With the strong return of last week’s group of questionable running backs, there aren’t many high profile injury situations to monitor today. I’ll update this post with any critical breaking news and post important inactives and updates to my Twitter feed.
There are conflicting reports on the nature and severity of Matt Forte’s ankle injury, but I think there’s enough evidence on replay to buy the reports that it’s a high ankle sprain. More on that in the post-game debriefings tomorrow morning.
Ryan Mathews is listed questionable, but I think it’s likely that the Chargers wait to activate him until he’s taken a full week of contact. If he is active, he should see close to a full workload but not play every down (~10-18 touches). Fantasy recommendation: It’ll likely be rendered moot after inactives are released, but use Mathews as a flex play only.
Antonio Gates did not practice much this week with a rib injury, but he’ll play. There were no indications that the injury was severe enough to hold him out or a condition that a painkilling injection and added padding would be unable to help. Gates’ catching range may be limited, but he’s played effectively though pain before. Fantasy recommendation: Use Gates as you normally would.
DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin were are both expected to play today, but neither are likely close to 100%. Jackson strained a hamstring during practice Wednesday. Even if very low grade, that’s a tough injury to recover from in 72 hours. Consider him a game-time decision and at high risk for an in-game aggravation if he plays. Maclin is dealing with both a hip flexor strain and a hip pointer. The hip pointer will be more painful, but the flexor strain could be the more difficult injury to play through. Maclin has played through pain previously and should get some relief from a painkilling injection, but is likely to need plays off during the game if active. Fantasy recommendation: Maclin is a risky WR3 today, but should get enough targets to trust in PPR leagues. He’s a flex play only in non-PPR leagues. I think Jackson carries even more risk. Consider him a boom-bust WR3 with more upside if Maclin sits. I’d also avoid Michael Vick where possible.
Roddy White is listed as questionable with a groin injury but all indications are that the injury is minor and that he’s near full strength this week. Fantasy recommendation: Use White as you normally would.
Kenny Britt will be limited to about 25-30 plays today. As I wrote Monday and Mike Munchak suggested mid-week, it’s very unlikely that we’ll see Britt take more snaps than that. His knees may be fit enough to play, but his conditioning remains a concern. With his history of muscle strains, the Titans will ease him back slowly. Though he’s likely not on a strict snap count, he’ll fit into certain down and distance situations only. Nate Washington did not practice this week and is likely more doubtful than questionable, whether his injury is a calf strain or concussion related. Fantasy recommendation: Washington is a potential WR3, but too risky to put in lineups and hope for good news with the late game inactives. Britt will be used in enough high leverage situations to hold boom-bust WR3 value. The ripple effects will be most positive for Kendall Wright, who’s an underrated WR3/flex play today, and Jared Cook.
Colin McCarthy has been ruled out this week. His injury looked like a high ankle sprain on replay, though the Titans won’t confirm (or deny) that’s the case. Consider McCarthy questionable for next week. Will Witherspoon will move inside and into subpackages in McCarthy’s place, with Zach Brown taking base snaps outside. Fantasy recommendation: Consider both Witherspoon and Akeem Ayers as strong LB3 options.
Steve Smith has been limited in practice by a knee injury all week. He’ll play, but at less than 100%. Details on the injury are vague, but the matchup (home vs New Orleans) is strong enough to consider Smith a good risk. Fantasy recommendation: Trust Smith as a viable WR3 this week.
Pierre Garcon was limited in practice Thursday and Friday and is considered a game-time decision. I expressed concern about Garcon’s injury on the Audible Live late Thursday night, noting that Mike Shanahan’s comment that Garcon’s injury was like a turf toe but not the toe itself brought a number of other possibilities into play that could keep Garcon out multiple weeks. That doesn’t appear to be the case, but Garcon is unlikely to play this week. Fantasy recommendation: Sit Garcon unless you have a strong late game lineup hedge and/or pregame reports are very positive.
Denarius Moore will return this week. He’s still at some risk of re-aggravating what was likely a mid-grade hamstring strain but the extra full week of consecutive practice without a setback makes him a much less risky fantasy option than he would have been if he tried to return last week. Fantasy recommendation: Though not without risk, Moore is a high upside WR3.
Jonathan Stewart was listed as a limited practice and questionable by the team, but beat writers report that he practiced fully all week and felt more comfortable as the week progressed. Despite a poor performance last week, DeAngelo Williams is still likely to see the majority of the team’s base offensive snaps. Stewart may see only a minor rotational / subpackage role this week. Fantasy recommendation: Use Stewart as a boom-bust flex option. He’ll have better upside in PPR leagues.
Rolando McClain has been limited by an ankle injury this week, but he gave locker room interviews after practice Friday and should play barring a setback during pregame warmups or other surprise. Fantasy recommendation: McClain remains a solid LB2.
All systems go for last week’s questionable running backs. Arian Foster, Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch and Trent Richardson are all healthy enough to consider their team’s clear primary running backs and likely to see 18-25+ touches. Add Maurice Jones-Drew to that list with Rashad Jennings out with a knee sprain.
Once termed day-to-day and then week-to-week, consider Austin Collie out indefinitely after apparently having recurrent symptoms in each of the past two weeks after trying to make it through a full practice. Week 4 is likely the earliest we’ll see him on the field.
Thomas Howard is out for the season with an ACL tear. Short term, the Bengals will likely use Dan Skuta at outside linebacker and mix Vincent Rey into subpackages. Long term, Vontaze Burfict will get a chance to play. Though early expectations are that Burfict will play outside, it won’t be surprising to see Burfict at middle linebacker if Rey Maualuga doesn’t improve. Carlos Dunlap was limited in practice all week, but could return in a limited role. Chances are he won’t be active until Week 3, however.
Darrelle Revis, James Harrison and Troy Polamalu are all likely out this week. Revis’ absence is obviously good news for the fantasy prospects of the Pittsburgh passing offense. Watch the practice reports next Wednesday carefully. Not much has been made of Polamalu’s calf injury, but it’s an injury that could linger and keep him out of Week 3.
Keith Rivers is doubtful. Michael Boley and Mathias Kiwanuka are rounding into form and near full health. We’re still likely to see the Giants rotate their linebackers, but expect Boley (and possibly Kiwanuka) to see every-down duty as soon as this week.
Categories: Sunday Expectations
Tags: antonio gates, austin collie, colin mccarthy, denarius moore, desean jackson, jeremy maclin, Jonathan Stewart, kenny britt, matt forte, nate washington, pierre garcon, roddy white, rolando mcclain, ryan mathews, Steve Smith