Welcome to the Week 7 edition of the Sunday Morning Med Check. There are a lot of game-time decisions and injury returns this week, including big names like Jake Locker, Calvin Johnson, Steve Johnson and yes, Rob Gronkowski, perhaps for the last time this season.
I can dream, right?
Tyler Brooke and I will be here right up to kickoff to give you the most up-to-date injury and fantasy info possible. Tyler will be watching the wires, while I work the phones. We’ll do our best to make sure you don’t end up with any zeroes in your lineup, although where’s the fun if there’s no risk?
Here are a couple of quick notes before we get into things. First, the NFL inactive list will come out 90 minutes before game time, both before the early and late games. We will definitely be discussing it, but for a complete list, go to NFL.com.
Second, we’ll get to as many questions as we can. Use the #BRFantasy hashtag, and we’ll get to the best ones here or on Fantasy Live, which will air from noon to 1 p.m. ET right here on Bleacher Report.
We’re focusing on your questions and making sure you get the best information to help you set your fantasy lineups. Thanks again for being part of the Sunday Morning Med Check!
— Zac Boyer (@ZacBoyer) October 20, 2013
Despite being probable this week, Fred Davis is inactive once again. He’s not the fantasy tight end he used to be, and you need to drop him if you still have him for some reason. -TB
— Billy Port (@Williamgport) October 20, 2013
Perfect example of how injuries inform fantasy. Boldin’s my pick here and not just because of Shorts’ shoulder injury. Cortland Finnegan is out, which could open up Boldin a bit more. It’s all context.
Also, Shorts’ injury is a “shoulder injury” in name only. In reality, it’s an SC joint sprain, which is where the clavicle meets the sternum. If I pointed to it, you’d say chest, so why so I say shoulder? The functional issue is that Shorts is going to have a hard time extending his arms. That’s what we care about and to me, that’s more a shoulder function.
Rob Gronkowski is active, so the question moves from whether or not he’ll play to how well he’ll play. Given the practice reports and the views we got in warmups, things look relatively positive. I expect Tom Brady will look to him early and the Jets will test his back quickly as well. If he makes a couple of early catches, that’s a good sign, but we won’t know that until in-game.
Gronkowski is a risky play today and while many are itching to get him in the lineup, even a second tier TE like Jordan Cameron or Julius Thomas is a more solid play. You’re making an upside play if you put Gronkowski in today rather than giving him a one week watch-and-wait. I can see merit in both approaches, so it all comes down to your lineup and your risk tolerance.
Charles Tillman and Martellus Bennett both active vs. #Redskins.
— Jeff Dickerson (@ESPNChiBears) October 20, 2013
After being listed as questionable, Martellus Bennett is officially active for the Bears. Unless you have a guy like Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski, Bennett is clearly a must-start. -TB
As expected, Rob Gronkowski is active. Other than Fred Davis (Washington) and Cortland Finnegan (Titans), there’s no big names who are surprising inactives. Both Davis and Finnegan were expected but neither opens up big fantasy possibilities on either side of the ball.
Bucs inactives for today: DE D. Bowers (toe), G C. Nicks (MRSA), RB J. Demps (groin), CB D. Carr, WR S. Dawson, G P. Omameh, DE S. Means
— Roy Cummings (@RCummingsTBO) October 20, 2013
Mike Williams is officially active for Tampa Bay. We talked about him earlier, and you should still start him in the Flex spot this week against the Falcons. -TB
Joique Bell now on the field, in his usual pregame attire but looking a bit thicker around the middle from whatever rib protection he has
— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) October 20, 2013
Bell was very quiet about his rib injury throughout the week, but it’s looking like he should be playing this week, as Dave Birkett is reporting that he’s on the field with some apparent protection around his ribs.
I still don’t like starting Bell this week, but if you’re in a deeper league without any other options, you probably don’t have much of a choice given his upside. -TB
Mike Silver reported on NFL Network this morning that the 49ers think they could get Michael Crabtree back before Thanksgiving. That’s an aggressive timeline for Achilles tendon repair, but not outrageous. Terrell Suggs came back more quickly and advanced techniques are helping in both the surgery and rehab.
While Crabtree’s return isn’t guaranteed and his effectiveness is another question entirely, it is time to think about stashing him if you have a bench slot and a need. The return could help Colin Kaepernick, who still seems very reluctant to run this season. The foot injury that the 49ers have listed him with seems to be contributing to that, though I’m not running for the exits on Kaepernick the way some are.
