adam Gase's comment earlier in the week that Foster looked "normal" to him that hints at the confidence the team has in his impending return. Although he is listed as questionable, Foster is expected to play, but fantasy owners will want to check pregame inactives to be sure.
Rashad Jennings, New York Giants, thumb, (Q): Jennings has not played in three weeks. Instead, he has watched from the sidelines due to concerns about his left-thumb injury. The combination of functional limitation and risk of reinjury has been enough to keep him off the playing field until now. Jennings participated in practice daily and is no longer wearing any protection on his thumb or hand. Despite maintaining the questionable listing, Jennings is expected to start this week, according to ESPN.com's Jordan Ranaan. It is not clear just how much work Jennings will see. Orleans Darkwa and Bobby Rainey are likely to continue to get touches, leaving no clear beneficiary when it comes to fantasy production.
Dwayne Washington, Detroit Lions, ankle, (Q): Washington missed Week 5 after being listed as doubtful with his ankle injury. This week, he is upgraded to questionable after returning to a single practice (Friday) on a limited basis. With Theo Riddick already ruled out, also due to an ankle injury, Washington's status becomes more important. The Lions signed Justin Forsett this week, and he is clearly the healthiest of the bunch, but he is also new to the Lions' offense. It appears it could be a mix of Washington, presuming he is active, Forsett and Zach Zenner.
Ka'Deem Carey, hamstring, (Q) and Jeremy Langford, ankle, (D), Chicago Bears: The listing for these two backs was identical last week. Langford will miss another game as his ankle heals, and Carey is likely to be active, although his contribution is not expected to be heavy. Jordan Howard is the heavy lifter in the running back rotation for Chicago these days, and nothing is likely to change in Week 6.
Players off game status injury report:
Ryan Mathews, Philadelphia Eagles, illness: It's not his ankle but an illness that kept Mathews out of practice Friday. The Eagles were clearly not concerned about his availability for Sunday since Mathews was removed from the game status injury report.
Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals, chest: Hill was limited in practice Wednesday after aggravating a chest injury in the Week 5 game. He returned to full practice Thursday, repeated the effort Friday and is off the game status injury report for Week 6. The concern with Hill is whether he is at risk of another early exit if the injury is again aggravated during the game.
Dez Bryant, knee, and Terrance Williams, shoulder, Dallas Cowboys, (Q): Bryant was back on the practice field this week after sitting out all of last week with a hairline crack of the tibial plateau in his right knee. Bryant was kept to limited practice sessions, but his work on the field was a good initial test. According to ESPN.com's Todd Archer, Bryant appeared to be moving well, and Bryant said afterward that he felt good. Bryant was noncommittal about his Sunday status and even hinted at sitting out another week when he said he would "for sure" be back by Oct. 30, also known as Week 8 of the NFL season. That will be the Cowboys' next game after this week since they have a Week 7 bye. The team has left the door open for Bryant to be available Sunday by listing him as questionable, but it appears they may opt to give him another two weeks of rest. He is expected to work out in advance of the game in Green Bay, but this is a late start (4:25 p.m. ET), and fantasy owners should, at the very least, have a backup plan in place.
Bryant's teammate Williams is also listed as questionable with a shoulder injury, an AC sprain sustained in Week 5. It is clearly not a serious injury given that Williams was a full participant in practices each day this week. The questionable tag would almost certainly be a probable designation if that still existed. Expect Williams to play, barring a surprise.
Julian Edelman, New England Patriots, foot, (Q): Edelman was also listed as questionable heading into Week 5 with some soreness in his surgically repaired foot. He continues to be managed via limited practice participation but is expected to play again this week.
Sammie Coates, Pittsburgh Steelers, finger, (Q): Coates suffered a laceration in his hand in Week 5 which required stitches, but it didn't prevent him from finishing out the game. It seemed only natural that he would return in Week 6. But there's a little more to his injury situation than was initially reported. According to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, Coates has a fractured index finger. He did return to limited practice Friday and caught passes, bolstering his pitch to play in Sunday's game. On Saturday, ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler reported the Steelers promoted wide receiver Cobi Hamilton to the active roster ...
Hamilton promotion isn't great sign for Coates, but Steelers still have time to evaluate. Justin Gilbert return made Shabazz expendable
- Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) October 15, 2016
While Coates may have done enough to be able to get on the field Sunday, the addition of Hamilton indicates the Steelers aren't fully confident in his ability to get through an entire game without issue. This may be a tough decision for fantasy owners beyond the pregame inactive announcement as it is unclear how well Coates will be able to perform, presuming he does play.
