Week 3 Practice Report & Injury Recap (2020 Fantasy Football)
Week 2 was an absolute bloodbath, and this week’s column is extra long due to all the injury fallout. We’ve seen four consensus first-round picks (Christian McCaffrey. Saquon Barkley, Michael Thomas, and Davante Adams) go down with injuries already, and I hope that you’re muddling through the injury-riddled start to the season.
Each Friday, I’ll break down the NFL practice reports by matchup. That’s when teams release two key pieces of information: first, a player’s status (full-go, limited, no-go) in practice that week; second, their injury designation (questionable, doubtful, out). It’s vital stuff to follow for your fantasy matchups, and I’ll walk you through the important things to know.
49ers at Giants (Sunday, 1:00 PM EST)
Good Lord. Bloody Sunday came for both of these teams, as they lost multiple offensive starters. There’s a lot to unpack here, but I’ll try to keep things short. Jerick McKinnon is now a high-end RB2 until Coleman (4 weeks) and Mostert (4-6 weeks) get back, and Jeffrey Wilson is a touchdown-dependent RB3/flex play through that span as well. Jordan Reed is a low-end TE1 until Kittle returns, which could be as soon as next week, and that’s even without Jimmy Garoppolo in the lineup. His backup, Nick Mullens, should be good enough to post low-end QB2 numbers.
On New York’s side of the matchup, the loss of Shepard substantially increases both Evan Engram and Golden Tate’s fantasy value. Both of them will draw some of the short-yardage looks that went to Shepard beforehand. Barkley’s loss has given Devonta Freeman a job, and while he was a great speculative waiver add this week, I wouldn’t recommend starting either him or Dion Lewis quite yet.
Football Team at Browns (Sunday, 1:00 PM EST)
The Browns’ two starting corners are banged-up, and while that usually makes for a matchup to target with a quarterback streamer, it’s hard to get excited about Dwayne Haskins’ 32 attempts per game. That said, Terry McLaurin should have a huge fantasy day against an exploitable matchup, especially if Sims is limited.
Weakside linebacker Mack Wilson’s status is worth monitoring for those thinking about playing Logan Thomas this week, as Thomas would likely face some coverage from him. The Browns have allowed the second-most PPR points to tight ends so far this year, but Wilson hasn’t yet seen the field, so his return could lower that number a bit.
Bengals at Eagles (Sunday, 1:00 PM EST)
The Eagles lost another receiving option last week, as Jalen Reagor will miss a good chunk of time with a torn UCL in his thumb. Some experts don’t expect Reagor will be able to play until mid-November, which would likely earn him an IR slot in the coming days. He’s a great stash-and-hold if he’s IR eligible in your league. Meanwhile, oft-injured Alshon Jeffery logged his first practice for Philly in a long time (albeit limited), and he could become fantasy-relevant with Reagor gone if he ever suits up. Reagor’s absence is a big boost for DeSean Jackson, as he’ll have a monopoly on deep looks.
That said, with the Bengals’ injuries along the defensive line, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of Miles Sanders and Boston Scott on Sunday. Look for the Eagles to try and grind out their first win of the season on the ground in Week 3.
Raiders at Patriots (Sunday, 1:00 PM EST)
Raiders: OT Trent Brown (calf) OUT, OG Richie Incognito (Achilles) IR, WR Henry Ruggs (knee/hamstring) OUT, OT Sam Young (groin) QUESTIONABLE, TE Darren Waller (knee) QUESTIONABLE., RB Josh Jacobs (hip) QUESTIONABLE.
Patriots: RB James White (personal) OUT, WR Julian Edelman (knee) QUESTIONABLE, WR N’Keal Harry (ankle) QUESTIONABLE.
The Raiders earned an impressive win on Monday Night Football, but their roster took a beating in the process. They’ll be without two of their starting offensive linemen, and one of their backups (Young) is questionable. That’s not good news for running back Josh Jacobs, who himself is questionable with a hip injury. Jacobs failed to practice on either Wednesday or Thursday, and he could end up being a game-time call. Devontae Booker would likely get much of Jacobs’ first and second down workload if he can’t suit up.
Several of the Raiders’ pass-catchers are banged-up as well. Ruggs won’t play, Waller failed to practice until Friday, and Bryan Edwards, who didn’t receive an injury designation, logged limited practices all week with a foot injury. If Waller plays, he’s the clear-cut best receiver in this offense, and his massive target share proves that he has a solid floor. Hunter Renfrow benefits the most from all these injuries, as he should take back some of Ruggs’ slot snaps.
