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The Peyton Hillis saga in Cleveland has taken another odd twist. On Sunday, Hillis left the Browns game against Oakland with a hamstring injury and will reportedly undergo an MRI on Monday. What is so bizarre about it is the fact that Hillis actually returned to the game briefly in the fourth quarter. There was some speculation that it was a coaches' decision to remove Hillis, but given contract situation, who really knows what is going on there.
Montario Hardesty came on in place of Hillis and would be the feature back if Hillis has to miss any time with this injury. Hardesty ended the game with 11 carries for 35 yards and two catches for 18 yards. The Browns offense is in a bit of a rut, but he is going to get some carries if Hillis misses some time. We'll have an update once Hillis gets his MRI since that will impact potential waiver wire pickups. Of course, given the Hillis situation in Cleveland, even if the MRI comes back fine, Hardesty is probably a wise pick-up if you have Hillis.
Dallas Cowboys running back Felix Jones saw his 2011 season take another bad turn on Sunday as he suffered a high ankle sprain the Cowboys loss to the Patriots. Jones carried the ball eight times for 14 yards and caught two passes before leaving the game in the second quarter with the injury. High ankle sprains are worse than regular ankle sprains and can cost a player upwards of four to six weeks.
The Cowboys went with DeMarco Murray as the feature back once Jones went down. Murray finished the game with ten rushes for 32 yards and one reception. Tashard Choice rushed five times for 14 yards and caught three passes. Choice is reportedly on the trading block, but given the extent of Jones' injury, it seems unlikely that the Cowboys will deal him away.
For now, Murray would appear to be the choice as you prepare for week seven. Murray is not a particular good option right now, but if you need a bye week fill-in, he will at least find himself getting carries.
Oakland Raiders QB Jason Campbell sustained a tough break on Sunday as he broke his collarbone and is reportedly done for the season. Kyle Boller replaced Campbell in the lineup late in the second quarter and helped guide the Raiders to a 24-17 win. Boller came on with a 14-7 lead and completed 8 of 14 passes for 100 yards. The Raiders lone touchdown after Boller entered came on a fake field goal in which punter Shane Lechler completed a pass to tight end Kevin Boss.
Boller is not likely to retain the starting job for much longer. The team will likely add a quarterback either in free agency or via a trade. While that is being worked out, Boller will probably end up getting the start Sunday since any new quarterback would need to take some time to learn a bit of the playbook. The only other QB on the roster is rookie Terrelle Pryor who recently returned from his initial suspension by the league.
Which ever QB starts for the Raiders moving forward, they represent a downgrade from Jason Campbell. That impacts the entire team in fantasy football. It remains to be seen what a new starting quarterback will be able to do with the current Raiders talent. A questionable quarterback could mean more men in the box against Darren McFadden as well.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick left Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins in the third quarter, but returned a few plays later. There was some concern he had taken a bit of a shot to the head, but Vick stated after the game that he left because of dirt in his eye. At first glance, Vick did seem a bit shaken up, but having dirt in the eye could elicit a similar reaction. Vick wears a protective shield but the dirt must have slipped in underneath.
Vick did not put together a dominant performance against the Redskins, but he was a solid fantasy play in leading the Eagles to victory. Vick finished the game with 237 passing yards, a touchdown, an interception, and 54 rushing yards. As a scrambling quarterback, Vick's fantasy performance gets a nice boost from the rushes.
When Vick left the game, Vince Young came on in relief and was 0 for 1 with an interception and one rush for two yards. I'd imagine that can't lead to a quality QBR rating! Vick returned and finished out the game and now head into a week seven bye on a bit of an upswing after the big divisional victory.
The Washington Redskins will be without one of Rex Grossman's targets Sunday afternoon against the Philadelphia Eagles, as wide receiver Anthony Armstrong has been declared inactive with a hamstring injury.
Armstrong had been questionable after missing the 'Skins' last game two weeks ago with the same injury. Despite having a bye to rest up, Armstrong was limited in practice this week and couldn't get healthy enough to play.
