Fantasy football injury outlooks

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 NFL game-status injury report and how their status might impact fantasy teams.

For those who might 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 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, 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 season, at the end of each positional section, there is a subgrouping 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 seasons 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.

There are more injuries to factor into the mix as the season progresses and there are four teams on bye this week: The Indianapolis Colts, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers and the Carolina Panthers are all off this week. The Tennessee Titans and the Pittsburgh Steelers played Thursday night, leaving 13 remaining matchups whose fantasy-relevant injured players are represented here.

Good luck in Week 11, everyone!


Quarterbacks

Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers, concussion, (Q), 4:05 p.m. ET: Rivers took some big hits in Week 10, but that’s nothing new. What was new for him were concussion-related symptoms which he reported when he appeared at the team facility Monday. He was then placed into the concussion protocol and has been working his way through a progression all week. Rivers was a limited participant Wednesday, then increased to full involvement Thursday, minus any contact (typical for a quarterback, even in padded practice sessions). On Friday, Rivers participated in another full session and was cleared for contact, paving the way for him to make his 195th consecutive start, barring a setback.

Players off game-status injury report:

Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks, jaw, Monday 8:30 p.m. ET: Wilson took a big hit last Thursday night and could be seen moving his jaw as if he were wondering if it was still in place. As it turned out, he did injure his jaw and wore a mouthguard for several days afterward to splint it. Not that it limited his practice sessions any. Wilson was a full participant from Thursday forward and is on track to play Monday night.


Running backs

Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars, ankle, (Q), 1 p.m. ET: Seeing Fournette listed as a limited participant in practice early in the week because of his ankle really didn’t set off any alarms. After all, Fournette had already taken the field since suffering the original injury a month ago and, while not 100 percent recovered, there were no obvious red flags. Even Fournette indicated Thursday he would be playing against the Browns, appearing more concerned about the cold temps than anything else. On Friday however, Fournette was a nonparticipant in practice, and suddenly the tweak of his ankle in the Week 10 contest appeared to be a significant concern. The questionable designation reflects the team’s uncertainty about Fournette’s availability. It will ultimately come down to how he looks in pregame warm-ups and, perhaps, the team’s consideration of whether another week of rest might be of benefit in the big picture.

Terrance West, Baltimore Ravens, calf, (Q), 1 p.m. ET: West has not been seen on game day since he exited with a calf injury in Week 5. While it’s encouraging to see that he is returning to full health, there is no guarantee that he plays, and it might not be the calf that keeps him out. West practiced in full throughout the week, suggesting he is healthy enough to see competitive action. But the Ravens have another player returning from injury. Fellow running back Danny Woodhead has been on injured reserve since aggravating a hamstring strain (originally injured in the preseason) in Week 1 after just six offensive snaps. He has been back in practice for two weeks and this week was a full participant daily. While coach John Harbaugh remained noncommittal regarding Woodhead’s status, saying it would be up to the medical staff, there was certainly a buzz around the team regarding his potential return. The Ravens did activate Woodhead on Saturday afternoon making him eligible to play on Sunday. It’s reasonable to expect the Ravens could limit his usage in his first game back, assuming he does play, given it will be his first action in over two months. But there is little doubt that his involvement will escalate quickly going forward if all goes well.

Players off game-status injury report:

Isaiah Crowell, shoulder, and Duke Johnson, shoulder, Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m. ET: Both Browns backs end up on this week’s report with the same body part listed. Crowell was limited Wednesday and Thursday but upgraded to full practice Friday. Johnson did not miss any practice reps. Neither was considered at great risk of missing the game, and their availability was confirmed when they were removed from the pregame injury report.

Eddie Lacy, Seattle Seahawks, groin, Monday 8:30 p.m. ET: The running back situation seems to be forever in flux in Seattle, primarily because of injuries. C.J. Prosise returned to action Nov. 9 just to be lost again to another ankle injury. Lacy has most recently been dealing with a groin injury, but it was considered minor. After a limited practice session Thursday, Lacy was listed as a full participant both Friday and Saturday and has been removed from the pregame injury report for Monday night.


Wide receivers

Sterling Shepard, New York Giants, illness, (Q), 1 p.m. ET: Surprise! Shepard was added to the injury report Saturday because of an illness. Leading up to Saturday, Shepard was a full practice participant, so this was unexpected. The recency of his illness makes his status legitimately questionable. Fantasy players will want to be sure to check morning news reports for updates.

