August 30, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans running back Arian Foster (23) warms up before a game against the Minnesota Vikings at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE
It's the first Saturday of the NFL season, which means fantasy football owners across the country are getting ready to unveil their 2012 squads in full force. Throughout the season, SB Nation Medical Expert Dr. Ali Mohamadi will provide his insights on the most impactful injuries in the fantasy landscape and how they might affect your roster decisions on game day.
Here are some key injuries, and their impact, for Week 1:
HOU vs. MIA, 1 p.m. ET
Many fantasy owners chose Foster with one of the top 3 picks of their draft and have been holding their collective breaths since hearing of Foster's knee injury Friday. Foster suffered the injury in Thursday's practice, and although an MRI was negative, he experienced enough soreness to be held out of yesterday's session entirely. Texans coach Gary Kubiak was somewhat cryptic when assessing his star running back's chances of playing on Sunday against Miami, saying only that "he'll have to show us he's ready to go." Ben Tate, who filled in admirably last year at running back in Foster's absences due to a lingering hamstring injury, would get the nod at starter if the Texans starter cannot go.
The Seahawks' Skittles-eating featured back has been limited the past two days in practice due to back spasms and is likely a game-time decision for Sunday's division tilt against the Seahawks. Back spasms, which are spontaneous, abnormal contractions of a muscle, can be extremely painful when occurring near the spinal cord or the nerve roots. While things look better for Lynch's chances of playing compared to earlier in the week, when he was held out of practice entirely, it is quite possible he will cede some carries to backup Robert Turbin, who would be a solid start against the Arizona defense if Lynch is held out of the game entirely.
Peterson, who is nine months removed from reconstructive surgery to repair the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments of his left knee, has made remarkable strides in his recovery thus far, but it appears his reps will be limited at best Sunday against the Jaguars. Although the Vikings' star has vowed since early in the offseason to be back for opening day, Head Coach Leslie Frazier has made it clear that a decision on Peterson's status will wait until before game time, which makes Peterson an iffy start for Week 1. Toby Gerhart is likely to handle the majority of the carries regardless of whether Peterson is active Sunday.
In an eerily similar refrain from much of the 2011 season, Wells was limited in practice yesterday due to a hamstring injury, yet the Cardinals running back vows he will play Sunday against Seattle. One study of 47 football players with hamstring injuries reported an average day of 14 days of rest before return to play, but this entirely depends on the severity (grade) of injury, which has not been divulged in Wells's case. For this week, Wells owners should consider picking up backup Ryan Williams, but the bigger concern is for the long term, as hamstring injuries are among the most commonly reinjured and most nagging in terms of recovery.
After his status for the season opener was cast in doubt following arthroscopic knee surgery in August, it's appearing more and more likely that Richardson, the third overall pick in April's draft, will be ready to see action Sunday against Philadelphia. While it is expected that Richardson eventually will be the team's workhorse at running back, the extent of his participation Sunday remains to be seen, not only due to lingering effects of the knee injury, but also because of his complete lack of carries in preseason games. Nonetheless, it would stand to reason Richardson will get the bulk of the work at running back Sunday, with Montario Hardesty and Brandon Jackson next up on the depth chart.
The Colts' wide receiver, who many expected to be Andrew Luck's go-to target this season, has been limited in practice the past two days and is looking like a game–time decision for Sunday's matchup at Chicago. Collie suffered a concussion during Indianapolis's Aug. 19 preseason game against the Steelers, his fourth in less than two years. With Reggie Wayne still entrenched as the top wide receiver for the Colts, and T.Y. Hilton and Luck on the same page during preseason games, Collie would be an iffy start Sunday anyway, if he is able to take the field.
Although all indications are that he will be able to play Sunday against Washington, Colston has been limited in practice this week due to a left foot injury. Details about the cause and timing of the injury remain hazy, and there was no significant concern coming out of New Orleans until today, when Colston was officially listed as questionable on the team's injury report. Losing Colston would possibly leave the Saints without two of their top four receivers, as Adrian Arrington is also questionable following meniscus surgery last month.
Buffalo's top receiver suffered a groin strain during practice on Wednesday, which comes on the heels of surgery in May to repair a similar injury from last season. Although Johnson is confident it won't keep him from Sunday's showdown with Darrelle Revis and the Jets, injuries to the groin are often nagging ailments that can easily be re-aggravated. Fantasy owners will need to keep a close eye on Johnson's status throughout the season and consider bolstering their wide receiving corps early in the campaign in case the injury flares up in weeks to come.
Harrison sat out practice for the second consecutive day with swelling and pain in his left knee, the same one for which he underwent arthroscopic surgery in August. At this point, it seems highly unlikely the Steelers' linebacker will dress for Sunday night's game against Peyton Manning and the Broncos. Given the lingering nature of the injury following last month's procedure, a bigger concern for Pittsburgh may be whether the knee will sufficiently heal at any point during the season to allow Harrison to play at his usual Pro Bowl-caliber level.