His absence means more looks for Santana Moss in particular, but Chris Cooley and the 'Skins running backs, namely Tim Hightower and Ryan torain, should each see some trickle down increase in production. Armstrong has been a semi-reliable deep threat the past two seasons, so if Grossman is going to look downfield, Santana Moss, who is about the same size as Armstrong, will get those looks.
Though he's bothered by a sore foot, former wunderkind wide receiver Michael Crabtree is expected to play Sunday against the Lions. With his co-receiver Josh Morgan on injured reserve and Braylon Edwards still on the shelf, this could be the opportunity Crabtree needs to break out and fulfill the mild preseason expectations placed on him.
Crabtree will start opposite fellow underachieving Top 10 pick Ted GInn Jr. while Morgan and Edwards are out, so the looks from the surprisingly effective Alex Smith should come. What Crabtree can do with them remains to be seen. The Lions D is developing a reputation for haranguing quarterbacks, but their defensive backs can be exploited if Smith can release the ball quickly.
Crabtree had just two receptions in his last game, so it's going to take a few good performances to earn his way back into the circle of trust.
After leaving last week's game with a rib injury, Harvin was limited in practice on Wednesday and used Thursday to get an X-ray, which revealed there were no breaks in his ribs. Head coach Leslie Frazier said he decided to give Harvin the day off anyway. He will be wearing extra padding around his ribs, according to a report.
This news comes on the heels of Bernard Berrian being re-inserted into the starting lineup after being benched for disciplinary reasons last week, meaning Donovan McNabb has all his "weapons" at his disposal. Consider Harvin a playable option if you're suffering from bye-week syndrome.
Cribbs has been limited in practice all week because of a knee sprain he suffered during Week 4's loss to the Tennessee Titans. The Browns had a bye last week, so Cribbs had more time to recover. Despite that, he is still questionable against the Raiders.
Cribbs has 12 catches for 153 yards and one touchdown so far this season. He's only 12 catches away from setting a new career high in receptions; Cribbs caught 23 passes last season. The 2-2 Browns could use Cribbs against the 3-2 Raiders; he is one of the NFL's best kick returners with seven returns for 199 yards on kicks and 10 returns for 128 yards on punts.
For more on the Browns, visit SB Nation's Browns blog, Dawgs By Nature.
Aaron Hernandez, who missed two weeks earlier this season with a sprained MCL, is still listed as questionable on the Patriots' injury report, but that has more to do with the team's notoriously conservative injury reporting than his status for today's game against the Cowboys.
Hernandez returned last week, catching five balls for 56 yards. He also dropped a ball in the end zone, leading to Tom Brady's first interception in the red zone at Gillette Stadium, which makes you wonder if Brady might turn his attention back toward Rob Gronkowski, New England's other outstanding tight end, the next time around. Hernandez is wearing a brace on his left knee, but he refuses to acknowledge it has a real effect on his performance.
"You're not thinking about it when it's on,'' he said, according to the Boston Globe. "So, you still have to play football. It may make you a tenth of a second slower, but it's not that big of a difference, and I can't use it as an excuse.''
The Cowboys and quarterback Tony Romo will welcome back the return of former Pro Bowler Miles Austin this week from a hamstring injury that's kept him out the past two weeks. In fact, the receiver said he's "over it."
"You can be over anything, but then you can get it again, who knows," Austin said of his hamstring, which first flared up on the back end of training camp. "I'm 100 percent. I would say I'm over it."
If those aren't the magic words for fantasy owners, I don't know what are. Maybe "Abra Cadabra" or "Open Sesame," but "I'm 100 percent," there's something truly magical about that for someone who still leads his team in yards after catch despite missing half the season so far.
Woodhead missed last Sunday's 30-21 win over the New York Jets with a left ankle injury that he suffered against the Oakland Raiders two weeks ago. According to Rapoport, Woodhead moved around in all three practices this week without limping and should be ready to face the Cowboys.