Alshon Jeffery, Philadelphia Eagles, ankle, (Q), 8:30 p.m. ET: Jeffery was routinely listed on the injury report in 2016, but this year has been vastly different … until now. He was not on the injury report Wednesday, but was added Thursday as a limited participant when an ankle injury — one that Jeffery has been dealing with for a while according to head coach Doug Pederson — flared up. He did return to full participation Friday. Jeffery has said he will play, and Pederson’s claim that this is a “minor” ankle injury would seem to support that designation, but given the “Q” by his name and the kickoff time, those with Jeffery on their roster would be wise to have a backup plan.

Danny Amendola, New England Patriots, knee, (Q), 4:25 p.m. ET: This is one of many weeks that Amendola has been listed as questionable, but he has only missed one game. With Chris Hogan out again this week, the Patriots’ true receiving corps remains thinner. Amendola also serves a key role on special teams, virtually ensuring he’s active when available. The team plays in Mexico City against Oakland this week.

John Brown, Arizona Cardinals, back, (Q), 1 p.m. ET: After being an early-season regular on the injury report because of a lingering quad injury that carried over from the preseason, Brown has been healthy for the past few weeks. Unfortunately, he returns to the injury report in Week 11, this time because of a back injury. After being limited Wednesday, Brown did not practice at all Thursday. He did return to practice Friday, but the questionable designation indicates the team is not completely confident he’ll be game ready. It’s also worth noting the Cardinals will likely have Blaine Gabbert throwing passes to receivers this week after Drew Stanton sprained his knee last week. This is just another change to an offense that has had to adjust frequently due to injury at the skill positions.

Jordan Matthews, Buffalo Bills, knee, (Q), 4:05 p.m. ET: Matthews was limited in practice daily because of a knee injury. He comes into the game as questionable but appears to be on track toward playing Sunday. If he does play, he will be dealing with a quarterback change as Nathan Peterman will be the signal-caller for the Bills against the Chargers.

Kenny Stills, Miami Dolphins, back, (Q), 1 p.m. ET: Stills was added to the injury report Thursday as a limited participant because his back “wasn’t feeling right,” according to head coach Adam Gase. Stills was given Friday off to get treatment. Although Stills seemed to think he’d be ready by Sunday, Gase was not as confident. He will likely be a game-time decision.

Players off game-status injury report:

Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys, knee, 8:30 p.m. ET: There isn’t much to see here as the real question mark for Bryant came in advance of last week’s game. Despite both knee and ankle injuries, he was active and looked good moving when on the field. This week, the ankle is removed from the injury report, and Bryant is removed from the report entirely in advance of Sunday night’s game against the Eagles.

Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons, ankle, Monday 8:30 p.m. ET: Jones is often on the injury report but plays week in and week out. He has already played through this ankle injury and will do so again after practicing late in the week.

Marqise Lee, Jacksonville Jaguars, knee, 1 p.m. ET: Lee has proven that he can not only play through this knee injury, he can also do so successfully. Perhaps part of why he is able to do so is because he is given additional rest time during the week. He has been the favored target of quarterback Blake Bortles, seeing 23 passes come his way in the past two weeks, and he has found the end zone twice in that same time period. Lee did not practice Wednesday, returned to limited work Thursday and repeated as a limited participant Friday. His removal from the pregame injury report signals he will be ready to go Sunday against the Browns, a game in which fellow receiver Allen Hurns will be sidelined due to an ankle injury.

Demaryius Thomas, hamstring, and Bennie Fowler, ankle, Denver Broncos, 4:25 p.m. ET: Similar to last week, Thomas and Fowler appeared on the practice injury reports because of their lower extremity ailments but are removed from the pregame injury report. Thomas was a limited participant Wednesday but posted full practices Thursday and Friday. Fowler was a full participant in practice throughout the week. Brock Osweiler will be the starting quarterback, but there is at least a possibility that Paxton Lynch dresses as the No. 2 this week.

Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins, chest, 1 p.m. ET: Landry was listed on the practice report with a chest injury and was limited in Wednesday’s session. He returned to full practice status Thursday and Friday and is off the pregame injury report.

Zay Jones, Buffalo Bills, ankle, 4:05 p.m. ET: Jones sat in Week 10 with an ankle injury sustained the prior week. After resting it for one game, Jones was able to practice fully throughout the week. Assuming Jones plays, he will be looking for passes from Peterman this week, who has been named the starter for the Bills as they face the Chargers.

Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks, hip, Monday 8:30 p.m. ET: Despite his appearance on the injury report with a hip issue, Baldwin was a full practice participant all week and has been removed from the pregame injury report for Monday.


