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.
Week 1 is finally here.
Unfortunately, the amount of injury angst this morning will rival anything we'll see later in the season, with Alshon Jeffery, Mike Evans, Randall Cobb, and LeSean McCoy already putting fantasy owners to the test as they fill out lineups and look for DFS value. The availability and workload for lesser players like Joique Bell, Tre Mason, Devonta Freeman, Zach Ertz, Ladarius Green, and Devante Parker are also unclear.
I expect we'll have more information on Sunday morning from Adam Schefter, Ian Rapoport, and Jay Glazer. Those reports will be folded into the blurbs below as they break.
Here's how I see things developing today. As I do each season, I'm putting the most critical injury recommendations above the subscriber fold in Week 1.
alshon jeffery | calf | QUESTIONABLE | early sun start
Jeffery made it through three consecutive limited practices, but it's hard to know how much he was able to do. He wasn't in full pads on Wednesday and the Friday practice was limited by weather. I think Jeffery will be active today barring a setback in warmups. And we've seen him play productively, though not particularly effectively, through a hamstring strain that clearly limited his ability to change direction last year. Calf injuries are easy to aggravate. Without knowing exactly how Jeffery feels, we're stuck considering him snap-to-snap.
Fantasy expectation: I think it's more likely Jeffery is active than inactive. While I think it's clear his ceiling will be limited today, a limited ceiling in this matchup is still good enough to consider Jeffery as a boom-bust WR3. His expectation ranges from zero to low WR1 value. He fits best in a lineup where you have multiple high floor options already plugged in.
700AM: Ian Rapoport reports the Bears remain optimistic Jeffery will be active and in the starting lineup today.
1130AM: Jeffery is active and will play. There has been nothing critical in pregame to change my expectation above.
mike evans | hamstring | questionable | late sun start
The practice participation report on Evans is the worst case scenario for those outside the training room walls to interpret. He's missed multiple weeks of practice with a hamstring injury thought not to be severe, then managed a limited Friday practice. I think if Evans were near full strength, they'd have tested him with a limited Wednesday practice rather than waiting until Friday. Evans told reporters he felt "really, really good" after his limited workout on Friday and Lovie Smith said earlier in the week Evans could play without practicing. I'm betting Evans is active, but I'm not buying his suggestion he's full strength.
Fantasy expectation: Evans has practiced exactly once in over three weeks and only in limited fashion. It's very unlikely he's tried to run or cut at full speed. He's at high risk of an in-game aggravation or struggling so much to separate he'll function as a decoy more than a priority target for Jameis Winston. There's risk in starting Evans today and there's risk in benching him against a very favorable home matchup. Consider him a boom-bust WR3. Since you'll likely not know whether he's active until after the early Sunday lineup deadline, make sure you have a hedge or be prepared for a zero if you choose to risk him.
1130 ET: Not surprisingly, both Ian Rapoport and Chris Mortensen have put a damper on Evans' likely effectiveness this morning. Evans isn't close to full strength and the expected weather in Tampa isn't helping here. He is a game-time decision at best now. Only leave Evans in your lineup if you're willing to fade the growing risk he's a decoy and/or you have a strong hedge should he be inactive.
randall cobb | AC sprain | probable | early sun start
Cobb won't be 100% today. He'll be playing through pain with the aid of anti-inflammatories, a harness, and extra padding. While he says he'll attack the ball without regard for his injury, he's acknowledged he'll try to protect his sore shoulder from a hit. Wide receivers are generally successful in playing through AC sprains, but a hit to the area could send Cobb off for a few snaps or end his day early.
Fantasy expectation: While there's risk here today, I think it's minimal. Cobb has had two weeks to heal and has a favorable matchup. Drop him to the bottom of the elite tier, but I wouldn't bench him in fantasy leagues unless I had another option with a top 30 floor and top 5 upside today.
lesean mccoy | hamstring | probable | early sun start
I'm pleasantly surprised McCoy has been able to put in three consecutive full practices this week. He's now four weeks removed from a high hamstring strain, an injury that often needs 5-6 weeks to fully heal. McCoy told Josina Anderson on Wednesday that he wasn't yet 100%. But the full week of practice suggests the Bills have prepared this week with the intent to give McCoy something near his full workload. And, while Karlos Williams is full of potential, there's not a proven option behind McCoy on the depth chart in an important conference game. There's a good chance McCoy sees 15+ touches today.
Fantasy expectation: Full disclosure: I was not high on McCoy's fantasy prospects this summer. And there's still a risk of an in-game aggravation and low floor with McCoy today. But the full practices, the thin depth chart, and the favorable home matchup against a Indianapolis front seven are enough to consider McCoy a RB2 with upside today, especially for those owners willing to tolerate a little risk.
