Gameday Injury Expectations: Week 12

Breaking down the fantasy expectations of today's injured players and gametime decisions, including Arian Foster, Larry Fitzgerald, Josh Gordon and Julius Thomas

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 retweeting those reports with quick bits of analysis, so make sure you're following me at (@JeneBramel) and checking my timeline on Twitter on Sunday mornings.

I've been preaching patience and caution with Arian Foster and Larry Fitzgerald all week and I don't expect either to be active today. Foster's limited Wednesday practice and subsequent failure to practice on Thursday and Friday means he tested his health and Wednesday and wasn't close to 100%. Set the early Week 13 line on Foster at game time decision. Fitzgerald's return late in last week's game was impressive but it was never realistic to expect him to play through a Grade 2 MCL sprain this week. Reggie Bush is also not expected to play, with Detroit's Thanksgiving Day game looming.

I'll update the status of Foster or Fitzgerald or any other pregame surprise here and on Twittter as needed.

730 ET: No change in expectation for Foster or Bush from Ian Rapoport early this morning.

1130 ET: Foster and Bush officially inactive. Fitzgerald won't be official until later this afternoon, but there are no indications he'll play today.

The news is much better for Brandon Marshall (ankle - probable), Alshon Jeffery (hamstring - probable), and Gio Bernard (hip - probable). All three practiced on Friday and are fully expected to play. Marshall and Jeffery have strong matchups and should see their usual usage. Bernard is fully healthy, but won't see his pre-injury usage with Jeremy Hill playing so effectively while Bernard recovered. Pierre Thomas (rib/shoulder - probable) will also be back on Monday night. Conditioning and usage concerns, the presence of Mark Ingram II and Travaris Cadet, and a tough matchup against Baltimore make Thomas hard to trust as more than a flex play.

Here are the major injury question marks of the week.

josh gordon | returning from suspension

No doubt prompted by Mike Pettine hinting the Browns may limit Gordon's snap count due to data showing players returning from a long absence are more likely to be injured, I've had many questions about Gordon's prospects this week.

First, I think the data Pettine is referring to probably includes a large amount of players whose long absence was due to an injury. Gordon doesn't have that complicating factor. But it's reasonable to believe players who may be in good cardiovascular condition but who haven't been in game situations may be at higher risk of injury. It's very difficult to simulate game action in practice and Gordon will have had just one padded practice (and a limited one at that) before Sunday's game.

Gordon comes into the game healthy, however, and the relative risk of injury will be minimal. The Browns aren't flush with elite receiving options and I don't see Pettine limiting Gordon's usage much.

Fantasy expectation: I'm more worried about rusty route running against live corner play and subtle differences in timing with Brian Hoyer than a high risk of injury. I'd feel comfortable using Gordon as a WR3++ today. Daily fantasy players should probably consider him in GPP play only and his high ownership makes him a tough buy there as well.

730 ET: Adam Schefter reporting Gordon's snaps will be limited today. It appears the Browns plan to use him in high leverage situations only. Ian Rapoport is leaving the door open for more if Gordon feels good.

 

emmanuel sanders | concussion | probable

Sanders was cleared early in the week for charity events and was okay to do limited football-related activity by midweek. His full Friday practice and subsequent probable tag means he's been cleared for full contact and will play today. It's impossible to handicap the risk he'll suffer another injury (concussion or otherwise) but I wouldn't shy away from him today.

Fantasy expectation: Use Sanders as you normally would.

julius thomas | ankle | questionable

Thomas is the toughest call on the board today. Our own Cecil Lammey made a point of saying Thomas had been moving without a limp this week in the locker room. That's notable, but walking in the locker room and cutting at speed can be two different things. Thomas didn't do much in practice on Friday and the tone of John Fox's comments to the press after practice was not optimistic. This is a late game, so we're left to hope that we get a media report early Sunday about Thomas' status. For now, I'm leaning to the doubtful side of questionable.

Fantasy expectation: Thomas may be active and play effectively, but do not sit an early game option and leave Thomas in your lineup without a hedge unless you're comfortable taking a zero in that lineup slot.

730 ET: Ian Rapoport confirming Thomas' status as a game time decision.

 

marshawn lynch | back | probable

Last week, I said you could ignore any injury Lynch was listed with in early week practices (assuming it was not a witnessed injury from the prior week) other than a back injury. This week, Lynch's listed injury is a back injury. Thankfully, Lynch put in a full practice on Friday and Pete Carroll did not sound at all concerned in his press conference.

Fantasy expectation: There's always risk when Lynch is possibly dealing with back spasms. And we won't officially know how he's feeling until the late game. But there's nothing in the late week reports to worry me over Lynch's availability. I'd be comfortable with him in lineups today.

lamar miller | shoulder/knee | questionable

Miller had a full Wednesday practice and didn't look too limited by a shoulder injury last week. But he was limited on Thursday and Friday and the Dolphins added a knee designation to his listing on Friday. Joe Philbin said the injury was new but didn't elaborate on the nature or severity of the injury. There has yet to be any useful hints in the local media either, but there doesn't appear to be any serious concern Miller will miss the game.

Fantasy expectation: The Dolphins limited Miller's usage two weeks ago when he was listed questionable. Since we don't know specifics on the knee injury, it's impossible to say with certainty Miller can be trusted for 15+ touches today. If you've got a close decision, I'd consider sitting Miller. If you're looking at Miller versus a marginal flex-type play, I'd roll with Miller and hope for no pregame surprises with the late afternoon start.

fred jackson | groin | questionable

We don't really know Jackson's status, as the Bills' ability to practice was severely limited this week. There's a slim chance he could've been listed probable had the Bills been able to put in their usual prep time. The expectation earlier this week was Jackson would be close to 100% and every indication is that Jackson will play. But I've been concerned for weeks Jackson was trying to rush his recovery and didn't get the proper conditioning time. Unable to get into the team facility and get treatment and continue to recondition after tweaking his strain two weeks ago, Jackson may not have advanced his recovery much. And if the Bills can't confirm Jackson is healthy enough to include as a major part of their game plan, his usage is in question.

Fantasy expectation: The aggravated injury and overall bizarre week of prep for Buffalo would have me nervous about trusting Jackson as more than a flex play on Monday. I don't think the Bills or Jackson (or us) will be certain of his usage until he takes his first reps on Monday night.

Best of luck in your fantasy games this weekend. I'll be back on Monday morning to review all the Week 12 injuries in the Injury Rounds column. Follow me on Twitter @JeneBramel for breaking news and analysis during the games today.