The injury reports have been filed and player availability for Week 5 has become more clear. We take a look at player designations and practice participation levels to get the best idea of who’s playing this week and who isn’t. Updates will still filter in as Saturday goes on, especially for the GTD (Game Time Decision) folks. So let’s take a look at the guys who have all of us racking our brains as we head into Week 5.
Keep in mind, if a guy isn’t listed here, he’s already been ruled out or I’m not concerned enough about the injury to discuss. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at z_dahdul for breaking news and up to the minute analysis as news breaks this weekend.
Fantasy Football Domination – FFLocker Room Late Week Injury Essentials
(injury and designation in parentheses)
Miles Austin (hamstring strain, OUT): Austin continues to work on his strained hamstring, as he hasn’t practiced since suffering the injury in Week 3. Austin continues to get treatment instead of participating in practice-related drills, so the fact that he’s already ruled out is not surprising. WR’s just can’t explode and burst the same when they’re dealing with any lower extremity muscular injury, specifically one as important as the hamstrings. And, as we’ve talked about before, his extensive history of soft tissue injuries in the past (this is his third time with an official hamstring strain) will cause the Cowboys to tread lightly. Let’s hope for a Week 6 return.
Julio Jones (knee/thigh, Questionable): Jones’ standard participation in practice since he originally “sprained” his knee a few weeks back has been limited, but obviously has not stopped him from playing in any of the games. However, he looks to be dealing with another minor issue, which he himself says was a “stinger” to his left thigh. I’m not exactly sure if I’ve ever heard the term stinger used with a thigh injury, but my guess would be that he took a blow to the thigh area and suffered some sort of contusion (bruise) to the quadriceps or the femur (thigh bone) itself. I mentioned on Tuesday that he left the game versus the Patriots after the suffering the injury and it could be something to watch moving forward. It appears it was something, but not enough to warrant any concern. He’ll be out there Monday night
Roddy White (ankle sprain, Questionable): According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, White suffered a setback during this past Sunday’s game against the Patriots as he tries to recover from a high ankle sprain. This nightmare of a situation for fantasy owners continues to get worse. Everyone can see that he’s not 100% and White himself has even begun to see the writing on the wall that this is an injury you just can’t play through. As a recap, White suffered a high ankle sprain (tearing of the ligament that holds the tibia and fibula together just above the ankle joint, causing instability and significant pain with cutting, planting, and jumping motions) in August and has not been right ever since. This type of sprain does not respond well to playing on it, as weight bearing and dynamic motion are the motions that this ligament has to withstand. When you stress an already partially torn ligament, it can lead to greater amounts of pain and cause increased injury to the already damaged area. White just isn’t going to heal while continuing to play through it, which means he won’t be 100% until he decides to shut it down for a week or two. This would be the ideal time for White to rest, playing a depleted Jets team Monday night, having a bye week, and then playing lowly division rival Tampa Bay coming off the bye. For this week, though, expect White to be out there in a clearly limited fashion.
Kellen Winslow (knee, Probable): Winslow appears to have had a regular rest day on Thursday in an effort to manage his balky knee that his plagued him his entire career. Winslow should be out there on Monday night and is expected to have a much larger role this week with both Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill expected to miss the game. Winslow would be a good bye week fill in this week as Jets QB Geno Smith continues to target his starting TE a ton.
Stevan Ridley (thigh injury, OUT): Ridley was not able to practice at all between Wednesday and Friday and has been ruled out this week against the Bengals. No word on the exact extent of his injury, which was not apparent during Sunday’s game when he was believed to have suffered the injury. Until we know exactly what Ridley is dealing with, it’s difficult to speculate on how long this could keep him out. His practice participation levels appear to be a big factor in deciphering the Patriot way in regards to determining if a guy is going to play, since they are usually very tight-lipped about the exact injury. Let’s take a wait and see approach.
Cecil Shorts (groin strain, Questionable): Shorts missed practice both Thursday and Friday, which is where the questionable tag came from. He’s dealing with a groin strain, which was originally considered minor, but his lack of practice time this week doesn’t bode well. We’ll know more this weekend, so keep an eye on him, but it may have to wait until we know whether he’s active or not on Sunday to determine whether you should start him or not. Groin strains can be very limiting for a WR due to losing dynamic control of the involved leg during cutting and sprinting in addition to tolerating pain. My expectation is that he’ll play, but stay tuned.
