Last year, I had an opportunity to write a weekly injury article here at FFAffair.Com. I closely followed the injury reports for all teams and would release them late Thursday afternoon. This year, I have decided to release it on Fridays so that it can be as up-to-date as possible heading into the weekend.
As a PSA, this piece is very important for all fantasy players and formats. Although some fantasy managers set and forget their lineups early in the week, that is never a good idea. Even after today’s information is released, several players will come down to “game-time decisions” on Sunday.
Being the first rendition of “Bumps and Bruises” this season, I wanted to quickly update the statuses of a few important fantasy players on injured reserve. It has been announced that Curtis Samuel (groin) will be active for week four’s game at the Falcons. Two other wide receivers, N’Keal Harry (shoulder) and Rashod Bateman (groin), have been designated to return. This designation opens up a three week practice window in which the team has an opportunity to activate them to the game-day roster or place them on season-ending IR. As of late Friday, ESPN reported that Coach John Harbaugh said: “ Bateman made good progress” at practice this week. He returned to practice on Wednesday and made it through the week setback free. It’s “possible” that he returns in week four. His return would likely move Marquise Brown back to the inside.
This season, the NFL instituted a new IR rule. It was made official that an unlimited number of players could return to the game roster after sitting out a minimum of three games. Both T.Y. Hilton (back) and Tre’quan Smith (hamstring) have served their three weeks, but neither are ready to return to the field as of now.
In addition to the above listed players, a few are currently in the process of sitting out their mandated time. These include: 1) Tyrod Taylor (hamstring); 2)Tua Tagovailoa (broken ribs); 3) Nico Collins (shoulder); 4) Michael Gallup (calf); 5) Jarvis Landry (knee); and 6) Tyrell Williams (concussion).
Two players, James White (hip) and K.J. Hamlet (knee), suffered a season ending injuries in week three. Jerry Jeudy (ankle) is expected to be out another three to four weeks, while Ryan Fitzpatrick will remain out until at least early November.
Declared Out For Week Four:
Although several important fantasy players have been declared out for week four, Christian McCaffrey (hamstring ) will be the highest-rated (via pre-season ADP) player to miss this week. McCaffrey was injured in the second quarter of last Thursday’s game against the Texans. I have linked the play in which he got injured above. In his stead, Chuba Hubbard had 11 carries for 52 yards. He also added three catches for 27 yards and is expected to be the primary benefactor of McCaffrey’s absence. At this point in time, a return date is not known. McCaffrey has avoided IR so far, so it remains to be seen how much time he will actually miss.
A.J. Brown/Julio Jones (both hamstring injuries)- on Friday, it was announced that both Brown and Jones would miss Sunday’s game at the Jets. Both suffered in game injuries last week. While out, fellow WR Nick Westbrook-Ikhine saw the biggest uptick in targets. He had four catches(on four targets) for 53 yards and a touchdown. Look for Westbrook-Ikhine to be a value play in DFS ($3200) and seasonal formats.
Sterling Shepard/Darius Slayton (both hamstring injuries)-just like the Titans’ duo, Shepard and Slayton were injured during their week three games. Waiver claim Collin Johnson had five catches for 51 yards playing in their place. Both Johnson and Evan Engram should have increased target shares in week four.
In addition to the above listed players, Russell Gage (ankle-also missed week three), Gio Bernard (MCL), Marquez Valdes-Scantling ( hamstring), and Elijah Moore (concussion) have been declared out. Jamison Crowder and Denzel Mims will share Moore’s role, but both have minimal fantasy value this week. In Gage’s week three absence, fellow wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus had three catches for 32 yards and a touchdown.
Doubtful For Week Four
Each day of the practice week, every NFL team is required to release a practice report. There are three important designations: 1) FP (full participation); 2) LP (limited participation); and 3) DNP (did not participate). Most players that are able to get in at least a limited practice tend to play on Sunday. The concern for not playing arises when a player is registered as “DNP,” especially on consecutive days.
At this point in time, the only player considered as “doubtful” is Rob Gronkowski (ribs). Although Gronk has failed to practice this week, insiders are saying “there is no way that he would miss this game” -a matchup with his former team.
Questionable for Week Four:
Although Gronk is the only player listed as doubtful, there are several more listed as questionable. Many of these players could come down to “ game time decisions.” I will list each fantasy relevant player and their practice availability for the week.
Dalvin Cook (ankle)- after missing week three, Cook has returned to “LP” practices on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. He is considered a game time decision for Sunday.
Darrell Henderson (ribs)- after missing week three, Henderson was able to put in “LP” practices each day this week. He is considered questionable for a late afternoon game.
Josh Jacobs- also missed week three but returned to an “LP” practice on Thursday and Friday. With the Raiders playing at the Chargers on Monday night, Saturday will provide a good barometer in regards to his availability.
Eli Mitchell (shoulder)-after missing week three, Mitchell has practiced in a limited capacity every day this week. He is another one of the late afternoon questionable tags.
Andy Dalton (knee)/Justin Fields-after Dalton missed week three and Fields had a rough outing in his debut; the starting QB will be a game-day call.
Chase Claypool (hamstring)-at this point in time, one of the most difficult statuses to determine. Claypool put in an “LP” on Thursday but was downgraded to “DNP” on Friday. Typically, late week downgrades are not a good sign. Fantasy managers should closely monitor any developments.
George Kittle (calf)- after back-to-back “DNP” on Wednesday and Thursday, Kittle returned to a limited practice on Friday. As he is playing in a late afternoon game, fantasy managers should have an alternative available just in case.
Several other players are listed as game time decisions but are unlikely to miss the game. These players include; 1) Melvin Gordon (ribs); 2) D’Andre Swift (groin) ; 3) Jack Doyle (back); 4) Tyler Lockett (hip); and 5) Antonio Gibson. Gordon and Swift both practiced every day this week, albeit in a limited capacity. Lockett returned to a full practice on Friday after a “DNP” on Thursday. After a “DNP” on Thursday, Gibson returned to a limited practice on Friday. Meanwhile, Doyle returned to a limited practice on Friday, after consecutive “DNP’s” to start the week.
As always, I would encourage fantasy managers to closely monitor news throughout the weekend. Most importantly, inactives will be announced 90 minutes before kickoff. In addition, always make sure that you have an available player(late Sunday afternoon/Sunday Night/Monday night) to replace your late afternoon starter should they get scratched.