INJURY AND PLAYER UPDATES WEEK 8
The teams on bye this week include the Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles and Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Kansas City Chiefs host the Detroit Lions in London Sunday and that game kicks off at 9:30 a.m. ET.
Also, Daylight Savings Time begins this Sunday morning so don’t forget to set your clocks (fall back one hour) so you can set your lineups in time!
Good luck in Week 8, everyone!
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers, knee, (P): Last week Roethlisberger began practicing with the team on a limited basis but it never appeared as if he was a legitimate candidate to start. That changed this week when coach Mike Tomlin expressed early confidence in the plan to have Roethlisberger under center. As for the quarterback, he sounded a little more cautious at the start of the week, saying he was “hopeful” to play but wanted to see how his knee responded to practice. Clearly his knee has not yielded any setbacks, as Roethlisberger was a full participant on three consecutive days and the team has designated him as probable. While he technically may still be healing and his mobility may not be quite fully restored, the Steelers have already shown they would not return him if they felt he was functionally compromised or if he couldn’t move well enough to protect himself.
Josh McCown, right shoulder/ribs, (Q) and Johnny Manziel, elbow, (P), Cleveland Browns: McCown was injured last Sunday and did not return, an injury later announced as involving his right shoulder. As the injury report emerged, “ribs” were added to the list of sore body parts. McCown went from not practicing Wednesday to limited work Thursday, and as ESPN.com’s Pat McManamon notes, to throwing the ball Friday as McCown described it. McManamon went on to outline several hints as to why it appears McCown is likely to start, and ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler reported Friday that McCown will indeed start. Given the questionable tag, it is always worth verifying player status before the game, but it appears that Manziel, who continues to be listed on the injury report due to a sore throwing elbow, will remain in backup mode this week. If McCown is subject to repeated hits on Sunday he could certainly be at risk of having a shortened outing, but for now, the expectation is that he will be the one who starts when the Browns host the Cardinals.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions, quadriceps, (P): Stafford’s presence here reminds us that he has played and continues to play through a variety of injuries. The probable designation indicates he’ll do so once again this week, despite a quad injury sustained last week. Stafford took all his usual reps in practice over in London, where the Lions will play “visitors” to the Chiefs.
Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers, right hand: The problems facing Kaepernick and the 49ers are far greater than the issue with his hand. He was a full participant in practice throughout the week and will face the Rams Sunday.
Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs, thumb, (P): Smith played last week with the same injury and the same designation. He is over in London and has taken all his usual practice reps. Expect Smith to start against the Lions.
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings, hip/finger/ankle, (P): The number of injuries next to his name has tripled this week but Peterson’s probable status represents an upgrade over last week. Last Saturday, Peterson was downgraded to questionable, not because of the injured finger he was dealing with throughout the week but due to a stomach illness, one he claims was due to eating shrimp (not due to swallowing chewing tobacco as had been reported earlier). Either way, his illness was short-lived. Peterson played Sunday, thus adding the hip and ankle injuries to his profile. None of the injuries appear serious, however, and after getting a couple recovery days Wednesday and Thursday, Peterson returned to limited practice Friday. At probable, he is expected to play, as coach Mike Zimmer indicated after Friday’s practice.
Chris Polk, Houston Texans, knee, (P): With Arian Foster lost for the remainder of the season with an Achilles injury, the remaining backs will need to step up for the Texans. Alfred Blue will be the starter, and he is off the injury report this week. Polk is expected to supplement Blue and could see some expanded work with Foster out. Polk has played through the knee issue for several weeks, and after practicing fully each day this week should do so again.
Melvin Gordon, San Diego Chargers, ankle, (P): Gordon came into last week as questionable but was active, although he didn’t set foot on the field until the second half. This week Gordon has done more in practice (full participation each day) and the probable tag reflects increased confidence in his availability to face the Ravens. Now if he can just hang onto the ball and find the end zone, fantasy owners will be rewarded for their patience.
Joique Bell, Detroit Lions, ankle (P): Bell returned to action for the first time in a month last Sunday, but his involvement in the game was extremely limited. Only on the field for 12 offensive snaps, Bell carried the ball just three times for 21 yards. He also caught two passes, but his role was secondary to that of his fellow backs. One has to wonder if that will change this Sunday in London. Bell was a full participant in practice two of three days (Wednesday and Friday) and the Thursday light workout seems to be part of his regimen.
Unfortunately, given that he has only four game appearances on the season — and only double-digit carries in one of those four — it’s hard to rely on Bell for production, even if his health appears to be improving.
James Starks, Green Bay Packers, hip, (Q): The health of the top two backs in Green Bay appears to be constantly rotating. This week it is Starks, who is in question with a hip injury that kept him out of Wednesday’s practice while teammate Eddie Lacy is no longer on the injury report (nor was he last week). Starks’ return to limited practice Thursday and Friday was enough to have the Packers list him as a 50-50 shot to play but a final determination may not be made until pregame. The problem for those waiting on his status is that pregame inactives won’t come until approximately 7 p.m. ET since the Packers play Sunday night against the Broncos.