James White won’t play after a horrific car accident took his father last weekend. Lots of things are more important than football, especially your family, so let’s wish White the best here.
Also, don’t take Belichick’s questionable designations seriously. Edelman and Harry were both questionable for last week, and both played. Edelman played every game in 2019 despite receiving a questionable tag more often than not.
Bears at Falcons (Sunday, 1:00 PM EST)
The Bears have gotten lucky at dodging the injury bug so far. Mack’s injury has lingered since the start of the season, but he’s played through both of his questionable tags, so expect him to suit up on Sunday.
Jones’ story is much less clear. He hasn’t practiced all week, which is usually a very bad sign, and he’s been labeled a game-time decision by head coach Dan Quinn. I have a hard time seeing Jones playing this week, and without him, Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage, and Hayden Hurst should see more volume than usual. Jones drafters should have their backup plans ready to go.
Rams at Bills (Sunday, 1:00 PM EST)
The Rams won’t have second-round running back Cam Akers this weekend, and his absence will leave Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson in charge of Sean McVay’s committee backfield. The Rams still list Brown as the starter, and I’m expecting him to get the most reps on Sunday, but it’s worth noting that he missed Wednesday’s practice with a finger injury. That said, he’s still the best fantasy back in this offense if the workload stays the same, and he should get most of the red-zone work.
On the other side, the Bills have a handful of injuries to work through. Knox’s absence should force more targets to the teams’ wide receivers, and with Jalen Ramsey likely to cover Stefon Diggs, John Brown and Cole Beasley have more appeal than usual. Moss’ absence will give Singletary low-end RB2 value.
The Bills’ injuries at linebacker are worth following if you drafted Tyler Higbee. If they can’t go (neither of them could last week), Higbee could post numbers similar to the 8-130-1 stat line that Mike Gesicki posted against them in Week 2.
Texans at Steelers (Sunday, 1:00 PM EST)
The Steelers have gotten healthy in a hurry. They lost guard Wisniewski to injured reserve, but David DeCastro should be good this week, and none of the other injuries that popped up through the week led to players getting injury designations — Diontae Johnson will be full-go after missing practice on Wednesday, and JuJu Smith-Schuster will be good as well despite missing practice on Wednesday and Thursday.
Likewise, the Texans seem to have recovered quickly from their handful of injuries. Will Fuller cleared the injury report all week, so let’s hope that his Week 2 disappearance with a soft tissue injury was a fluke. And while wide receiver Brandin Cooks logged limited practice sessions on Wednesday and Thursday, he practiced in full on Friday.
That said, the Texans don’t have an entirely clean bill of health. Johnson is strugging through an ankle injury, and Stills was limited with an illness that popped up late in the week. Neither Johnson nor Stills should be on the fantasy radar, but their absences would give Houston’s other starters a small boost in value.
Titans at Vikings (Sunday, 1:00 PM EST)
The Vikings are now without their two Week 1 starters at cornerback. They’ve gotten roasted by opposing passing offenses this season, and Week 3 should be no exception. With Brown out, Corey Davis, Adam Humphries, and Jonnu Smith should get much of the work for Tennessee. The two wideouts are in the WR3 conversation, while Smith is a mid-tier TE1.
Darrynton Evans will make his first appearance this week, and the Titans will be able to get a look at the third-round rookie. He’s the handcuff to own in this offense, and he may get third-down usage to help spell Derrick Henry, who has already carried the ball 56 times this season.
Panthers at Chargers (Sunday, 4:05 PM EST)
The Panthers lost McCaffrey to an ankle injury, and he’ll be out for at least three weeks following his IR designation. The Panthers will likely turn to Mike Davis to replace him, but there’s no way that Davis will get even close to the same number of touches. Expect the Panthers to shift to a more pass-heavy offensive scheme that will boost D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson’s value. Curtis Samuel may see some snaps at running back, but he hasn’t touched the ball nearly enough to be fantasy-relevant this season.
Taylor will miss another start after it was revealed that a team doctor punctured his lung while trying to treat a rib injury. Justin Herbert will start instead, and he’s a high-risk, high-reward option at QB2. The Panthers have allowed most of their points on the ground, but Herbert proved that he could run in Week 2, so don’t be surprised if he gets a rushing score this week.
