by Noah Pires
September 13, 2018
Back at it like a bad habit, bringing you the second edition of "injury watch", where we look at guys who have dealt with injuries over the past week and whether or not I have confidence slotting them into your starting lineup. As always, if the player is "out", "doubtful", or I just think his injury will hamper his production, I'll offer other options at the position who are owned in under 60% of leagues (per Yahoo) just in case you aren't pleased with your other options on the bench. Without further adue, let's hop into this muthafugger.
OUT: CARSON WENTZ (PHI)
Matthew Stafford – Detroit Lions
There’s no way to put it lightly, Stafford looked terrible in week 1. He threw 4 picks, made a ton of errant throws, and even went down twice with injuries, one appeared to be his knee while the other was after getting sandwiched on a QB hit. Heading into week 2, he’s on the injury report, but is reportedly practicing in full. With his weapons in the passing game, paired with his matchup, he’s worthy of making your starting lineup. He can’t look much worse than he did on Monday Night, especially facing a weak 49ers defense. I’d put his injury concerns aside as he is already a full participant in practice, only a few days removed from his injury scare, and would have confidence firing him up as a back end QB1.
Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers
The Packers’ season flashed before their eyes Sunday Night when Rodgers’ knee was landed on as he got hit. He was carted off the field only to return later and carry the Packers to a victory. Now, a few days removed from his injury scare, he’s not participating in practice, but is considered “day-to-day” and is expected to start Sunday. Even though he’s at home, I wouldn’t consider Rodgers the locked and loaded overall QB1 he typically is week in and week out. The matchup alone would push him closer to the QB5 range, so pairing that with his injury doesn’t exactly make him a “must-start” if you have a guy like Phillip Rivers available to you, who probably has a safer floor facing a terrible Bills team. If ARod is all you have, I wouldn’t be concerned, though, as he’s still a top 12 option as long as he suits up, which now, seems likely.
Marcus Mariota – Tennessee Titans
In what seemed like a game that would never end due to inclement weather, Mariota’s injury further delayed it. Late in the 3rd quarter, Marcus was taken out after suffering an elbow injury, leading to Blaine Gabbert heading the offense. With their matchup with the Texans on the horizon, Mariota still isn’t a full participant in practice, but was seen throwing and coach Mike Vrabel said he should be “good to go”. In terms of health, this may be true, but if we’re talking fantasy, I completely disagree. Sure, MM has the ability to run, but has only surpassed 40 rushing yards twice since 2017 and hasn’t proven to be anything but below average in the passing game. Because of this, paired with losing weapon Delanie Walker and facing an elite defense, I wouldn’t suggest starting him in week 2 and have little confidence in his viability throughout the rest of the year.
Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh Steelers
I’ll keep this short because everything says Ben isn’t seriously injured. He didn’t look great week 1, but was on the road and played in poor weather conditions. Heading into week 2, his “injury” shouldn’t be a concern, and drawing the Chiefs at home is recipe for a shootout, giving him major value. I’d consider him a top 5 QB facing a terrible defense that allowed Phil Rivers to surpass 400 yards and record 3 tugs. No worries here, especially with AB and JuJU on the outside.
OPTIONS OFF WAIVER WIRE
Case Keenum (33% Owned) – Denver Broncos
Matchup: Oakland Raiders
This matchup is absolutely beautiful for my man Case. He dropped 329 yards and 3 scores against a Seahawks defense that, although isn’t great, is a few tiers above the garbage fire in Oakland. With weapons like Emanuel Sanders, Demaryius Thomas, and Courtland Sutton, paired with newfound threat out of the backfield Phillip Lindsay, I expect much of the same from Keenum. If you have a guy with a tough matchup in week 2, consider picking up Case, who is available in 2/3 Yahoo leagues.
Tyrod Taylor (24%) – Cleveland Browns
Matchup: @ New Orleans Saints
Tyrod didn’t look great in week 1 when throwing the ball, but neither did Ben. Maybe this was due to the weather, but I also think it may be because it was his first actual start for the Cleveland Browns. Despite this, he still finished as the QB6 due to his ability to create with his feet. Now, he’s on the road, which may not be a bad thing because as we all know, the Saints play in a dome. There will be no weather issues heading into week 2 and he’s facing a defense that gave up 5 scores to Ryan Fitzpatrick, including one on the ground. With his rushing upside, weapons, potential gamescript, and opposing defense, I’d consider Tyrod being a top 10 QB, one who is likely sitting on your waivers.