Second year QBs have taken big steps back over the past few years, including Cam Newton, without becoming bad QBs. It comes down to adjustments made and not made, and in some cases, the personnel around them.
Jaguars are expecting both WRs, Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts, to play today vs. Chargers.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 20, 2013
For those with either Cecil Shorts or Justin Blackmon, there’s some good news. Adam Schefter is reporting that both players are expected to play this week.
Blackmon is certainly a must-start since he’s easily the best offensive player for the Jaguars. Shorts is also worth starting at the WR2 of flex sports this week considering the Jaguars are going against the Chargers, who are just plain bad against the pass. -TB
Just a heads up that, as always, inactive lists will be coming out 90 minutes prior to kickoff. That means that we will be getting the lists for who is out in less than 20 minutes for the 1 p.m. games.
We won’t be going over every team’s inactive players, but we will be taking a look at some of the biggest names and whether they’re in or out. -TB
Larry August is on the fence between Trent Richardson and Lamar Miller.
You need to go with Miller this week. Richardson is a good player and the Colts want to establish a balanced offense, but the Broncos have the NFL’s best rush defense, allowing only 69.8 rushing yards per game.
Miller is going against a much weaker run defense with the Bills, so he’s the safer bet here. -TB
Kyle Wong is asking to choose between Andrew Luck and Nick Foles, which is a pretty good question.
Even as an Indiana Hoosier, I don’t know if I can pick Luck over Foles. Luck is clearly the more talented quarterback, but the Colts are stubborn on offense this year, doing whatever it takes to maintain a balanced offense and establish the running game.
Meanwhile, Foles is playing in an exciting offense against an equally bad pass defense. He’s been terrific when he’s played so far and has the chance to put up big numbers in what will likely be a shootout against the Cowboys.
Since Kyle is looking for a big outing more than a safe bet, he should definitely go with Foles in this situation. -TB
Getting a lot of questions about Calvin. Guys, he’s much better. Doing ladder drills and should have a significant role in today’s game.
— Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) October 20, 2013
Hearing very positive reports about Calvin Johnson. This tweet from Tim Twentyman is just an indication. The early looks we’re getting in warmups are very solid and if we look back to what the Lions medical staff did with Reggie Bush’s similar knee injury, that’s a plus. Johnson is a must start in all formats, but I’m away from the caveats with these reports.
— Ian (@Met20) October 20, 2013
Concussions are impossible to get a read on. It all comes down to how the player responds and how his brain heals. Amendola took a huge shot, but that’s seldom an accurate indicator. He’ll be back once he’s cleared the NFL’s protocol, for what that’s worth. The Pats have plenty of options, though Amendola will get every shot to be a real WR2 for this team every time he’s healthy.
— Eytan Shander (@Shander_NBC) October 20, 2013
Leave Maurice Jones-Drew off this week. Stunning to say this just a year after he was a first round pick, but Jones-Drew hasn’t shown that he’s back after missing much of last year to a foot injury. While it doesn’t look like the foot is still a problem, everything else is.
Mike Williams went from “limited” to “full” go in practice today but is questionable for Sunday. Full injury report: http://t.co/OCxyj55HKT
— Scott Smith (@ScottSBucs) October 18, 2013
Scott Smith tweeted on Friday that Mike Williams fully participated in practice on Friday, but is still officially listed as questionable.
So far, we haven’t seen a whole lot from Williams this year. He’s had just 15 receptions for 164 yards and two touchdowns in four games played. However, things could turn around this week as the Buccaneers will be going up against an incredibly inexperienced secondary with the Falcons.
We still don’t know how effective of a quarterback Mike Glennon can be, so that may hurt Williams’ fantasy stock. However, given his upside, he’s worth a flex spot if you’re really struggling to find someone to put there. -TB
Julian Edelman is listed as questionable this week, but I expect him to play. Between the quad problem and the return of Gronkowski, there’s questions about whether Edelman will continue to get the WR1 targets. I fully expect Edelman to get the same targets, maybe slightly less this week.
This is actually a bit of a positive. Edelman has been overworked in the absence of other options and the wear is showing. Gronkowski will get some targets, but he’s likely to steal more of them from Kenbrell Thompkins than Edelman. I’m watching to make sure Edelman isn’t a last minute inactive, but I like him otherwise.
Nathan Allen is asking who he should start at WR2 between Mike Wallace, Steve Smith, Jordy Nelson and Josh Gordon.