Jets at Colts (Sunday, 4:05 PM EST)
Jets: WR Jamison Crowder (hamstring) OUT, WR Breshad Perriman (ankle) OUT, OT George Fant (concussion) OUT, WR Braxton Berrios (hamstring) QUESTIONABLE, OC Connor McGovern (hamstring) QUESTIONABLE.
Colts: TE Jack Doyle (knee) QUESTIONABLE.
The Jets are a mess. They’re already without two of their best wide receivers and their best running back, and guess what? Their WR4, Berrios, seems to have suffered a hamstring injury during Friday’s practice. Two of their starting offensive linemen are also hurt. Sam Darnold is the consensus QB32 for a reason this week, and you shouldn’t expect anything much out of any Jet this weekend.
The Colts should handily win this game. I don’t foresee a lot of passing attempts for them, and that’ll limit the value of whichever tight end ends up starting for them, be it Alie-Cox or Doyle.
Cowboys at Seahawks (Sunday, 4:25 PM EST)
Cowboys: CB Chidobe Awuzie (hamstring) OUT.
Seahawks: No fantasy-relevant injuries.
Both of these teams have dodged the injury bug so far, and we’re in for a high-scoring treat this Sunday afternoon. This game has the highest projected point total on the slate at 57, and any player on either side should be a lock to return fantasy value. Awuzie’s injury only makes it all the more likely for Seattle’s receivers to put up high-ceiling performances.
Lions at Cardinals (Sunday, 4:25 PM EST)
Golladay looks like he could be back for Week 3. That said, the receiver has admitted that he isn’t 100 percent, so don’t pencil him in for 2019-type numbers quite yet. He’s a low-end WR3 as he recovers from this nagging hamstring injury.
On the other side of the ball, it looks like the Arizona Cardinals should have a huge day — even without Kirk. Without Trufant, the Lions are down to rookie cornerback Jeff Okudah and Amani Oruwariye, neither of whom will limit Hopkins. Kirk’s injury will also open up a massive opportunity for another wide receiver, Andy Isabella.
IT'S ANDY ISABELLA TIME.
▫️ #1 on ARI in aDOT.
▫️ #3 on ARI in total air yards — despite only having 3 targets.
▫️ 100th percentile 40-yard dash time (4.31).
▫️ He plays DET, who allow 15.04 YDS/REC (#4 in the NFL). https://t.co/7JSlHgOsm9 pic.twitter.com/lII4uJOABj
— Isaiah Sirois (@is_sirois) September 25, 2020
While he’s too risky to start in redraft leagues, Isabella could make a great upside play in DFS tournaments.
Buccaneers at Broncos (Sunday, 4:25 PM EST)
The Buccaneers will have a healthy Evans and a healthy Godwin in the lineup this week for the first time since 2019. We still haven’t seen Tom Brady with all of his weapons at full-go, so I’m interested to see what their offense looks like here. Watson’s injury locks Scotty Miller in as the WR3.
The Denver Broncos are the much bigger story here. They’ll start Jeff Driskel at quarterback, and he’s no stranger to spot starts. Driskel finished as the QB7 between Weeks 10 and 12 last season, and he has some upside in 2QB/superflex leagues.
That said, Denver’s receiving corps is quite depleted. While I would be surprised if Jeudy didn’t play, as he logged a full practice session on Friday, head coach Vic Fangio has called him a game-time decision.
Also, the Broncos won’t have Courtland Sutton the rest of the year. Rookie KJ Hamler stands to benefits the most from his absence. The rookie led the team in air yards last week, and while I still want to see what his role looks like without Sutton, he’s a great bench stash before Week 3 — and he’ll be a great spot start if Jeudy sits.
Packers at Saints (Sunday, 8:20 PM EST)
Two of the league’s best wide receivers are likely to miss this week’s edition of Sunday Night Football. Neither Thomas nor Adams logged a single practice session this week, so it should come as no surprise that neither of them is expected to play. Their absences will substantially limit their quarterbacks’ value, and both Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees could struggle to post QB1 numbers.
The Packers should feature Aaron Jones again this week, as they did when Adams was limited last week, and I expect him to benefit more from Adams’ absence than Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling will. Tight end Jace Sternberger, who is yet to catch a pass, could be a viable streaming option against New Orleans’ league-worst tight end defense with Deguara out.
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