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.
This is the fifth year I've published an injury expectations column on Sunday morning. From top to bottom, this is the first time I feel stuck in the middle on every player on this list. In weeks like this, you just have to accept you'll be on the wrong side of a decision now and then. Some of these injured players are going to play at much less than full strength and find a way to be statistically productive. But it's likely to be one target that swings the day in their favor. Everyone on today's list has a very low floor.
That's not to say you should bench a questionable player and make the best of it with someone else on your roster. Just recognize these players will struggle today.
Not included here are Julio Jones, Justin Forsett, and Jonathan Stewart. Jones fully practiced on Friday and the Falcons' coaches were adamant on Wednesday that Jones would play today. Jones often left the field to recover last Monday night, but returned and played effectively between rest periods. I think Jones is safe to use as you normally would today. The same goes for Forsett and Stewart, both of whom fully practiced Thursday and Friday and should be near full strength today.
mike evans | hamstring | questionable | early sun start
Evans is much closer to being ready this week than last. However, Lovie Smith seemed less optimistic on Evans on Friday than he was in the middle of last week. I think that's mostly coachspeak. Smith was likely near certain Evans wasn't going to go last week and kept the news positive to keep the Titans from knowing Evans' true status. This week, Smith is more willing to let the opposition see Evans as a game time decision. Last week, I felt Evans was on the doubtful side of questionable. This week, I think he's clearly on the probable side of questionable. But that doesn't mean he's full strength. There's a risk of ineffectiveness and/or an in-game aggravation with Evans here.
Fantasy expectation: There were enough positives in Evans' full week of consecutive limited practices to consider him a boom-bust WR2 today. But if you're loaded with healthier top 15 options, you should consider keeping Evans on your bench this week.
730 AM: Multiple media members tweeting this morning that Evans will play today.
alshon jeffery | hamstring | questionable | early sun start
Jeffery's midweek hamstring strain is why I always write about those 7-10 days after returning to football-related activity being so critical. Jeffery nearly made it out of the danger zone without a setback, but his hamstring strain is almost certainly related to the calf strain he suffered in preseason (and still may not be fully over). I think Matt Forte more or less told reporters on Friday that Jeffery will miss today's game, saying "We don't have another Alshon on the team, so obviously it's going to hurt." The Bears haven't formally ruled Jeffery out yet and may give him a chance to prove himself in pregame warmups. But playing through two separate muscle strains, even if lower grade injuries, is asking for trouble and the Chicago medical staff knows it. If Jeffery starts, he's likely to be even more limited than last week, when he clearly wasn't his usual self.
Fantasy expectation: I'd avoid Jeffery this week if he's active. He may see enough high leverage targets to pull off a 3-40-1, but his ceiling is 0-0-0 today.
730 AM: Adam Schefter tweeted early this morning there "isn't a lot of optimism" Jeffery will play today. Ian Rapoport followed with a sourced report Jeffery is out. He's not a fantasy option today.
t.y. hilton | knee | questionable | monday night
JIm Irsay told reporters Hilton would miss 4-5 weeks immediately after the game last week. It was way too early to make such a determination at that time, but it's still a surprise to see Hilton join the game time decision group this week. Hilton felt well enough to work through a limited Saturday practice and the extra day of treatment may be enough to get him to the active roster. But bone bruises around the knee are difficult to play through. It's more than just playing through pain. If Hilton is active, he's likely to struggle. It's also likely the Colts are planning to use him on many fewer snaps than usual.
Fantasy expectation: I'd avoid Hilton this week. It's a Monday night start, he's barely practiced with a painful injury, it's likely he'll be covered by Darrelle Revis on his snaps, the Colts aren't likely to use him as much as usual, and there's a risk of an in-game setback. And those are the issues if he makes the active roster. The odds are heavily stacked against a productive game here.
lesean mccoy | hamstring | questionable | early sun start
Like Jeffery, McCoy didn't look healthy in Week 1 and had a mid-week setback late in his recovery from a mid-grade high hamstring strain. The Bills didn't sound optimistic at all about McCoy's availability after Thursday's aggravation, but McCoy did test his hamstring in Friday's practice. There's a chance McCoy will be active today, but don't expect to see him for more than 10-12 snaps and he could shut down at any time.