The third-down running back has 26 carries for 115 yards so far this season. The Patriots are hampered by injuries in the backfield; BenJarvus Green-Ellis is suffering from a toe injury. The Patriots will look to improve to 5-1 against the Cowboys, who give up the fewest rushing yards per game with only 61.8 yards allowed.
Those following Johnson's hamstring injury are unsurprised by this news. He missed last week's game, hasn't practiced at all this week, and could still be on the shelf for next week's matchup. Though head coach Gary Kubiak said he was "encouraged" by Johnson's progress, he doesn't seem any closer to returning.
Jacoby Jones will receive the start in AJ's absence, though he had just one reception for 9 yards last week despite being targeted 11 times. Kevin Walter caught a touchdown and a 41-yard bomb last week, so both seem adequate replacement options.
Chris Cooley is officially listed as questionable this week, but the tight end left no doubt that he'd play on Sunday. In fact, he was annoyed that Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan revealed to the media that his surgically-repaired left knee was drained earlier in the week, because he's tired of answering questions about his status.
As he told the Washington Times, "everyone thinks it's drained, that's a huge deal," he said. "No, that's not a big deal. Guys get things drained all the time."
He later added, "It's not changing the way I play. It's not all of a sudden worse because [it was drained]. I'm fine. It's something that I'm managing and it's something that I deal with every day. I'm able to practice every day. I'm a firm believer in practice making you better, so I get myself ready to practice and play every day."
Even if he's playing, Cooley is not the fantasy option he used to be, ceding much of his pass-catching responsibilities to Fred Davis while spending more time blocking, and even filling in at fullback.
For more on Cooley, Davis and the Redskins, visit Hog Haven.
Schaub sat out of practice Wednesday with a sore throwing shoulder, but practiced on a limited basis Thursday. Yet, he was listed as probable for Sunday's game and upgraded to full practice Friday, meaning that he is ready to go for the Texans.
Through five games, Schaub has 98 completions for 1,377 yards, nine touchdowns and five interceptions. Unfortunately for the Texans, 352 of those yards and two of those touchdowns will not be on the field Sunday as Andre Johnson after having a procedure done on his hamstring. Johnson injured his leg against the Pittsburgh Steelers two weeks ago. Houston traded for Derrick Mason to replace him. Mason's first game as a Texan happens to be against his former team.
For more on the Texans, visit SB Nation's Texans blog, Battle Red Blog.
The Miami Dolphins' rookie running back Daniel Thomas has been struggling for weeks with a hamstring injury, delivering solid production when he's on the field but missing half his team's games to this point.
It seems the bye week has done him well, because despite being listed as questionable on the injury report for the Dolphins' monday night game against the rival Jets, Thomas said he expects to play. Here's the report from the Sun-Sentinel:
Though Thomas can't say too much about his health because of the Dolphins' policies on such things, he did say it was good to be back. "Yeah," he said. "It feels very good just to know that I'm finally going to get to play. It's very encouraging and exciting, man."
Though hamstring injuries are not to be trifled with, it seems safe to plug him into your lineups this week.
For updates and info about the Dolphins, visit The Phinsider.
The Colts' leading rusher this season with 249 yards and a touchdown, Addai went down with the injury during the team's Week 5 loss against the Kansas City Chiefs.
2011 fourth-round running back Delone Carter has been the team's No. 2 back this season, but while the former Syracuse standout scored his first NFL touchdown against the Chiefs, he had just 22 yards on 12 carries against the Chiefs and is averaging just three yards per carry. 2009 first-round pick Donald Brown saw his first carries of the season against Kansas City, gaining 38 yards on eight carries, which could lead to more extensive playing time against the Cincinnati Bengals' seventh-ranked run defense.
Scheffler, the Lions' No. 2 tight end, sustained the concussion when he was hit by Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher while making a 12-yard reception during the third quarter of Monday night's 24-13 win. Scheffler was transported to a local hospital, where he underwent a CT scan and MRI. Scheffler is expected to return at some point this season, but needs to pass the league's concussion protocol before being cleared to practice or play.
