Week 1 NFL Injury Updates: Sunday Morning Med Check
Thanks for joining us for this week's Sunday Morning Med Check. I'll be here with Tyler Brooke throughout the morning leading up to kickoff to make sure that you have all the up-to-date info on who's playing, who's not and who should be in your fantasy lineups.
You'll find this morning's injury upgrades and downgrades below. These are not directly from the Official Injury Report, so don't mistake them. This is to let you know if certain players should be upgraded or downgrade based on injury situations in a fantasy context. I'll be updating these regularly as we lead up to kickoff. An easy way to keep it straight is to remember the OIR is about availability while the Med Check is about functionality.
All the way up to game time, we'll give you the breaking info, the insight and even take your questions. Please follow us on Twitter at @injuryexpert and @tbrookesports to drop in a question. We'll get to the best of them, but please keep them general so we can help as many people. "This or that" questions might help you, but not anyone else.
Also, be sure to join B/R's #FantasyLive from 12 to 1 Eastern, where Josh Zerkle and Anita Marks will take you right up to kickoff. I'll pop in a couple times with the latest injury updates on the biggest fantasy situations.
NEW ENGLAND AT BUFFALO
UPGRADE: Kenbrell Thompkins
DOWNGRADE: Buffalo DST
With Rob Gronkowski not making the trip with the Pats, that ends all the questions about him, right? No? OK, Gronkowski is still on track for a Week 3 or 4 return, though I'm sure we'll hear move-by-move reports all week.
The real questions are around the Pats passing game. Will Danny Amendola be healthy enough to take advantage of the weakened Buffalo defense? Probably, but a lot of people are very high on Kenbrell Thompkins as a hedge. EJ Manuel appears to be fully healthy; the matchup will be a much bigger issue for him, but his presence does help Stevie Johnson and CJ Spiller.
SEATTLE AT CAROLINA
UPGRADE: Sidney Rice
Seattle has defensive issues, but the team has had pretty much the whole of camp to adjust. With Percy Harvin out, making sure that Sidney Rice is as close to 100 percent as possible is key for the offense. He's close, though we'll have to watch for signs his repaired knee is holding up over time.
Carolina is shredded with injuries on the offense, with Jonathan Stewart and Kenjon Barner out long term. Mike Tolbert will get carries, but that's not a good thing for the Panthers.
MIAMI AT CLEVELAND
There's an eternal debate as to whether enough small injuries can add up to a big one. With depth issues on both sides, but relative health in the key fantasy positions, this one comes down to talent on most positions.
However, with Ahtyba Rubin out with a calf strain, the middle might be a bit more open for the Dolphins running game. It's not enough to give one player the upgrade, but it's the kind of thing that might tip an otherwise equal choice between Lamar Miller and another flex option. It's nice to be lucky, but it's better to be smart.
CINCINNATI AT CHICAGO
Chicago came with a blank OIR this week, which is pretty much the goal of the preseason. Cincinnati's important injuries pushed people out for the season or at least to IR-R, so they won't show up much on the OIR this week. Andrew Whitworth's continued absence won't help the passing game, but there's not enough to downgrade Andy Dalton or his targets.
MINNESOTA AT DETROIT
DOWNGRADE: Cordarelle Patterson
The Vikings are used to GTDs on their WRs. Of course, they thought Cordarelle Patterson would be a big upgrade over Percy Harvin in at least that department. Patterson's absence would put more pressure on Greg Jennings but might get him a couple extra targets as well. Ziggy Ansah is a GTD leaning to out, but Detroit has enough to cover for him.
OAKLAND AT INDIANAPOLIS
UPGRADE: Ahmad Bradshaw, Dwayne Allen
The huge question is: "How many touches does Ahmad Bradshaw get?" While no one—not even Chuck Pagano—knows for sure, the best guess is that it will be somewhere north of 12. If it gets closer to 20, he becomes a high second-tier back.
The Colts should have both Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen available after both had camp injuries. Allen is a bit more questionable due to his lingering foot injury, but he practiced well and seems to be able to get open more than Fleener.
The Raiders have some line problems, but not enough to downgrade it against a Colts pass rush that's still in transition.
KANSAS CITY AT JACKSONVILLE
UPGRADE: Travis Kelce
Tony Moeaki isn't going to show up on the OIR, but his absence is showing up here. Kansas City needs to have a healthy Travis Kelce; otherwise they lack depth at an already weak TE position that is important in Andy Reid's version of the WCO. I think he'll be able to play and while he's not a fantasy option, he frees up all the other KC offense to fit in their normal roles.
