Thursday, September 17, 2015

Trust or Fade: Thursday Night Injury Expectations

Steve Buzzard and I will be collaborating every Saturday on a feature spotlighting the week’s injury concerns. By Friday, we’ll have a full week of practice participation reports and media interviews to more accurately drill down on whether a player is likely to play, and play effectively, on Sunday.

But that doesn’t help you exploit injury edges in your Thursday-Sunday lineups.

So, I’ll be giving a quick “trust or fade” recommendation on the blog each week after the Wednesday practice participation report is released. It’ll be based on incomplete information, but I’m hoping to keep you from starting a player who is likely to be ineffective or take a smart risk on a player who others may be avoiding unnecessarily.

You’ll also want to check out our full midweek injury feature from Craig Zumsteg when it goes live late Wednesday night on our season-long article page.

Thursday Night Football Expectation

C.J. Anderson 6700  >>>>  (Toe/Ankle | Questionable)
Cash: FADE

Anderson didn't look comfortable before the late fourth quarter play where he sprained his toe. He's told reporters this week he aggravated an ankle injury that has nagged him throughout his career. His Week 1 injuries occurred late Sunday afternoon and the Broncos are on the road tonight. It's too quick of a turnaround to expect adequate treatment and recovery time. He's expected to play tonight, but he won't be anywhere near 100%. Expect a heavy rotation with Ronnie Hillman against a tough division opponent on the road with a solid run defense. Even the contrarians among us won't find a lot to like here this week.

Demaryius Thomas 8400  >>>>  (Hand | Probable)
Travis Kelce 5100  >>>>  (Hip | Probable)
Jeremy Maclin 6500  >>>>  (Back | Probable)

I'm not making a specific recommendation on whether you should use Maclin in your cash or GPP lineups. I'm only noting that you can remove injury concerns from your list of pros and cons here.

While there were initially some concerns about Thomas' hand injury, he's practiced all week and it seems to be a non-issue. Kelce has been on the injury report with a minor hip condition and has seen his practice snaps managed. Neither injury should affect their expectation tonight.

Trust or Fade?

NOTE: After publishing this post earlier today, LeSean McCoy left practice with hamstring tightness. There's enough concern here to remove McCoy from all lineups. There's little reason to fuss over a late swap scenario with him this week.

Julio Jones 8900  >>>>  (Hamstring | DNP)

I'm never reassured when a wide receiver leaves a game multiple times with soreness and then misses practice with a report of a muscle strain. Jones finished last week's game no worse than when he started, however, and doesn't seem to be at risk of missing this week's game. The difficulty here is that Atlanta is probably the least reported team in the NFL. Often, critical updates aren't released until just before game time. The matchup is very favorable for Julio and you'll have the ability to swap Jones out of your lineup on Sunday if needed. If you use Jones in a Thursday lineup, make sure you're monitoring the late week practice reports closely.

Alshon Jeffery 7500  >>>>  (Calf | Not Listed)

Jeffery wasn't his usual explosive self last week, but he avoided any aggravations and is now on his second week of practice since returning. He was not listed on the injury report on Wednesday and is safe to use.

Mike Evans 7400  >>>>  (Hamstring | Limited)

Evans managed a limited practice last Friday, rested in Week 1, and is now back to a limited practice on Wednesday this week. There are enough solid options in his price range that it's probably best to fade the risk of an aggravation in Thursday cash games. If you do elect to use him in either format, watch for an unexpected missed practice later in the week and have a backup plan in place.

Randall Cobb 7400  >>>>  (Shoulder | Limited)

Cobb will continue to deal with a painful shoulder sprain and it may be another week or two before we can reliably project him to an elite target ceiling. But he showed last week he's willing to play through pain and produce.

Justin Forsett 6200  >>>>  (Shoulder | Limited)

The specifics of Forsett's shoulder injury aren't clear but there's nothing in the local or national media of concern. It's safe to consider this wear-and-tear rather than something likely to limit him on Sunday. Again, the late swap function here gives you some leeway to roster him in a strong home matchup with an attractive salary and adjust later if needed.

C.J. Spiller 5000  >>>>  (Knee | Limited)
Cash: FADE
Something about this still nags at me. I didn't like the suggestion that Spiller wasn't cleared to practice at all last week but would 100% play in Week 2. The limited practice is a great start, however, and it's possible Spiller will return to a full practice by Friday. Volume is a concern here, even in a favorable matchup. Should the Saints get out to a lead, Spiller may not be needed later in the game. Limited practice participation may also mean limited participation in this week's game plan. I'd consider him a lower salary, contrarian GPP play only.

Delanie Walker 3400  >>>>  (Wrist | DNP)
Cash: FADE
What was originally called a hand injury has later been reported as a sprained wrist. Walker has been immobilized much of the week, indicating more than a passing concern from the medical staff. Unless you really like another tight end in the 3000-3600 range and have the lineup flexibility to pivot later, fade Walker on Thursday and reassess for the Sunday slate.


Check back on Friday for our Injury Spotlight and Lineup Recommendation feature. Until then, follow me on Twitter @JeneBramel for breaking analysis on practice participation and media interviews. Finally, on Sunday morning, I’ll be adapting my Injury Expectations column for this blog to help navigate any tricky game time decisions.

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