Chris Ivory, hamstring and Stevan Ridley, knee, New York Jets, (P):Ivory has had his share of soft tissue injuries thus far, but when he’s listed as probable he plays and plays well. The expectation for him is no different this week as the Jets travel to Oakland to face the Raiders. Perhaps more interesting is the potential availability of the former Patriot Ridley, who tore both his ACL and his MCL last October, the last time he suited up for New England. A little more than a year later, Ridley has been activated from the PUP list and is now likely to see his first game action against Oakland, especially with teammate Bilal Powell out again with an ankle injury. He might be worth keeping an eye on for fantasy owners who may need some depth at the running back position.
Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns, ribs, (P): Crowell has been on the injury report previously for a toe injury; now he is there because of a rib ailment. While the probable designation indicates he is expected to play, it’s hard to expect much in the way of production given the apparent timeshare taking place in Cleveland.
Charcandrick West, Kansas City Chiefs, pectoral, (P): West made a 110-yard rushing statement about taking over the role of the No. 1 back in Week 7, with Jamaal Charles now lost for the season. Despite his presence on the injury report with a sore pectoral muscle, West, who practiced in full daily, remains the starter and will be on the field in London against the Lions.
Marshawn Lynch, hamstring and Thomas Rawls, calf, Seattle Seahawks, (P): Lynch already showed us with his performance in Week 7 that he was ready to move past his hamstring injury — to the tune of 122 yards and a score. Interestingly, he still appears on the injury report because of it, suggesting it’s not entirely in the rearview mirror. Still, as of right now, none of his prior ailments (hamstring/calf/back) appear to be affecting his productivity. His teammate Rawls has been dealing with a sore calf this week after sustaining a contusion in Week 7. The probable designation tells us he should be available Sunday to face the Cowboys. Next week, both backs will get a chance to rest up as the Seahawks will be on bye.
Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys, foot, (Q): Bryant has done enough in practice to convince the team he has a chance to play. Although he is listed as questionable, the feeling is that he will make an appearance Sunday, even if it is a controlled one. After all, it has been seven weeks since he has stepped on a football field with a foot fracture and subsequent surgery in the interim. Additionally, Bryant missed the bulk of the preseason nursing a hamstring strain and appeared to be struggling with hydration in the first game, prior to sustaining the injury. Of course, the danger with Bryant for an opposing team is that he can do damage even in limited snaps. Fantasy owners should be prepared for the potential of a restricted outing, presuming Bryant plays.
Jeremy Maclin, Kansas City Chiefs, concussion, (P): It came as a surprise when Maclin was declared inactive in Week 7, as there had been hints late in the week that he would play. That’s the thing with concussions though; setbacks, even minor ones, can come late. The Chiefs were wise to exercise caution. Now he has another week of increased activity under his belt, including full practices daily in London. Expect Maclin to play as the Chiefs “host” the Lions overseas.
Eric Decker, New York Jets, knee, (Q): Decker has been on the injury report since spraining his PCL in Week 2. He has returned to play, posting some decent numbers in the process, but the injury is not entirely behind him. As ESPN.com’s Colin Stephenson notes, Decker says he has been trying to manage soreness and swelling in the knee. Those lingering issues may be a reason for the downgrade in Decker’s status to questionable this week, especially given the cross-country flight to face the Raiders. Decker was only a limited participant Thursday and Friday after sitting out Wednesday and said he’s taking things day by day. To make matters more challenging for fantasy owners, this is a late game (4:05 ET) Sunday.
Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants, hamstring, (P): It should surprise no one that Beckham is listed on the injury report because of his hamstring. This has been the case for a few weeks, yet Beckham has managed to play and deliver strong performances, aside from Week 7’s modest numbers. More importantly, Beckham was able to increase his practice activity to full participation each day this week, giving the impression that he is physically improving from his most recent strain. The probable tag indicates the Giants are planning on having him on the field again in Week 8.
Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers, ankle, (P): Adams has been sidelined since Week 3 when he tried (for a few snaps at least) to play through a sprained left ankle. When it was clear the injury was too much to overcome, Adams disappeared to the rehab world for a while but appears ready to play this week after the Packers’ bye. Adams was listed as a limited participant Wednesday and Thursday, then upgraded to full on Friday. The Packers have been talking since the beginning of the week about having Adams back, and the probable tag confirms their expectation that he will play. While it’s hard to gauge how much direct fantasy benefit Adams will have in his first game in over a month, there’s little doubt his presence on the field will at least serve as a fantasy-opportunity enhancer for fellow wideout Randall Cobb against one of the toughest defenses in the league.
Steve Smith Sr., Baltimore Ravens, knee, (P): Smith has been playing with fractures in his back, so what’s a little knee tweak in practice going to do? Apparently, not much since the Ravens listed him as probable, despite Smith just appearing on the injury report Thursday. In fact, Smith didn’t miss a beat, returning to full practice Friday, suggesting he isn’t feeling limited in any way. Expect him to play Sunday.
Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos, shoulder, (P): The last we saw of Sanders before the Broncos went on bye, was him holding his arm, clearly in pain, after landing hard on his shoulder, resulting in an AC sprain. The bye week came at the perfect time, allowing him to rest and rehab the shoulder in advance of this week’s game. Sanders was able to participate daily in practice, upgrading to full participation on Friday. He is expected to play Sunday night in a big matchup against the Packers.
Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers, hamstring, (Q): Boldin was a late addition to the injury report after limited practice Thursday with a hamstring issue, never a good sign. An even worse sign was his non-participation in Friday’s practice. Although the team lists him as questionable, fantasy owners should have a backup plan in place. The good news is that the 49ers are visiting the Rams, giving them an unusual early game (1 p.m. ET).
John Brown, Arizona Cardinals, hamstring, (Q): Brown has been playing despite his hamstring injury and it appears he has a chance to do so again this week. Coming off a Monday night game leaves a shorter week of recovery, perhaps the reason Brown did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. He did return to limited practice Friday, but coach Bruce Arians said he didn’t see enough of Brown to make a clear determination for Sunday’s game. According to ESPN.com’s Josh Weinfuss, Brown will be a game-time decision, as Arians will wait to see how he looks in warmups. So far, Brown has been convincing enough pregame to play, but fantasy owners will be forced to wait it out this week to hear the final decision. Fortunately, this is an early game with a 1 p.m. ET start.
Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, knee, (D): While the Buccaneers didn’t make much out of Jackson’s knee injury following last week’s game, his absence from practice and the doubtful tag would seem to give us all the information necessary to set lineups this week. But, not so fast. According to ESPN.com’s Andrew Astleford, coach Lovie Smith says he will leave it up to Jackson whether or not to play Sunday, saying he doesn’t rule players out Friday since they could wake up Sunday pain-free and ready to play. It would be a surprise if Jackson is suddenly well enough to play, and Smith is known for being conservative when it comes to injuries (see: Evans, Mike from earlier this season). Still, fantasy owners holding out hope may want to see what happens in pregame warmups Sunday.
Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers, knee, (Q): After sitting out last week with an MCL sprain in his left knee, Gates doesn’t appear much closer to being able to play. Gates didn’t practice at all this week and it’s unlikely he’ll suddenly display the mobility necessary to perform at his position on Sunday. The Chargers have left the door open for him by labeling him as questionable to play, but fantasy owners are advised to make alternate plans.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, shoulder, (D):Seferian-Jenkins has already missed four games with a shoulder injury, and it would appear he’s in line to miss a fifth, but as ESPN.com’s Andrew Astleford pointed out, coach Lovie Smith left the door open by not ruling him out Friday. While Seferian-Jenkins returned to practice for the first time since injuring his shoulder in Week 2, Smith’s comments about his limited involvement hint at his not being quite ready for game action. “Doing things on the football field is going in the right direction,” Smith said. “But he’s not 100 percent yet.” The Bucs have not offered any details as to the specifics of the injury, so Seferian-Jenkins’ activity level goes a long way towards providing insight about the extent of his recovery. Fantasy owners may want to check the pregame inactives but should continue to have a backup plan in place.
Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs, groin, (P): Kelce remarkably has been on the injury report virtually every week, yet plays as if he has zero limitations. Expect him to do so again over in London against the Lions.
Owen Daniels, Denver Broncos, shoulder, (P): Despite being listed on the injury report, Daniels has practiced fully each day and is expected to play Sunday night against the Packers.
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.
Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers, foot: Once Hyde acknowledged last week that he is dealing with a stress fracture in his left foot, the risk of him missing time became more apparent. Hyde has clearly been trying to run despite experiencing significant pain and this week could not practice at all. While he’s been ruled out for Sunday, it’s not clear if this is a signal he will miss more time.
Joseph Randle, RB, Dallas Cowboys, back: Randle aggravated an oblique injury that has caused him problems since the preseason. He’s also had some non-football business to attend to this week. Either way, he’s not playing.
Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans, knee: Despite returning to limited practice sessions, Mariota ia not quite ready to be in a game situation. Zach Mettenberger starts again for the Titans.
Harry Douglas, WR, Tennessee Titans, ribs: Douglas will miss his second consecutive game with a rib injury.
Cecil Shorts III, WR, Houston Texans, hamstring: Shorts will sit out again this week with a hamstring injury, providing increased opportunity again for teammate Nate Washington across from DeAndre Hopkins.
Bilal Powell, RB, New York Jets, ankle: Powell is sidelined with an ankle injury this week, but Stevan Ridley was activated off the PUP list for the Jets and will provide backup to Chris Ivory with Powell out.
Leonard Hankerson, WR, Atlanta Falcons, hamstring: Hankerson continues to be bothered by a sore hamstring and will sit out this week’s game.
Mike Vick, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers, hamstring: Vick remains out again this week. Landry Jones will serve as the backup to Ben Roethlisberger, who is expected to return from his MCL injury Sunday.
Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants, calf: Until there is an upgrade in his practice status, Cruz remains sidelined with his calf injury.
Be sure to check out Fantasy Football Now, this Sunday on ESPNNews at 11:00 a.m. ET for last-minute inactives, rankings, injury impact and more!