All of those guys are pretty solid picks, but I’m going to have to go with Wallace on this one. Smith has been inconsistent this year, Nelson is going to be the only go-to receiver for the Packers and Gordon has Brandon Weeden throwing to him.
The Dolphins are going to be playing the Bills, who have struggled defensively this year. Wallace hasn’t put up huge numbers this year, but if the Browns can score 37 on this team, the Dolphins should be able to score plenty of points. That means more chances for Wallace to break out big plays. -TB
It’s nuts here in Indy. Peyton Manning will start tonight for the Broncos and I’m not sure anything else happened here in the city. Tickets are going for Super Bowl prices and the tailgaters are outside Lucas Oil Stadium already.
Here’s the great thing: injuries should play almost no part in tonight’s highly anticipated game. Manning’s neck has had zero problems—zero—since being fused by Dr. Robert Watkins. It was a gamble at the time, but one that’s paid off well. It’s hard to remember now just how questionable his return was, which is a testament to Manning’s hard work and the work of his doctors and therapists.
The same is true for the Colts, where all their key players are healthy, including the return of Laron Landry, which should help the secondary when they need it most. This could end up a shootout because while they say this is just another game, both quarterbacks want to win the stats almost as much as they want to win the game.
Chuck Carroll from the comments below is asking about who he should start at RB2 between Zac Stacy, Stevan Ridley and Chris Johnson.
Personally, I have given up on CJ2K. He’s been a big disappointment again this season, and with the Titans going against a tough 49ers defense, I’m keeping him on the bench once again. I’m not trusting Stacy either, as the Rams have one of the worst running games in the NFL.
That leaves Ridley. He finally got things going against the Saints last week, running for 96 yards and two touchdowns. The Patriots let him run the ball 20 times last week, officially cementing him as the team’s go-to running back. He’ll be going against a tough Jets run defense, but he’s the safer start over the other two running backs. -TB
McCarthy-James Jones, Jarrett Bush & Mike Neal, don’t think any would be available if we were playing today.
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) October 18, 2013
For the Green Bay Packers, it’s quite clear that Randall Cobb is going to miss some extended time, but the real question this week is about James Jones. He’s currently dealing with a knee injury and is listed as questionable.
Jones was missing from practice all week, and Mike McCarthy did not sound confident about him playing after missing Friday’s practice. Even if he was able to play, which doesn’t seem likely, he likely wouldn’t be very effective.
Bench Jones this week, and if you can, think about picking up Jarrett Boykin. He only had one reception last week, but now he’s had a full week to get on the same page with Aaron Rodgers. When No. 12 is throwing you the ball, you at least deserve some consideration at the flex spot. -TB
Martellus Bennett was limited in practice this week as he continues to fight with a sore knee, but he’ll play. While Bennett isn’t full go (and has been described as low as 50 percent), he was still productive in Week 6. With a solid matchup today, he’s a solid play as a top tier guy with the cushion of his red zone work. Even if he were limited to fewer targets (which I don’t think he will be), the fact that Cutler looks to him in the end zone and his physicality make him a solid play.
Officially, Joique Bell is listed as questionable with a rib injury. That means that even if he does play, which is certainly a possibility, he’s going to be limited in how effective he can be.
For a backup running back, that’s not good news. Reggie Bush is going to get the majority of snaps as is, so with Bell hurt he likely even fewer touches this week. The Lions will also be going a tough Bengals defense that is allowing just 101.3 rushing yards per game.
Bell still has a shot at getting carries in the red zone, but at this point he’s a pretty big risk. We will see if he is able to stay off of the inactive list before kickoff, but even if he plays you should probably sit him this week unless you really have no one else to start in the flex spot. -TB
Calvin Johnson is the great fantasy mystery today. The Lions medical staff got another week to work on the knee inflammation and try to get him to a more productive position. Last week, he clearly wasn’t there.
It’s hard to bench a guy that you drafted in the first round, but Johnson looked very limited last week. He had no push, no acceleration and most troubling, no hops. Johnson’s still big, but much of his red zone value is in his size and ability to elevate over defensive backs.
If Johnson is closer to full go, he’s a must play. If he’s not, Matthew Stafford’s in a bad position again. There’s just no way to know. While he’ll play, he’s very risky. Back him with some upside plays if you have them. Jarrett Boykin of the Packers is one that’s still available in many leagues, as is Keenan Allen. I like TJ Graham and Robert Woods in Buffalo as this kind of play as well.