700AM: Albert Breer reports this morning the Bills "plan to give McCoy the bulk of the work...maybe not a full load but close." That was my expectation last night. Effectiveness and durability is still a worry here, however.
joique bell | knee / achilles | not listed on injury report | late sun start
Bell responded so well to his first week of practice after coming off the PUP list he wasn't even listed on this week's injury report. Bell will rotate with Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick today, but there's a chance Bell sees two thirds of the offensive snaps if he feels good and is running effectively early.
Fantasy expectation: I'm not sure I'd trust him as more than a flex play today, but Bell deserves lineup consideration today.
roddy white | elbow | probable | monday night
White will play Monday night in a terrific matchup. There's no indication White is dealing with any limiting swelling or soreness in his knee or elbow right now. And the Roddy Rule tells us that if White practices fully on Friday, he's healthy enough to trust in lineups on Sunday. Or, in this case, Monday night.
Fantasy expectation: White isn't the receiver he once was, but he's healthy enough to consider as a WR3 in a home matchup where the Vegas books have moved the over-under total higher and higher all week long.
zach ertz | sports hernia | questionable | mon night
Ertz was listed as a full participant in Saturday's practice, but media members noted it to be a very light workout. Still, it's a strong sign that Ertz has had no setbacks this week and is preparing to play Monday night. He's on the early end of the usual return timetable and likely still has some conditioning to do. I think we'll see him on the field for only a limited number of offensive packages against Atlanta.
Fantasy expectation: If this was Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski, there would be enough upside in a 20-30 snap expectation to take the risk. But the Eagles have many good offensive options and it's hard to see Chip Kelly trusting Ertz to hold up over a run of 8-10 consecutive plays in his no-huddle offense. I think Ertz will be active, but his floor is low.
michael floyd | dislocated fingers | questionable | late sun start
Indications are Floyd is healthy enough to make the active roster this afternoon. But he's likely still dealing with some soreness from his preseason injury and may have to adjust to catching balls with a splint today.
Fantasy expectation: The matchup is strong enough to consider Floyd an extreme boom-bust WR3 along the lines of a Malcom Floyd or Allen Hurns. Carson Palmer may connect with Floyd on a deep ball or two, but I don't see a high target expectation or catch percentage for Floyd today.
tre mason | hamstring | questionable | early sun start
The Rams listed Mason questionable for the week and Jeff Fisher told reporters Mason would be a game time decision. But he's well on the doubtful side of questionable. If he's on the active roster, he won't come close to his usual workload.
Fantasy expectation: Avoid Mason today in all leagues.
700AM: Ian Rapoport and Adam Schefter both noting Mason will workout in pregame. Rapoport says it's Mason's first time getting loose this week. Still a longshot he's active and certainly won't be a major contributor today.
1130AM: Mason is inactive.
devante parker | metatarsal fracture | probable | early sun start
Parker and the Dolphins handled his rehab perfectly and didn't rush him to meet an optimistic expectation. Parker has now fully practiced for two weeks and had no issues after playing nine snaps in Miami's final preseason game. The team has planned to ease Parker into the offense slowly over the first weeks of the season. But Parker's presence in practice may be enough for the team to trust him in more than a small number of packages. If he looks healthy and plays effectively early, his snap count may trend upward more quickly than expected.
Fantasy expectation: It won't be surprising to see Parker get more than the 2-3 receptions we've projected him for today. Still, he's a high risk WR3 in deep leagues only.
devonta freeman | hamstring | probable | mon night
Freeman says he's pain free and fully recovered from a preseason hamstring strain. Unfortunately, the strain nagged him long enough for Tevin Coleman to be named the starting running back. Freeman's health could cut into Coleman's expectation, but it's unlikely Freeman will see enough touches to impact fantasy lineups this week.
Fantasy expectation: Freeman is a flex play at best this week.
ladarius green | concussion | questionable | late sun start
Green fully practiced on Saturday as the team put him through the football-related activity phase of the return to play protocol. If Green finished practice without symptoms, the Chargers likely sent him on to the independent neurologist for final clearance for contact on game day. As of late Saturday night, it's not clear where Green stands. Hopefully, we'll hear confirmation of Green's clearance in advance of the late Sunday afternoon start.
Fantasy expectation: Green will likely be active, but his upside isn't high enough to take the risk unless you've no other good options and a potential hedge should he not get clearance to play.
Best of luck in your fantasy games this weekend. I'll be back on Monday morning to review all the Week 1 injuries in the Injury Rounds column. Follow me on Twitter @JeneBramel for breaking news and analysis during the games today.
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