Now that the NFL injury report has eliminated the designation of “probable,” the questionable tag will include players who are anywhere from 50 to 99-percent likely to play. With this new development, you will definitely need to check here every week before locking your lineups to make sure that you don’t get burned by a player whose injury status you miscalculated. I will use a combination of Injury Science and my experience as a Doctor of Physical Therapy to give you a more precise prediction of whether you can trust these players on game day.
My recommendations are primarily based on the injury facts as compared to the production projections. You will have to take it from there, with your decision to put him in the game or sit him on the bench.
Put him in the game
Julio Jones (ATL)
At this point I am getting a little tired of writing about Jones as he is one of the few players that shows up on the injury report every week. Jones proved me wrong last game with a 24.6 point performance, although he still managed to pick up a new injury in the process. Jones is now reported to have a right calf strain to go along with his left ankle injury.
Generally a calf strain is something a player can play through unless it is severe, and this does not seem to be severe. Jones has not practiced, but this appears to be his norm at this point. I believe his left ankle continues to pose a risk to his productivity and the calf strain does not help matters.
However, with his opponent being the New Orleans Saints, Jones has a production ceiling that can not be denied. Although I believe there are still legitimate injury risk for Jones, and believe that he is one of the more probable players to miss time in the near future, the only choice here is to put him in the game.
Andrew Luck (IND)
I expect to see him on the injury report every week, but I also expect him to play every week. His shoulder will be fine, and you can take advantage of that questionable tag scaring some people off. Put him in the game.
Eric Ebron (DET)
Ebron is listed as questionable with a back injury. The Detroit Lions have given no details to what the injury is but the fact that Ebron practiced in full on Friday leads me to believe it is minor. Minor back injuries such as back spasms, back strain or a back contusion should not stop him from playing on Sunday as these are injuries that can usually be managed well enough to get a player on the field.
There is always the risk of a back injury being re-aggravated during the game, especially because the core and the back are integral parts of every movement that can be threatened by contact and non-contact football moves. With that said, I do not see much risk here as I doubt Ebron would have been allowed to practice had his injury been at risk of getting worse or recurring by taking part in practice. The details here lead me to believe that this was a transient issue and that you are safe to put him in the game.
T.Y. Hilton (IND)
Hilton is on the injury reports with a knee issue that appears to be lingering. The structure in which the Indianapolis Colts are having him practice appears to be centered around letting his knee have ample time to rest before the game. Hilton is one of those fast accelerating receivers who likely puts each joint to the test every time he gets in and out of a cut.
Last year I compared Hilton to DeSean Jackson, and I still believe that his career his headed in the direction of Jackson in regard to injury profile. I think that eventually injuries will catch up to Hilton and he will miss his fair share of games, but not this week. I believe the full two days of rest that he will get prior to game time combined with being at home against a weak defense should lead you to put him in the game.
Willie Snead (NO)
Snead is listed as questionable with a toe injury but has the shootout matchup of the week with the Atlanta Falcons. Toe injuries can be underestimated as many don’t consider how essential push-off is during acceleration and cuts. With this said, you have to take your chances with this match up on hand and put him in the game.
Sit him on the bench
Brandon Marshall (NYJ)
Marshall is listed as questionable with a knee sprain and has basically missed a week of practice. Although this appears to be a Grade 1 sprain which typically means the player should be good to go in a week or two, Marshall was already suffering from hip issues.
Generally speaking when one joint gets hurt, the adjacent joints or the entire opposite extremity will compensate for that injured joint. In Marshall’s case, he appears to be running out of options to compensate with. It appears that both of his hips have given him trouble recently and now add in a knee.
There is a good chance that even if Marshall plays, he will not be effective. At best Marshall may be able to act as a red zone threat by using his body for positioning, but I doubt we see Marshall running routes and making cuts like his normal self. With the abundance of talent that the New York Jets have at the skill positions, this would be a good week to sit him on the bench.
Delanie Walker (TEN)
It pains me to write this one, as I had Walker in nearly every DFS line up this week. The Raiders are awful vs. tight ends and Walker is one of the best of them. Unfortunately, it appears that the notorious hamstring strain has gotten a hold of Walker and won’t let go.
My optimism about his production had me blinded until I took a look at his practice schedule. Walker did not practice on Wednesday due to the injury. On Thursday he practiced limited. On Friday he missed practice again.
Along with this schedule, his coach spilled the beans that he was not showing any improvement with the injury (he needs to go to the school of Bill Belichick). When I see a player try to practice a little with an injury and later miss the next practice because of said injury, I get nervous. When said injury is a hamstring strain, I get downright scared.
Just so you know, I am practicing what I preach; I will remove Walker from most of my lineups and I believe you should too. With deep regret, my advice for Walker is to put him on the bench.