Fantasy expectation: Mid-week aggravations of mid-grade hamstring strains are a huge red flag. McCoy did enough Friday to have a chance to make the active roster, but I don't see a scenario in which he plays enough effective snaps to be a trusted fantasy option today.
730 AM: Media reports early this morning have McCoy playing today. We may get more information about his usage by game time, but I still do not expect McCoy to see a full workload.
c.j. spiller | knee | questionable | early sun start
It's been more than a week since Ian Rapoport said Spiller would sit out Week 1 but be "good to go" in Week 2. Rapoport is such a trustworthy source that I think he was told the plan was to return Spiller to practice and get him some game reps in Week 2. Spiller worked through three limited sessions this week and there are no reports of a setback. Though it's just a guess -- the Saints are always quiet about how involved injured players may be -- I think Spiller will be active but see very few opportunities.
Fantasy expectation: The Saints are heavily favored, have two healthy and talented backs who can excel out of the backfield, and Spiller has only been back to practice for a week. If Spiller sees more than 6-8 touches this week, it'll be a surprise.
730 AM: Spiller is likely to play today per local and national media. The expectation is he'll see snaps in passing down and red zone situations only. Even then, I expect to see him used sparingly.
chris ivory | groin | questionable | monday night
When healthy, Ivory has been a very productive running back. Last week was no exception. Unfortunately, Ivory strained a groin muscle early this week in practice. He was able to get limited practices in on Friday and Saturday and looks to be on the probable side of questionable. But there's risk here.
Fantasy expectation: Ivory should be safe to trust in fantasy lineups this week. But there is a chance he'll be inactive or ineffective. It's tough to consider Bilal Powell a strong hedge, so if you put Ivory in your starting lineup, be aware of the slight risk of a gameday decision to keep Ivory off the active roster or give him less than a ten touch week.
todd gurley | knee | questionable | early sun start
tre mason | hamstring | questionable | early sun start
Jeff Fisher won't list every player questionable like Bill Belichick, but he's just as difficult to read. After weeks of speculation by those around the team that Gurley would be held out for at least 3-4 weeks, Fisher called him a game time decision on Friday. Mason reportedly aggravated a hamstring strain at the end of the preseason, but has been listed with a nebulous "thigh" injury after showing as a quad last week. I'm not sure what to make of that, nor am I certain why Mason earned a questionable tag after fully practicing all week. Add in Benny Cunningham and this situation is going to be messy no matter who's active.
Fantasy expectation: As tempting as it may be to use Gurley if he's active, I'd keep him on your bench and hope he shows he's ready for 15+ touches. Look for more information on these guys ahead of gametime, but I lean toward Mason being active and Gurley sitting one more week. Mason is no better than a flex play.
730 AM: Adam Schefter tweeted Mason will be active today. Gurley remains a game time decision.
jordan reed | quad | questionable | early sun start
I really want to believe Reed's mid-week quad strain was minor and that his limited Friday practice and declaration he was "100% going to play" are signs he won't be limited today. But we've seen this before with Reed. Low grade injuries are slow to heal or easily aggravated to more serious and limiting conditions. This one may be different but I'm not willing to argue strongly that Reed will be active today or productive.
Fantasy expectation: A healthy Reed would be an intriguing play with DeSean Jackson out and Kirk Cousins likely to look to shorter routes. But we don't know how healthy Reed is. Unless you've played Kelce or own Gronkowski, I won't talk you out of using Reed if he's active. But he has the widest range of expectation on the tight end list today. The Rams are athletic in the back seven and borderline dominant in pass rush. It's not a great matchup.
delanie walker | wrist | questionable
Walker has a wrist sprain that required immobilization for much of the week. It's a great sign he was able to do everything in practice on Friday, but most teams have a very light walkthrough at week's end. Despite the full practice, Walker is listed questionable and didn't exactly get a ringing endorsement from the team after practice. Walker may be active, but he'll be playing through pain.
Fantasy expectation: You likely have another equally good option at tight end. I'd use it today.
Best of luck in your fantasy games this weekend. I'll be back on Monday morning to review all the Week 2 injuries in the Injury Rounds column. Follow me on Twitter @JeneBramel for breaking news and analysis during the games today.
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