Gameday Injury Expectations: Week 4

Breaking down the fantasy expectations of today's injured players and gametime decisions, including Andrew Luck, Arian Foster, Marshawn Lynch, Drew Brees, and others

NOTE: This column is a living document and will be updated throughout the morning. Major changes to the content will be in red. Check back often for additions as gameday inactives are announced and lineup / depth chart changes are reported. I'll also be immediately retweeting any breaking news with quick bits of analysis, so make sure you're following me at (@JeneBramel) and checking my timeline on Twitter on Sunday mornings.

I'll have much more on Steve Smith in Monday's Injury Rounds column. Today we'll focus on the injury questions for Week 4.

You can use Julio Jones, Randall Cobb, Eddie Lacy, Devonta Freeman, Brandin Cooks, T.Y. Hilton, John Brown, Ladarius Green, Doug Martinand Allen Hurns as you normally would today. Though they've yet to be ruled out, I would not use Chris Ivory, Eric Decker, Davante Adams, or Dwayne Allen in lineups today. Ivory is probable, but there continues to be concern about his conditioning level despite two full practices to end the week. Consider him a flex play only today.

745 ET: Eric Decker is probable after limited practices this week. He may be on a snap count today. I'd strongly consider other options if you have them.

That leaves the list of game time decisions and players with questionable effectiveness and usage short . The list includes huge names, however, as Andrew Luck, Arian Foster, Marshawn Lynch, and Drew Brees are all trying to recover from significant injuries to play today.

andrew luck | shoulder | questionable | early sun start

On Wednesday, Chuck Pagano was "supremely confident" Luck would play today. On Friday, Pagano seemed amused the media continued to ask questions about Luck, who'd yet to throw much in practice, and reiterated his confidence in Luck. On Friday night, the Colts signed quarterback Josh Johnson to the active roster to have "all bases covered." 

Actions speak louder than words. I'm still struck by the tone of Adam Schefter's tweets on Luck throughout the week, which suggested more concern than the Colts had let on. I believe the Colts were hopeful Luck could play on Friday, but no more. I think they wanted to see how he responded to his Friday throwing session on Saturday and plan to evaluate him up until game time. If he's made enough progress, he'll be active and start. If not, they've very likely game planned with Matt Hasselbeck in mind and have a third quarterback -- a running quarterback who should be easier to use in a pinch-hitting role behind a suspect offensive line -- in reserve.

We'll know exactly where Luck stands by game time. Expect multiple national media reports by mid-morning and close observation of his warmup routine.

Fantasy expectation: If Luck is active, you start him. The matchup is too good and he's continued to have a reasonable floor despite injury and offensive line struggles. But don't finalize your lineup until after the inactive list is known.

900 AM: Chris Mortensen reports Luck will not play today. Earlier, Adam Schefter reported Luck's MRI had shown a bruise. The report wasn't specific enough to know whether Luck is dealing with something similar to Drew Brees or Randall Cobb or another injury around the shoulder. More on Luck in tomorrow's Injury Rounds column.

arian foster | groin | questionable | early sun start

Foster wouldn't confirm plans to return this week in his Friday comments to the local media, but all of his responses strongly suggested he'll be active today. However, Foster also hinted he and the team will be taking the quick turnaround to a divisional matchup on Thursday night into account and he told the media he expects to rotate with Alfred Blue. I think there's a slim chance Foster could get off to a hot start in his first series or two and talk the team into 15-20+ touches. But that's unlikely and you should expect to see Foster in the 7-15 touch range. There's also a risk of Foster aggravating his injury today, but the two weeks of football-related conditioning in practice is reassuring.

Fantasy expectation: Expect 7-10 touches from Foster today, with a ceiling of 12-15. That's enough to consider him a flex play, but he's not a clear RB2 yet.

marshawn lynch | hamstring | questionable | monday night football

I wrote on Monday that I wanted to believe the Seahawks rested Lynch for precautionary reasons after back spasms and hamstring tightness complicated his return from a calf strain early in last week's game. But the need for an MRI to evaluate his hamstring strain argued otherwise and it's not been a surprise that Lynch has been unable to practice at all this week. On Saturday, Pete Carroll said Lynch MRI had abnormaliites. While he wasn't more specific, his tone suggested an injury that will need more than one week to recover. The tone of national and local media reports isn't reassuring either. I don't expect Lynch to be active on Monday night.

Fantasy expectation: Avoid Lynch this week.

drew brees | shoulder | probable | sunday night football

Brees reportedly felt no pain and weakness in his shoulder earlier this week and was able to make it through three consecutive throwing sessions without a setback. He's listed probable and expected to play today. There's some risk of in-game fatigue or an aggravation if his arm and shoulder are hit, but the full week of practice is an indication Brees is entering today's game in good form.

Fantasy expectation: If Brees is clearly your QB1, start him. Otherwise, the risk of fatigue and setback is just high enough that I'd use another QB1 option if you have it and observe Brees' arm strength and accuracy to determine whether he's healthy enough to get back in your lineup next week.

demarco murray | hamstring | questionable | early sun start 

Murray had full practices on Thursday and Friday, but isn't yet over the hamstring strain he suffered late last week. I expect Murray to be active today, but soreness in pregame warmups last week after a full Friday practice landed Murray on the inactive list. That remains a possibility for today.

Fantasy expectation: Murray is still getting over a hamstring injury, is part of a heavy rotation with Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles, and has been ineffective when healthy. He's a marginal flex play only today.

Best of luck in your fantasy games this weekend. I'll be back on Monday morning to review all the Week 4 injuries in the Injury Rounds column. Follow me on Twitter @JeneBramel for breaking news and analysis during the games today.