There are some defensive depth issues, but we'll see if Blaine Gabbert can exploit any of them. The Jags come in with Marcedes Lewis unlikely to play and Justin Forsett a GTD. That could open up Denard Robinson a bit more, though his usage remains a real unknown.
TAMPA BAY AT NY JETS
UPGRADE: Doug Martin
DOWNGRADE: Darrelle Revis, Tom Crabtree
All eyes will be on Darrelle Revis. It may not be a big test for him, given the QB and WR he will be facing, but that particular shade of green might bring something out in him. He'll be monitored and could only play in packages.
The Bucs will also be without Tom Crabtree, making their TE situation tenuous. Doug Martin is ready to play, and Greg Schiano may ask his RB to take on a massive load despite a recent concussion.
The Jets have a load of injuries, but the keys will be at WR with Santonio Holmes a GTD. All signs up to game day pointed to Holmes being out altogether, so it's hard to imagine him being very effective. Mark Sanchez is expected to be inactive, leaving Geno Smith the keys to the offense and its questionable weapons.
ATLANTA AT NEW ORLEANS
DOWNGRADE: Roddy White
The only significant injury for Atlanta is Roddy White. I expect him to keep his consecutive game streak going, but whether the ankle will keep him from getting open and running his routes is enough of a question mark to drop him down off of Tier 1. Julio Jones is a great option, and Matt Ryan finds the open man, period.
The Saints don't have any significant injuries, though with Marques Colston a bit banged up, the depth of the WR and continued lack of a solid run game are a bit concerning. Colston is still a start in most formats, but Jimmy Graham is likely to get a lot of looks, especially in the red zone.
TITANS AT STEELERS
Heath Miller and Le'Veon Bell won't help a shaky Pittsburgh offense yet, but they could. We'll have to see how they might fit in down the line if you were one who grabbed Bell hoping he's back quick. Things sound positive, but Week 2? If there's one thing we know, you can't trust Bell. Problem is that there's no runner you can trust right now.
The Titans have no significant injuries.
GREEN BAY AT SAN FRANCISCO
This one's going to come down to talent, as it should. Neither team has any fantasy significant injuries. The Niners won't have Nnamdi Asomugha, but they have depth to cover for him. The threat of hitting Colin Kaepernick on any read-option play should be watched, but remember that the threat of hitting Aaron Rodgers is always there as well.
ARIZONA AT ST LOUIS
DOWNGRADE: Rashard Mendenhall
The Rams come in healthy, but the Cards came out of Bruce Arians' first camp with a lot of health issues. Most are depth issues on defense and at tight end, but the major question is whether or not Rashard Mendenhall is ready to be the RB1. Mendenhall is probable and should get most of the carries, but he hasn't inspired much confidence, either this camp or in the past couple years.
There are chances for a lot of the other backs, but none of them seized even a lock on the RB2 slot. Mendenhall has been very injury-prone, but maybe a new offense and medical staff helps him. This week, I'm waiting and watching.
One bonus note—if you're looking for a fantasy twist, Patrick Peterson is going to be playing some offense this season. The vertical attack might work occasionally, and in some formats, the Cards DST will get the points. It's a loophole, but take them where you find it!
SUNDAY/MONDAY NIGHT GAMES
UPGRADE: Robert Griffin, David Wilson
DOWNGRADE: Arian Foster
It's harder to read games from further out, but we know that Robert Griffin III is ready to go. He is cleared for all activity, and while he may run less, that's a football decision and not a medical one. The Eagles are relatively healthy, though the loss of Jeremy Maclin makes the WR depth for Michael Vick an issue.
On Sunday night, the Giants line will be a major question mark, missing both David Diehl and David Baas. That could make it tougher to get a read on David Wilson as he tries to take the feature load without a solid backup. Jason Pierre-Paul is a true GTD for the Giants. The Cowboys' only real issues are on the defensive line where a number of injuries have them thin.
Monday's late game has a ton of injuries and bears watching closely. Arian Foster is said to be splitting the load with Ben Tate, but I'll believe that when I see it.
The Texans should get DeAndre Hopkins in despite just recovering from a concussion, while Ed Reed is going to be limited if he plays. Reed is definitely not starting and is likely to just play in certain packages.
The Chargers have a ton of depth issues. Manti Te'o is out, while we're waiting to see how close to 100 percent players like Ryan Matthews and Malcom Floyd are.
All indications from sidelines, including video, is positive for Roddy White. These are the kinds of decisions that can make or break your fantasy week.
With that, we're closing up. Thanks for all the questions and interest. Hope to see you back here next week. I'll be watching the NFL injuries through the game and will have updates on Bleacher Report as necessary.
