Sunday, September 18, 2011
Holmes, Bryant, Nicks among iffy WRs
By Stephania Bell
After a stellar performance in Week 1, San Diego Chargers running back Mike Tolbert gave everyone a scare when he exited the game in the fourth quarter with what appeared to be a knee injury. Tolbert was medically cleared to return to practice by the start of the week, however, and never even showed up on the team's injury report. In other words, he put in a normal week of practice and is ready to face the New England Patriots.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals, right wrist, (P): Dalton's bruised right forearm made it difficult for him to effectively use his wrist and hand to grip the ball early in the week, but as the inflammation has improved, so has his function. Dalton was able to do some work with the right hand Thursday (after using only his left on Wednesday) and on Friday was able to put in a full practice. He showed the team what he needed to for them to list him as probable. Plan on Dalton starting Sunday.
Jason Campbell, Oakland Raiders, foot, (P): Despite being added to the injury report this week with a foot ailment, Campbell put in a full practice daily. He is expected to start in Buffalo.
After missing Week 1, Arian Foster is looking good to play on Sunday against the Dolphins.
Arian Foster, Houston Texans, hamstring, (Q): Still the most intensely observed fantasy player in Week 2, Foster appears on track to play this week after sitting out the season opener. This really doesn't come as a shock after tracking Foster's progress throughout the past two weeks. Although he didn't practice last week, he did increase the intensity of his running workouts daily. This week, Foster returned to practice, and though he was listed as limited each day, head coach Gary Kubiak noted as early as Wednesday that Foster was taking the normal reps of a starter. By Friday, Kubiak sounded confident in Foster's recovery. With teammate Derrick Ward already ruled out (ankle, shoulder), it appears Foster is in line to start, with Ben Tate available to come off the bench. It is worth noting that Kubiak indicated Foster would likely not take his usual number of snaps, but these are the types of things that often change during the game. If Foster shows any signs of discomfort or suffers a setback, Tate could come in early. But if Foster shows that the hamstring issue appears to be a thing of the past and he's running well, he could see the bulk of the action. Despite the desire of fantasy owners to make it so, it is impossible to be certain an athlete is fully recovered from a muscle strain until he is able to prove it on the field. Game situations are more demanding and are simply not duplicated in practice. So everyone hopes for the best, knowing the week of rest undoubtedly benefited Foster in his recovery process. The Texans have shown they are interested in his availability for the long haul by not pressing him into service in Week 1. No doubt Foster is eager to prove to everyone -- even himself -- that the worst of this injury is behind him.
Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams, quadriceps, (Q): Like teammate Sam Bradford, Jackson plays Monday night, only his status is less certain. While Jackson maintained late in the week that there was still an "outside chance" he could suit up Monday, that chance appears to be very small indeed. Jackson left the Week 1 contest shortly after delivering a touchdown on a 47-yard play and hasn't practiced since. As noted Thursday, the team has confidence in Jackson's ability to recognize how his body is responding, but the signs are not encouraging. Even Jackson, while trying to keep the door open for a Monday night appearance, acknowledged to reporters that it's still early in the season and they want to be smart. The uncertainty, combined with a Monday night game, makes Jackson a risky play. Cadillac Williams would get the start in his place.
Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos, hamstring, (Q): Moreno again appears on an injury report because of a hamstring ailment. Moreno has missed time in the past because of hamstring problems and it had to be a concern for fantasy owners coming into the season. This week, it's a particular concern because Moreno has not practiced at all. To complicate the fantasy scenario, this is a late game Sunday. Coming off a Monday night game (translation: less recovery time) with no practice whatsoever, it appears unlikely Moreno will be on the field to face the Cincinnati Bengals.
Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders, shoulder, (P): After taking his share of hits Monday night, McFadden was limited Wednesday and Thursday with a sore shoulder but returned to a full practice Friday, much to the relief of fantasy owners everywhere. The buzz in Oakland, along with the probable tag, indicates he is ready to play Sunday.
Daniel Thomas, Miami Dolphins, hamstring, (P): Thomas injured his hamstring Sept. 7 in practice and was held out of the season opener as a result. Thomas returned to full practice this week, and as his probable designation would suggest, is expected to play. Between coming off the injury and a less than stellar preseason, Thomas is not likely to get the majority of carries. Teammate Reggie Bush is expected to start Sunday, but it's worth keeping an eye on Thomas, whose role could expand going forward.
Santonio Holmes, New York Jets, knee/quadriceps, (Q): Holmes suffered a knee injury in last week's contest against the Dallas Cowboys, but it did not appear particularly serious given that Holmes practiced fully Wednesday. On Thursday, however, Holmes injured his quadriceps (front of the thigh muscle) during practice and told reporters he did it while running. It's unclear whether the two injuries were on the same side, but since the quadriceps crosses the knee joint, the injuries could certainly compound one another. Coach Rex Ryan's concern about Holmes' status was evident and even Holmes, after expressing confidence about playing Thursday, told "The Michael Kay Show" on Friday that the decision would be up to the doctors. In other words, this likely comes down to pregame warm-ups and evaluation, but it also suggests Holmes is not likely to be at full strength by game time. Murky.
Plaxico Burress, New York Jets, ankle, (P): Burress played last week, practiced fully every day this week and is expected to play this week as well.
Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions, ankle, (Q): Despite being listed as questionable, there is every expectation Johnson will play. Swelling in an ankle he sprained in Week 1 kept him off the practice field Wednesday and Thursday, but he did return to limited practice Friday. All along, Johnson did not seem overly concerned about his status and he has certainly rested during the week in past seasons in order to recover for Sunday. While it may not be a full recovery for his ankle, it's likely enough to allow him to be a big-play guy for Matthew Stafford to target.
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants, knee, (Q): Just what fantasy owners love. A Monday night game-time decision for a star player who has indicated he plans on playing but may not be up to full speed. That essentially summarizes the Nicks situation. Swelling in his knee kept him out of practice Wednesday and Thursday and he did only limited individual work Friday. While the New York Daily News reported Friday that Nicks indicated he would be "out there Monday" and that the pain and swelling were gone, head coach Tom Coughlin reiterated it would be a medical decision. The fact that Nicks got in a couple of days of limited work is a positive, but there's no telling how his knee will be feeling come Monday. The bottom line is if the swelling has returned to a degree where it compromises his ability to move effectively, he will be held out. On the other hand, an additional day of rest this week allows for more recovery. Given how Nicks has responded in the past and his late-week progress, the scale tips in his favor to play, but this is why they're called "dreaded" game-time decisions.
Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys, thigh, (Q): Bryant is not only questionable, he's very questionable. After looking clearly impaired in the second half of last Sunday's game, Bryant did not practice all week because of a deep thigh bruise. Although team owner Jerry Jones sounded confident Thursday about Bryant's chances of playing, he retreated a bit from his remarks on Friday. While the Cowboys have indicated they would give Bryant up until game time, it's not just a question of desire on the part of Bryant. A deep bruise indicates bleeding within the muscle, which can render the tissue stiff and painful. The athlete will not be at full strength, will lack flexibility and, depending how limited he is, could be at risk for further injury. It would not be a surprise if Bryant sits; if he does not, it's hard to picture him performing at full capacity.
Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys, knee, (P): Last week, he was probable. He played. He scored. This week, he's probable as well. He plays again and perhaps gets more attention given teammate Bryant's status.
Brandon Lloyd, Denver Broncos, groin, (P): Despite telling reporters he was not injured in the Monday night game, Lloyd appeared on the injury report and did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. He did make an appearance Friday, increasing his chances of making an appearance Sunday. That said, he will undoubtedly warm up before the game before a decision is made. It's hard to feel confident about a receiver with a groin injury coming off a short week and practicing only once, and on a limited basis at that.
Lance Moore could make his season debut Sunday against the Bears, but how effective will he be?
Lance Moore, New Orleans Saints, groin, (Q): Another receiver, another groin injury. In Moore's case, however, the injury was several weeks ago, he rested the first week of the season and he has been able to practice all week, albeit on a limited basis. With teammate Marques Colston out with a broken clavicle, Moore has an opportunity to be the beneficiary. It appears he might begin that campaign this week. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that, as early as Thursday, head coach Sean Payton expressed optimism Moore would play this week. That said, even if he does play, it's hard to project how much action he will see. Everyone knows by now that quarterback Drew Brees has a multitude of receiving weapons and Moore is coming off a multiweek injury to an easily aggravated body part. And he is, after all, questionable, so be sure to check pregame inactive reports.
Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers, foot, (Q): Crabtree will likely be a game-time decision and last week's scenario had to be a bit unnerving for fantasy owners. Crabtree, who dealt with a foot injury that required surgery in the offseason, left the game early because of pain. According to the Sacramento Bee, Crabtree later said he would likely have to play through pain all season and would just "remove himself from the game" when it becomes unbearable. Not exactly what fantasy owners want to hear.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Oakland Raiders, knee, (Q): Heyward-Bey's status becomes more important this week with teammates Louis Murphy and Jacoby Ford already ruled out due to injury. Heyward-Bey has a knee issue that limited him on Thursday (he did not finish practice after sustaining the injury) and he did not practice on Friday. The Raiders under Hue Jackson are being very mum on injuries, but there is definitely some concern about Heyward-Bey's late-week injury, perhaps even more so because the team is already thin at receiver this week. If he plays, it's not likely his well-documented speed will be up to par.
Chris Cooley, Washington Redskins, knee, (Q): Cooley, not surprisingly, struggled in Week 1. He did increase his practice activity this week, however, fully participating daily. It seems likely that if he could play last week, he will again this week, but how effective he can be is still questionable. Keep in mind this is an issue Cooley said he expected to have to manage throughout the season, so until we see him perform better, it's hard to have confidence.
Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars, calf, (D): Lewis did not practice at all Wednesday or Thursday and was limited Friday. The doubtful tag tells you all you need to know. He is highly unlikely to play in Week 2.
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.
Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts, neck: Get used to this one. Manning will be out for several months after undergoing a cervical (neck) fusion.
Sidney Rice, WR, Seattle Seahawks, shoulder: The Seahawks spared everyone another Sunday lineup decision by announcing in advance that Rice is out for Week 2. He did do some practicing this week, though, so keep an eye on him for next Sunday.
Be sure to check out Fantasy Football Now, Sundays on ESPN2 at 11:30 a.m. ET, and don't forget our game-day chat and the online version of Fantasy Football Now on ESPN.com starts at 10 a.m. ET for last-minute inactives, rankings, injury impact and more!