Hard to believe it, but with this week’s games we are crossing over the halfway point of the regular season. That is the NFL season, as the fantasy regular season is already across its mid-point. We are back to four teams on bye and, of course, we are dealing with the usual variety of injuries.
Let’s jump into the rundown of what we are keeping our eye ahead of Week 9.
So far this season, we can’t ask for much more from Matthew Stafford in his new home with the Rams. At this point he has cemented himself as a QB1 so we are going to be interested observers regarding his status for Sunday against Tennessee. Stafford has missed practice on both Wednesday and Thursday as he deals with a back injury, but it hasn’t slowed him down to this point, and at least for now it doesn’t appear to be negatively impacting his status for Sunday.
Things are getting concerning regarding Kyler Murray and his ankle as he still hasn’t practiced as of Thursday. Murray already has 2,276 passing yards and 17 touchdowns on the season so there is something to be said for his skill as a quarterback, but he also uses his legs (and therefore ankle) a lot as well. Arizona is also going to be careful with Murray, so it’s possible this decision isn’t made until Sunday afternoon, so have a backup plan, other than Colt McCoy, ready.
After lighting things up to start the season, things have slowed down for Justin Herbert the last two games. It remains to be seen how much of that is due to a hand injury or last week if we want to blame it facing New England and Bill Belichick’s defense. Herbert was back in practice on a full basis Thursday, and there doesn’t appear to be anything limiting him this week as he looks to return to QB1 status.
It makes sense that Miami would tread carefully with Tua Tagovailoa in practice after returning from a rib injury, but there’s nothing to suggest that he won’t be taking the field on Sunday. In his last three games, Tagovailoa has been a solid option throwing for 825 yards and six touchdowns and he should be in for a good week against Houston on Sunday.
Dallas treaded carefully with Dak Prescott last week, but all signs do point to him returning on Sunday as he practiced in full on Thursday. The Cowboys gave Prescott an extra week to be sure, so I wouldn’t expect to see any restrictions on him this week.
Taysom Hill appears to be out of concussion protocol as he practiced in full on Thursday. It still remains to be seen what his role will be on Sunday, but I would only use him in case of emergency with Trevor Siemian the likely starter.
We should be able to copy and paste the fact the fact Ben Roethlisberger practices on a limited basis early in the week, and once again it is the case. The Pittsburgh quarterback even has an extra day to prepare as the Steelers don’t play until Monday, but Roethlisberger has only proven to be a QB2 this season with just eight touchdown passes.
Even with four teams on bye, the hope is that you aren’t in the position to be considering Sam Darnold on Sunday. At this point, he his practicing on a limited basis after suffering a concussion last week and dealing with a shoulder injury and his status is still unclear for this week. My initial thought is that P.J. Walker will be under center for Carolina this week, but I’m not sure how much of a downgrade Carolina’s skill position players should see.
TyRod Taylor got off a nice start this season, but we haven’t seen him since Week 2 after suffering a hamstring injury. Taylor is back this week to take advantage of a favorable match-up against a weak Miami defense.
Everyone is sick of hearing about it by now, but in case you haven’t seen any news reports this week, Aaron Rodgers will be sidelined this week after testing positive for COVID-19 which means we’ll get a chance to see what Jordan Love can do under center.
Missing practice on both Wednesday and Thursday doesn’t bode well for James Robinson’s status on Sunday as he is dealing with a heel injury. Unless something changes on Friday, it’s hard to be truly optimistic here in a tough match-up against Buffalo, but it also wouldn’t surprise me to see Robinson play without practicing. With that being said, it is a good sign to see Carlos Hyde return to practice as a full participant on Thursday as he would be the beneficiary if Robinson is forced to sit.
With Kyler Murray’s status in doubt, there will be an even greater emphasis on the Arizona running game this week. It shouldn’t come as a surprise though that Chase Edmonds was limited in practice this week as the Cardinals have been careful with him all season and he is also dealing with shoulder discomfort. Edmonds didn’t have to leave the game so that is a good sign as continues to be in a split situation with John Conner, and both will have value once again on Sunday.