Urlacher was not fined by the league office for the hit.
The Lions re-signed Joe Jon Finley this week in case Scheffler was unable to play on Sunday. If active, Finley will serve as depth behind starter Brandon Pettigrew and veteran Will Heller, who will assume Scheffler's backup role on Sunday.
"We are hoping that after this week we will get him back the following week," Falcons head coach Mike Smith told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday.
The Falcons traded a package of picks to move up from the 27th spot to select Jones with the sixth overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. An immediate starter opposite Roddy White, Jones is third on the club with 25 receptions, but has a team-high 358 receiving yards on the season. Jones is still searching for his first NFL touchdown, with future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez, White and fullback Ovie Mughelli have been on the receiving end of quarterback Matt Ryan's seven touchdown passes this season.
Fourth-year wideout Harry Douglas will start in place of Jones on Sunday.
A knee injury kept New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs from participating in practice for a second straight week, and head coach Tom Coughlin has already ruled Jacobs out for Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills.
Jacobs was "doubtful" for the Giants' Week 5 game against the Seattle Seahawks, but did not play.
With Jacobs demoted to the No. 2 spot behind starter Ahmad Bradshaw, the Giants running game averaged 98.6 yards the first three weeks of the season. Over the last two weeks, the Giants are averaging just 61.5 yards on the ground per game, with Bradshaw limited to just 97 yards on 29 carries against the Arizona Cardinals and Seahawks.
Danny Ware is expected to take on more of a role in the running game, but the Giants may want to include 2011 sixth-round pick Da'Rel Scott in the offense. Scott led the Giants with 213 rushing yards in the preseason, a figure largely comprised of 60+ yard touchdown runs.
For more on Jacobs and the Giants running back situation, check out out Giants blog, Big Blue View. Also be sure to check out all of our fantasy football news and video highlights of the best Week 6 action.
Blount suffered a knee injury during last week's 48-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers and did not participate in any of the three practices this week.
With Blount out, and Cadillac Williams now with the St. Louis Rams, fullback Earnest Graham will step back into the role as primary running back. Graham ran for 1,461 yards and 14 touchdowns in 20 starts over the 2007 and 2008 seasons, but had just 34 rushing attempts over 2008-09 and just 18 carries for 84 yards through five weeks this season.
Despite Blount not practicing, the Buccaneers placed 2011 sixth-round pick Allen Bradford -- who at 5-foot-11 and 240 pounds, bears a physical resemblance to Blount -- on waivers. Bradford was claimed off waivers by the Seattle Seahawks, which could lead to the Buccaneers signing rookie Mossis Madu off the practice squad.
Friday afternoon the NFL released the final injury report for Week Six and there is not much in the way of shocking news. Or at least nothing we should not already have expected in light of Wednesday and Thursday practice participation reports. Guys like BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Percy Harvin have been banged up enough that a questionable listing is not a surprise. Brandon Jacobs was not expected to play this week and LeGarrette Blount may be "Doubtful" but we know he will be inactive on Sunday.
For those wondering, the designations break down as follows:
Out: 0% change of playing
Doubtful: 25% chance of playing
Questionable: 50% chance of playing
Probable: 75% chance of playing
For fantasy purposes, you can almost always assume a probable player can be slotted into your lineup. I would be somewhat shocked if any of those Probable players ended up inactive this Sunday barring any news tonight or tomorrow. Questionable players on the other hand put you in a tough position. At least half if not more of these guys will play, but you will likely find yourself waiting on a "game-time decision" for most of them. It is not a problem for 1:00pm ET starts, but the 4:05 and 4:15pm ET starts, it can become a pain in the butt setting your lineup. For those I simply suggest trying to slot them into your flex position (if you have one) so you have some flexibility between running backs and wide receivers (and maybe even tight ends).
