The injury status of each player is one of the most key inputs into our lineup decisions each week. The question isn’t only if the player will play but how limited will they be if they do play. However, the most important thing to consider is who will pick up their touches if they are limited or miss the game completely. Each week our resident injury expert Jene Bramel will break down the injuries and Steve Buzzard will break down what it means for your cash and GPP lineups. See this article for definitions of all DFS terms.
Bramel: There are lots of players dealing with minor injuries or recovering from injuries that limited them recently. Thankfully, the majority of them should be close to full strength this week. That list includes Marshawn Lynch, Odell Beckham, Adrian Peterson, Randall Cobb, Jeremy Maclin, Emmanuel Sanders, Chris Ivory, and Steve Smith. Though in-game aggravations can’t be entirely ruled out, each of the above players are likely to see their usual workload.
Buzzard: Players coming off injuries tend to be lower owned than what they should be. As Jene mentions, there is always risk of in game aggravations for players coming back from an injury but that risk is typically more than compensated for by decreased prices and lower ownership rates. If you feel comfortable with the players roll in the offense or the matchup they are in feel free to roll them out in your lineup. From this list Steve Smith ($6,700/$6,100) makes a perfect example. He is being targeted frequently with 11 targets per game and 9.5 since his return from injury and has a prime matchup against the Chargers. Don’t be worried about Smith because he has been banged up the last few weeks.
Buzzard: These injuries are both key to this week’s games. Gates injury makes Ladarius Green ($3,000) a great play against the Ravens who have been awful stopping the pass thus far this year allowing 283 yards through the air per game. Additionally the Chargers have really struggled running the ball amassing only 3.7 yards per attempt. Expect the Chargers to turn to the air early and often making Green a great punt play this week.
Jackson’s injury is just as impactful. So far this year Jackson is averaging 6.7 targets per game compared to 9 for Mike Evans ($6,800). But in week one when Mike Evans missed Vincent Jackson’s targets sky rocketed to 11. I would expect Evans to see something similar as the rest of the receiving options on Tampa Bay won’t put much fear into any defensive backfield. Obviously this means the Falcons could specifically game plan for Evans but I don’t think they will have success doing so.
Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys - $8,000
Bramel: Bryant is a near lock to play this weekend. I’d feel better about his conditioning if he had more than just one week of limited practices, but every indication is Bryant will run very close to his usual number of routes. The conditioning concern and a note last week that Bryant would play if he was less than 100% leave him with a lower than usual floor, but he appears healthy enough to consider his usual high ceiling in the range of expectation this week.
Buzzard: Bryant’s price has yet to fall since he has been out for quite some time. As such it currently reflects a range that would indicate he was fully healthy and Tony Romo was still his quarterback. Unfortunately neither are true and you can’t pay up for Bryant with Matt Cassel behind center.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers - $6,700
Bramel: Roethlisberger fully practiced this week and will play. Roethlisberger may not be fully healed, but the past two weeks of workouts will have allowed him to get comfortable in his brace. He may not be able to shed multiple pass rushers, but I expect him to be mobile enough in the pocket to move the offense. Expect some timing and accuracy issues as he transitions back to game speed, but Roethlisberger should grow more confident as the game progresses.
Buzzard: Roethlisberger is another example of being hesitant with players. I wouldn’t suggest playing Roethlisberger in cash games this week and he has a less than ideal matchup against the Bengals this week who are allowing a middle of the road 261 passing yards and 1.3 passing TDs. But all of that is what makes Roethlisberger an interesting GPP play his ownership levels will be low and he has some great receivinig options in Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, and Le’Veon Bell. I wouldn’t have a problem throwing out a Steelers stack this week.
John Brown, WR, Arizona Cardinals - $5,800
Bramel: Bruce Arians would not rule Brown out on Friday and bristled at a suggestion the team would hold Brown out this week knowing the coming bye week would give him added time to heal. However, Arians told reporters earlier in the week Brown would not play if he was limited. After managing only a limited Friday practice, I think Brown is more doubtful than questionable despite being termed a game time decision.
Buzzard: Last week Brown was questionable and playing on Monday night. If you had the guts to stick with him or take a chance on Michael Floyd assuming he wouldn’t play you were rewarded either way. Only those of us that went with Larry Fitzgerald were disappointed. This week we should have a little better idea of where things stand on Sunday morning as we have a 1PM start this time. If Brown is out I like the idea of giving Michael Floyd another roll of the dice in both cash and GPPs. Don’t be worried about Floyd’s likely matchup against Joe Haden who has struggled mightily this year.
Eric Decker, WR, New York Jets - $5,300
Bramel: Decker’s knee contusion has limited him all week and he told reporters there continued to be soreness in the knee after Friday’s workout. Most observers expect him to play. With luck, we’ll hear more on Decker on Sunday morning despite the late afternoon start.
Buzzard: Decker’s injury is concerning as he has a plus matchup against the Raiders and his price continues to stay at levels lower than it should. If we don’t hear about Decker on Sunday morning we need waive the white flag and pull him from our lineups. But if we hear that he is ready to play don’t be afraid to put him in at least some of your cash and GPP games. If he misses Brandon Marshall is clearly in play and could be relied upon easily. When Decker missed a game earlier this season Marshall led the team with 14 targets. I would expect something similar this week.
James Starks, RB, Green Bay Packers - $4,300
Bramel: Starks has been limited by a hip injury and listed questionable. Generally, the Green Bay medical staff holds players out of practice if they feel they aren’t ready to play. I think it’s safe to expect Starks to be active, though his workload is difficult to project.
Buzzard: I don’t want Starks in my lineups this week if he is healthy or not as the Broncos have one of the better defenses in the league. The interesting thing to track is if Starks misses the game or is limited is how the Packers use Eddie Lacy ($6,200) whose price has fallen to playable levels and could be a bargain next week. I wouldn’t fault anyone for taking a stab at Lacy in a GPP this week either.
Check the DraftKings blog on Sunday morning for the latest injury expectations.