Are you ready for some football that actually counts? The calendar has turned to September and the first game of the season is just days away between the Packers and Bears. GMs should be finishing their fantasy drafts over the next couple days so take note of the recent updates on players and their status as it could affect where they get drafted so close to the beginning of the season. So without any further ado, let’stake a look at some of the walking wounded in the fantasy football emergency room.
Cam Newton (QB-CAR)
Fantasy GMs can breathe a sigh of relief regarding Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton as he has been deemed ready to play in Week 1 against the Rams. Newton has been dealing with a foot injury he sustained a couple weeks ago but was not limited in practice on Monday and appears fully healthy for the regular season. He dealt with a shoulder injury for much of 2018 but all signs are that he will be at full strength and ready to be a top fantasy quarterback again this season.
Amari Cooper (WR-DAL)
Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper spoke to the media on Monday and claimed he is ready to play this weekend against the Giants. He has been limited throughout the preseason with a foot injury that affected his ability to run routes properly. He escaped Monday’s practice without any pain and should be primed for a big game against the division rival New York Giants. Cooper should see a lot of targets from Dak Prescott regardless of whether Ezekiel Elliott ends up playing. He is a low-end WR1 and a top WR2 option in any league format now that he gets to spend an entire season in the Dallas offense.
A.J. Green (WR-CIN)
We all knew A.J. Green would miss the first few games of the season, but now that estimate seems conservative given that he is still in a walking boot. It is disappointing to hear that he has not made much progress in his recovery from ankle surgery, so Green’s ADP continues to fall. He is a solid option to draft and stash in later rounds, but do not rely on him to be one of your top wide receivers. Tyler Boyd is fully entrenched as the Bengals’ top wide receiver while Green remains out.
Jordan Reed (TE-WAS)
Reed’s status for Week 1 against Philadelphia is in serious jeopardy as he remains in the league’s concussion protocol. The Redskins tight end is dealing with his seventh concussion and has had a well-documented injury history over the course of his career. He has missed 31 games over his first six years in the league which makes him a very risky fantasy option. Vernon Davis will get the start if Reed is unable to play.
DeSean Jackson (WR-PHI)
The Eagles have reunited with their long-time playmaker DeSean Jackson after a few years away in Washington and Tampa Bay. Jackson is expected to provide Carson Wentz with a legitimate downfield option but he sustained a broken finger on his left hand last week. This should not affect his status for Week 1 but fantasy GMs should still be a little concerned given he will be prone to re-injuring the finger. He played in just 12 games last year and had 41 receptions for 774 yards and four touchdowns. Jackson is a solid WR3 or Flex option assuming he is healthy and on the field.
D.K. Metcalf (WR-SEA)
Rookie D.K. Metcalf underwent arthroscopic knee surgery a couple weeks ago and has made tremendous progress in his recovery to the point where he is now expected to play in Week 1 against Cincinnati. This is great news for Russell Wilson who could now have Metcalf and Jaron Brown as alternatives to Tyler Lockett who is locked in as the Seahawks’ top wide receiver. Fantasy GMs should not rush to draft Metcalf just yet as we do not know yet how much action he will receive. However, he could be a top waiver wire target depending on how things play out after Week 1.
Jerick McKinnon (RB-SF)
The 49ers signed Jerick McKinnon to a free agent contract following his great 2017 season with the Vikings. It now appears that he will never take the field for San Francisco as he has been placed on injured reserve and cannot return this year unless he is released. McKinnon suffered a torn ACL right before the start of the 2018 season and has endured several setbacks in his recovery. This is an unfortunate development for a player who seemed destined for great things with the 49ers but will now have to struggle to resume his professional career.
Robby Anderson (WR-NYJ)
The Jets have one of the more intriguing offenses to follow this year with the additions of Le’Veon Bell and Jamison Crowder to join Sam Darnold in his second season. One of the biggest beneficiaries to these moves could be Robby Anderson who is coming off a season in which he had 50 catches for 752 yards and six touchdowns in 14 games last year. Anderson has been dealing with a calf injury and did not practice at all last week. The good news is that the Jets reported Anderson is heading in the right direction in terms of being able to play in Week 1 against Buffalo. His presence will greatly help Darnold as he will likely be a red zone target.
Jimmy Graham (TE-GB)
Graham was once one of the top fantasy tight ends in the league, but he has been relegated to an afterthought over the past couple years. He had a very disappointing debut season in Green Bay last year catching 55 passes for 636 yards and only two touchdowns. Now he is dealing with a finger injury that has limited him in practice recently. However, the Packers expect him to play on Thursday night against the Bears. This will not be a good matchup for Graham against Chicago’s stellar defense. Other factors that have rendered Graham to the waiver wire are that Green Bay is expected to run the ball a lot more than under Mike McCarthy, and they are thin at wide receiver behind Davante Adams .
Trey Burton (TE-CHI)
Burton had a relatively disappointing debut season with the Bears last year catching only 54 passes for 569 yards and six touchdowns. He is expected to play a big role in the Bears offense this year as Mitchell Trubisky looks build on the progress he made in 2018. However, Burton has been limited in practice all preseason due to a sports hernia and now a strained groin. Chicago opens the season on Thursday night so he does not have a lot of time to get fully healthy. Even if Burton is able to take the field, he will likely be limited in his snaps which makes him a risky fantasy option for Week 1.
Keke Coutee (WR-HOU)
The Texans are all over the map when it comes to whether second year wide receiver Keke Coutee will play in Week 1. Coach Bill O’Brien had previously indicated he was not hopeful that Coutee would play, but he has since modified those expectations based on some progress Coutee made during his recovery. Coutee is not much of a fantasy option right now because of his health issues and the fact he is behind DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller on the depth chart. Fuller is always an injury risk so Coutee could step in and see a bigger role when/if Fuller gets injured.
N’Keal Harry (WR-NE)
The Patriots have placed their 1st round draft pick N’Keal Harry on injured reserve with an ankle injury. He will not be eligible to return until the middle of the season but we should not expect much production from him even if he does take the field. New England brought back Demaryius Thomas after making thos roster move as he is the latest reclamation project for Tom Brady and the Patriots. Harry should stay on the waiver wire but Thomas could be a sneaky option if given a chance to play.
Graham Gano (K-CAR)
Veteran kicker Graham Gano has been placed on injured reserve that will end his season before it even starts. The Panthers made the move due to Gano’s knee injury that cost him four games last year. Gano has been one of the most consistent kickers in the league over the course of his career as he was 14-for-16 in field goals and 30-for-33 in extra point attempts last year despite missing four games. Kickers are dispensable and interchangeable so this should not affect anyone’s fantasy drafts. However, it is something to consider given the lack of reliable kickers on the board.