Hopefully no one's fantasy team was terribly decimated by injuries last week, although a few big names did crop up on the injury report in Week 1. Perhaps the most surprising player sitting out in Week 2 is LaDainian Tomlinson who is missing his first ever regular season start due to injury. For those fantasy owners who drafted LT hoping that this would be his bounce back year, don't give up yet. This appears to be a minor hiccup in what will be a long season.
Last week I outlined the definition of each injury designation which is what teams are required to report when anticipating player status for the upcoming weekend. It's easy when you know a guy is out and you won't have him available. But what about the question marks? To help fantasy owners make the tougher decisions, we delve into those players and what we know about their activity during the week.
At the end of the blog, key fantasy players listed Friday as "Out" for this week's games appear as a group. Good luck in Week 2 everyone! May your players stay healthy and win for you.
Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia Eagles, (D):
There has been a lot of discussion about McNabb's injury in this column and around the airwaves this week. All along I have thought it highly unlikely that he would play and nothing has happened to change that opinion. Yesterday coach Andy Reid labeled McNabb doubtful despite the fact that he's made some progress in his healing. The reason McNabb has made progress is due, at least in part, to the fact that the only thing he's done at practice is watch. Remember, it's not just toughing out the pain, it's playing effectively and avoiding a setback. Indications are that Kevin Kolb will start and with recently signed Jeff Garcia also available, it seems all but certain that McNabb will continue to watch this week.
Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs, (Q):
Cassel remained limited in practice throughout the week and remains a gametime decision for Sunday. That is the first line from the Cassel entry in my blog last Saturday, and it is equally valid as the first line this week. But it also proves the point that the designation (Q, gametime decision) does not tell the whole story. Last week, Cassel was clearly still hampered in his mobility and was visibly uncomfortable, making him an unlikely start, particularly against a stalwart Ravens defense. Oh what a difference a week makes! Cassel appears to be feeling better, is running and moving around the field more nimbly, and despite still being limited in practice, is doing more this week than last. This week the questionable designation has a different feel to it as it seems far more likely that Cassel could go. Coach Todd Haley still wants to see how Cassel looks in pregame warmups, but assuming there are no surprise setbacks, it appears he just may get his first regular season start for the Chiefs.
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys, (P):
Plan on seeing Romo under center Sunday night when the Cowboys host the Giants. His sprained ankle didn't cause him to miss a snap during last week's game and he didn't miss a beat during practice this week.
Kyle Orton, Denver Broncos, (P):
While it might not have been the prettiest game, Orton did start and play through it with no reports of a setback. He's been fully practicing all week, and his finger has had additional healing time. Expect him to start.
Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints, (Q):
Fantasy owners who paid a good price for Thomas are wondering when the payoffs begin. Not this week I'm afraid. While there is still a reasonable chance that Thomas plays, it does not appear that he is fully recovered and the team may yet hold him out another week. Thomas did practice with the team this week and he clearly wants to get back out there on the field, but -- and this is a significant "but" -- after putting in a full practice Wednesday, Thomas was limited Thursday and Friday, suggesting that his knee is perhaps not ready for prime time. Even if Thomas does suit up, the Saints face a tough Philadelphia Eagles defense. Expect Mike Bell to see more action again.
Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers, (P):
It may seem puzzling that Stewart was not on the report last week, yet is this week. Did he suffer a setback? No, none that we're aware of, but he did see limited practice reps this week, which requires that he then be listed on the injury report. In fact, Stewart did not practice Wednesday and then had limited practice Thursday followed by full practice Friday. This may be a trend to have Stewart rest post-game and then gradually ramp up his activity for the next game in order to manage his sore Achilles. It makes good sense and allows him to be ready to go Sunday. Last week he saw only slightly fewer touches than teammate DeAngelo Williams, and it seems as if the Panthers could go with similar splits this week.
Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos, (P):
Moreno, like Thomas, has been working his way back from a sprained MCL suffered during the preseason. The difference is that Moreno was healthy enough to play in Week 1 and got a fair amount of work, given his abbreviated practice time. This week he has been fully practicing with the team, is expected to play and may see even a bigger role.
Jamal Lewis, Cleveland Browns, (P):
Lewis made a somewhat surprising appearance on the Browns' injury report this week with a neck problem, surprising in that there was no mention of injury after the Week 1 games. Lewis was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday, but was a full participant Friday. That, along with the probable designation, suggests that this is nothing to worry about and that he is expected to play. Meanwhile his teammate, rookie James Davis, left last week's game with a shoulder injury, has been limited in practice all week and is listed as questionable.
Steve Breaston, Arizona Cardinals, (Q):
Last week was a valuable lesson in late pregame scratches, as in they do happen, despite a player being listed as probable. Breaston suffered a sprained PCL and a bone bruise in mid-August but had been a full participant in practice leading up to Week 1, making it seem virtually certain to everyone, including his coaches, that he would play. Apparently Breaston developed some swelling in the knee before Sunday's contest though and clearly could not perform. As a result Breaston rested and Anquan Boldin, surprisingly, started.