Rashad Jennings (NYG)
Jennings appears to have a sprained thumb but is planning to play. I applaud him for gutting through it, but the thumb is by far the most important finger for anything, but especially for handling a football. If there was any chance for Jennings to catch a few receptions on third down, those chances become much lesser with this injury.
I doubt the Giants will put him in this position with Shane Vereen as his backup, but catching the ball will likely be painful. Jennings also should have an elevated risk for fumbles as the thumb is responsible for control and grip. There are too many arrows pointing the wrong way for Jennings and the only option for fantasy owners is to put him on the bench.
Antonio Gates (SD)
Gates is listed as doubtful with a hamstring injury and with a player his age, there is no reason to push back against one of the most notorious injuries in football and a designation that signifies that he is less than 50% likely to play. Don’t over think this one, even though the matchup would have been great; the only option here is to put him on the bench.
Sammy Watkins (BUF)
Watkins is back on the injury report due to issues with his left foot. Watkins had surgery on this foot to repair a fracture and reports suggest that he has had pain in the foot through the beginning of the season. Beyond his normal pain, he appears to have had the foot stepped on in practice to aggravate things a bit more.
Foot injuries are difficult to overcome as there is little you can do to protect the foot from force. Much of the footwear available today will give shock absorbing benefits through specialized insoles, but the foot is still the first absorber of the force that is created between the body and the ground. Excess force is not only what causes injury, but also what keeps injuries aggravated.
With the speed that Watkins possesses and the repetition of an NFL season, his foot is likely to be overworked and become inflamed and sore throughout the season. This is likely something that has to be managed very carefully to keep Watkins on the field as much as possible. While managing reps and high force weight-bearing activities is something that Watkins and the Buffalo Bills can do, preventing Watkins from being stepped on is a more difficult task.
The fact that Watkins appears to have already been dealing with inflammation and soreness and that these issues were only exacerbated more by being stepped on makes me believe that he either won’t play at all this week or he will play poorly. I think Watkins will be a guy to watch on a week to week basis, but for this week I think it’s obvious to sit him on the bench.
Thomas Rawls (SEA)
Rawls is reported to have a contusion to his shin area and is listed as doubtful. A contusion is just a fancy name for a bruise, while shin is a lay person’s name for anterior tibialis. The anterior tibialis muscle is the muscle that makes up most of the shin area and is responsible for dorsiflexion.
Dorsiflexion is the action of flexing your ankle up toward your head and is one of the most important motions in walking or running. If Rawls has pain or restriction with this motion, I can see why he is listed as doubtful.
A contusion usually only involves swelling and pain and with rest and treatment, he should be back on the field by next week. As for this week, it appears that you must sit him on the bench.
Jamaal Charles (KC)
I have sensed some excitement and interest around Charles this week, but I am not exactly sure why. The official injury designation for him this week is “doubtful,” and even if he plays, he is likely to be eased back into the offense.
Charles has still not reached the anniversary of his ACL injury, and a running back with his skill set will struggle without his agility being near 100%. There may be one or two “put him in the game” recommendations left in Charles’ career, but I am sure that it this is not the week. Sit him on the bench.
Chris Ivory (JAC)
When it comes to Ivory, your guess is as good as mine. What I would look at in his case is conditioning. It will be very hard to miss two weeks of football with days of being hospitalized mixed in, and then just show up in Week 3 and play well. Ivory is likely in for a limited workload against a good run defense, therefore sit him on the bench.
Vontae Davis (IND)
Some of you who play the matches may be concerned that Davis will return this week and give one of those San Diego Charger wide receivers some trouble. There should be no worries.
Davis was in a cast about two weeks ago, and if he dares to step on the field, I can nearly guarantee he will be a step slow. Play those San Diego Chargers wide receivers with confidence as Davis is likely a couple of weeks away from being a shutdown threat.
Clay Matthews (GB)
Matthews appears to have the two worst non season threatening injuries with a hamstring strain and an ankle sprain to his left leg. This should scare IDP fantasy players away from him, but it should also make this game a bit more offensive that it may have been if Matthews was healthy. Along with Matthews being injured, Green Bay will also have Sam Shields out.
On the other side of the ball, the Detroit Lions are also missing two of their best players. Due to these key injuries, this may be a game to get some action with despite it not being on many people’s radar.
Of course, I couldn’t talk about every single injury, so if I left out an injury that is important to you feel free to contact me @Dr.PettyIRD before game time.
Fantasy Football Start/Sit (Week 3):
Dr. Eric Petty is a Physical Therapist who is taking his talents from the treatment room to help fantasy owners. You can find more of his work at his site, The Injury Report Doctor, and you can follow him @DrPettyIRD.