It's Week 1 of the 2012 NFL season, and with another year of football action underway it also means that another fantasy football campaign is underway.
Before the first week is even in the books injuries are already taking a toll on the running back position, and here's the latest on some ballcarriers that may be best left on fantasy benches, including a late injury to the first overall pick in many fantasy drafts.
Arian Foster, Houston Texans
There was news late in the week that sent many fantasy owners into full-on freak-out mode, as Houston Texans running back Arian Foster, who is the centerpiece of many a fantasy team, missed practice Friday with an injury "around the knee area" according to Tania Ganguli of The Houston Chronicle.
The fourth-year pro, who topped 1,800 total yards and scored a dozen touchdowns in 2011, said that he "expects to play" Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. However, the fact remains that the Texans should handle the Dolphins fairly easily, and if Houston gets up big Foster's day could end early, making an elite fantasy play a suddenly dicey one.
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
The picture is even cloudier for the Week 1 fantasy prospects of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who tore his ACL and MCL last December.
The 27-year-old, who failed to top 1,000 rushing yards for the first time in his five-year career last season, has been cleared for contact and been practicing for some time without setback, but head coach Leslie Frazier has labeled Peterson a game-time decision for Sunday's tilt with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
For his part, Peterson, who has pushed his rehab from the get-go, insists that he's ready to play, although he admitted to ESPN that ultimately the call isn't his to make.
"I'm below; I got coach (Leslie) Frazier, then I've got the owner, there's a lot of people that's really calling the shots," Peterson said. "So, only thing I can do is control my part. I've been doing that this week, continue to do that today. And before the game, I'm going to go out there and see what I can do and hopefully I will get the nod. I want to play, obviously."
From a fantasy perspective, Peterson needs to be reserved this week, although should he play and perform well in limited duty it would certainly be cause for optimism for owners that drafted Peterson in the hopes that he'd return to form sooner as opposed to later.
Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers
I've saved the worst news for last. Reports aren't nearly as optimistic regarding the availability of Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart, who has been sidelined since spraining his ankle in the team's third preseason game.
The 25-year-old Stewart, who gained over 1,100 total yards a season ago, is listed as questionable for the team's game Sunday afternoon at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and head coach Ron Rivera told the Associated Press via The Washington Post that they remain hopeful the fifth-year pro will play.
“We do feel pretty good about Jonathan after hearing the progress I was told today,” Rivera said after the team’s practice at IMG Academy in Bradenton, where the team has been practice since the Democratic National Convention is in Charlotte. “There are reasons for optimism, but we’ll probably wait till Sunday morning to make the call. But we like his progress, that’s why we’re optimistic.”
However, the fact remains that after not practicing all week it's rather unlikely that Stewart will miraculously recover enough to be effective, leaving DeAngelo Williams to carry the bulk of the load in a very favorable fantasy matchup against the Buccaneers.
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