Tight ends

Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills, knee (Q), 4:05 p.m. ET: Clay returned to action in Week 10 after missing the four previous weeks due to a sprained MCL and a torn meniscus. He only had two catches against the Saints but emerged from the game with no reported setbacks. His controlled practice reps throughout the week come as no surprise, especially since that was a pattern that predated his latest knee injury. Despite the questionable tag, he is expected to play, but whether he will remain a favored target with a new quarterback, Peterman, at the helm remains to be seen.

Martellus Bennett, New England Patriots, shoulder (Q), 4:25 p.m. ET: Bennett was questionable heading into last week’s game, and his status was far less certain then, given his recent move from the Packers to the Patriots. He played and caught all three of his targets, so there is little reason to think he won’t play again. He is listed as questionable though, so if he’s under consideration on your fantasy roster, be sure to check pregame inactives.

Players off game-status injury report:

Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles, hamstring, 8:30 p.m. ET: Ertz was a late inactive in Week 9 after the hamstring that limited his practice several days earlier tightened up during pregame warm-ups. The team headed into a bye, and when the Eagles returned, Ertz was back in full practice Monday. The better news was that he was able to practice fully throughout the rest of the week and is off the pregame injury report heading into Sunday.

Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks, knee, Monday 8:30 p.m. ET: Graham was on the Seahawks’ injury report because of his knee, but it only held him to one limited practice Thursday. Following back-to-back full practices Friday and Saturday, Graham was removed from the pregame injury report and is expected to play Monday.


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.

Devonta Freeman, WR, Atlanta Falcons, concussion: This comes as no surprise as there were reports early in the week that Freeman was likely to sit this week after suffering a concussion Sunday. Freeman did not practice at all this week and was ruled out Saturday.

Ty Montgomery, RB, ribs, and Aaron Jones, RB, knee, Green Bay Packers: Montgomery aggravated the rib injury he sustained in Week 4 on Sunday and was unable to participate in practice at all this week. Despite coach Mike McCarthy’s comment that this did not appear to be a “log-term concern” for Montgomery, he is not a lock to return next week. Jones suffered an MCL injury in last week’s game, and ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported a projected absence in the range of three to six weeks, suggesting a moderate sprain. In the meantime, it will be Jamaal Williams garnering the starting role this week.

Chris Hogan, WR, New England Patriots, shoulder: Hogan remains out of practice since originally injuring his shoulder in Week 8. While the team stayed in Colorado in advance of the trip to Mexico City this weekend, Hogan remained behind in Massachusetts to rehab his shoulder.

Jordan Reed, TE, hamstring, and Terrelle Pryor, WR, ankle, Washington Redskins:Following a setback late last week that caused him to miss his second straight game with a hamstring injury, Reed is now going to miss a third. It is not a complete surprise after Reed was limited to work on a side field throughout the week. As ESPN.com’s John Keim reported, Reed continues to feel “a twinge” in the hamstring when slowing down, of particular concern given that he injured it while decelerating. Given that Washington plays again Thanksgiving Day, it would have perhaps been riskier to return to two games in such close proximity to one another. Meanwhile, Pryor is dealing with a foot/ankle injury that has him concerned about his status for the remainder of the season. He is out for at least this game.

Will Fuller, WR, Houston Texans, knee: Fuller suffered “cracked ribs” in last week’s contest and was clearly in pain at the time of the injury. Not surprisingly, he remained out of practice this week and will miss Sunday’s game.

Allen Hurns, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars, ankle: Hurns got everyone’s attention last week when he had the presence of mind to crawl to the sideline after injuring his ankle late in the game so as not to trigger an automatic runoff of the clock. He was in a walking boot and on crutches at the end of the game. An MRI early in the week reportedly revealed no structural damage, but he has not yet returned to practice and is out this week.

Dan Bailey, K, Dallas Cowboys, right groin: From the outset, there were indications Bailey would be out until at least Thanksgiving, so it is no surprise to see him on the “out” listing for Sunday. The Cowboys play Thanksgiving Day, so there will be practice reports early in the week to give updates on his status.

Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, right shoulder: As planned by the team’s medical staff, Winston remains sidelined again this week as he allows his injured shoulder to heal. To that end, Winston underwent a PRP injection and continues to do light work in rehab, according to head coach Dirk Koetter. Ryan Fitzpatrick gets the start again for the Buccaneers.

Be sure to check out Fantasy Football Now, this Sunday on ESPN2 at 10:00 a.m. ET (note new start time – a full 3 hours of news and analysis) for last-minute inactives, rankings, injury impact and more!

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