- Stephania Bell, Fantasy Sports
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While the matchup between the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars consists of two teams that have no shot at the NFL playoffs, there may still be a player or two who appear in playoff matchups for fantasy owners. As always, injuries play a role, even if indirectly. In the case of the Titans, the injuries to the top two quarterbacks might just impact how fantasy owners set their lineups.
Delanie Walker, TE, knee, (Q): Of all the players in the Thursday night matchup, Walker might be the one whose status is most concerning to fantasy owners (he's owned in more than 75 percent of ESPN.com standard scoring leagues). The team has not revealed the specifics of the knee ailment that is affecting Walker, and he did play the entire game last Sunday, right down to the 30-plus yards he posted on the final play. Listed as a limited participant daily, Walker seems likely to suit up, but fantasy owners will want to double-check the pregame inactive reports.
Kendall Wright, WR, hand, (Q): Wright missed the past two games with a broken bone in his right hand, but he was able to participate in two limited practices last week. He has been able to catch some passes in limited practice this week, but he has clearly not returned to the level where the team is confident he’ll be able to play. Wright said Tuesday he hoped to be on the field with his team, and the concerns are not so much about making the injury worse but more about how effective he can be with a hand that’s still sore. It sounds as though he will attempt to make his return Thursday night, but even if he does, it’s unclear how productive he can be.
Zach Mettenberger, QB, right shoulder, (D): Mettenberger aggravated his already-sprained shoulder in Week 14, and he looked to be done for the season. Coach Ken Whisenhunt would only rule him out for Week 15, however, and with Jake Locker now on injured reserve after dislocating his shoulder, Mettenberger is sticking around. However, he is not practicing, and the doubtful tag indicates the Titans don’t plan to have him. At this point, they have to hope Charlie Whitehurst can stay healthy.
Blake Bortles, QB, foot, (Q): Between a right midfoot sprain sustained in last Sunday’s game and persistent inflammation in his throwing shoulder -- along with a prior left ankle sprain and wrist injury -- the rookie quarterback for the Jaguars has been a bit banged up during the past two months. His latest injury is particularly concerning, but Bortles expressed confidence to reporters Monday that he would be able to play. He was injured in the fourth quarter on a sack, but he finished out the game, later sporting a walking boot. After spending Monday morning in the training room for rehab, Bortles said the foot was already improving. He was a limited participant Tuesday and Wednesday, but he did enough for coach Gus Bradley to take note.
“[He’s] progressed much faster than we anticipated, and I think that’s what we’re down to now, just to see how he moves around,” Bradley said. Bradley told reporters the plan is for Bortles to go through a pregame workout before the final decision on his status will be made. While it appears encouraging, fantasy owners who are concerned about his status should be sure to check pregame inactives. If Bortles is ruled out, it would be Chad Henne throwing to receivers Cecil Shorts III, Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee.
Marqise Lee, WR, elbow, (P): Speaking of Lee, he had his lowest production since Week 10 on Sunday, but whether or not his elbow was a factor is unclear. The injury doesn’t appear to be too serious, since Lee played the entire game. Despite being listed on the injury report, he was a full participant in practice each day, and the probable tag indicates the team expects him to play. Lee has been targeted at least eight times in the past three games, so if Bortles is under center, he is likely to look for him.