Are you ready for some football? Labor Day is officially in the rearview mirror and the 2017 NFL season is set to kick nnoff on Thursday night with the Chiefs playing the Patriots. Last minute drafts are taking place as we prepare for another season of fantasy football. It wouldn’t be fantasy football season without getting depressed and stressed out about injuries, so it is my distinct pleasure to once again be the bearer of bad news with the weekly NFL injury report. We will take a look at some players who are currently dealing with various ailments that could or will effect their status for Week 1 of the NFL season. So, without further ado, let’s delve into the season’s first edition of the fantasy football emergency room.
Odell Beckham, Jr. (WR-NYG) – The controversial yet insanely talented wide receiver injured his ankle earlier in the preseason and has not done much since. He did not practice yesterday and instead rode an exercise bike. His status for Week 1 is in doubt but the Giants (and fantasy GMs) remain hopeful that he will be on the field against the Cowboys in a primetime showdown on Sunday night. Beckham is coming off a season in which he caught 101 passes for 1,367 yards and ten touchdowns but many felt was a disappointing year due to a lack of consistency. He is playing for a contract which will be extra motivation for him to be on the field and produce like the highest paid wide receiver in the league. Even if he does not practice, he can still suit up and justify that top five draft pick you spent on him. Plan on having him in your lineup unless we hear otherwise later in the week.
Andrew Luck (QB-IND) – Luck has already been ruled out for Week 1 meaning Scott Tolzien will get the start. This is bad news for the Colts who have no hope for competing without Luck on the field. Indianapolis just traded for Jacoby Brissettfrom the Patriots to add some depth at the position, so Tolzien is no lock to hold onto the job if he struggles before Luck is able to return. The Colts did not place Luck on the PUP list so they believe he will not miss more than six weeks. This diminishes the value of players like T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief and Jack Doyle who rely on Luck’s proficient passing skills. Keep Luck stashed on your roster as he will be a valuable commodity later on when he returns.
Travis Kelce (TE-KC) – Kelce is listed on the injury report because he was banged up after the Chiefs last preseason game. However, the injuries appear minor and his status for Thursday night does not appear in doubt. Kelce has arguably surpassed Rob Gronkowski as the premier tight end in the league as he is coming off a stellar season in which he caught 85 passes for 1,125 yards and four touchdowns. He has played all 16 games each of his first three seasons and his receptions and yardage have all trended upwards each year he has been in the league. He is a lock to start every week and will become even more valuable once he establishes himself as a better red zone option for Alex Smith.
Demaryius Thomas (WR-DEN) – The Broncos will be cautious with Thomas who injured his groin a couple weeks ago and has been limited in practice ever since. He will have the benefit of an extra day to recover since Denver plays on Monday night. While Thomas is no longer considered a premier wide receiver mostly due to Denver’s poor quarterback play, he still managed 90 receptions for 1,083 yards and five touchdowns making him a solid WR2 option in many league formats. Do not be concerned about his Week 1 status as he will certainly be on the field barring any setbacks this week.
Donte Moncrief (WR-IND) – The Colts biggest concern is obviously their elite quarterback’s health, but Moncrief has also been dealing with his own issues. He has seen limited reps in practice the past few weeks due to an AC joint sprain in his shoulder and will not practice on Tuesday. He did catch a long pass last weekend in the Colts preseason game and his reps will continue to be limited this week to preserve his health. As of now, Indianapolis expects him to play against the Rams but he won’t be a great fantasy option with Scott Tolzien at the helm.
Tyler Eifert (TE-CIN) – The extremely productive yet oft-injured Tyler Eifert finds himself back on the injury report with what the Bengals described as tendinitis. Cincinnati has understandably been very cautious with their fragile tight end who has missed a large chunk of time throughout his young career. However, when he plays he is extremely productive as indicated by his 29 receptions for 394 yards and five touchdowns in only eight games in 2016. He should provide solid value for GMs who drafted him in the middle rounds but you should have depth at the position because he cannot be trusted to stay healthy throughout the course of the season.
Jeremy Hill (RB-CIN) – The Bengals have a crowded backfield filled with lots of risk and reward. Jeremy Hill is the likely default starter but he sustained an ankle injury last week and averaged under four yards per carry during the preseason. Fellow incumbent Giovani Bernard is also coming back from a serious injury so rookie Joe Mixon seems poised to take over the workload at some point. Hill still as value as a later round pick to provide depth at running back as he us coming off a season where he ran for 839 yards and nine touchdowns, but watch out for his playing time because the Bengals may be willing to hand the reins over to the rookie sooner than we think.
Jordan Matthews (WR-BUF) – Matthews got off to an auspicious start with Buffalo as he got injured during his first practice with the team after getting traded from Philadelphia. He is dealing with a chest injury and has not been fully cleared yet leaving his status for Week 1 in jeopardy. Even if he does play, he would likely be limited in his snaps as he recovers from the injury. The plan is for Matthews to be the Bills top wide receiver, but that may take some time to develop as he gets back into playing condition.
Tyrod Taylor (QB-BUF) – The Bills are also dealing with injuries to their starting quarterback as Tyrod Taylor looks to return from a concussion he sustained during the team’s preseason game a couple weeks ago. He participated in some individual drills on Monday and is making good progress, so all signs are now pointing for him to be cleared in the concussion protocol and be on the field against the Jets. Taylor is not a starting option except for two-quarterback leagues.
Malcolm Mitchell (WR-NE) – New England’s wide receiving core took a major hit when Julian Edelman sustained a season-ending knee injury during the preseason. This meant that players like Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell were likely going to see increased targets and expanded roles. However, Mitchell has missed a lot of practice this summer with various knee problems and his status for Thursday’s game against Kansas City is questionable. He is likely fourth on the Patriots’ depth chart so he is not a viable starting option at this point. However, we know Tom Brady likes to spread the ball around so Mitchell is certainly worth rostering and holding onto for later in the season.
Cooper Kupp (WR-LAR) – The Rams’ offense could be in for a long season but if Jared Goff can somehow figure things out then Cooper Kupp might have a chance of being relevant in fantasy this season. The Rams acquired Sammy Watkins and already have Tavon Austin, but Watkins is an injury risk and Austin is not a proven receiver in the league yet. Kupp, the rookie out of Eastern Washington, sustained a groin injury earlier in the preseason but could be a favorite target of Goff’s which makes him a late round sleeper to fill some depth at wide receiver.
Michael A. Stein, Esq. is the Chief Justice of Fantasy Judgment, the industry's premier dispute resolution service, and co-host of the Fantasy Alarm Podcast. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook and Twitter (@FantasyJudgment).