2018 NFL Injury Report: January 18
Michael A. Stein breaks down the injury situations across the NFL, including player profiles, reasons for optimism, and reasons for pessimism.
We are now down to the NFL’s Final Four and this year’s league championship games are unquestionably comprised of the league’s best teams. It only took 19 weeks but we finally have a weekend where injuries will not play a major role in setting fantasy lineups as the Patriots, Chiefs, Rams and Saints are all relatively healthy and there are no star players dealing with any serious maladies. So without any further ado, let’s delve into the next edition of the 2019 postseason fantasy football emergency room.
Keith Kirkwood (WR-NO)
Michael Thomas is playing out of his mind right now and he is certainly the one wide receiver everyone should be targeting in postseason fantasy leagues. However, Drew Brees will need his full complement of receivers to keep pace with the Rams and Keith Kirkwood is emerging as one of those viable targets. The rookie wide receiver only played in eight games this season and caught 13 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns. However, he played a major factor in last week’s dramatic win against the Eagles when he caught the Saints’ first touchdown of the day on a fourth down. He has missed a few days of practice this week with a calf injury but he is fully expected to be play in the NFC Championship. The Rams will have their hands full trying to cover Michael Thomas , so Kirkwood could play a huge role as the other receiver and has a lot of upside for fantasy purposes.
Sammy Watkins (WR-KC)
Watkins returned in last week’s Division Round game against the Colts after missing the past several weeks with a foot injury. He played almost all of the Chiefs snaps and came out of the game without any injuries. The further good news is that he has been practicing in a full capacity this week which means that he was completely unscathed and avoided any setbacks. Watkins could play a huge role in this week’s matchup against the Patriots since we can expect New England to do everything it can to neutralize Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce . This should give Watkins plenty of one-on-one matchups to try and take advantage of in what should be a shootout at Arrowhead Stadium.
Spencer Ware (RB-KC)
Ware has been out since Week 14 with a hamstring injury but finally practiced in a full capacity on Thursday. This puts him in line to return this weekend against the Patriots in the AFC Championship. Ware was expected to be the Chiefs primary running back after they released Kareem Hunt , but his hamstring injury and the emergence of Damien Williams has relegated him to a backup role. Ware does not have a lot of value heading into the weekend as he would only be providing Williams with some rest.
Eric Berry (DB-KC)
It was a long road back for Eric Berry who played in two games late in the season for Kansas City. However, his heel injury flared up and he was forced to sit out of the Divisional Round win over Indianapolis. Berry has returned to practice in a full capacity this week and is in line to return to the field against New England. This is good news for the Chiefs who will have their hands full trying to limit the Patriots offense which exploded for 41 points against the Chargers last week.
Sheldon Rankins (DL-NO)
The euphoria of last week’s win over Philadelphia was slightly tarnished by the unfortunate news that Sheldon Rankins suffered a torn Achilles tendon. Rankins was a key piece of the Saints surprisingly dominant run defense and pass rush this season as he collected eight sacks. His absence could potentially open the door for huge games from Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson who both destroyed the Cowboys in last week’s Division Round victory. Rankins will have a long recovery ahead of him for one of the worst injuries an athlete can suffer.
Andrus Peat (T-NO)
The Saints offensive line is a little beaten up as well as Andrus Peat is currently dealing with a broken hand. He has been playing with it recently, but he has been limited in practice this week as a means of minimizing contact and exposure. He will need to be as close to full strength as possible this weekend against the Rams superior pass rush led by Aaron Donald . If Peat or fellow injured lineman Max Unger and Ryan Ramczyk are not at their best, then the Rams defensive line could be in Drew Brees ’ face all day.