Now that the Cowboys and Giants kicked off the 2012 season, we are primed and ready to go for the rest of opening day in the NFL. As always, injuries will play a major factor for all NFL teams and fantasy owners. This year has been especially tough on running backs as several big names had major injuries or are coming back from them. So without further adieu, here is the Week 1 edition of the walking wounded for fantasy football.
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1. Arian Foster (RB-HOU). In huge fantasy news, general consensus #1 pick Arian Foster tweaked his knee and was held out of practice on Friday. The Texans say it will be a game-time decision whether Foster plays on Sunday against the Dolphins. Foster does have an injury history which is a concern, so Ben Tate is a solid pickup if he is available as a free agent for some reason in your league. Keep checking his status before game time and be prepared to have an alternative for him in case he cannot go.
2. Adrian Peterson (RB-MIN). As no help to fantasy owners, the Vikings will likely decide whether Adrian Peterson plays right before game time on Sunday. Peterson is coming back from reconstructive knee surgery so if he does play it will likely be in a limited capacity. That being said, he is a risky choice to start this weekend because he may not see as many snaps as owners would like, assuming he even plays. Toby Gerhart is probably a better option to see playing time initially.
3. Marshawn Lynch (RB-SEA). It looks like Marshawn Lynch will be in full BeastMode this weekend as he practiced both Thursday and Friday in preparation for Week 1. The Seahawks may limit his carriers, but it does appear that he will play. This also downgrades Robert Turbin’s value as a replacement, but Turbin could see snaps on third down or near the goal line.
4. Ryan Mathews (RB-SD). In continuing the theme of risky running back options, Ryan Mathews of the Chargers still hasn’t been cleared for contact in practice. It is possible he could play Monday night against Oakland, but you are taking a chance putting him in your lineup without knowing until before game time if he will play. When he broke his clavicle during the first week of the pre-season, most people expected he might miss the first game. If you own him in fantasy, you are better off going with a sure thing and start someone else for the first week.
5. Stevie Johnson (WR-BUF). Bills’ wide receiver Stevie Johnson has been hampered by a groin injury all pre-season and is listed as questionable for Buffalo’s Week 1 game against the Jets. All indications are that Johnson will play as he begins his new five-year contract. Johnson is a solid WR2 or WR3 after he emerged in 2011. However, he will likely be covered by Darrelle Revis this weekend which could limit his fantasy value.
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6. Trent Richardson (RB-CLE). All reports are that Browns’ rookie running back Trent Richardson will be good to go for the season opener against the Eagles. Richardson is coming back from arthroscopic knee surgery and should see a decent number of touches depending on whether Cleveland can stay close in the game. The Eagles didn’t have the greatest run defense last year, so he is a solid start for Week 1 even if he is limited to 10-15 touches.
7. Marques Colston (WR-NO). Good news for fantasy owners as Marques Colston returned to practice after sustaining a foot injury. He is very likely going to play this weekend and will once again be one of Drew Brees’ primary targets. The Saints have so many offensive weapons that it could diminish the number of receptions Colston has. But he is always a big play threat and will see a bulk of the throws downfield.
8. Justin Blackmon (WR-JAX). Rookie wide receiver Justin Blackmon was slowed by an ankle injury this pre-season but he returned to full practice and is expected to start the opener against the Vikings. Blackmon will be the big play threat for quarterback Blaine Gabbert. He may not be a solid fantasy option right away, but he could become one of the more explosive receivers in the league before too long.
9. Austin Collie (WR-IND). Colts’ wide receiver Austin Collie sustained his fourth concussion in just a few years and is listed as questionable for Week 1. He is not a great option to play in fantasy right now, even if he is healthy. Rookie quarterback Andrew Luck will likely need some time to acclimate himself to the NFL and develop a rapport with his receivers.
10. Owen Daniels (TE-HOU). Texans’ tight end Owen Daniels missed practice late this week due to an illness and is questionable for this week’s game against the Dolphins. If healthy, Daniels is a solid fantasy option now that Matt Schaub is healthy. Opposing defenses will game plan against Arian Foster and Andre Johnson which could open up scoring opportunities for Daniels.
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