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|Sam Bradford's status for Sunday is still in question.|
It's the fifth bye week of the 2011 season but there are only four teams off this week: the Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars. Be sure to remove any of those teams' players from your lineup.
There are also a number of players who have been ruled out in advance of Sunday's matchups (see "Out" section below). Frustrating as it may be to not have one of your players available, at least when they're ruled out early it's one less reason for pre-kickoff panic.
Good luck in Week 9, everyone! May your players stay healthy and win for you.
Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams, ankle (Q): Now nearly three weeks since Bradford suffered a high ankle sprain, he just recently removed his walking boot. Bradford was able to do some individual work Thursday and then worked with the team during some drills Friday, but his status will come down to a game-time decision.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Rams' offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said Thursday that Bradford "moved around pretty good, threw the ball well. The throwing part is not really the problem, so we'll see." If throwing isn't the issue -- which isn't surprising given the injury isn't to his plant foot -- then it comes down to mobility and the ability to protect himself from further injury.
If there is any concern on that front, expect Bradford to sit another week. He'll have until Sunday to convince his team, but since the Rams play in a late game, fantasy owners should have alternate plans.
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys, ribs (P): Romo is still listed here, but we know the routine. Romo will start.
Kevin Kolb, Arizona Cardinals, toe (D): We've talked about Kolb's injuries throughout the week and it never looked encouraging. The doubtful tag supports that notion. Kolb will sit this one out.
Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, thumb (P): If you're surprised to learn Freeman suffered a thumb sprain in Week 7, before the team went on bye, you're not alone. And you have the New Orleans Saints to thank for making sure it got some attention this week. Saints head coach Sean Payton admitted to calling the league regarding Freeman's thumb when the injury did not appear on the Buccaneers' post-game injury report after Freeman appeared in a televised interview wearing a thumb splint.
According to the St. Petersburg Times, coach Raheem Morris said the injury was never a big issue and didn't threaten Freeman's practice or game status, so they didn't report it. Suffice it to say, Freeman and his injured thumb now appear on the official NFL injury report per the league's request.
"That's why we reported it, because the league asked us to," Morris said. "He sprained it in the Chicago game, came in and practiced during the bye week and didn't miss anything this week." Freeman apparently had no trouble making any throws -- the injury is to his throwing hand -- and is clearly expected to start this Sunday.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills, chest (P): Fitzpatrick was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday because of a chest bruise but was back to a full workout Friday. He is expected to start.
Tarvaris Jackson, Seattle Seahawks, pectoral (P): Jackson came off the bench in Week 8 and passed for over 300 yards, showing that even if he's not fully recovered from his pectoral strain, he's recovered enough to be on the field. Coach Pete Carroll told The Seattle Times that Jackson is "barely making it through practice." But he's doing enough for the Seahawks to list him as probable, and clearly they expect him to start Sunday.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, knee (P): He's baaaaack. Absent for two weeks and the bye with a knee sprain, Blount participated in full workouts every day and there is little doubt he'll be back in force this week. They need him, too, with no more Earnest Graham.
Willis McGahee, RB, Denver Broncos, hand (P): After undergoing hand surgery less than two weeks ago to repair a fractured metacarpal, McGahee is expected to take the field in Week 9. A plate and five pins have helped stabilize the bone, but make no mistake, the bone is still healing and he still has pain. McGahee has practiced this week with the hand wrapped for protection and was still able to demonstrate he could carry and protect the ball well enough to play.
According to The Denver Post, a handshake from McGahee Friday was "strong enough to crush a medium-sized cantaloupe." Guess that answers the grip strength question. It's unclear whether the Broncos will immediately return to McGahee's pre-injury carry numbers, although it seems likely Moreno would share some responsibility in the backfield. It also remains to be seen how McGahee fares when he encouters real contact.
Beanie Wells, Arizona Cardinals, knee (Q): Despite the questionable tag, Wells is expected to play. He acknowledged the knee is going to be an issue all season. Expect limited practices, questionable status each week and productivity -- well, we'll see.
Joseph Addai, Indianapolis Colts, knee (Q): Listed as questionable again, Addai's status is, again, murky. He practiced in full Wednesday and Thursday,and then didn't practice at all Friday. Proactive rest or a setback? The Colts aren't sharing. Based on his status as the No. 3 last week, it seems more likely to be a "rest" day to save Addai for some Sunday work. This is an early game, so there should be confirmation before rosters lock.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, toe (Q) and Kevin Faulk, knee (Q), New England Patriots: Both backs were able to practice each day, and both should be able to take the field Sunday.
Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants, foot (D): We discussed the Bradshaw foot situation at length Thursday, but as game day approaches, the most notable fact is that the team has listed him as doubtful, indicating he's unlikely to play. Teammate Brandon Jacobs is not on the injury report and is likely to have his chance for increased touches.
Daniel Thomas, Miami Dolphins, hamstring (Q): Thomas has been on the report for several weeks because of the hamstring, but last week's deactivation came as a bit of a surprise. Thomas had a similar practice pattern this week (limited daily), so it's a hard read to determine whether he'll be active or sit out. This is going to be a game-time decision, so have your backup ready. Incidentally, Reggie Bush is off the injury report this week.
