Gameday Injury Expectations: Week 7

Breaking down the fantasy expectations of today's injured players and gametime decisions, including Jimmy Graham and Kelvin Benjamin

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 @JeneBramel and checking my timeline on Twitter.

With one notable exception, it's a straight forward week for game time decisions across the league.

Ten players listed probable this week are under consideration as starters in your season-long fantasy lineups, cash daily fantasy games or big daily GPP tournaments. I have no significant injury related concerns with any of them.

Arian Foster (groin), Julio Jones (ankle) and Vernon Davis (back) are all likely less than 100% but can be used with confidence. Carson Palmer (arm) should improve each week and has a lower floor until his arm strength has returned, but he's healthy enough to trust in 2 QB leagues. Mark Ingram II (hand) and Jonathan Stewart (knee) are back from multi-week injuries, have practiced all week, and should be ready to play. Ben Tate (finger), Lamar Miller (knee), and Zac Stacy (ankle) are also healthy. Stacy has competition concerns giving him a lower floor this week, as does Reggie Bush (ankle).

Calvin Johnson is listed questionable, but I don't believe he'll return this week. If he does, I'll add him to the short list of names below.

With luck, this will be a light injury week. If so, tomorrow's injury rounds feature will focus on the soon-to-return Johnson, A.J. Green (doubtful-toe), Ryan Mathews (out-knee), Rashad Jennings (out-knee), Robert Griffin III (out-ankle), among others.

jimmy graham | shoulder | QUESTIONABLE

If you've been reading my features, Graham's unclear Week 7 status should be no surprise. Last Sunday, Ian Rapoport (among others) reported Graham would likely miss 2-3 weeks (1-2 games after his Week 6 bye) with this shoulder injury. Surprisingly, Graham put in two limited practices this week and is much closer to playing than was expected.

The truth is somewhere in between. Graham may play, but he didn't miraculously recover this week.

But we're not totally in the dark here. We'll know whether Graham is active or not early in the day. And we've seen a similar story unfold with Graham. Last season, Graham's status was unknown coming out of the bye with a foot injury and he'd only managed a couple of limited practices. Shortly before the game, local reporters suggested Graham's limited practice time was specifically to get red zone reps in. That proved to be exactly the case, as Graham caught two touchdown passes on three targets while playing less than 20 snaps.

On Friday, local media in New Orleans was again reporting the possibility of Graham playing only in high leverage and red zone situations. There's still a chance Graham will be inactive today. But I think we'll see a report early this morning saying Graham is expected to be active and play today.

Fantasy expectation: Even if he takes a pain-killing injection, Graham probably has a ceiling of just 25-30 snaps today. While that was enough for a huge day in a similar situation last season, it's a big risk to hope the same happens again. Especially on the road rather than at home. Call Graham a boom-bust, low TE1 if he's active.

700 ET: No surprises in the first updates from Adam Schefter (and Ian Rapoport) who is tweeting the same this morning.

 

kelvin benjamin | concussion | questionable

Benjamin traveled with the Panthers to Green Bay after fully practicing on Friday. Despite not starting the return to play protocol until Monday afternoon, all signs indicate Benjamin was cleared by an independent neurologist on Saturday morning. He should be expected to be active and start today.

Fantasy expectation: Benjamin has a huge frame and has taken a number of hard hits this season. That style of play may put him at slightly higher risk of another concussion, but he enters today's game healthy. Use him as you normally would.

700 ET: Benjamin has been cleared to play.

 

Best of luck in your fantasy games this weekend. I'll be back on Monday morning to review all the Week 7 injuries in the Injury Rounds column. Follow me on Twitter @JeneBramel for breaking news and analysis during the games today.