@injuryexpert Roddy White, Kenbrell Thompkins or Jordy Nelson?— Beni Shpringer (@Vicious_Fishes) September 8, 2013
Nelson is the kind of upper tier WR that you can bench White for today. Thompkins isn't, yet. I like Nelson over White, and no, I'm not worried about Nelson's knee surgery. In fact, it's a positive.
@injuryexpert what do you think? Ben Tate or Eddie lacy for rb 2?— Jamon Hernandez (@Jamon_Hernandez) September 8, 2013
Perfect RB2 question - or maybe flex. I hope your RB1 is solid, because both of these are a bit speculative. Tate needs Kubiak to hand him the ball instead of Foster, while Lacy has to get the carries in a Packers offense that isn't used to running. I'll take Lacy and hope he can show what he did for Alabama.
Colts are starting only four wide receivers, per a tweet from Mike Wells of ESPN. That means we could see big numbers for the starters, plus TY Hilton. Remember that Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen get lots of targets as well, so it won't be quite the bonanza for Darius Heyward-Bey that it would be on some teams. Reggie Wayne is a good play regardless. The Colts biggest question for fantasy owners is who gets the red zone first look.
D.J. Hayden is active and playing for the Oakland Raiders today, but only in certain packages. It's unclear how much he will see of him, but the fact that he will be playing after such a major injury in college is quite incredible.
@injuryexpert Garçon or Bush in the flex?— T2Va (@T2Va) September 8, 2013
I like Reggie Bush here. I think he showed last year that when/if healthy, he can be a solid RB, even a first tier RB. With a pass-heavy offense, his talents match up well with the needs and he won't be asked to do too much between the tackles running, which is where he can get overloaded. I like him today and all season.
Cordarelle Patterson is active and in return leagues, he could be a nice sleeper at the Flex or WR3 slot. He's got a good matchup, seems to have meshed well with the new look Vikings offense and is over the back issue that could have held him back. He's definitely talented but has enough strikes against him to make him something of a sleeper today.
@injuryexpert do I play roddy today over miles?— Martin Chapman (@ttintn) September 8, 2013
White's injury puts him in question, but with an option like Miles Austin or any top or second tier WR, you have to push White down. Don't push him below guys who are just lottery tickets or aren't projected to put up a touchdown's worth of production.
Interesting note from Chris Mortenson of ESPN on Mark Sanchez's shoulder. Sanchez is reportedly headed to see Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion on his shoulder. Mortenson says the Jets are worried Sanchez has a torn labrum. If there is a significant tearing there, Sanchez could be headed to surgery and the IR.
Roddy White officially active. His ankle still an issue, but he is playing and likely starting.
@injuryexpert Tompkins, or Ballard in flex spot. Non ppr.— scott carnduff (@scarnduff) September 8, 2013
Ballard's role is probably bigger today as the Colts let Ahmad Bradshaw get his feet under him, literally. While he's not the RB1 and could get as few as 10 touches, it's tougher to take an unproven rookie over him. Thompkins is the upside play, Ballard is the safe play.
I'm worried about Roddy White, but in most situations, you'd take him over any untested rookie. Still, the ankle questions leads us to wonder and let's face it, Tom Brady has to throw to somebody. Thompkins may well end up being that someone. You're playing an educated guess on targets versus a limited star. I'll go Thompkins, slightly.
Gabbert doesn't appear to have anything protecting thumb as he throws. Warmup looks pretty routine so far.— John Oehser (@JohnOehser) September 8, 2013
Blaine Gabbert is out throwing normally, if you were worried. Of course, if Blaine Gabbert is your fantasy QB you have bigger issues. The thumb was a bit of an issue during preseason and Gabbert may not have the longest leash with Chad Henne available. I still expect the offense to bias to the run today, which helps Maurice Jones-Drew and perhaps Denard Robinson.
@TBrookeSports ppr leagues, rudolph or cook and other one d williams, k britt or k wright— Tony DiEmanuele (@swish11) September 8, 2013
For the tight ends, I'd go with Cook, he seems to be the more reliable option as this point. In regards to the other three, I'd go with Britt. We know that he has big-play potential, the question will just be if Locker can get him the ball. Still, he's bound to get some catches and make a couple plays today.
The NFL Players Association sent a memo to players this weekend reminding them of the concussion protocols. It's very difficult to change a culture, but we've already seen some positive steps.
The NFL will have it's "concussion observer" back this season and they will be in direct communication with a sideline tester, who has several options available to him for testing. We'll see if this makes any discernible impacts, but in preseason it did appear to work well.
Speaking of concussions, DeAndre Hopkins was cleared to play tomorrow for the Texans. The idea that his concussion lingered because of a past car accident is a bit silly. He had a concussion, followed the protocol and we'll see how he plays opposite Andre Johnson.
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