Another week of football means we have another week of injuries to monitor and lineup decisions to stress over. It’s not going to get any easier from here on out and trying to contend with both injuries and bye weeks as the season progresses will only add another level of difficulty.
But enough about the future, we must live in the present, and for now we are going to take a trip around the league and dig into all of the health-related situations that have attracted our attention heading into Week 5. It should be noted though that as a result of the London game (9:30 AM eastern), some lineup decisions will likely have to be made earlier than normal. That is just a small price to pay though for the privilege of Zach Wilson leading the Jets to their second straight victory while drinking your coffee.
While I am a card-carrying member of the delusional Jets’ fan base, there some cause for optimism that we will get to a little bit later in a situation that shares similarities to last week’s matchup against Tennessee.
We should be used to this by now. Battling two injuries, Ben Roethlisberger was absent from practice on Wednesday but he did return to the field on Thursday. His status was never really in doubt for Sunday’s game, so it appears this is a nothing to see situation for Roethlisberger who is on the fringes of being rostered, let alone starting, depending on your league setup. With that being said, it’s a tough match-up against Denver’s defense this week and Roethlisberger only has four touchdown passes (along with four interceptions) to this point, I would be looking elsewhere. But it doesn’t appear you have to operate out of fear of him not taking the field.
Despite Jimmy Garoppolo not being officially ruled out of Sunday’s game he hasn’t been on the practice field yet this week and after leaving last weeks game early, he was operating under the assumption of being out a few weeks. That elevates rookie Trey Lance to the starting job whether he is ready for it or not although thanks to his legs, he likely is a better fantasy option than real life quarterback.
With Teddy Bridgewater practicing in a limited capacity on Thursday it appears things are moving in the right direction relating to his concussion protocol. There really is fringe fantasy value more than anything here with Bridgewater but having him on the field (which is the direction things are trending in) is ultimately going to be better for Denver’s receivers.
Baker Mayfield’s partially torn labrum (non-throwing shoulder) doesn’t appear to be keeping him from taking the field, but it’s hard to not want to blame it after his performance last week. Through the first four games of the season, Mayfield has just two touchdowns and 935 passing yards and I would be way more concerned about that rather than his health status.
It’s not often we get pleasant surprises here, unless you are rostering Chuba Hubbard without Christian McCaffrey, but the latter has practiced on a limited basis both Wednesday and Thursday. Originally this was thought to be too soon for McCaffrey’s return, but we certainly aren’t going to turn him away. This is a situation to be monitored until we have complete clarity, but if McCaffrey is out there and looking good leading up to the game, then he should be in each and every seasonal lineup you have.
It goes without saying that the Giants are going to be careful with Saquon Barkley and his knee this season, and that is in fact the preferable stance to take. After practicing on a limited basis earlier this week, Barkley was a full participant in Thursday’s practice for the full time all season. Between that and being on the field for 88% of the offensive snaps last week, I think it is truly safe to move forward with Barkley although hopefully I didn’t just jinx him after he scored twice on Sunday with 126 yards on 18 touches.
I’m not sure it’s a panic situation for Ezekiel Elliot and his knee, but there is something to keep an eye on here. After missing practice on Wednesday with knee tightness, Elliot returned on Thursday on a limited basis. He should be good to go for this week’s matchup against New York, but a double-check Sunday morning couldn’t hurt. After his performance last week though (20 carries for 143 yards and a touchdown) no problems would have been detected. Tony Pollard would see a clear bump to his value should Elliot be unable to take the field.
While we don’t like the news regarding David Montgomery, we do like the clarity. It has been confirmed that Montgomery will miss a few weeks a knee injury and continuing that same path, Damien Williams is the clear next man up. After sitting out last season, Williams is reunited in a familiar offense with his old offensive coordinator, and now head coach, Matt Nagy. He jumped right into action last week with 55 yards and a touchdown on eight carries and he has been practicing in full after dealing with bruised quadriceps earlier this week. Another name to keep an eye on for deeper leagues is Khalil Herbert as the rookie will likely be around in a supporting role but Williams is the target.
Fantasy players are not going to like this, but things aren’t clear cut with Dalvin Cook this month. Through Thursday this week he has yet to really practice, but for the second straight week Cook is planning to play through his ankle injury. With nine carries for 34 yards and two receptions for another 10 yards last week, Cook didn’t exactly distinguish himself, and if he’s still not fully healthy, there is the concern for a similar performance. With that being said, there might not be a better option on your roster, so you have to tread carefully while not inserting him into your lineup blindly.
