Some things never change, and one of those is the need to check an injury report before setting your fantasy football lineup. In case you missed it, there are some major injuries around the league this week.
Buffalo Bills @ Cincinnati Bengals
Wide receiver Jordan Matthews and linebacker Ramon Humber both underwent thumb surgery in the past week, so they have already been ruled out for Sunday. Cornerback E.J. Gaines is doubtful with a groin injury, but two important starters, Cordy Glenn and Shaq Lawson, are expected to play. Officially questionable are safety Micah Hyde and defensive tackle Marcell Dareus.
Tyler Eifert and John Ross both remain sidelined for the Bengals, but reserve tight end C.J. Uzomah seems ready to go. It is a fortunate development for Cincy, who will likely be without reserve tight end Ryan Hewitt. After sitting out of Wednesday’s practice, defensive tackle Andrew Billings and linebacker Jordan Evans both got in limited sessions on Thursday and should be considered questionable. Safety Derron Smith missed both Wednesday and Thursday, so he is unlikely to play.
Fantasy Impact: Losing Matthews is a blow for the Bills, but they will still lean heavily on tight end Charles Clay who should see an uptick in carries. A banged up defense does not bode well for Buffalo, but the Bengals are short-handed offensively, so that may not make a difference.
New York Jets @ Cleveland Browns
Somehow, the Jets sit at 2-2 despite being picked by some to go 0-16. However, a couple of key injuries could potentially be their undoing this week as running back Matt Forte and defensive end Kony Ealy are highly questionable. Also questionable are tight end Jordan Leggett and defensive end Muhammed Wilkerson.
For the Browns, it looks like number one overall pick Myles Garrett is ready to make his debut. Defensive tackle Danny Shelton also returned to practice on Thursday after being absent on Wednesday. Although linebacker Jamie Collins finally cleared concussion protocol, he is still doubtful for Sunday. Also doubtful is wide receiver Kenny Britt, who could be benched regardless of injury due to poor play.
Fantasy Impact: Myles Garrett should give a big boost to Cleveland’s defense, but the truth is, you probably should not have them on your roster. That said, if you rushed out to pick up Bilal Powell last week, you may not want to try him out again this week.
Carolina Panthers @ Detroit Lions
Defensive end Mario Addison hyperextended his knee last week, but he remains questionable against the Lions. Less likely to play is safety Demetrius Cox, putting Colin Jones in line for the start. Finding his way onto the injury report was tackle Matt Kalil who is questionable with a tweaked groin. Kelvin Benjamin remains limited with a knee issue.
The Lions had a number of players on their initial report, but things looked much better on Thursday. Running back Ameer Abdullah was back as a full participant while Rick Wagner, T.J. Lang, Haloti Ngata, and Jarrad Davis were limited. The only non-participants on Thursday were reserve running back Dwayne Washington, receiver Kenny Golladay, and linebacker Paul Worrilow. Worrilow is expected to miss a few weeks with a knee injury.
Fantasy Impact: Health is not a major factor for either of these teams, so play guys as you typically would. Benjamin was surprisingly efficient last week despite the limitations.
San Francisco 49ers @ Indianapolis Colts
The 0-4 49ers cannot catch a break with injuries as safeties Eric Reid and Adrian Colbert and linebackers Reuben Foster and Dekoda Watson all missed both Wednesday and Thursday’s practices. Carlos Hyde continues to be limited with a hip injury, though he remained a bright spot for San Fran’s offense last week.
When it comes to Andrew Luck, the phrase that pays is “no timetable for return”. Aside from Luck, the only non-participants on Thursday were Frank Gore, Jack Mewhort, Rashaan Melvin, and Nate Hairston. Gore and Mewhort were simply getting veteran rest days, but Melvin and Hairston are looking increasingly doubtful for this matchup.
Fantasy Impact: As long as Andrew Luck is out, skill players for Indy have little value. Gore is in interesting flex player, however, against a bad Niners defense. Hyde continues to impress in spite of his hip.
Tennessee Titans @ Miami Dolphins
QB Marcus Mariota is officially a game-time decision with a hamstring injury, meaning Matt Cassel would get the starting nod. Cassel started a game last season in place of Mariota, and he also took over last week, throwing two picks. Corey Davis and Johnathan Cyprien have already been ruled out with hamstring problems of their own, but everyone else appears healthy.
Miami is fairly healthy, too, but running back Jay Ajayi got the day off Thursday to keep his knees fresh. He should not be limited at all come Sunday.
Fantasy Impact: If Mariota cannot play, the Titans will lean heavily on DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. Of course, the Fins should anticipate that and stack the box. Either way, volume usually leads to results, so Murray should start in all league. Look for Jay Cutler to air it out more with Cyprien in street clothes.
LA Chargers @ New York Giants
One thing is for sure, one of these pitiful 0-4 teams will soon be 1-4. Usually, the edge goes to the home team, but they are dealing with a plethora of injuries. On the offensive line, center Weston Richburg is out with a concussion, while guard John Jerry pulled a hamstring in Thursday’s practice and is officially questionable. The men in blue will also be without Paul Perkins, giving way to either Orleans Darkwa or Wayne Gallman. On defense, starting defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon are questionable.
LA is the much healthier team, having only ruled out reserve running back Brandon Oliver and rookie receiver Mike Williams. Perhaps most concerning is the questionable status given to starting right tackle Joe Barksdale.
Fantasy Impact: Without a running game, the Giants have been predictably one-dimensional. Do not expect Darkwa or Gallman to do much better. Even without Barksdale, Philip Rivers should have plenty of time to throw with JPP and Vernon not at 100%.