OUT: Jeremy Hill (NE), Kenneth Dixon (BAL)
Devonta Freeman – Atlanta Falcons
Last Thursday against the Eagles, Freeman suffered a knee injury that kept him off the field in the 4th quarter. Before his departure, he looked explosive, finding holes and taking advantage of them. He handled goal line work, even garnering a target that would've been a tuddy if Matt Ryan's arm wasn't a cooked noodle. He only played 3 more snaps than Coleman (39-36), but missed the entire 4th quarter. Should you be concerned playing him this week against the Panthers? I'd say there's no worry on this side, as soon after the game he was reported as "fine" and has a full 9 days to recover due to playing on Thursday. It may not be a great matchup this week, but Freeman should still be a high-end RB2 option as he looked good against an elite Eagles front line.
*Recent news has surfaced that if he does play, Coleman will handle the bulk of the carries. Freeman was already likely to struggle solely based on his matchup, but now that he is likely to be limited, I'd shy away from starting him. This week, he's nothing more than a FLEX option in deeper leagues.*
Leonard Fournette – Jacksonville Jaguars
Before his injury, Fournette was looking like he was going to handle 500 touches this season. At the end of the second quarter, though, he was taken out after injuring his hammy and didn’t return. T.J. Yeldon took advantage of this loss, getting into the end zone later in the game. Fournette still hasn’t practiced and won’t until Friday, which is good and bad. It’s good because they’re giving him time to heal, and bad because if he is still feeling pain, we won’t know until the end of the week. Leonard missed 2 games last year due to injury (1 more was missed because of off the field issues) and has shown to be susceptible to lower-body injuries that keep him out for weeks at a time. Because of this, I’d monitor this injury and continually check in on reports regarding his hammy. If he’s a full go for week 2, he’s a must start RB1 facing a Patriots defense that allowed Lamar Miller to approach the 100 yard mark. Keep an eye of LF throughout the week as more stories release.
Marshawn Lynch – Oakland Raiders
Lynch is coming off a pretty impressive performance against a defensive line that boasts Ndamukong Suh and Aaron Donald, carrying multiple defenders into the endzone in the opening drive of the game. He wasn’t in a great situation for the rest of the outing, as the Raiders got blown out by the Rams, allowing for Jalen Richard to get on the field and garner 11 targets. This week he’s been a limited participant, but it’s likely this is just due to the team wanting to rest him as he’s heading into a short week. He is facing another strong defense in the Broncos, but I expect this game to be closer than what we saw when he faced LA week 1. Because of this, I’m comfortable with Lynch being a back-end RB2 who will get the GL work and a bulk of his team’s carries.
Austin Ekeler (35%) – Los Angeles Chargers
Matchup: @ Buffalo Bills
This may be shocking, as Ekeler is the clear #2 in this offense, but I see him finishing inside the top 30 at the position this week. Before you think I’m a fool and a victim of recency bias, let me tell you, I’m a Chargers fan and have seen how effective Ekeler can be both in the running and passing game these past 2 seasons. Last week, he only had 10 touches (5 receptions/5 carries), but totaled 126 yards and a score. Will he continue this efficiency? No, but his volume this week should increase. We all saw just how bad the Bills looked week one, which leads me to believe the Chargers will get out to a huge lead, not want to risk their valuable offensive assets, phase Melvin Gordon out of the game, and give Austin Ekeler more touches. We saw the Ravens do this last week, taking out Alex Collins for Kenneth Dixon and Buck Allen, both of which found the end zone. With the Chargers improved line and Ekeler’s ability to produce on the ground and through the air, I’m confident in Austin heading into week 2 as a high-end RB3, especially in PPR leagues.
Bilal Powell (57%) – New York Jets
Matchup: Miami Dolphins
Another week goes by and Bilal Powell is still owned in under 60% of leagues. The Jets week 1 matchup got out of hand quick, which kept Powell off the field as his passing game ability wasn’t necessarily needed. Despite this, he still had 13 touches for 65 yards, 60 of which came on the ground. Now, facing a Miami team that gave up 5 receptions to Dion Lewis, along with 75 yards on the ground and a score, Powell should see similar success. Miami’s defense is woeful, which should give Bilal the opportunity to run wild. He’s still in a timeshare with Crowell, who looked incredible against the Lions, but isn’t likely to keep up this elite production. Powell also bests him in the passing game, giving him added value in this Jets offense. In week 2 against the Dolphins, Powell has FLEX appeal as he’s likely to see similar or more volume than he did week one.