After injuring his ankle on Thursday, Joe Mixon has yet to practice this week and things aren’t looking too optimistic for his status this week. At this point I would make alternate arrangements with Samaje Perine slated to be the early down beneficiary with Chris Evans potentially being an option on third down. Currently, this is a situation best avoided if you have other directions to go in.
There shouldn’t be any concern with Antonio Gibson’s status this week as Washington treads carefully with him and his shin bruise. Gibson operated under the same conditions last week and gained 63 yards and 14 carries while finding the end zone, and he should be good for a similar performance once again this week. His true value is limited by J.D. McKissic’s usage on passing downs and he practiced in full on Thursday while dealing with an ankle injury.
The good news with Elijah Mitchell this week is that he is currently taking on contact in practice. With that being said, his status for this week is still unclear as he is nursing a shoulder stinger. Even if Mitchell does take the field though, it’s unclear to what level he will work back into his old role. In reality, it was really just one week for Mitchell and it came against Detroit so I would resist reading too much into it and keep my distance for another week. Trey Sermon was drafted a few rounds earlier than Mitchell while also gaining 89 yards on 19 carries last weeks so it’s possible San Francisco eases Mitchell back in.
Through Thursday we haven’t seen Chase Edmonds do much other than work on the side at practice so it’s hard to feel too confident with his status on Sunday. This is coming on the heels of his best performance of the season, 120 rushing yards on 10 carries and four receptions for 19 yards so we want to see Edmonds on the field this week. If he is sidelined, John Conner is ready to step up after rushing for two touchdowns in each of his last two games.
Turf toe never appears to be a cut and dry injury but early indications are that Peyton Barber and his 143 rushing yards will likely be out of the lineup this week. Barber never really should have been on our radar to begin with, and with Josh Jacobs practicing in full on Thursday, that should continue to be the case. Jacobs looks to build on the 40 yards he rushed for last week in 13 carries in what is quite the favorable matchup against the Lions this week.
By the time it gets to Sunday, Melvin Gordon’s leg contusion should be behind us as he was slated to return to practice, at least on a limited basis, Thursday. We can expect Gordon to take the field against Pittsburgh as he continues to be in a touchdown dependent time share with Javonte Williams.
D’Andre Swift’s groin injury is nothing new this season, so it shouldn’t be surprising to see him practicing on a limited basis throughout the week as Detroit tries to manage his reps. With that being said it’s hard to get excited with his eight carries for 16 yards last week although he did catch four passes for another 33 yards. Jamaal Williams, dealing with a hip injury, should also be good to go this week, as Detroit utilizes both backs in a timeshare situation. Williams is coming off his best rushing performance of the season with 66 yards on 14 carries last week.
To this point, things are looking similar to last week for Aaron Jones when it comes to his practice schedule as he deals with an ankle injury. Last week Jones picked up a combined 101 yards on 18 touches, and we can expect a similar outcome against Cincinnati on Sunday. Between Jones’ ankle and the lopsided Green Bay game last week, AJ Dillon got extended work, especially in the second half, and picked up 81 yards on 15 carries. If the ankle injury lingers, this might be something to keep an eye on.
On the heels of his best performance of the season, nine receptions for 51 yards and a touchdown, Giovani Bernard missed last week’s game with a knee sprain, but he is trending to potentially return this week. That means Leonard Fournette would get a downgrade in the passing game while Bernard is limited to strictly deep league, PPR value as he has yet to carry the ball this season.
Nyheim Hines does have an extra day this week, but he didn’t practice Thursday due to a shoulder injury. Due to the likely lack of options Monday night, I would prepare to look elsewhere from a roster management perspective as Hines’ value is limited to deeper leagues.
New Orleans is one a back offense with Alvin Kamara running the show, but with Tony Jones now sidelined for the next few weeks, Dwayne Washington is the next man up as a handcuff to monitor but not roster at this point.
The Giants have more questions than answers when it comes to their wide receiving corps. After missing last week’s game with a hamstring injury, things aren’t trending especially well for Sterling Shepard although he appears to be closer to taking the field this week than Darius Slayton. The good news is that Kenny Golladay participated in practice in full on Thursday and is in position to build on his six reception, 116-yard performance last week. Kadarius Toney should be a factor once again this week as the Giants unleashed him last week (six receptions for 78 yards) and there will likely be available targets once again.
Amari Cooper appears to be trending towards playing this week as he was limited at practice on Thursday while working through a hamstring injury. These can be tricky, and it is possible he reaggravates it during the game, but I would expect him to be available this week. What is of greater concern is the fact that Cooper has three receptions in each of the last three games.