This Sunday we'll have final updates for all of these players so check back then. And of course, feel free to tweet us @sbnationfantasy with any sit/start questions you might have.
RB Brandon Jacobs, Giants
WR Miles Austin, Cowboys
WR Jason Avant, Eagles
WR Dez Bryant, Cowboys
WR Michael Crabtree, 49ers
WR Ted Ginn, 49ers
WR Devery Henderson, Saints
WR Jason Hill, Jaguars
WR Greg Jennings, Packers
WR Jacoby Jones, Texans
WR Louis Murphy, Raiders
WR Steve Smith, Eagles (not Panthers)
WR Kevin Walter, Texans
WR Roddy White, Falcons
The New York Giants have officially ruled Brandon Jacobs out for Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills. Jacobs has been dealing with a knee injury that has yet to clear up. The Giants have their bye next week so one would imagine Jacobs would be able to heal up in time for the Giants week eight contest against the Miami Dolphins.
In the meantime, Ahmad Bradshaw is the primary beneficiary of Jacobs injury. D.J. Ware will operate as Bradshaw's backup, but for all intents and purposes, Bradshaw is the work horse of the Giants rushing attack.
The question will be how much the Giants go to Bradshaw. Against the Seahawks he only rushed 17 times, but the Giants also were battling from behind for much of the game. The Giants will need to control the time of possession against the dynamic Bills offense. If the Giants don't fall behind big early, Bradshaw could be in for a very solid day. Bradshaw should be in your lineup no matter the format.
A day after sitting out practice, New England Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis was back on the practice field Friday. The Law Firm was limited in practice on Wednesday before Thursday's downgrade to DNP and naturally that raised some question marks about his toe injury. A return to practice on Friday would seem to indicate Thursday was more precautionary in nature.
The Patriots will release their final injury report this afternoon and it would not be surprising to see Bill Belichick list Green-Ellis as questionable. If he is probable all the better, but I would expect questionable. My gut says he plays on Sunday, but this could turn into a game-time decision. As a late game on Sunday that is not exactly ideal.
Stevan Ridley would get the start in his place if Green-Ellis could not play. Where it gets interesting is if Green-Ellis can play, will Ridley eat into his carries like he did against the Raiders? Bill Belichick is a tough nut to crack on lineup decisions, but Green-Ellis is the hot hand right now. We'll have at least one more update on this fluid situation.
NFL teams released their Thursday participation reports last night and it seems helpful to provide a rundown of who appeared in each category. The final injury report comes out Friday afternoon, but in the meantime, teams publish practice participation reports on Wednesday and Thursday. The reports list players as Out (Will Not Play), Did Not Participate In Practice, Limited Participation In Practice and Full Participation In Pactice.
There is a vast difference in how much some teams report versus other teams. Nobody can out-right lie, but some teams prefer to keep injury information as close to the vest as possible. Additionally, there will be players that will be held out of practice in some strategic sense to keep the coming opponent on their toes.
The other issue with injury reports is that some players get a veteran privilege and will frequently sit out some practices each week. For example, Reggie Wayne sat out practice today. He is not hurt, but rather got the day off. Roddy White often sits out Wednesday practices each week as well.
In assessing your fantasy rosters, if you see a player as a full participant in practice, you can safely assume he will play the coming Sunday. FPP is meant more for players who were banged up but still expected to play. The value of the FPP tag is if they are downgraded to limited or out the following day. If a player practices in full Thursday, then sits out Friday because of an injury (as opposed to Wayne's non-injury reason), then you have reason to worry. Such a move means you could be looking at a game-day decision.
We'll be back Friday afternoon with prominent injury report inclusions. For now, here are Thursday's prominent fantasy inclusions.
