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|Peyton Hillis' status for Sunday is still up in the air.|
First and foremost, thoughts go out to running back Jerome Harrison as he recovers from surgery to remove a brain tumor. The tumor was discovered when Harrison was undergoing a physical as part of a potential trade to Philadelphia. The world works in mysterious ways ...
It's now the third bye week of the 2011 season. Recuperating this week are the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills. Be sure to remove any of those players from your lineup. Last week's bye helped a few players return to better health this week. San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews had been nursing a calf strain, but that appears to be behind him as he is now off the injury report. (Several of his teammates also benefited from the bye but are still on the injury report; they appear below.) Dallas Cowboys wide receivers Miles Austin and Dez Bryant, although not coming off a bye week, are both off the injury report for the first time in over a month.
Unfortunately, there are always more additions to the list and the noteworthy fantasy players are outlined below.
Good luck in Week 7, everyone! May your players stay healthy and win for you.
Matt Schaub, Houston Texans, chest/hip (P): The body parts keep changing but Schaub's appearance on the injury report remains consistent. Banged up and bruised, Schaub was kept to limited practice Wednesday but returned to full practice the remainder of the week. Schaub is expected to start; the bigger concern is how long he will hold up if he continues to take in-game beatings.
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys, ribs (P): Romo's presence on the injury report serves as a reminder that he is still recovering from his rib fracture, but there is no doubt that he will start. He practiced in full every day this week and will continue to wear extra protective gear in the game.
LeGarrette Blount, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, knee (D): Blount went into Week 6 with the "doubtful" tag and did not play. Blount still has not practiced, is again listed as doubtful and is not expected to play in Week 7 over in London. The Buccaneers and Blount have been very quiet as to the specifics around the injury, making it difficult to project a realistic timetable for his return. At this point, however, fantasy owners can at least be confident they will need to replace him this week. Once again, Earnest Graham will take the majority of the reps at running back for the Buccaneers this week.
Joseph Addai, Indianapolis Colts, hamstring (Q): Addai's status may be the most surprising on this week's Saturday report. After a hamstring injury in Week 5 caused him to miss the Week 6 game, he was expected to miss another game after not practicing most of the week. That changed Friday when Addai surprisingly put in a full practice and now, although listed at questionable, has a reasonable chance to play.
Just to wreak havoc on your fantasy decision-making, the Colts do not play until Sunday night. There will be no way to know for sure until just before kickoff whether Addai will play, or if he plays, how much time he'll see and how effectively he'll run. Clouding the picture is the presence of both Donald Brown and Delone Carter as options in the backfield. The Colts undoubtedly would like to maintain any possible advantage heading into the game as they have yet to win, but that's not going to help your lineup. This might be a situation to avoid.
Mike Tolbert, San Diego Chargers, concussion (P): Tolbert is expected to play. He sustained a concussion in Week 5, was off in Week 6, then was cleared to return to practice. He has been a full participant each day and barring a surprising setback, will be on the field Sunday.
Peyton Hillis, Cleveland Browns, hamstring (Q): Hillis never was able to get on the practice field this week, rendering his status for Sunday very uncertain. Hillis injured his left hamstring in last week's game and underwent an MRI Monday, but details on the specifics of his injury have been nonexistent. On Thursday he was scheduled to get some pool running in. Low impact work in the water, although therapeutic, is quite different from running on the ground, into contact, dragging the extra weight of would-be tacklers.
While the Browns have not ruled him out, choosing to list him instead at questionable, there is little doubt that he will not be at full strength by gametime. The challenge for fantasy owners is if he plays, how much can be expected in terms of playing time and effectiveness? Since we haven't seen him run yet this week, there's no way of knowing. Fortunately the Browns have an early game so we will learn his status before most rosters lock.
Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh Steelers, knee (P): Mendenhall spooked fantasy owners when he left Thursday's practice early with a knee issue. He was back for a full workout Friday however, easing concerns. At probable, he is expected to play Sunday.
Jackie Battle, Kansas City Chiefs, neck (P): With Jamaal Charles gone for the year, there was some anxiety for fantasy owners when Battle hit the injury report with a neck injury after the Week 5 game. Not to worry. The bye week helped and Battle, who practiced fully each day, is expected to play Sunday.
Tim Hightower, Washington Redskins, shoulder (P): Ahhh, the Redskins' running back carousel continues to go 'round. Hightower has been dealing with a shoulder injury which ultimately contributed to him moving behind teammate Ryan Torain in status. The shoulder does appear to be improving since Hightower was able to practice fully each day, but where does that leave the division of the work? Last week Ryan Torain said even the backs didn't know how much they would each be involved in the game, lending credence to the "hot hand" theory in Washington. Torain only managed 22 yards on 10 carries last week so the pressure is indeed on for someone to shine in Week 7. We just don't know yet who that will be.
Daniel Thomas, hamstring and Reggie Bush, groin, Miami Dolphins (P): Thomas returned from his hamstring injury Monday night and was able to run fairly effectively without any setbacks. Given the recent injury and the short week, Thomas was kept to limited work Wednesday and Thursday but was back in full practice Friday and is expected to play. Bush seemed to hurt his neck Monday night but later reports indicated he could have returned to the game if necessary. The injury that kept him out of Wednesday practice was an aggravation of a groin strain from earlier in the season. Bush returned to full practice Thursday and Friday, however, and is also expected to play Sunday when the Dolphins host the Broncos.
Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos, back (P): This does not seem to be a big concern for the Broncos. McGahee was given a lighter practice Thursday because of some back soreness but returned to full practice Friday. He is expected to play and remains the lead running back in Denver.
Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks, ankle (P): Lynch played through a sore ankle in Week 5, then got a rest with the bye week. After practicing fully all week, he is expected to play.
|Julio Jones' hamstring injury is concerning Falcons fans and fantasy owners alike.|
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons, hamstring (D): Jones sat out last week's game with a strained hamstring and appears to be in line to do the same thing again Sunday. Jones has not practiced with the team since the injury. As for Jones' own assessment, he indicated he cannot be sure he'll be ready to return in Week 9, either (the Falcons have a bye next week), according to ESPN.com. Hmmm. You never like to hear uncertainty directly from the player, although it does help diffuse expectations and temporarily offload some of the questions. With two more weeks before the next game, a lot could change. For Week 7 however, Jones will remain out of the lineup.
Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers, hamstring (P): Wallace suffered what the team referred to as a mild hamstring strain in Week 6. After taking Wednesday off, Wallace returned to limited practice Thursday and full practice Friday. That's good news for fantasy owners here, as it appears the injury truly was minor and Wallace is expected to play against the Cardinals.
Vincent Jackson, San Diego Chargers, hamstring (P): Jackson has played through both an abdominal strain and a hamstring strain ... and that was before the bye week. The rest could only have helped. Jackson eased back into practice this week, doing limited work Wednesday but then putting in full workouts Thursday and Friday. Expect Jackson to be out there for the Chargers as they play an unusually early game against the New York Jets.
Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings, ribs (P): Harvin has been nursing sore ribs for several weeks but has played through it. He was given Wednesday practice off, but returned to limited work Thursday and Friday. Barring a surprising development, Harvin is expected to play, as the "probable" tag indicates.
Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons, knee (P): White is a regular on the injury report but again had a full week of practice. Expect him to play.
Brandon Marshall, Miami Dolphins, quadriceps (P): A sore quad incurred during the Monday night game kept Marshall out of practice Wednesday, but he was back to full work Thursday and Friday. You didn't really think he'd miss the chance to play against his former team, did you?
Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers, foot (Q): Perhaps the most weekly hand-wringing by fantasy owners happens over Gates' status. Gates returned to practice this week on a very deliberate schedule. He was limited Wednesday, off Thursday, then put in a full practice Friday. There is still the question of how he will feel Sunday morning, hence the "questionable" tag, but the expectation is that he will play. He is not expected to play the entire game but should definitely be involved in red zone situations (which fantasy owners love to hear). There's no way to know how he'll respond, but you can bet he's as happy to be back on the field as anyone. Thankfully this is an early game, so his status will be known before all games kick off.
Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints, ankle (P): Graham developed some ankle soreness after Wednesday practice and was held out Thursday as a result. He was back at it Friday though, putting in a limited practice. The Saints list him at probable, though, letting us know we should not be concerned about his status.
Todd Heap, Arizona Cardinals, hamstring (Q): Heap has been dealing with a hamstring strain for a few weeks now and did not practice at all this week. It appears unlikely he will suit up, but the "questionable" tag leaves the door open just a crack.
Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons, elbow (P): Gonzalez played through the sore elbow last week, and after practicing daily this week, will do so again.
Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland Raiders, hamstring (Q): Janikowski was unable to practice Friday due to an injured hamstring and the Raiders moved swiftly to audition for his replacement. On Saturday the Raiders are expected to sign Dave Rayner to help out for Week 7, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. It's unclear how long Janikowski will be out and the Raiders have a well-timed bye in Week 8. This Sunday, fantasy owners need to be sure to alter their rosters, as it appears clear from the roster move that Janikowski will be 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.
Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis Rams, ankle: So much for the initial reports suggesting Bradford would play this week. His inability to even test the ankle Friday spoke otherwise. It is A.J. Feeley who has taken all the snaps in practice this week and he will start Sunday. On Thursday we outlined the challenges for Bradford with this particular injury and questioned whether he would indeed be able to play. While the team wanted to give him every opportunity to be able to start in front of friends and family in a big game at Dallas, time was not on his side. This is a good decision for Bradford; we'll see how he is able to progress over the next week.
Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts, neck: Manning remains out following neck surgery.
Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans: Johnson is still on the mend following a surgical procedure Oct. 6 to address a hamstring tendon injury. He has not yet returned to practice. On Thursday we outlined his progress to date and when we might expect to see him. It won't be this week.
Jahvid Best, RB, Detroit Lions, concussion: Best did not practice all week and did not attend any team meetings. This is a condition that requires ongoing evaluation. There is no timetable for his return because no two concussions are identical and their recovery courses are impossible to predict. No definitive decisions have been made regarding Best's status other than he will miss Week 7.
Felix Jones, RB, Dallas Cowboys, ankle: Jones has a high ankle sprain and is expected to miss several weeks.
Jason Campbell, QB, Oakland Raiders, foot: Campbell sustained a broken collarbone in Week 6 and has undergone surgery to repair it. Campbell expressed hope that if everything went well he could be back in six weeks, but the Raiders went out and traded for Carson Palmer anyway. As for whether Palmer starts for the Raiders this week, coach Hue Jackson will not say, but it's pretty clear Campbell will not be rushed back.
Chris Cooley, TE, Washington Redskins, finger, knee: Cooley is out because he had finger surgery, but his ailing knee continues to be a problem as well. He is expected to miss several weeks at the minimum.
Be sure to check out Fantasy Football Now, Sundays on ESPN2 at 11:30 a.m. ET, and Fantasy Surround on ESPN.com starting at 10 a.m. ET Sunday for last-minute inactives, rankings, injury impact and more!