Steve Smith Sr., ankle, (D) and Mike Wallace, chest, (Q), Baltimore Ravens: Smith injured his ankle in Week 5 -- on the same side as his Achilles repair -- and was unable to finish out the game. He is able to walk with full weight on the foot but hasn't yet returned to practice. The Ravens left the door open ever so slightly by not ruling him out in advance of the game, but the doubtful tag indicates their outlook; Smith is not expected to play. Meanwhile, Wallace is still nursing a rib injury from Week 5, but his full participation in Thursday and Friday's practice sessions indicates he is likely to play.
Alshon Jeffery, knee, and Eddie Royal, calf, Chicago Bears, (Q): Both receivers were active last week off of similar injury designations, so one would expect the same outcome this week. It's worth noting that Royal had a down week (still reasonably targeted but only short yardage gains and no score) compared to his previous week, and his continued nonparticipation in practice all of this week indicates he is still ailing. Jeffery is healthier than Royal but has been somewhat overlooked by quarterback Brian Hoyer, including in the end zone in Week 5, leading to a visible demonstration of frustration by Jeffery. Maybe that connection will improve in Week 6, but it's impossible to ignore the success Cameron Meredith had last week upon entering the receiver mix. Expect all to play against Jacksonville, and fantasy owners will just have to hope for the best with respect to their individual numbers.
Will Fuller V, Houston Texans, hamstring, (Q): Fuller has the trifecta combination fantasy owners dread: an unpredictable hamstring injury, a questionable designation and a late game (Sunday night, 8:30 p.m. ET). Fuller was in practice each day (a good sign) but was limited throughout the week (less encouraging). Although it appears he will play, fantasy owners would be advised to secure a replacement in the event he cannot go.
T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts, hip, (Q): Hilton is on the injury report with a new ailment, his hip. While there hasn't been much information on his injury out of Indianapolis, his practice tells the story fantasy owners want to hear. After missing Wednesday, Hilton participated on a limited basis Thursday, then was a full go Friday, all of which points to his expected availability Sunday.
Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers, knee, (Q): Benjamin's appearance on the injury report is not a welcome sight for fantasy owners, especially given the favorable matchup he faces this week against the Saints. It's worth noting that it is not uncommon for an athlete to experience some soreness in a postsurgical joint after returning to action, especially in a sport as physical as football. The fact that Benjamin did not miss any practice days but, rather, was just held to limited sessions on Thursday and Friday, is a good sign. Even with the questionable designation next to his name, Benjamin is expected to play Sunday, barring a setback.
Anquan Boldin, Detroit Lions, ankle, (Q): Boldin appears on this week's injury report with an ankle issue from the Week 5 game. He increased his practice activity Thursday (limited) and again Friday (full) after taking Wednesday off. Despite being listed as questionable, it appears likely Boldin will play.
Players off game status injury report:
A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals, calf: Green was held out of Wednesday's practice with a mild calf injury. He returned to full practices both Thursday and Friday and is off the game status injury report.
Julio Jones, knee, and Mohamed Sanu, elbow, Atlanta Falcons: Both receivers are regulars on the practice injury report, but both are removed from the game status injury report this week. They should play without limitation.
Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers, neck: Cobb's injury looked scary when it happened, but sometimes, thankfully, things turn out to be less severe than expected. Cobb did not miss any practice time, although he was held to limited workouts Wednesday and Thursday. By Friday, he was off the injury report entirely, and he is ready to play on Sunday.
Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks, knee: Lockett's contributions have been down as he has struggled recently with a PCL sprain. Coach Pete Carroll insists Lockett has turned a corner since the bye week, and his status report -- full practices and removal from the injury report Friday -- would seem to support that notion. It remains to be seen whether it translates on the field this weekend.
Brandon Marshall, foot, and Quincy Enunwa, knee, New York Jets: Both players continue to improve from their respective injuries. They both were full participants throughout the week, and they have both been removed from the game status injury report heading into their Monday night matchup in Arizona.
Jeremy Kerley, San Francisco 49ers, ankle: Kerley was in practice each day, including being listed as a full participant (projection) during Friday's walk-through. His removal from the game status injury report indicates the team expects him to be available for new starter, Colin Kaepernick, on Sunday in Buffalo.
Rob Gronkowski, hamstring, and Martellus Bennett, ankle, New England Patriots, (Q): Gronkowski may not fall in the 100 percent healthy category, but his workload last week shows the continued improvement of his hamstring. He was not in practice Friday because of illness, not because of a setback with his hamstring, meaning he should again be available Sunday, barring a surprise. His teammate Bennett also appears on the injury report this week after injuring his ankle in Week 5. Bennett continued to play through the injury (he continued to score as well) and managed to practice daily on a limited basis. He is expected to play Sunday.