The fact that Elijah Mitchell was back in practice, even on a limited basis, Thursday is a good sign as he as become the clear back to target in San Francisco. All of the other running backs in San Francisco, with the exception of Jeff Wilson, appear to be healthy and available this week, but Mitchell should still see the majority of the work.
Between his ongoing ankle injury and now a positive COVID-19 test, it appears that we will be without Saquon Barkley for another week. That means Devontae Booker will continue to have value as the main option in the Giants’ backfield.
Christian McCaffrey is back in practice, at least on a limited basis, and at this point that is the best we can do regarding his status. Things are moving in the right direction for McCaffrey but I’m not sure that we will see him this week. If he does make it back to the field, it would likely be in a very limited role but I think we need to see McCaffrey do a lot more in practice before he takes the field so we should plan on a Week 10 return for him based on how he continues to progress.
After David Montgomery went down with a knee injury, things started immediately looking up for Damien Williams. Unfortunately for Williams though, that didn’t last too long and he is now dealing with a knee injury. He didn’t practice on Thursday after it knocked him out of last week’s game and with Chicago not playing until Monday, I wouldn’t be looking to use him as it will be another Khalil Herbert week. We should also note that Montgomery has returned to practice on a limited basis but it doesn’t likely that he will return on Monday.
When we last saw Josh Jacobs two weeks ago, he suffered a chest contusion. Jacobs is now off the Injury Report and all systems appear for him to be a go against the Giants this week.
You can’t fault Baltimore for doing everything they could to acquire veteran running backs after they were hit by the injury bug. Latavius Murray hasn’t returned to practice this week with an ankle injury, but that just means one less option to navigate. Even with Murray’s absence, this is still a situation I would avoid.
It’s never a fun thing to follow along with the New England backfield, and now we have Rex Burkhead added to the list. It is a good thing that Burkhead practiced in full on Thursday as he is coming off a week in which he received 48% of the running back snaps for the Patriots. It is interesting to note though that all 48 of his yards came in true garbage time, so I would likely keep on moving unless you are truly desperate.
It’s not a great sign that Robert Woods didn’t practice on Thursday with a foot injury, but there is still time for him to return on Sunday and that is where things appear to be headed. Woods has carved out a solid season with 38 receptions for 458 yards and four touchdowns but it is clear that this is Cooper Kupp’s world and the rest of us are just living in it.
At what point does DeAndre Hopkins’ health and hamstring injury become a concern? Not seeing Hopkins practice at times throughout the week shouldn’t come as a surprise, but last week he was only on the field for 24% of Arizona’s offensive snaps catching just two passes for 66 yards. There appears to be a little more doubt than usual about Hopkins’ status for this week, so while I would have a backup plan in place, it’s hard to leave him on your bench if he is active.
Deebo Samuel practiced on a limited basis on Thursday, and based on how things have been going for him this season, there is nothing wrong with that as he has been one of the top receivers in the league.
Not only do we get Davante Adams back this week, but Allen Lazard is also returning to the field. We know what Adams can do and he is quarterback proof as Jordan Love will be under center, but I feel less confident in Lazard with the novice signal caller.
From a practice perspective, things look similar for DeVante Parker as they did last week when he practiced on a limited basis. After we saw Parker catch eight of his 11 targets for 85 yards this past Sunday, we did feel good about his status once again this week but news came down Friday morning that he had suffered a setback, so we should see a lot of Jaylen Waddle this week.
It’s been a few weeks since we have seen Sammy Watkins on the field, and the injury prone receiver returned to the practice field on Thursday. Unless there is a setback, he’s likely to be ready to go on Sunday but he is now further down on the pecking order with both Marquise Brown and Rashod Bateman ahead of him.
It is a good sign for Cleveland that Donovan Peoples-Jones has been a limited practice participant this week as Odell Beckham is on the verge of being released due to off the field issues. People-Jones has had his moments in flashes this season and part of his struggles can be blamed on poor quarterback play, but there could be some value with Beckham out. We also know that Jarvis Landry will be busy and he is back at practice as he deals with a knee injury.
