It's the first Sunday morning of the NFL season, which means fantasy football owners across the country are getting ready to unveil their 2011 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's Dr. Mohamadi's analysis about some key injuries, and their impact, for Week 1:
(10: 07 a.m. ET update: Foster is reportedly "unlikely to play," according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.) Many fantasy owners chose Foster with one of the top 3 picks of their draft and have been holding their collective breaths ever since. Foster injured his left hamstring on his first carry of training camp, then re-injured the hamstring during the team's August 28 preseason game against the 49ers, and he has been held out of practice this week. His status for today remains a game-time decision. 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 Foster's case. For this week, Foster owners should consider picking up backups Derrick Ward or Ben Tate, 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, and Foster has already injured his twice in the preseason. In other words: if you have Foster on your team, keep holding your breath for now.
Although he doesn't carry nearly the fantasy impact as Foster, Thomas was expected to carry a good deal of the Dolphins' workload this season, and so his injury bears watching. The rookie RB injured his hamstring in practice Wednesday, although he did return to limited practice on Friday and Saturday. The extra day off before Monday night's game certainly won't hurt, but with the team signing Larry Johnson as insurance and expecting Reggie Bush to get the lion's share of action anyway, all indications are Thomas may not have much impact -- at least this week.
Cassel is listed as probable on the Chiefs' injury report and is set to start against the Bills. The injury, which was sustained in the Chiefs' preseason finale after being sacked by Green Bay DT Howard Green, has required Cassel to wear a protective vest in practice this week. In most cases, the plastic vest, which holds an absorbent material to cushion the affected area, is sufficient to prevent reinjury. The key issue with rib injuries is how the player tolerates the pain associated with contact and movement, which by all accounts should not be an issue for Cassel.
The Cowboys' top receiver has been plagued by a hamstring injury for several weeks now and has been on the team's injury report all week. On the one hand, Austin has been listed as probable, and he is a favorite target of returning QB Tony Romo and should be a strong fantasy play. But as with any hamstring injury, re-aggravation is always a concern, and as if that weren't enough his impending trip to "Revis Island" might be even greater reason for fantasy owners to think about another option.
Steve Breaston, Kansas City Chiefs, hamstring
KC vs. BUF, 1 p.m. ET
Breaston was added to the injury report on Friday with -- you guessed it -- a hamstring injury and has been limited in practice. He is listed as probable on the Chiefs' injury list, but with Dwayne Bowe already on the roster and Cassel suffering from his own injury, it's hard to imagine Breaston would be a great candidate to start on your team this week.
Rumor has it there's another injury that's caused a stir this week in Indy, but second on the Colts' injury report is Collie, who has been practicing in spite of a nagging foot injury that has affected him most of the preseason. Despite being listed as questionable, Collie is set to play today. The bigger concern for fantasy owners, however, is that Collie, who missed numerous games due to injury last season, will be receiving passes from Kerry Collins for the foreseeable future and not Peyton Manning.
Sidney Rice, Seattle Seahawks, shoulder
SEA @ SF, 4:15 p.m. ET
Set to become the Seahawks' top receiving option after coming over from Minnesota in the offseason, Rice is listed as doubtful on the injury report due to a shoulder injury. Rice suffered the injury in training camp during a one-on-one drill. He missed the first exhibition game, returned to play the next two, then was unable to finish practice Aug. 29 and has not practiced since. Since the Seahawks have not divulged the nature of the injury, it is difficult to assess exactly how long they will be without Rice, but it would appear unlikely he would return today (or be a good option if he did play). Ben Obomanu would take Rice's place alongside Mike Williams against the 49ers.
Cooley, who has been a reliable fantasy option at tight end in the past, has been dealing with left knee swelling the entire offseason that kept him out of practice for much of the preseason and has limited his participation this week. Although he missed all of the Redskins' preseason games, Cooley himself sounds optimistic about his return against the Giants. However, he is listed as questionable for today and given the length of recovery thus far and his lack of significant action over the past month, Cooley is a risky option for today. Fred Davis has taken over the reps at TE in Cooley's absence and, while not a front-line option, could be a sleeper fantasy pick for teams looking for help at the position.