I am not a doctor nor do I play one on television. Nevertheless, I am willing to give my best guesses as to whether or not certain potential impact players play this week based on the information at hand. This season, the injury report is all the more difficult to comprehend due to the removal of the “probable” designation. Anyhow, here are my takes, accompanied by analysis, surrounding the status of fantasy relevant players’ status for Week 3:
Sammy Watkins, Bills, $11,400 (Q) – If Sammy Watkins’ chances of playing this week were graphed out according to what has been reported, it would look like a heartbeat monitor. At first, it seemed like the 10 days off following last week’s Thursday night game would be enough and then pessimism slowly crept in. On Thursday, Coach Rex Ryan admitted there was “some concern” Watkins would miss Week 3. As of Friday, beat writer Mike Rodak posted follow-up quotes from Ryan saying the chances were “not real good” of him suiting up. Now, as of Saturday afternoon, CBS’ Jason La Canfora is reporting the team is “still holding out some hope” Watkins will play but none of this sounds very encouraging. At this point, the wise move would be to let Watkins miss a week or two and allow the foot to at least come close to fully healing. The team would rather get a near 100-percent Watkins for down the stretch than force the issue and lose him for an extended period. I would give him a 10-percent chance of playing and he’s not worth rostering even if he suits up. UPDATE: Watkins is inactive.
Delanie Walker, Titans, $9,300 (Q) – Delanie Walker blames a hamstring injury he has been battling all week on defenders holding him in last week’s win over the Lions. Typically, a player is likeliest to play when his participation in practice increases throughout the week, and that is not what occurred with Walker. The Titans’ tight end (TE) was held out of practice Wednesday, returned to a limited participation on Thursday and then sat out on Friday…usually a bad premonition. For me, the icing on the cake was Walker’s comments on Saturday: “We’ll see how I feel and go from there.” This flat-out stinks because Walker was slated to face a Raiders defense that has allowed 808 yards passing in just two games. However, it doesn’t appear that he’s going to play so pull him from all lineups. Anthony Fasano will draw the start in his absence and he could sneakily have some sleeper potential. Nevertheless, the main beneficiary here is the receivers (Tajae Sharpe, Rishard Matthews) as they should be kept busy all afternoon against an awful defense at extremely reasonable prices. UPDATE: Walker is inactive.
Willie Snead, Saints, $12,300 (Q) – Playing on Monday night muddies this situation considerably. According to reports from ESPN, it sounds like Willie Snead is a true game-time decision. In fact, the only semblance of clarity to this situation is the fact Snead himself said he is “hopeful” to play. Even assuming you are all-in on the Saints offense, which is implied to score the most points of the weekend, Snead should be fully eliminated from cash game consideration. The injury, for what it’s worth, is a toe injury. Unless it’s turf toe, which hasn’t been clarified to this point, he should be able to play through it especially with an extra day. Therefore, he’s worth a shot at the same price tag as Jarvis Landry to try and differentiate in tournaments. UPDATE: Jason La Canfora reports Snead should be active on Monday Night. This is a confidence booster if rostering him.
Antonio Gates, Chargers, $8,600 (D) – Other than slowing down as the aging process sets in, Antonio Gates is also dealing with a hamstring injury that will cause him to miss this weekend’s tilt against the Colts. After not practicing all week, there was very little doubt the 36-year old would inevitably sit. Still, all Gates was at this point was a lumbering tight end (TE) with solid hands…and Hunter Henry should be able to fill in to that exact role nicely. In Henry’s final season at Arkansas, he caught 51 passes without dropping a single pass. According to Coach Mike McCoy earlier in the week, Henry can “do it all” and McCoy specifically raved about “another” one-handed catch he made in practice earlier in the week. He is listed at the absolute bare minimum on FantasyDraft and will face a defense that has allowed the 12th most fantasy points to the position (after allowing the ninth most fantasy points last year). With Rivers severely lacking options, Henry could quietly produce a true TE1 type performance so go ahead and get ahead of the curve while you still can.
Chris Ivory, Jaguars, $7,700 (Q) – Last week, T.J. Yeldon set a record by catching eight passes and only gaining a total of 10 yards on those receptions. No player in NFL history had ever caught eight-plus passes and gained fewer than 33 receiving yards. Through two games, Yeldon is averaging a measly 2.4 yards per carry (YPC) and 3.3 yards per reception. While the offensive line isn’t improving any time soon, Chris Ivory has never been one to care for offensive line play. He is one of the best in the NFL at breaking tackles and making the absolute most of what he’s given…and Yeldon isn’t. Coach Gus Bradley said Ivory is on track to make his season debut on Sunday following a stint with an undisclosed illness. As long as he is active, look for the team to give him every opportunity to distinguish himself as the top guy. Nothing Yeldon has done to this point has infused any confidence into the coaching staff. A change is absolutely necessary and look for the transformation process to begin today. UPDATE: Ivory is inactive.
DeVante Parker, Dolphins, $9,700 (Q) – According to Pro Football Focus, Joe Haden is likely to cover DeVante Parker the most of any Dolphins receiver. In 2016, Haden has lined up on the right side of the formation 93-percent of the time while Parker has lined up there 60-percent of the time. Only Josh Norman has graded higher through two games and Parker is dealing with a hamstring injury. The Miami Herald is reporting Parker is in no danger of missing this game even after practicing on a limited basis all week. The tough part now is going to be beating one of the better cornerbacks in the league. While Parker could still possess some upside in this daunting matchup, Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills are the Dolphins receivers to focus on in DFS lineups. UPDATE: Parker is active and Joe Haden is inactive. This is a huge boost to his matchup.
Julio Jones, Falcons, $18,000 (Q) – The toughest decision of the weekend is Willie Snead but a close second is what to do with Julio Jones. Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s strategy this year has been to spread the ball around and he was quoted as saying earlier this week, “You don’t have to force it into tough looks. You can go where the coverage tells you.” Not only has Jones been banged up with multiple ailments to this point but the team is actively seeking to balance the offense and target him less (after leading the league with 204 targets in 2015). Even so, Jones says “I’ll play” and the matchup is absolutely elite against a Saints defense that allowed the fourth most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers (WRs) last year. Oh yeah, and they’re now missing their top cornerback. If paying top dollar for a receiver, Antonio Brown is the safer option but Jones’ ceiling is as high as anyone’s on the slate. He just needs to make it through the game without a setback.
Thomas Rawls, Seahawks, $10,400 (D) – In today’s NFL, a doubtful tag is nearly the same as listing a player as out. Thomas Rawls isn’t going to play on Sunday due to a shin issue and this will turn a two-headed backfield into a workhorse situation. Christine Michael is slated to carry the majority of the workload with the occasional snaps for receiving specialist C.J. Prosise. Last year, the 49ers allowed the second most fantasy points to opposing running backs (RBs) but appear vastly improved this season (allowed the third fewest fantasy points to the position). This leaves prospective Michael rosterers in a conundrum although his $9,100 price tag helps alleviate most of those concerns.