Amari Cooper was a limited participant in practice this week and that is a good sign as things are trending in the direction for him to take the field despite dealing with a hamstring injury. Cooper’s status takes on an even greater importance after CeeDee Lamb suffered an ankle injury in practice on Wednesday. At this point, I would be concerned for his status, and we can expect to see Cooper and Cedrick Wilson benefit as the Cowboys will probably look to Dalton Schultz as well.
Julio Jones is still working through his hamstring injury, and with just 17 receptions for 301 yards and no touchdowns this season, he is not good enough to hold out hope to see if he does in fact take the field Sunday night.
As usual, the Giants’ wide receiver situation is a mess. At the same time though, it does appear we have some clarity Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney both in (they have been limited at practice this week) and Sterling Sheppard out. We have seen more out of Toney so far this season and the rookie brings clear explosiveness to the table, and he is my preference between the two. Whatever Giants’ receivers do suit up will be busy though as John Ross and Dante Pettis are also banged up.
Jalen Reagor hasn’t done much this season from a fantasy perspective, 20 receptions for 165 yards and two touchdowns, so he shouldn’t be factoring into many (if any) lineup decisions for this week. With that being said though, Reagor is trending towards playing as the ankle injury he suffered last week shouldn’t be holding him back.
Calvin Ridley being sidelined should have opened things up for Russell Gage last week. Instead, the opposite was true as Gage wasn’t targeted on any of his 34 offensive snaps. It’s hard to rely on him again for this week, but if you are are so inclined, the slot receiver is practicing in full after previously being limited by a groin injury.
Cole Beasley was busy last week with 10 catches for 110 yards but he was in and out of the lineup on two occasions due to a rib injury. With missed practices both Wednesday and Thursday, I would pay close attention to Beasley’s status for this weekend in what should be another favorable matchup against Jacksonville.
Terrace Marshall was starting to get more involved in the Carolina offense prior to his concussion so it is a good sign that he is out of protocol and likely will be available on Sunday. To this point, he only has 13 catches over five games in his NFL career so it’s not like he was lighting up the stat sheet, and with Carolina’s quarterback situation in flux due to Sam Darnold’s injuries, I would wait a week or two before inserting Marshall back into your lineup.
It’s always a good thing when we get injury news before the weekend, and that is case with Dawson Knox as the Buffalo tight end will be sidelined on Sunday. That means Tommy Sweeney will get the start after catching three passes for 30 yards last week against Miami, but he is really only an option for deeper leagues.
At this point it appears that Eric Ebron will be sidelined for another week with a hamstring injury. That means we should get a larger dose of Pat Freiermuth after the rookie caught four of his seven targets last week for 44 yards and a touchdown.
While there is still a chance heading into the weekend, time is running out for Noah Fant to make it through COVID-19 protocols (he is vaccinated) to be able to play on Sunday. Be prepared to snatch up a replacement off the waiver wire, but I would look away from Denver as Albert Okwuegbunam has been limited with a knee injury this week in practice.
With Blake Jarwin trending towards not be available this week, I would expect Daulton Schultz to be even busier than usual for Dallas.
George Kittle is available to return on Sunday, but San Francisco is striving to take things slow with him, and it’s possible they wait another week to bring him back. Even if Kittle is active on Sunday, it could very well be in a limited role, but depending on your tight situation, he still might be your best option but this is a case in which we need to follow the news; even if it burned us earlier in the season with the San Francisco backfield.
It goes without saying that it is a good sign that Darren Waller isn’t listed on the Raiders’ injury report heading into the week. He hasn’t’ been as dominant as he was earlier in the season, but there are some targets up for grabs in Las Vegas and the most important thing is that Waller is healthy.
After catching two passes for 13 yards last week, things are trending in the right direction for Jonnu Smith to take the field once again this week. The problem is that he is in a timeshare with Hunter Henry, so his value is limited.