Another week of football brings with it another round of injuries for fantasy owners to deal with. While injuries are always unfortunate, we have to remember just how human this game really is. For the most part, NFL players make their money through skill and pain tolerance – the latter being just as important as the former in some cases. Injuries are a significant part of the game in both real life and fantasy.
Therefore, managing injuries is key to getting that W from week to week. Below are several fantasy-relevant injuries that owners should be keeping their eye on going into Sunday.
Andrew Luck (QB) – Luck was originally listed as a full participant at Friday’s practice before having that designation changed to limited after he didn’t do any throwing. While he has appeared on the injury report earlier this season with a shoulder issue, Luck doesn’t seem to be in any jeopardy of not playing Sunday morning against Jacksonville. He has now been dealing with this right shoulder injury for numerous weeks, which means the Colts may have been playing it safe by watching the number of throws he takes in practice. Nonetheless, I have said since week one he will frequent the injury report this season so it’s nothing his owners shouldn’t be used to by now. Expect Luck to produce top-five quarterback numbers against the Jaguars in London this Sunday morning.
Jamaal Charles (RB) – Although Charles is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Steelers, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Friday that he will play. This will be Charles’ first game since he tore his ACL last season, so it remains to be seen what his workload will be. Owners should look at week four as a warm up of sorts for Charles as both Spencer Ware and Knile Davis should eat some carries.
Rashad Jennings (RB) – Jennings was limited in practice on Friday as he continues to progress from a thumb injury. On the concerning side of things, Jennings was wearing a larger brace on his thumb than he did in Thursday’s practice. Purely looking at that, it doesn’t appear as though the Giants’ starting running back will be ready for Sunday. The team’s concern here is that Jennings will have more of an issue carrying the ball compared to anything else. If Jennings is held out of Monday night’s contest, expect Orleans Darkwa and Bobby Rainy to man the backfield.
Kenneth Dixon (RB) – Dixon returned to practice for the first time this season on Wednesday. The third-round pick tore his MCL during the preseason and was a limited participant in practice for three days this week. While he is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s match up against Oakland, Dixon is someone all fantasy owners should be adding as he should run away with the Ravens starting RB job. He is targeting a week five return.
Marvin Jones (WR) – Despite being listed as a full participant in Friday’s practice, Jones is questionable for Sunday’s divisional match up against the Bears. The surprise leader in receiving yards through three weeks, Jones has emerged as Calvin Johnson’s replacement for Matt Stafford and the Lions’ offense. He was added to the injury report Thursday, but is still expected to suit up against Chicago which is certainly an intriguing match up for the skilled wide out.
Alshon Jeffery (WR) – Jeffery, who is no stranger to the injury report, is managing a hamstring and knee issue. For a third straight day, the Bears’ top wide out found himself limited during practice as he is questionable to play against Detroit. While the knee injury was never considered to be serious, Jeffery does have quite the history of hamstring injuries meaning owners should be worried here. There is no word yet on Jeffery’s chances to play Sunday, but expect the Bears to be cautious in what is already looking like a lost year.
Dez Bryant (WR) – After receiving word of a hairline fracture in Dez’s knee on Wednesday, the star wide out is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the 49ers. Owners shouldn’t expect Bryant to suit up for Sunday’s game as his knee needs a little time to heal before testing it.
Eric Decker (WR) – Decker has officially been ruled out of Sunday’s match up against the Seahawks. Despite a shoulder injury just surfacing on Wednesday’s injury report, Decker has a partially torn rotator cuff. Although this injury sounds fairly serious, head coach Todd Bowles considers the rock-solid wide out to be week to week. The only thing Decker can do now is rest his shoulder. Owners should expect fellow receiver Quincy Enunwa to see an uptick in production.
Sammy Watkins (WR) – On Friday Watkins went from being ruled out of Sunday’s game to being placed on injured reserve. This roster move means Watkins will miss at least the next eight weeks of action, which is unfortunate seeing the young receiver was right on the brink of super stardom. While this is a big blow to many fantasy rosters, allowing Watkins’ foot to properly heal is ultimately what is best. He is not expected to have a second procedure on his foot, but will visit specialist Dr. Robert Anderson.
Stefon Diggs (WR) – Diggs was added to the injury report after Friday’s practice with a groin issue. The Vikings’ breakout receiver dealt with the same groin injury late in last week’s practice. Despite Diggs seemingly tweaking this injury it doesn’t appear as though Minnesota is overly concerned about it. As long as all goes well in Sunday’s practice, Diggs should be a full-go Monday night against the Giants.
Phillip Dorsett (WR) – Dorsett was listed as a limited participant at Friday’s practice with an ankle injury and is currently questionable for Sunday’s match up against the Jaguars. This is the first time this week we’ve seen Dorsett on the injury report, so the cause of his ankle issue is up in the air. While Dorsett was a lock to start opposite of T.Y. Hilton, that now appears to be in question. With his game being played in London, owners looking to use Dorsett should set their alarms in order to see where the young receiver is at before game time.
Rob Gronkowski (TE) – After being limited throughout the week, Gronkowski is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Bills. After burning many owners last week, playing just 14 snaps, Gronk is primed for an uptick in his workload this weekend. He’ll likely remain on some kind of snap count, but the superstar tight end is virtually always a threat to put up the top numbers at his position from week to week.
Delanie Walker (TE) – Walker is still nursing a hamstring issue that kept him out of last Sunday’s action. Marcus Mariota’s favorite target last season was limited in Thursday and Friday’s practice. Despite Walker saying he’s beginning to feel healthy, he is expected to be a game-time decision against Houston. When Walker plays he is one of the top fantasy options at tight end.
Antonio Gates (TE) – After not practicing at all over the course of the week, Gates is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game against the Saints. He is expected to miss his second straight contest. Backup Hunter Henry makes for an interesting streaming option against a struggling New Orleans defense.
Julius Thomas (TE) – Thomas did not get a lot of work in practice and will be a game-time decision Sunday morning against the Colts. Despite dealing with an elbow injury, Thomas is expected to suit up for the NFL’s 2016 London debut. Whether this means he will be limited in some way is currently unknown, he’s almost a lock to be a top-ten tight end from week to week.
Eric Ebron (TE) – Like his teammate Jones, Ebron was a full participant in Friday’s practice but is listed as questionable for the Lions’ match up against the Bears. Dealing with an ankle injury, Ebron carried the same designation last Sunday where he ultimately had a decent showing with five receptions and 69 yards. The Lions’ tight end isn’t expect to miss or be limited in Sunday’s game against the Bears. Look for Ebron to have top-ten tight end production.
Jimmy Graham (TE) – After dealing with back spasms throughout the week, Graham was a full participant in Friday’s practice. Head coach Pete Carroll said that Graham was “fine” during Friday’s practice, but is also listed with a knee ailment in addition to his back. The Seahawks’ tight end is listed as questionable but is expected to play. Fantasy owners should check the pre-game inactive list nonetheless, however, as Graham’s status is always fluid.
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