Arizona Cardinals @ Philadelphia Eagles
The Cardinals are dealing with a myriad of injuries, and (pun intended) their season is built like a house of cards at the moment. Tackle D.J. Humphries and defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche are both out this week, while guard Alex Boone is questionable. Also questionable are two receivers: John Brown and J.J. Nelson.
Philadelphia is not in much better shape having already ruled out starting defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and starting corner Ronald Darby. DT Destiny Vaeao is questionable with a wrist injury, as are safeties Jaylen Watkins and Corey Graham. Also drawing the questionable tag is running back who could surrender carries to LeGarrette Blount.
Fantasy Impact: Philly is shorthanded in their secondary, but it may not matter if Brown and/or Nelson cannot play. Even with all the injuries, the Eagles are at 3-1, so do not expect a major offensive explosion from Arizona.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Wideout Marqise Lee and center Brandon Linder are both game time decisions for the Jags as they visit the Steelers. Linebacker Lerentee McCray was ruled out for the third straight game, while Jaelen Strong and Jarrod Wilson are questionable.
Pittsburgh is healthy with the exception of tackle Marcus Gilbert, who is considered doubtful.
Fantasy Impact: Allen Robinson is out for the year, and the absence of Lee could be disastrous for Jacksonville. Look for Leonard Fournette to get plenty of action, while receiver Allen Hurns gets blanketed by double teams.
Seattle Seahawks @ LA Rams
The Seahawks had a ton (literally, these guys weigh a ton) of injuries to start this week, including several key defenders. Thus far, both Cliff Avril and Quinton Jefferson have been ruled out, while Jeremy Lane is doubtful. Also doubtful is running back C.J. Prosise. Linebacker Michael Wilhoite is questionable.
In comparison, the Rams are in top shape. The only two concerns are with guard Jamon Brown who is questionable, and safety Lamarcus Joyner, who is doubtful.
Fantasy Impact: Todd Gurley has the opportunity to take advantage of a weakened Seattle D, something that does not happen often. Even Jared Goff could shine this week given the circumstances.On the flip side, J.D. McKissic was a top waiver wire pickup, but he will be behind Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls for carries.
Baltimore Ravens @ Oakland Raiders
Both of these teams have been hit hard with injuries, but the Baltimore take the cake. A whopping 16 Ravens are on IR, and that does not include folks that retired or were cut before the season began. Nose tackle Brandon Williams has been ruled out, and now corners Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb are banged up, too. Tight end Maxx Williams has been MIA at practice, so he is doubtful with an ankle injury. One bright spot was the return of preseason super star, Jalen Hill, who will likely slide into the starting nickle corner role when he is fully ready.
Oakland ruled out starting QB Derek Carr very early on, officially naming EJ Manuel the starter for Week 5. Carr is expected to miss 2-6 weeks with a broken back, but he was throwing at practice this week. Wide receiver Michael Crabtree was limited in practice with a bruised lung, but head coach Jack Del Rio is optimistic that he will play.
Fantasy Impact: Raiders receivers are instantly downgraded at the loss of Carr, but Baltimore’s secondary (and defense as a whole) are not at 100%. If Crabtree can play, Amari Cooper may be the receiver to start, as Crabtree will draw the attention of Ravens defenders. After looking like the best D in the league through two weeks, Baltimore got crushed the last two games, making them a risky play considering injuries.
Green Bay Packers @ Dallas Cowboys
Ty Montgomery broke ribs in Green Bay’s Week 4 tilt against the Bears, but he played multiple snaps before exiting. Montgomery may be foolish to do so, yet he is determined to get on the field if possible. Wide receiver Davante Adams is making strides as he continues to recover from a nasty concussion, but he is still in concussion protocol, making him doubtful. Things are looking up, however, for tackles David Bahktiari and Bryan Bulaga who could suit up together for the first time in 2017 this week.
The Cowboys, on the other hand, may be without their All-Pro tackle Tyron Smith as he deals with back tightness. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones expressed optimism that Smith will play, but his status should be monitored. Linebacker Sean Lee is doubtful with a hamstring ailment, but running back Ezekiel Elliott should be fine despite bruised ribs.
Fantasy Impact: The waiver wire caught fire this week with owners rushing out to pick up Aaron Jones, who would start in place of Montgomery should he be unable to go. However, those folks may have jumped the gun, as Montgomery is not sitting down that easily. Elliott has been a bit hit or miss this season, but he is a must-start in all leagues, even if he is not at 100%. Aaron Rodgers is a must-start as well, especially if both his tackles can play.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Houston Texans
Offensive linemen Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Mitch Morse, along with linebacker Dee Ford have been ruled out, while Eric Fisher is questionable. Luckily, Alex Smith seems okay despite popping up on the report with an ankle issue.
Kyle Fuller and Kevin Johnson are doubtful for the Texans, but the bigger concern is the health of Whitney Mercilus. Mercilus should be fine, but it is worth watching.
Fantasy Impact: If Mercilus cannot play, Alex Smith will be overjoyed, and he should continue with his solid output. Kareem Hunt should also benefit, and he has excellent so far.
Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears
Electrifying rookie running back Dalvin Cook suffered a torn ACL last week, prematurely ending what looked to be a record-breaking season. Minnesota is also unsure when QB Sam Bradford will get back on the field, leaving Case Keenum as the man in charge. Safety Andrew Sendejo’s status is in doubt as he battles an illness, but the extra day to prepare should help.
The Bears had few injuries to report, but they will be making a QB change this week.
Fantasy Impact: Dalvin Cook’s injury will definitely hurt the Vikes on offense, but Latavius Murray seems ready to fill the void. If Sendejo cannot play, life will be slightly easier on Mitch Trubisky, but he is not worth a roster spot.