Gameday Injury Expectations: Week 8

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

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.

Twelve 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.

Gio Bernard (ribs), Sammy Watkins (groin), Martellus Bennett (hamstring), and Dez Bryant (shoulder) were all back to a full Friday practice and can be used in fantasy lineups as you normally would. Julio Jones (ankle), Tony Romo (back), Eric Decker (hamstring), Andre Johnson (ankle), Andre Ellington (foot), and Alfred Morris (ankle) are nursing multi-week, nagging injuries and aren't in full form, but are healthy enough to trust in lineups this week. I think Travis Kelce (ribs) is healthy enough to see his usual targets, but there's some risk with him today. Shonn Greene (hamstring) will also be back, though there's not much upside in his expected usage either.

Out today are Owen Daniels, Reggie Wayne, Khiry Robinson, and Pierre Thomas. I'll have more on the Daniels and Wayne injuries tomorrow.

A.J. Green and Reggie Bush are listed doubtful, but neither play is likely to be active today. Bush has a marginally better chance to play than Green. Should either be a surprise add to the active roster later this morning, I'll write more about their situation below. The short version: I can't see anything happening this morning to make me feel good about having either in fantasy lineups. Robert Griffin III is listed questionable, but there's no chance he plays tonight.

800 ET: Reggie Bush is inactive today.

1130 ET: A.J. Green is also inactive today.


Graham put in multiple, consecutive limited practices this week. I was hoping we'd hear optimistic comments from Graham in the locker room after Friday's practice or something from Drew Brees suggesting Graham would be a bigger part of the game plan this week. But Graham wasn't made available to the media all week and I can't find any media notes with Brees talking about Graham.

I think we'll see Graham in the same role he played last week: third downs, red zone and two minute situations only. I don't think he'll surprise and put in 40-50 snaps today. However, while last week I argued there was a good chance Graham would see no meaningful targets, I think there's a better chance of upside this week. Graham has had another seven days to recover from his injury and the Saints are at home. Both work in Graham's favor.

Fantasy expectation: There's still a risk of 0-2 target, 0-2 catch day with little yardage and no touchdowns, so you'll again want to acknowledge the risk of a zero in your lineup if you choose to start Graham. But the ceiling we saw last year with Graham in this limited role (3-37-2) could be back in play today. I'm still starting any tight end with a 5-7 target expectation and a reasonable chance at a touchdown, but I'm also not actively avoiding him in favor of any warm body in lineups today.

calvin johnson | ankle | questionable

I think two things are certain with Johnson today.

First, I think there's only a very slim chance he plays. We've heard for weeks the Lions were strongly considering sitting him through the Week 9 bye. And Johnson was not as close to playing last week as the pregame warmup discussion suggested. Johnson was traveling to London even if the team didn't expect him to play and the limited practices this week are not a critical development.

Second, if Johnson does play, I don't think he'll be a decoy. There will be a risk of an in-game aggravation -- he's not practiced enough to be in top game condition and I don't believe he's 100% yet -- but if he's playing today, I think he'll see more usage than he did in the two weeks he struggled on the field earlier this season.

Fantasy expectation: I expect Johnson to sit until Week 10. If he's active today, I'd risk putting him in my lineup as an extremely high variance WR2/3.

800 AM: Johnson is inactive today. He should play in Week 10. More on him over the next two weeks.

darren sproles | knee | questionable

Despite a positive start to the week's practice and no late week participation downgrade, Sproles is still very much a game time decision this week. Unless one of our national media friends breaks some news early this morning, we'll not know Sproles status until after halftime of the early games.

Fantasy expectation: If Sproles is able to go, his conditioning will probably prevent him from seeing a high number of targets. I'd leave him on your bench today and hope he shows he's back in form for next week.

trent richardson | hamstring | questionable

Richardson is listed questionable and officially a game time decision. But he didn't practice all week and there's been nothing optimistic about his status since his early week comments that he'd only suffered a tweak. The hamstring muscle never responded to treatment enough to allow him to do even limited practice work. If he's active today, it'll be a shock.

Fantasy expectation: Expect Richardson to be inactive today. If he plays, he's not had any reps in practice and won't be a major part of the Indianapolis game plan. Avoid him this week.

vincent jackson | rib | questionable

Jackson is frequently listed questionable after early week limited practices with some injury or another. He very rarely misses games and usually sees his regular usage. I expect him to be active today. Midweek reports had him moving well during his limited practices and there should be little to fear here.

Fantasy expectation: Use Jackson as you normally would.

shane vereen | illness | questionable

Vereen missed Friday's practice with an illness. As frequently happens with Patriots' injured players, there's been little reported on the specifics of his absence. The general sense is Vereen will be active and play today. New England has an early afternoon game today, so we'll likely hear about Vereen during pregame warmups and have his active/inactive status well in advance of your lineup deadline.

Fantasy expectation: Barring a surprise, Vereen will be active today and can be used as you normally would.

Best of luck in your fantasy games this weekend. I'll be back on Monday morning to review all the Week 8 injuries in the Injury Rounds column. Follow me on Twitter @JeneBramel for breaking news and analysis during the games today.