OUT: Doug Baldwin (SEA), Alshon Jeffery (PHI)
Will Fuller – Houston Texans
If you want to know my thoughts on Will Fuller, you can read “Week 1 Injury Report”, which was posted last Thursday. All of my concerns about him are listed there and my feelings towards him this week are the same.
Corey Davis – Tennessee Titans
Corey Davis is dealing with a multitude of issues. Number one, his QB play. Mariota isn’t 100%, and even if he is, he is far from elite. Secondly, it was recently reported that he was dealing with hamstring issues, which kept him out of multiple weeks in 2017. Because of his injury history paired with poor QB play facing a strong defense, I’m not confident in Davis being a WR2 in week 3 and should be considered more of a back-end top 36 option heading into this week.
Michael Thomas – New Orleans Saints
Thomas isn’t dealing with an injury, rather, it’s being reported as an “illness”. I can’t speak much on this because it simply because it wasn’t an injury suffered during gameplay. If he had limped off the field with an apparent knee injury, for example, there would likely be more insight on the issue compared to what is known when a player is just “under the weather”. I’d just monitor this throughout the week, but it’s being said he’s likely to play and this shouldn’t hold him back at all. Facing the Browns, Thomas should be fired up as an elite WR1 playing at home in the glorious New Orleans Superdome.
Marquise Goodwin – San Francisco 49ers
My sentiments about Goodwin are eerily similar to my concerns for Will Fuller. Both guys’ main strength is their speed, cashing in on huge plays that can turn a performance from a disappointment into a week winner. What is difficult is he is dealing with a thigh bruise, which kept him out week 1 after suffering the injury early in the game. He still isn’t practicing and is day to day. With this type of injury, his biggest strength, speed, will be hampered, which will destroy his value, even against a soft Lions defense. Because of this, I wouldn’t recommend playing Goodwin this week if he suits up.
Davante Adams – Green Bay Packers
Adams put up good numbers against a stout Bears defense week one, recording a 5/88/1 statline. He wasn’t too involved early, as he seemed to be the main focus of the Bears’ defense, but later in the game, he was utilized a ton and did what he does best: score in the redzone. Surprisingly, he showed up on the injury report for week 2 when he didn’t practice on Wednesday. It was later reported that he had suffered a shoulder injury during the Chicago game but stayed in due to “pure adrenaline”. If this is the case, then I think Davante is good to go for week 2. If he played through this last week with no setback, with a week of recovery he should be fine. Adams said he feels he’ll be good to go against the Vikings, and if it’s true his adrenaline kept him from feeling pain, he should be in a similar situation, as he’s playing division rival and Super Bowl contender Minnestoa Vikings. Sure, it isn’t a great matchup for Davante, but ARod is throwing him the ball, which should keep him firmly in the WR1 conversation. If it DOES come out that ARod isn’t playing, and Adams isn’t 100%, I’d shy away from Adams, but as of now, both seem likely to play week 2.
DJax is coming off a huge 5/146/2 performance on only 5 targets and limited snaps. Along with his limited snaps, Jackson was taken out in the 4th quarter when he went down with a concussion and shoulder injury, which has kept him out even through Wednesday. For him to suit up this week, he must pass concussion protocol. The issue here for fantasy is, even if he was healthy, I wouldn’t consider DJax a startable player week to week, especially when facing an elite Eagles defense. He was super-efficient when was on the field and is the ultimate boom-bust player, so if you can sell-high, I would, as it’s unlikely he will put up a performance anywhere near this one in 2018. Because of his inconsistency, paired with his injuries, I wouldn’t put him in my lineup this week in the Bucs' matchup against a proven Philly defense.
Sterling Shepard – New York Giants
All reports are pointing to Shepard being fine heading into week 2. He was limited Wednesday with a supposed back injury, but I’m not concerned here. He was targeted 7 times against a stout Jags’ D, putting up 48 yards on 5 receptions. This isn’t huge output, but against a team of Jacksonville’s caliber, is quite respectable. Now, playing an improved Cowboys defense, I expect them to focus on OBJ, giving Shepard opportunity to produce. He recorded 8 scores as a rookie, pairing that with 731 yards in only 10 starts last season, showing he is certainly a good NFL wide receiver. All things considered, I don’t hate Shepard as a flex play as long as he gets taken off the injury report later this week.