This would not be the first time that a PCL sprain has caused some ups and downs in the recovery of an athlete so Breaston is not out of the woods. In fact, this week he has been extremely limited in practice, and while the team hopes he can be available, as one can infer from the questionable designation, they are less confident. Even if he can play, it seems as if he will not play a major role this week and it could be a toss-up between him and teammates Boldin and Early Doucet (recovering from a rib injury) as to how many snaps each one sees. Not a clear-cut situation for fantasy owners.
Anquan Boldin, Arizona Cardinals, (Q):
The paragraph on Breaston tells the story. Boldin, who played last week but was clearly not himself, has been able to do more in practice this week and seems to be further along in his healing process. Boldin has the same status as last week, but there seem to be more murmurings in advance of Sunday that he will indeed play, but how much time any of the receivers see is anyone's guess. None are exceptionally healthy.
Kevin Walter, Houston Texans, (Q):
Walter wisely sat out last week, but given his gametime decision status it seemed that he was really close to being healthy enough to play. In fact early this week, both Walter and coach Gary Kubiak were very confident in Walter's availability this weekend. Not so fast. Walter, who fully practiced Wednesday, was then limited Thursday and Friday, with the Texans again announcing that he would be a gametime decision. They will test his hamstring in pregame warmups. It sounds as if they're leaning towards him playing, but it also sounds like we should not expect him to be quite 100 percent healthy.
Antonio Bryant, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (D):
Heads up fantasy owners; this is a significant downgrade from last week. Bryant, who injured a meniscus in the preseason which required arthroscopic surgery, had been recovering nicely and played in Week 1. He had to leave the game early though and has been dealing with swelling and soreness in the knee since. After being unable to practice late in the week, it does not appear that he will play this weekend. No reason to panic. These types of setback after surgery are not uncommon, particularly as a player ramps up to the highest level of "game" shape. Expect him to work his way back gradually, hopefully within the next one to two weeks.
TJ Houshmandzadeh, Seattle Seahawks, (P):
After a surprise appearance on the injury report Thursday because of back spasms that kept him out of practice, Houshmandzadeh was back at full practice Friday and is expected to play. Meanwhile teammate Deion Branch is still questionable with his balky hamstring, practicing only on a limited basis late in the week. He does not appear ready for competition just yet.
Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers (P):
No worries here fantasy owners. Jennings jammed his wrist in last week's game and consequently took less reps in practice, making him a candidate for the injury report. He assures everyone he will play and that the wrist is a non-issue.
Desmond Clark, Chicago Bears, (D):
Clark suffered a rib injury and was clearly in pain when he left Sunday night's game. There has been some speculation that he could miss several weeks, so do not expect him out on the field this week.
Bo Scaife, Tennessee Titans, (D):
Scaife injured his knee in the Week 1 contest and hasn't been able to practice all week, making it highly unlikely that he will appear in Week 1. Rookie Jared Cook could get the start in his place. He's listed as questionable with an ankle injury that kept him out of Week 1, but he's improved to the point where he's been able to practice on a limited basis. It could be interesting if he plays as he was a featured receiving target during the preseason.
Jeremy Shockey, New Orleans Saints, (P):
This is certainly not the first time that an ankle ailment has placed Shockey on the injury list. It does not sound as though this will keep him from playing his usual role in the Saints' offense this week.
Out: This space is intended for a list of key fantasy players, not including those who have been moved to Injured Reserve status, who are officially listed as "Out" for the upcoming game.
LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, San Diego Chargers:
A sprained ankle is sidelining Tomlinson this week, but it sounds as if this might be the only week. Tomlinson is eager to prove that he is not on the decline, but the team wants his services for the majority of the season, so resting him now makes sense.
Troy Polamalu, S, Pittsburgh Steelers:
A sprained MCL will keep an explosive all coverage safety like Polamalu down for a few weeks, but not a season. Don't count on him for at least a month while the ligament heals.
Limas Sweed, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers:
It's bade enough to suffer an injury in any given week; somehow it feels worse when it's during practice. Sweed apparently injured his midfoot during practice this week. No word yet as to how long he'll be down, but his absence this week is guaranteed.
Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Indianapolis Colts:
Earlier this week I detailed why it's so difficult to establish a timeframe on a complex injury like the one Gonzalez suffered in Week 1.
He will be out for a while, at least a month and perhaps longer.
Brandon Jackson, RB, Green Bay Packers:
Last week he was doubtful and didn't play because of a sprained ankle. This week, after not practicing all week, it was clear he wouldn't play. DeShawn Wynn backs up Ryan Grant.
Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants:
Although the Giants are disappointed that the rookie suffered a foot injury that could sideline him for a few weeks, they are relived that it was not the dreaded Lisfranc injury which might have meant season-ending surgery. His projected timeline is two to four weeks.
See you at the injury chats (Tuesday, 11 a.m.-noon p.m, Friday 11 a.m. noon p.m. and Sunday pre-game (10 a.m.-10:30 a.m.). Be sure to check out Fantasy Football Now on Sundays at ESPN.com from 11:30 a.m. EST to kickoff for last minute inactives, rankings and more!