Greg Olsen returns to practice sans boot, fantasy owners should have him Sunday

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The tight end has been battling injury, but appears on track to play this weekend. We break down the fantasy implications.

Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen practiced Thursday without the walking boot he was seen wearing Wednesday, according to Charlotte Observer beat writer Joe Person. He had missed practice Wednesday with an undisclosed foot/ankle injury. With the walking boot off, it appears Olsen is set to go Sunday at 1 p.m. against the Minnesota Vikings.

Through four games this season, Olsen has caught 21 passes for 273 yards, with one touchdown. He has had a reception of at least 24 yards in every game this season.

Fantasy impact: Olsen is in a lump of tight ends just behind the top tier. After the group that includes (with some variation, sure, and in any order) Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten, Julius Thomas, Vernon Davis, Jordan Cameron, Rob Gronkowski, and Tony Gonzalez, there is a next group, wherein you'll find Olsen, Antonio Gates, Martellus Bennett, Jermichael Finley, and maybe guys like Coby Fleener, Jared Cook, and the new starter Garrett Graham.

If Olsen is healthy and a go for Sunday, he'll be right in that group. With Gonzalez on a bye, that will have him ranked anywhere from seventh to 14th, and any ranking in there is legitimate and defensible. Most fantasy owners are unlikely to own two from the groups there, so a starting Olsen is probably a fantasy-useful Olsen. That said, someone who stumbled into someone like Graham might want to lean that way, just for the safety.

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