Did Not Participate In Practice
Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants
Julio Jones, WR, Falcons
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Patriots
Andre Johnson, WR, Texans
Kevin Walter, WR, Texans
Percy Harvin, WR, Vikings (expected to play Sunday)
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Bucs
Lee Evans, WR, Ravens
Joseph Addai, RB, Colts
Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts (not injury related - expected to play Sunday)
Limited Participation In Practice
Tony Gonzalez, TE, Falcons
Aaron Hernandez, TE, Patriots
Danny Woodhead, RB, Patriots
Arian Foster, RB, Texans
Matt Schaub, QB, Texans
Jacoby Jones, WR, Texans
Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers
Greg Jennings, WR, Packers
Daniel Thomas, RB, Dolphins
Full Participation In Practice
Roddy White, WR, Falcons
Jason Campbell, QB, Raiders
Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys
Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys
Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys
Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys
Jason Hill, WR, Jaguars
Devery Henderson, WR, Saints
Jason Avant, WR, Eagles
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back LeGarrette Blount could find himself out for upwards of four to six weeks due to an MCL tear suffered during the Bucs loss to the 49ers. It has been called a sprain, but local radio broadcaster J.P Peterson described it as a grade two tear that could cost him upwards of a month of playing time.
It would appear safe to say Blount will not play this weekend, which means you need to find an alternative for your fantasy lineup. Earnest Graham will likely see the majority of the Bucs carries against the New Orleans Saints. Although the Bucs were easily contained by the 49ers, the Saints defense has struggled in all facets of the game.
If you are looking for a running back option due to byes and even Blount's injury, Earnest Graham might be the guy to grab. Aside from picking up LeGarrette Blount's carries, Graham is key in the Bucs passing game. He could see enough receiving opportunities to become a viable fantasy option beyond just the rushing attempts. Graham is worth a start in fantasy football this week.
Indianapolis Colts running back Joseph Addai sat out Wednesday's practice with a hamstring injury, and it looks like he won't play this Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. Addai told the media before practice on Thursday that it is a long shot he will be able to play on Sunday. Addai left Sunday's game against the Chiefs in the first quarter with the hamstring injury.
The Colts will use some combination of Delone Carter and Donald Brown in place of Addai. Neither back really qualifies as a particularly good fantasy option, although bye weeks make for strange bedfellows. If you are desperately in need of a running back for Sunday, I would have to recommend Carter. Through five games he has had 41 carries to Addai's 56. At the same time, while Addai is averaging 4.4 yards per carry, Carter is averaging 3.0 yards per carry.
The Colts are 0-5 but have hung close in recent games. Addai peaked in the Colts near-upset of the Pittsburgh Steelers but they have seemingly shied away from the run over the last two weeks. It is hard to make any sort of fantasy proclamations about arguably the worst team in the NFL.
The New England Patriots conducted their Thursday practice and running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis sat it out, a day after being limited in practice. This downgrade from limited to missed is not a good sign for his fantasy chances this Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. We will need to wait and see how he is used in Friday's practice, but if this holds up you will likely want to bench The Law Firm this Sunday.
If he is unable to play, Stevan Ridley would get all the carries against a Cowboys that is quite solid against the run. The Cowboys defensive line hasn't been fantastic, but the linebackers and secondary appear to do a great job containing runs before they emerge at the second level. This is not to say you shouldn't start Ridley if Green-Ellis cannot play. You should definitely start him, but temper your expectations a bit for this road game.
In the meantime, we'll be back with a Friday update on this fluid situation. It is possible the Patriots are just being cautious with The Law Firm but we'll know more Friday. It is also entirely possible you will simply have to wait for the Sunday inactive list before deciding what to do. Good times.
In an important bit of "non"-news, Rashard Mendenhall was not listed on the PIttsburgh Steelers Wednesday practice participation report. His absence from the injury report would indicate that barring any sort of unexpected setback, Mendenahll is likely in line to return to his starting running back role.
While it is good that he might be returning to that role, that does not necessarily mean he will be any more productive than he was prior to his hamstring injury. Mendenhall is averaging three yards per rush and simply has not been able to get going with any consistency. His two rushing touchdowns have helped his fantasy value, but even then his best fantasy performance was a 13.8 point day against the Seahawks.