Gary Barnidge, Cleveland Browns, forearm/hip, (Q): The early carousel of quarterbacks in Cleveland hasn't helped Barnidge in the consistency department, and injuries only add to the overall level of concern. Barnidge is listed with two injured body parts but still managed to participate in practice on a limited basis each day. Despite being at less than full health, Barnidge appears likely to take the field in Tennessee, especially considering the team has not moved to add depth to the position even with only one other healthy tight end in Connor Hamlett. The quarterback this week for the Browns? Cody Kessler. That's an encouraging note for Barnidge fantasy owners as his targets have steadily increased with Kessler on the field.
Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys, chest, (Q): Wait. Witten is questionable? As in, uncertain to play? But Witten never misses games! Literally, never. Well, once. In his rookie season, Witten suffered a broken jaw and had surgery to implant hardware to stabilize the fracture, and he missed one game. ONE GAME. That was in 2003. Do you really think some rib injury is going to keep Witten out of this week's contest? It didn't even keep him out of practice. Full participation. Daily. Carry on.
Zach Miller, Chicago Bears, ribs, (Q): Miller had the same practice schedule this week as last: no practice Wednesday followed by limited participation Thursday and Friday. Expect him to suit up again this week as the Bears host the Jaguars.
Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills, knee, (Q): Clay has been dealing with his knee issue since the preseason. He was listed as questionable last week as well but was on the field for 50 of the team's 55 offensive snaps. It's fair to say he will play Sunday, barring a surprise.
Clive Walford, Oakland Raiders, knee, (Q): Walford participated on a limited basis throughout the practice week and appears to be improving from the knee issue that kept him out of the Week 5 game. Still, fantasy owners will want to double-check his status pregame, and considering this is a late game (4:05 pm ET), a backup plan should be in place.
Players off game status injury report:
Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks, knee: Graham continues to receive treatment on his knee, but he also continues to practice fully, and his involvement in games continues to rise.
Julius Thomas, Jacksonville Jaguars, elbow: Thomas was a full participant in practice this week after having a bye week to help him recover from his elbow injury. He will wear a protective brace, which Thomas says he's comfortable playing in, but there are no concerns about his game status.
Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles, rib: Ertz suffered a rib injury in the season opener and has since progressed according to plan. He returned to action last week and is good to go again this week against Washington.
Vance McDonald, San Francisco 49ers, hip: McDonald practiced each day including a full practice Friday. His removal from the game status injury report indicates the 49ers expect him to play.
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.
Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins, concussion: Reed complained of symptoms consistent with concussion on Tuesday, and immediately the medical tests were implemented, ultimately leading to confirmation of that diagnosis. On Saturday, he was ruled out for Week 6. Given his history of concussions, there is understandable concern that goes well beyond his game status for this week.
Latavius Murray, RB, Oakland Raiders, toe: Murray was unable to practice again this week due to his toe injury, and he has already been ruled out for Sunday's contest.
James Starks, RB, Green Bay Packers, knee: A knee injury in practice this week turns out to be a meniscus tear, according to ESPN.com's Rob Demovsky, and it is expected to sideline Starks for multiple weeks. He has been out of town due to a death in the family, so the action plan is not yet clear. Expect further updates next week.
Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals, back/ankle: Last week, Eifert was reported to have back soreness which kept him out of practice and, ultimately, prevented his season debut following offseason ankle surgery. Apparently the back issue was more significant than soreness as Eifert was unable to practice again this week. He has already been ruled out for Sunday's game in New England.
Eric Ebron, TE, Detroit Lions, ankle/knee: Ebron will miss a second consecutive week with ankle and knee injuries.
Jared Cook, TE, Green Bay Packers, ankle: The tight end position has taken numerous injury hits across the league; Cook is the latest to add to the list. ESPN.com's Rob Demovsky reports Cook is likely to miss at least a month.
Markus Wheaton, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers, shoulder: Wheaton is once again sidelined due to his shoulder.
Donte Moncrief, WR, Indianapolis Colts, shoulder: No surprise here as Moncrief continues to be sidelined with a fractured scapula.
Jordan Cameron, TE, Miami Dolphins, concussion: Cameron remains out with his latest concussion injury.
Thomas Rawls, RB, Seattle Seahawks, fibula: Rawls continues to heal from his fibula fracture and has not yet returned to practice.
Josh Doctson, WR, Washington Redskins, Achilles: Doctson will miss another week with his Achilles injury.
Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys, back: Romo is not yet practicing, but he has resumed some throwing. While it's unclear just how the quarterback situation in Dallas will play out, the hope is that Romo will be healthy enough to return to football in either Week 8 or 9.
Corey Coleman, WR, Cleveland Browns, hand: Coleman remains out with a broken hand. He has not yet returned to practice.
Josh McCown, QB, Cleveland Browns, left shoulder: McCown remains out with a clavicle fracture, but he did make progress this week by returning to practice on a limited basis. For this week however, Cody Kessler will start for the Browns.
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!