Week 8 of the NFL season marks the halfway point, and injuries and ailments are starting to compound for some teams. What makes it worse for fantasy owners is that not only do we have to navigate the injury minefield, but we also have to deal with teams on their bye. So, you drafted the perfect team in your eyes, but now you have three guys on a bye and your depth chart is decimated by injuries… what do you do?
You come here each Sunday morning to get the latest news and info from around the league about those injuries so you can make the best decisions on who to start and who to leave on your bench.
Although it isn’t an injury, fantasy football owners should be aware that Panthers Coach Ron Rivera plans to get back to a more balanced attack. Jonathan Stewart will be his lead-back moving forward, but DeAngelo Williams will still get some touches. Word is that the Panthers are willing to listen to trade offers for Williams, but his contract is going to be a major hurdle there. Currently Williams is the 5th highest paid RB in the NFL ($5.25 million in 2012).
Calvin Johnson (knee) is listed as “probable”, despite missing Friday’s practice. All indications are that Megatron will start, but he has a tough match-up against a Seahawks defense that is giving up just 17.5 PPG to fantasy WRs, TOTAL. You can’t bench him, but tailor back your expectations for him also.
The Lions placed WR Nate Burleson on injured reserve with a broken leg, ending his season. That means Titus Young steps into the #2 WR spot, and rookie Ryan Broyles is the #3 WR now. Neither is a good play this week, but Young can be added if you need WR depth.
Danny Amendola (shoulder) will go through pre-game warm-ups but is still unlikely to play against the Patriots. He is getting close, so stash him on your bench for a possible return in week 9.
Jimmy Graham made the trip to Denver this week, but is still considered a game-time decision. He didn’t even make the trip to Tampa Bay last week, so at least he is making progress. With all the uncertainty surrounding him, it would be best to just leave him on your best and use someone like Heath Miller (available in 30 percent of NFL.com leagues) or Martellus Bennett (available in 46.4 percent of NFL.com leagues).
Brandon Lloyd (knee) is listed as “questionable”, but all indications are that he will play against the Rams. I have him projecting out as a WR3 this week. Aaron Hernandez (ankle) didn’t’ even make the trip across the pond, so make sure you get him out of your line-up.
Packers NT B.J. Raji (ankle) is expected to return to the lineup this week, which hurts the fantasy outlook for Jaguars RB Rashad Jennings. I said it on Twitter and Facebook that Jennings is someone to pick up if you need RB depth, but the Jaguars couldn’t move the ball with Maurice Jones-Drew in the backfield, so what do you expect them to do with a perennial back-up running the ball?
Continuing with the Packers woes, Jordy Nelson (hamstring) missed practice on Friday and is listed as questionable this week. Greg Jennings will have Sports Hernia surgery this Tuesday, and is expected to miss roughly 4-6 weeks. So, Randall Cobb and James Jones just became must-starts against a Jaguars secondary that allows 34.1 PPG to WRs in PPR formats.
Jermichael Finley (shoulder) is probable this week, but it really doesn’t matter as he has been a huge fantasy bust all season long. He is someone that is borderline cut worthy, but can’t be cut because Aaron Rodgers is his QB.
Frank Gore (ribs) is listed as probable for Monday night’s game against the Cardinals, and the word is that he will play. I have him as a low-end RB1 this week, and those who picked up Kendall Hunter hoping to catch lightning in a bottle can feel free to cut him loose once again.
Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) will not play against the Redskins, and Isaac Redman is listed as questionable. Jonathan Dwyer will get the start and carry the load, but don’t put him any higher than a low-end RB2 this week.
Updating SS Troy Polamalu‘s right calf injury, it is now being described as being a “serious concern.” He is still listed as week-to-week, but it is shaping up to be a late season return.
Jay Cutler (ribs) is listed as “probable” against the Panthers, but is little more than a QB2 with just Brandon Marshall to throw too.
Trent Richardson (ribs) is expected to play against the Chargers, but should be benched in fantasy leagues. San Diego has the NFL’s #2 ranked run defense (71.2 YPG allowed) and they give up just 15.8 PPG to fantasy RBs. Montario Hardesty is listed as probable, but with Richardson getting the start, Hardesty cannot be counted on in any fantasy format.
DeMarcus Ware (flu) did not practice this week, but is expected to play. Felix Jones (knee) practiced on both Thursday and Friday, and is expected to start against the Giants. DeMarco Murray remains out, and needs to be on your bench until further notice. The Cowboys also placed ILB Sean Lee (toe) on injured reserve, ending his season. I wouldn’t come within 10 feet of the Cowboys defense against Eli Manning and the Giants offense, and you should view Jones as a low-end RB2 this week.
Speaking of the Jaguars, Blaine Gabbert (shoulder) is probable this week, and Jones-Drew (foot) said he has no time-table for a return to the field. Gabbert isn’t even on the fantasy radar, and MJD just has to sit on your bench until he is ready to hit the field.
Donald Brown (knee) practiced fully Friday and will be a game-time decision against the Titans. Because Brown hasn’t been much of a fantasy RB in his career, I wouldn’t expect much from him if you own him.
For Miami Dolphins fans, Daniel Thomas (concussion) is probable this week, but remains a pure handcuff to Reggie Bush owners.
Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) is expected to play in a heated division rivalry game against the Cowboys. With Lee out for the Cowboys defense, Bradshaw looks like a solid RB2 play this week.
New York Jets LB Bart Scott (toe) has been ruled out for the game against the Dolphins, which means the Jets defense is even less appealing than it already was.
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