Mike Tolbert, hamstring (P), Curtis Brinkley, concussion (P) and Ryan Mathews, groin (Q), San Diego Chargers: Tolbert appears to be the healthiest of the trio, having sat out Monday night's game to give his hamstring some additional rest. He practiced all week and is ready to go.
Brinkley passed concussion tests to return to full practice Friday, and barring a setback, he should be available. Mathews is far more questionable with the combination of a groin injury and a short week, but the team has left the door open to see how he feels on Sunday. Expect Tolbert to see the most action of them all.
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons, hamstring (P): Jones missed two games with a hamstring strain, and the recent bye gave him an extra week of recovery. Jones practiced on a limited basis until a full workout Friday and has said he feels great and is ready to go.
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants, hamstring (D): The doubtful tag tells us the Giants do not expect Nicks to be available given his recent hamstring injury. Nicks has proven to be a quick healer in the past, but he seemed to acknowledge the value in ensuring his health down the road, even if it meant sacrificing Week 9. It doesn't look like Nicks will play.
Wes Welker, New England Patriots, neck (Q): Despite the questionable tag, Welker looked to be improving as the week progressed, and he should play Sunday. A sore neck following a big hit in Week 8 kept Welker out of practice Wednesday, but he worked on a limited basis Thursday and Friday. Barring a surprise, expect Welker in the lineup Sunday.
Hines Ward, Pittsburgh Steelers, ankle (Q): Despite the questionable tag, it appears Ward will be back after putting in practices (limited) each day. The Steelers play Sunday night though, so be sure to have insurance.
Michael Crabtree, foot (P) and Braylon Edwards, knee (P), San Francisco 49ers: Both receivers played last week and both will play again this week after daily (limited) practices.
Sidney Rice, Seattle Seahawks, foot (P): Rice played last week despite his foot ailment and was a favored target of Tarvaris Jackson. Expect the same again.
Vincent Jackson, hamstring (P) and Malcom Floyd, hip (Q), San Diego Chargers: Jackson appears to be in better shape than Floyd heading into Sunday. Jackson took Wednesday off to rest his hamstring, and then practiced fully Thursday and Friday. He's expected to play. Floyd's hip was sore after a big Monday night game, and he did not practice at all this week. Expect Floyd to be a game-time decision.
Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals, hamstring (D): He was a late inactive last week when the hamstring wouldn't cooperate in warm-ups, and he hasn't practiced all week. At doubtful, he is not expected to take the field.
Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers, foot (not injury related): It was another positive week for Gates, who took a planned day of rest Thursday but practiced fully Wednesday and Friday. While the report says "not injury related," we know the foot is an ongoing issue for Gates. Still, he is expected to play Sunday.
Aaron Hernandez, New England Patriots, knee (Q): Hernandez still has some soreness in the knee but did practice (limited) each day this week. Expect him to play Sunday.
Dallas Clark, Indianapolis Colts, knee (Q): Clark did not practice Wednesday, but after putting in full days both Thursday and Friday, expect Clark to play.
Fred Davis, Washington Redskins, ankle (Q): Davis is going to be a game-time decision, but after returning to limited workouts Thursday and Friday, the expectation is that Davis will play.
Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles, hip (no designation yet): Celek has a hip contusion but says he is playing for sure. He did practice fully on Friday, so there's reason to believe him. Nonetheless, it's a Monday night game, so be prepared in the event of a last-minute surprise.
This space is intended to be 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: Manning remains out following neck surgery.
Peyton Hillis, RB, Cleveland Browns, hamstring: After aggravating the injury in Friday's practice, it's no surprise the Browns changed his status to out. It now sounds like he could miss several more weeks.
Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans, hamstring: Johnson continues to have lingering symptoms with his hamstring. Despite increasing his workout efforts and looking as if he's nearing return, he's still not comfortable with how his leg feels. Coach Gary Kubiak said this week that until Johnson feels 100 percent ready to return, he will remain on the sideline.
Yes, the Texans have a bye in Week 11, but the team maintains they are not automatically keeping Johnson out through that time. If he improves sufficiently this week, he could return. Johnson remains week-to-week.
Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders, foot: After spraining his foot in Week 7, there was optimism McFadden could return after the Raiders' bye week. When he was still sporting a protective boot and using crutches this week, it was clear he wasn't yet ready to take the field. With the Raiders playing Thursday in Week 10, the team is now setting their sights on that target, but it's not set in stone.
Santana Moss, WR, Washington Redskins, hand: Moss is still recovering from hand surgery. He is expected out for several weeks.
Felix Jones, RB, Dallas Cowboys, ankle: Jones is still recovering from a high ankle sprain. Reportedly out of his walking boot this week, Jones has not yet begun practicing with the team. DeMarco Murray carries the ball.
Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints, heel: Ingram has still not been able to practice this week and is out again for Week 9. Pierre Thomas is again in line for more touches.
Montario Hardesty, RB, Cleveland Browns, calf: Hardesty suffered a significant calf injury and is likely out for several weeks. With Peyton Hillis suffering a setback to his hamstring, Chris Ogbonnaya is expected to carry the load.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers, knee: The young receiver is dealing with both a knee injury and the recent passing of his mother.
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!