by Ray Kuhn
Not only are there injuries to deal with this week, but we also have the beginning of bye weeks to contend with (Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers). Even though the injury reports are now out and we know who participated in practice, there will still be some question marks leading up to game time on Sunday. Contingency plans are a must, and statuses must be watched until kick off. With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the injury situations you should be monitoring this week:
- Terrelle Pryor came out of nowhere to start the season, and through three weeks turned into a pretty good fantasy quarterback. He is a dual threat who was able to make some plays both on the ground and through the air. However, at the same time he also returned Darren McFadden to fantasy relevance. Pryor suffered a concussion last week against the Broncos and it appears he will be out this week because of it. The man he beat out over the summer, Matt Flynn, would then start in his place. This hinders McFadden’s value and also forces fantasy owners to look for another quarterback. Pryor had a juicy matchup against Washington, and I’m not sure how much you can count on Flynn.
- Reggie Bush wanted to play last week and thought he was ready to do so. Instead, Detroit gave him a week off and the running back is now raring to go. He made it through full practices on both Wednesday and Thursday and will return to RB1 status this week against the Bears. The by-product of this is that Joique Bell’s projections must be downgraded, leaving him as a borderline FLEX starter.
- Ray Rice is another running back who is also poised to return this week. Rice missed last week with a hip injury and also has returned to practice in the last two days. The only cause for slight concern is that his participation in practice has been termed as “limited”. At this point, pain might be the bigger issue for the running back not the fear of his condition worsening, since the Ravens are allowing him to practice. Buffalo’s run defense leaves a lot to be desired, so this could be a very good matchup for Rice from a fantasy perspective. My early opinion here is that Rice will play, but Bernard Pierce will also play a role. If Rice plays, he needs to start.
- C.J. Spiller is a first round draft choice who has struggled to start the season. He also left last week’s game with a leg injury that ended up just being quadriceps soreness. Spiller practiced without an issue on Wednesday, and even though he has been disappointing this season there is no reason not to start him this week.
- Maurice Jones-Drew was battling an ankle injury last week, and he surprised some by taking the field against Seattle. He carried the ball 19 times against the Seahawks, so clearly the ankle did not limit him. Jones-Drew only gained 43 yards, but he was facing a top defense and did manage to find the end zone returning some value for his fantasy owners. Blaine Gabbert appears to be set to return from injury this week, so it is likely the Jaguars will lean that much more on the running back. He might not be 100%, but that has never stopped Jones-Drew before and in the past he also has had success against the Colts.
- It has not been an easy start to the season for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and a large reason for that has been their lack of a running game. This week rookie Le’Veon Bell returns to action, however. Issac Redman suffered a concussion last week, but still returned to action. Between Redman, Felix Jones and Jonathan Dwyer, Pittsburgh has been unable to get anything going on the ground. Bell will likely lead the team in carries, but it is also important to remember that he is a rookie running back who has yet to appear in an NFL game.
- It did not take long, but Miles Austin is already dealing with a hamstring injury. He did not practice on Thursday and there appears to some seriousness to his ailment. Even if the Cowboys say Austin is healthy and can play, I would still keep him out of my lineup. Right now it doesn’t look good for the receiver, and even if he sneaks into the lineup chances are he won’t make it through the whole game without an issue. The Chargers have the worst pass defense in the league, so the opportunity for someone to have a big game is there. With Dwayne Harris also banged up with a hip injury, the opportunity falls to rookie Terrance Williams who could be a sleeper this week.
- Last week it was a concussion for Andre Johnson, this week it is a shin. After not practicing on Wednesday, Johnson returned to practice on Thursday in a limited role. At this point it does not appear to be something that will keep him from playing, but I’m not sure how successful he will be as he will not be 100%. Facing the Seahawks defense certainly won’t be an easy matchup for Johnson, and at the very least you should be monitoring his status and have an alternative ready to go.
- Nate Burleson’s loss will end up being Ryan Broyles’ gain. Burleson will likely be out until November after breaking his arm in a car crash, and this is the opportunity Broyles needed to break into the starting lineup. Broyles has battled his own injury problems, but returned last week to only play on 17 snaps. This week the Lions say Broyles will play without limitation, and he should see enough targets to be a valuable and useful receiver both this week and going forward.
- While Rob Gronkowski has resumed some participation in practice, it looks like we will have another week without the Patriots tight end.