Deandre Hopkins – Houston Texans / Tedd Ginn Jr. – New Orleans Saints
Both guys are listed as queationable, but all reports are saying both players are being limited due to rest. I’m not concerned about either. DHop is a locked-and-loaded WR1 while Ginn provides WR4 value heading into week 2.
Quincy Enunwa (44%) – New York Jets
Enunwa looked nothing short of spectacular week one. He displayed a great connection with rookie Sam Darnold, commanding 10 of the team’s 21 targets, turning them into a 6/63/1 line. Heading into week 2, Enunwa draws another good matchup and should once again pace the team in targets. He has the size and speed combination to be a threat all over the field. If you watch him play, he honestly looks like a tight end until he gets the ball in his hands, where he turns into a runningback, trucking and eluding defenders. If Enunwa’s on your waivers, he’s a must-add and has WR3 value facing the weak Dolphins secondary.
Kenny Golladay (58%) – Detroit Lions
Matchup: @ San Francisco 49ers
Kenny G looked incredible week 1, gathering 7 of his 12 targets for 114 yards and even recording a forced fumble on what may have been the hit of the century. Heading into week 2, KG is facing a much weaker defense than the Jets, which should bode well for his upside. He already put up a huge game week one, but could have potentially been bigger as he failed to connect on his end zone target from Matthew Stafford. Even though he’s likely still the 3rd option behind vets Marvin Jones and Golden Tate, he still commanded a 23.1% target share. Stafford should improve this week, and with improved QB play against a weak defense, Golladay could be a value with WR3/FLEX appeal against a defense that allowed 100+ yards to Adam Thielen and scores to both Stefon Diggs and Kyle Rudolph just a week ago.
OUT: Greg Olsen (CAR), Delanie Walker (TEN)
The only tight ends who popped up on the injury report after week 1, outside of Olsen and Walker, both who are out indefinitely due to lower body injuries, were Austin Hooper and Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Now, I’m not sure if there’s something wrong with the name Austin, but something’s fishy. Anyways, Hooper likely wouldn’t be a top 24 tight end if he was healthy, so there’s no point in me looking into whether or not I expect him to play this week. As far as ASJ goes, he dealt with the same core-muscle injury last week and still played in 87% of the teams snaps. Because of this, I’m not worried about him heading into week 2 against the Pats. He should be a mid TE2 this week with elite RZ ability that could help him finish among the top at the position. His inconsistency, though, would make me hesitant to start him with confidence.
With that being said, there’s always a ton of options you can stream off waivers, so let’s look into a few of them.
Jonnu Smith (13%) – Tennessee Titans
Matchup: Houston Texans
I’m not suggesting Jonnu Smith is an automatic TE1 with the loss of Delanie Walker, but in an offense devoid of weapons where almost 23% of the team’s targets were directed Delanie’s way in 2017, Smith should see enough volume to be a fantasy contributor. This week, I don’t hate his matchup, either. Now, hear me out, I am in no way comparing Jonnu Smith to Gronk, but the Texans left him open every single play last week while they did a decent job covering Pats receivers. May the Texans be bad against tight ends? Maybe. Last year they allowed the 6th most receptions (81) and yards (922) to the position along with the 4th most touchdowns (9). So, to answer my previous question, maybe they will continue their poor coverage of the position into 2018 and their inability to cover Gronk wasn't just because he is Gronk. Because of this apparent inability to effectively cover the position, Jonnu Smith's value week 2 as one of the Titans’ better receiving options is skyrocketing, and should be added in all leagues, espcially since the TE depth this year is slim pickings.
Ricky Seals-Jones (28%) – Arizona Cardinals
Matchup: Los Angeles Rams
RSJ makes his second appearance on the “waiver wire pickup” segment of the injury watch series, and although he disappointed week 1 stat-wise, he showed promise, commanding 6 targets and playing on 49/53 snaps. Heading into week 2, he finds himself against a strong defense, but one which gave up 9 catches and 180 yards to Jared MF’in Cook last week. Why was this? Well it seems the cornerbacks on the Rams zoned in so heavily on the Raider’s Wrs, allowing 4 catches for 32 yards between Jordy and Amari Cooper, that it allowed Cook to run up the seam with little focus on him. Do I think RSJ will see successes of a similar magnitude? No, but he should see enough volume at a position where only the top 5-7 guys consistently see 5+ targets/game. They’ll be playing from behind and won’t have much ability to use their weapons on the outside with Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib locking up. This is going to force targets to the TE position, putting RSJ in the low-end TE1/high-end TE2 conversation for week 2.
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by Noah Pires
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