Andre Johnson (shin bruise, Questionable): Johnson appears to be on track to play this week, following the same plan he did last week (rest instead of practice) due to the presence of swelling around the injured site. This type of swelling is not uncommon following a return to play, which is exactly why the Texans are going to allow him to treat the swelling and pain in order to be ready to play on Sunday. Clearly, he wasn’t very limited by this issue last week, and he really shouldn’t be this week either. Expect AJ to be ready to go.
Rob Gronkowski (back and forearm surgeries, Questionable): Gronk continues to be on the road to recovery, reportedly getting closer and closer each week. After all the drama surrounding whether Gronk and the Pats were having communication issues and weren’t on the same page, it appears that the consensus is that Week 6 seems much more likely for his return than this week. At this point, it appears the biggest concern is how his surgically repaired forearm holds up to the contact that occurs while blocking and bracing himself when he hits the ground. Remember, the last time Gronk was on the field, he caught a ball, went to the ground, and re-fractured his forearm, so it’s tough to get mentally prepared to return to play when your last memory is breaking a bone. However, he’s had around 6 months to heal, which should be more than enough time from a physiologic standpoint. Although he’s tagged as questionable, expect him to be back in the lineup Week 6, not this week. However, follow this story all weekend just in case.
Danny Amendola (torn adductor longus, Questionable): Another week, another questionable tag. He seems to be on the mend, showing slightly increased practice participation this week versus last. He even seems semi-confident that he could play this week. How effective he would be is a whole other question. While the torn muscle is probably in the process of scarring down and healing, the function of the muscle will not be restored. He reportedly has been able to move around in practice without a noticeable limp and has been able to participate in practice drills without any reported setbacks. He’s clearly getting more comfortable with WR-specific activities, but there is no simulating game speed. If he proves healthy enough to play, you probably need to play him. But just know the chance of re-injury is there, so there’s some risk associated with playing him. Nevertheless, watch for the inactive list Sunday morning and plan accordingly.
Aaron Dobson (neck, Questionable): Dobson appears to be progressing well during this past week, but continues to be considered day-to-day. The good news is that there was no structural damage in his neck, so it’ll just be a matter of allowing the area to heal and dealing with the lingering swelling/pain. He is officially listed as questionable and limited in practice, but my guess is he doesn’t play this week.
Darren McFadden (hamstring strain, Doubtful): McFadden continues to deal with a hamstring strain and it appears that he’s not close to being back after sitting out practice all week. He was not able to participate all week, which really never bodes well for a guy’s availability. He won’t play this week, so plan on Rashad Jennings getting starters’ carries this week. We’ll revisit McFadden’s likelihood of playing in Week 6 next week.
Ray Rice (hip flexor strain, not on Injury Report): The great news is that Rice is no longer listed on the injury report, so we know he’ll be in the lineup. After some really down play to start the season, Rice finally looks to be back to near-full health. Expect the Ravens to try to get Rice more involved this week after he was essentially a non-factor last week. The good news is that he didn’t run with a limp and was able to cut without any noticeable limitation. Also, Bernard Pierce did absolutely nothing with his opportunity, so Rice is in line for a big workload this week. Start him with confidence.
Marcel Reece (knee sprain, Questionable): Reece also left Sunday’s contest after suffering a knee injury. He had an MRI earlier this week, then returned to limited practice participation on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. While it does bode well that he practiced after undergoing an MRI, it’s not a good thing that he didn’t get a bump in participation level as the week went on. He appears to be in line to play, but will probably be more of a complement to Jennings than anything else.
Eddie Lacy (concussion, Probable): Lacy looks to be ready to return this Sunday after missing Week 3 with a concussion. The Packers had a bye in Week 4, giving Lacy two full weeks to recover. He was a full practice participant this week, so he looks ready to roll.
Johnathan Franklin (foot injury, Probable): No word on the extent of injury or the exact diagnosis, but Franklin had all of the bye week to rest and was a full participant in practice this week, so expect him to be #2 in line this week against the Lions.
Jermichael Finley (concussion, Probable): Finley has officially passed the ImPACT testing mandated by the NFL and has been cleared to return to play. Expect Finley to return to the lineup Sunday as he is no longer dealing with concussion-related symptoms.
Brandon Marshall (foot, Probable): After sitting out practice on Wednesday and Thursday as a precautionary measure, Marshall returned to full participation on Friday and appears to be ready to go come Sunday. No specifics about the exact injury have been released, but it appears minor enough that two days of rest seemed to have been enough for Marshall. Expect him to be his normal, dominant self this week.
Jamaal Charles (toes, Probable): Charles is dealing with blisters on his toes, which can be a painful issue to deal with. He was able to return to practice come Friday and appears to have moved around well without limitation. Blisters can be tough to deal with, but they are very manageable and should not stop him from being effective this week.