Gameday Injury Expectations: Week 1

Breaking down the fantasy expectations of today's injured players and game time decisions, including Jordy Nelson, Thomas Rawls, Andrew Luck and many 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.

Impact of New Injury Report Rules

Last month, the NFL changed revised its Injury Report policy. Teams must still list every player who received treatment or missed a practice repetition on the weekday injury report. However, the league decided to end the use of the "Probable" tag on the injury report. Now, teams have only two categories to list players that have not been ruled out. They may list injured players as "Questionable" i.e. "Uncertain to play" or "Doubtful" i.e. "Unlikely to play."

The intention is to have fewer players listed on the injury report, as nearly 95% of the player's listed probable in recent years were active on gameday.

I expect to see fewer players on the game status report. However, as I discussed earlier in the preseason, I'm certain the number of players listed "Questionable" will go up, and significantly.

With the caveats of small statistical sample size, possible changes in philosophy on teams with new coaching staffs and medical personnel, and teams adjusting to the new rules, there are some clear differences between the 2015 and 2016 Week 1 injury reports.

Total Players Listed on Game Status Report Week 1 2015 = 197
Total Players Listed on Game Status Report Week 1 2016 = 125
>>>72 fewer players on the W1 2016 Game Status Report 

Players Listed Probable Week 1 2015 = 109
Players Listed Probable Week 1 2016 = 0

Players Listed Questionable Week 1 2015 = 38
Players Listed Questionable Week 1 2016 = 78
>>> 105% increase in number of players listed Questionable on W1 2016 Game Status Report

Players Listed Questionable After Full Friday Practice Week 1 2016 = 31
Players Not Listed on Game Status Report After Full Friday Practice Week 1 2016 = 50
Players Not Listed on Game Status Report After Limited Friday Practice Week 1 2016 = 5

A few quick takeaways on the early returns:

***The impact of the injury report changes is about what was expected. There are fewer players on the game status report but a significant increase in the number of players listed Questionable.

***Some teams are absolutely likely to overweight their number of questionable players. Chicago and New England continue to lead the way.

***Some teams will leave players who were limited on Friday off their injury report altogether, i.e. the players formerly listed as probable.

***Many teams are going to list players who fully practice on Friday Questionable.

The full impact of these changes is yet to come. It's been a relatively light preseason for injuries. Last year, the number of players listed on the W1 Game Status Report was about 70% of the weekly average for all of 2015.

My hypothesis: Expect only a small increase in the number of injury situations made less clear by the new injury rules. But those instances are going to be frustrating to figure out.

Injury Expectations

On Monday, the true status of Jamaal Charles, Thomas Rawls, and a handful of other players wasn't known -- and we had little concern for the health of Rob Gronkowski and Andrew Luck. None of that is true on Sunday morning. Charles is very likely to be inactive. Rawls will be active but won't start. Rob Gronkowski is out with a hamstring strain (more on that in tomorrow's Injury Rounds feature). And there's new angst over Luck's ongoing shoulder woes.

Overall, however, this week's injury expectations are about as straightforward as we'll ever see.

Rob Gronkowski | Hamstring | Out
Jamaal Charles | Knee | Doubtful

Gronkowski didn't travel with the team to Arizona and has been declared out. Charles is probably healthy enough to be on the active roster, but is much more likely to be on the inactive list. Spencer Ware, Charcandrick West, and Knile Davis are all expected to suit up today. That's more than enough depth for the Chiefs to keep Charles down. I'll still be watching the Sunday morning news closely, however. I'm hoping for more details on Charles' status and recovery to help define his future availability.

Fantasy Expectation: Make sure you have Gronkowski and Charles out of your lineups.

Thomas Rawls | Ankle | Not Listed

Rawls is likely very close to full form. Had he managed more than two preseason game reps or Christine Michael not emerged as a legitimate option, Rawls would probably have been ready for 15+ touches today. But there's really not a game script today in which a heavy workload for Rawls is likely. Michael will start and likely continue to see the majority of snaps unless he's wholly ineffective or injured. Should the Seahawks get ahead, Michael will be the back who sees the burn the clock down reps in the second half.

Fantasy Expectation: Keep Rawls out of your lineup this week and reassess after we see how Pete Carroll approaches things today.