This week, the Steelers face a Jaguars team that isn't particularly good, but that has done a solid job against the rush. Coach Mike Tomlin has actually been relatively non-committal as to Mendenhall's exact role now that he is healthy. That could mean Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer grab some carries away from Mendenhall. It could also mean nothing and we will see him carrying the load. We will have to wait and see how practice goes this week to determine what kind of role he will be in on Sunday.
The Atlanta Falcons will be without their rookie wide receiver Julio Jones this Sunday against Carolina Panthers as coach Mike Smith has officially ruled him out. Jones has gotten back out running around and working with the training staff, but Smith is playing it safe with Jones hamstring injury. They can get easily aggravated so it makes sense for Atlanta to hold him out for the week.
In Jones' absence, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez will get plenty of looks. However, in place of Jones, the Falcons will start Harry Douglas. They will also give additional playing time to Eric Weems and Kerry Meier. Weems and Meier are not worth rostering and Harry Douglas is only just barely a consideration if you are desperate for a receiver because of byes and injuries.
It would not be at all surprising to see Matt Ryan simply look much more frequently in Roddy White's direction on Sunday. Good coverage can slow White down, but any lack of production will not be for lack of passes.
Washington Redskins running back Tim Hightower was limited in practice on Wednesday as he continues to deal with a nagging shoulder injury that cost him significant carries in week four against the St. Louis Rams. Backup Ryan Torain came on in his place and rushed for 135 yards on only 19 carries and earned some plaudits from his coach, Mike Shanahan.
The fact that Hightower is potentially still dealing with this shoulder injury can not bode well for his playing time this Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Redskins are coming off a bye week, which should have been more than enough time to get his shoulder healed if it was not a particularly big deal. Instead, he is still ailing and might be in danger of losing more carries.
For now we'll need to assess the situation Thursday and Friday as practice participation reports come out. It would appear as though Ryan Torain is the start this weekend and Hightower should be on your bench, but we will no more as the week progresses. Torain is the hot hand right now and if Hightower is in the least bit limited, it would not surprise me at all to see Shanahan ride the hot hand.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones left Sunday's loss to the Packers in the third quarter due to a hamstring injury, and it looks like the injury could cost him practice time and maybe a game. Jones is expected to sit out Wednesday's practice and then have the team re-evaluate him on Thursday. This follows a Tuesday report on Sportscenter in which John Clayton stated that the injury was a one-week deal.
Jones currently leads the team in receiving yards and was off to a solid start in his rookie campaign. He had not gotten into the end zone yet, but he was developing into a solid fantasy weapon. If he has to sit on Sunday, Harry Douglas would draw the start in his place. Douglas hasn't exactly wowed folks in limited looks so we could see Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez benefiting the most from Jones absence. Or White could suffer from more coverage rolled his way. You start Roddy White every week anyway, so it's more just something to have in the back of your mind.
We'll be back Thursday and Friday with practice participation reports and updated news on Julio Jones.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston appears to be 100% back after a brief absence due to a broken collarbone. A week after having limited snaps, Colston led the team's receiver corps with 48 snaps against the Carolina Panthers. In his 48 snaps he caught five passes for 69 yards, which was second to Jimmy Graham.
In the past few weeks, Graham has emerged as a favorite target of Drew Brees, but that should not scare off Marques Colston owners. It is not an ideal situation, but Colston will continue to get his numbers. Colston's first week back I was a bit hesitant in recommending him into starting lineups, but at this point there really is no need to hold back with him. While he is not a dominant number one receiver in the Saints spread it around offense, he remains a very strong receiver for your fantasy team.
The Saints travel to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this Sunday. It is not a fantastic fantasy matchup, but given the Bucs struggles this past Sunday, the Saints could have a big performance in them. Colston will face a tough matchup in either Aqib Talib or Ronde Barber, but both corners have had their share of struggles in 2011.