After missing last week’s game with a concussion, Elijah Moore is practicing in full as of Thursday and slated to return in a favorable match-up against Atlanta. With Jameson Crowder and Keelan Cole taking on larger roles, it might be though for Moore to find some targets initially.
One of the biggest questions of the week, is who will catch passes for Atlanta? Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage will both be sidelined this week so get ready to fire up Olamide Zaccheaus and Tajae Sharpe although we must expect a large role for Kyle Pitts, right?
We also have similar questions about who will catch passes for Tennessee again this week. At this point, things don’t look for Julio Jones taking the field this week as he is slated to miss his second straight game with a hamstring injury. AJ Brown is also dealing with a hamstring injury, and after also missing last week’s game he returned to practice on Thursday. All signs point to Brown taking the field and he should be in for a big day against Jacksonville. With Nick Westbrook-Ikhine also dealing with a hamstring injury, Josh Reynolds and Chester Rogers are the other two receivers to keep an eye on.
Darnell Mooney has dealt with multiple injuries this season, but they are more nagging than anything else, and while he logs some limited days of practice, it hasn’t impacted him on Sundays. Mooney has taken the field for at least 70% of the Bears’ offensive snaps through each of the four games and he is coming off his best game of the season with five receptions for 125 yards. At this point, there is no reason why we shouldn’t see something similar from Mooney who has 17 receptions for 226 yards on the season.
After missing last week’s game with a hamstring injury, Chase Claypool has practiced (at least on a limited basis) Wednesday and Thursday as he is slated to return this week. Things will be crowded for Pittsburgh as JuJu Smith-Schuster practiced in full on Thursday as he appears to be recovered from a rib injury. With that being said, it will be hard for Denver to pick one receiver to focus on although Pittsburgh might have some difficulties against a tough defense.
Tee Higgins has missed the last two games with a shoulder injury so it was a good sign to see him practice on limited basis this week. It is still not a foregone conclusion that Higgins will return to action this week, but things are certainly trending in that direction.
Miami has been treading carefully with DeVante Parker and his shoulder injury when it comes to practice, but there is nothing to suggest that he won’t take the field on Sunday. Despite Jacoby Brissett under center, Parker had his best game of the season last week with four receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown and he stands to benefit from Will Fuller’s absence on Sunday.
After missing two games, Danny Amendola returned to practice this week, and following the release of Anthony Miller, things do look good for him in Week 5. Amendola caught five passes for 34 yards and a touchdown in Week 1, and a duplicate performance is possible as he could be a volume option out of the slot which gives him some PPR value in deeper leagues.
Things don’t appear to be looking good for both Cam Sims and Dyami Brown this week, but the real concern here is with Curtis Samuel. Through Thursday, he has yet to practice after making his season debut this past week and it’s unclear how that translates into his status for this week. What we do know, is that Terry McLaurin will be busy.
George Kittle was on the field for 92% of San Francisco’s offensive snaps last week, so I guess we shouldn’t be too concerned with his calf injury as he caught four of his 10 targets for 40 yards. I’m not surprised to see San Francisco tread carefully with Kittle as it relates to practice early this week, and all signs point to him taking the field again this week with Trey Lance being more of a potential issue than the calf.
After sitting out practice on Wednesday, TJ Hockenson at least did a little bit on Thursday, but it remains to be seen whether than is enough for him to take the field this week as he deals with a knee injury. Over the last two weeks Hockenson has just six receptions for 52 yards but if he is active for the week, it’s likely you don’t have any better options. This is a situation to monitor as we don need to see more out of him in practice.
Based on his four cracked ribs, broken ribs, and punctured lung it’s not surprising that Rob Gronkowski has yet to return to practice as of Thursday. I find it difficult to expect a return this week for him as Cameron Brate gets another game at the top of the depth chart after catching two of his six targets for 19 yards last week.
David Njoku shouldn’t be on fantasy radars with just seven receptions for 111 yards in a crowded tight end room, but he did show up on the injury report with a knee injury. This is a situation to monitor as his absence could give a slight boost to Austin Hooper who is only slightly better with 11 receptions (via 16 targets) for 97 yards and a touchdown.
Maxx Williams appears to be finding a groove with Arizona as he has stepped up with 15 receptions for 179 yards and a touchdown in his last three games. Williams is moving in the right direction after missing practice with a shoulder injury on Wednesday as he trends towards being a back end TE1.