Jordy Nelson | Not Listed

Nelson has hinted he'll be on a snap count today. But this isn't the same thing as the snap count we'll see Thomas Rawls on or that we've seen an injured Calvin Johnson or Jimmy Graham on in the past. Don't expect to see Nelson on the bench much unless his conditioning gets the better of him in the Jacksonville heat. I think we'll see the Packers approach Nelson's workload as the Panthers did Kelvin Benjamin on Thursday night. In other words, as long as he's effective Nelson will play.

Fantasy Expectation: There's more variance than usual with a healthy Jordy Nelson, but the matchup and passing offense are way too favorable to fear Nelson missing 8-10 snaps today. Use him as you normally would.

Andrew Luck | Shoulder | Not Listed

I'll have much more on Luck's shoulder situation tomorrow. Let's keep the Sunday blurb simple. Luck didn't throw much over the final two weeks of camp and Week 1 preparation. But when he did throw there was relatively little concern and the Colts didn't list him on their injury report at all after his limited practices. There's a small risk of aggravation and/or inaccuracy here, but it's too minimal to worry over for now.

Fantasy Expectation: If you drafted Luck, you did so with the expectation that the struggles of 2015 were behind him. It's a great matchup and Luck has a full complement of healthy and talented receivers. No decision is foolproof, but I'd start Luck without reservation today.

Julio Jones | Ankle | Not Listed
A.J. Green | Not Listed
Brandon Marshall | Hip | Not Listed
Larry Fitzgerald | Not Listed

Each of these elite receivers has been dealing with a minor injury recently. None of them were limited enough this week to land on their team's injury report. All of them are healthy enough to see their usual targets today.

Fantasy Expectation: Use your stud wide receivers today as you usually would.

That also goes for Dez Bryant, Sammy Watkins, Jordan Matthews, and Julian Edelman. The only one of this group that might give me pause is Edelman. But that's not injury related. You should be very concerned about Edelman's quarterback, surrounding cast, and secondary matchup.

Golden Tate | Ankle | Questionable
Eric Ebron | Ankle | Questionable

The Lions listed both Tate and Ebron questionable after full late week practices. Both Tate and Ebron were cleared to talk to the media in the locker room on Friday and were adamantly optimistic about their Week 1 availability. The matchup is favorable and both are much closer to probable than questionable.

Fantasy Expectation: Use Tate and Ebron as you normally would.

Matt Jones | Shoulder | Not Listed

Jones has been fully practicing for two weeks. AC sprains heal slowly and carry a risk of aggravation until fully recovered. Last year, Randall Cobb was the latest in a long line of players to struggle with chronic pain and range of motion issues with this injury. I think Jones will see the majority of rush attempts for Washington, but we'll get a sense of just how concerned the team is based on how much Rob Kelley and Chris Thompson are used.

Fantasy Expectation: Consider Jones a high variance RB2 today.

Jimmy Graham | Knee | Questionable

I'm rooting for Graham. I'd love to see an elite skill position player recover from a patellar tendon repair. It's a major injury and a technically difficult surgery and rehabilitation. All offseason reports on Graham were positive, but he still needs to prove he's recovered the vertical and lateral explosiveness necessary to separate and succeed against NFL-caliber competition. And that the Seahawks are willing to prioritize him in their gameplan.

Fantasy Expectation: Graham is a very high variance play today. I'd sit him for other options and watch his progress carefully.

Will Fuller | Hamstring | Not Listed
Kevin White | Hamstring | Questionable
DeVante Parker | Hamstring | Questionable 

Fuller's hamstring injury is recent. He had me very concerned on Wednesday and Thursday after doing little in practice. A full Friday practice kept him off the Texans' injury report and optimistic reports from the media have allayed most of my fears. Fuller will play today but his downfield style of play will test the still-healing hamstring strain. White and Parker continue to deal with hamstring strains. White is closer to the active roster than Parker, but the tone of John Fox's Friday comments wasn't positive at all. Parker is thought to be at least another week away from returning.

Fantasy Expectation: Consider Fuller a boom-bust flex with some WR3 value in deep leagues with yardage bonuses. White and Parker are not fantasy options today.

Sun 730AM: Multiple reports have White playing today. Whether he'll see a full complement of snaps and be productive is an open question. Watch pregame warmup reports if you're thinking of adding White to your lineup as a flex today.

Best of luck in your fantasy contests this weekend. I'll be back on Monday morning to review all the Week 14 injuries in the Injury Rounds column. Follow on Twitter @JeneBramel for breaking news and analysis during the games today.