The New York Giants indicated that running back Brandon Jacobs will not practice on Wednesday as he continues working back from a knee injury. Jacobs has not practiced or played since October 2 and was inactive this past Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks. If he is unable to go in practice this week, it would seem likely that he will be inactive once again this Sunday.
The Giants face the Bills this Sunday and then have a bye week in week seven. It would appear the Giants will likely rest Jacobs through this week and into the bye, thus getting him ready to return in week eight against the Miami Dolphins. After that Dolphins game, the Giants face a tough slate including the Patriots, 49ers, Saints and Packers.
For this coming week, Jacobs absence means another week of Ahmad Bradshaw carrying the primary rushing load. Against the Seahawks, Bradshaw finished with 17 carries for 58 yards. The Giants found themselves in a bit of a funky game as it was a sort of back-and-forth affair. The Giants relied more on Eli Manning and never really got the run game going. Let's hope for Bradshaw's sake that they learned their lesson and operate bit differently this Sunday against the Bills.
The Miami Dolphins are coming off their week five bye and are hoping to be healthy for their week six matchup against the New York Jets. One of their recent question marks has been rookie running back Daniel Thomas, who has been dealing with a hamstring issue for much of the season. After missing the team's week four loss to Cleveland, Thomas returned to practice on Tuesday, but was reportedly a bit tentative with the hamstring.
When he has started he has looked extremely solid, rushing for 202 yards in two starts. Unfortunately he has also missed two starts, which makes him an inconsistent play in fantasy football. If he could get completely healthy from the hamstring issue, he could become a very solid option, particularly given the inconsistencies of Reggie Bush in fantasy football.
We'll have to keep an eye on the injury report to see how limited Thomas is through the week's practices. If he can get a full day of practice in before the end of the week, that would be great news. For now, he is a likely fantasy start, but keep an eye out for news updates throughout the week. We will have more updates as practice participation reports come available during the week.
A few days after running back Rashard Mendenhall was available only in an emergency role, the Pittsburgh Steelers are expecting Mendenhall to return to action this Sunday in his starting capacity. Mendenhall has been dealing with a hamstring injury that sidelined him from practice all last week.
Mendenhall was available on Sunday, but the Steelers split the carries between Isaac Redman (15 carries) and Jonathan Dwyer (11 carries). While Redman got more of the carries, Dwyer made more of his carries, finishing the game with 107 yards, good enough for a 9.7 yards per carry clip. it will be interesting to see how the Steelers elect to split carries, if at all between Mendenhall, Redman and Dwyer.
In the meantime, we will have to wait and see how much Mendenhall participates in practice. If he is a full participant in practice, there would seem to be no reason to sit him this Sunday. However, limited or non-participation would raise enough question marks that you would find yourself looking at a potential game-time decision. If Mendenhall was available in an emergency situation this past Sunday, I would think he'll be good to go a week later.
Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak chatted with the media on Monday and made some intriguing comments about injured wide receiver Andre Johnson. In discussing Johnson, Kubiak stated that he was day-to-day and he would not yet rule him out for Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens.
Johnson suffered a hamstring injury that required a surgical procedure expected to sideline him upwards of three weeks. He missed this past week's game, but now Kubiak thinks Johnson will try and practice during the coming days. The odds are slim that he will play against the Ravens, but it is worth checking the practice participation reports to see if he is in the mix.
The Texans were able to spread the ball around to a mix of players on Sunday against the Raiders. Arian Foster was their leading receiver, with Joel Dreessen, Owen Daniels and Kevin Walter getting into the mix significantly. The Raiders have had trouble in the past with tight ends so it is not surprising that Dreessen had success on Sunday. For fantasy purposes, Kevin Walter could be the guy to look to moving forward while Johnson remains out.
Jacoby Jones filled in for Johnson at the X role but only had one reception for nine yards. He once again remains a non-factor in fantasy. Kevin Walter is not a superstar wide receiver, but I would not be surprised to see him continue to take advantage of added playing time during Johnson's absence.
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