Adam Levitan

Last Minute Decisions

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Week 1 Injury Questions

Saturday, September 10, 2011


What a great day to be alive.

That’s the way I feel on the Thursday of March Madness, baseball’s Opening Day, the season premier of Curb Your Enthusiasm and, of course, the NFL’s first Sunday. It’s exhilarating.

As we all know, understanding injuries goes a long way toward success in fantasy football. So it’s fitting that one of the game’s premier players, Arian Foster, is front and center on the report. We’re tentatively expecting veteran Derrick Ward to get the start and talented youngster Ben Tate to be mixed in frequently. Why rush Foster back at less than 100 percent with such impressive backfield depth?

Each week in this space, we’ll bring you the latest line on all the hurt folks. Of course, the Rotoworld News Page will be humming all Sunday morning to bring you official word on all your players ahead of kickoff. To make sure you’re prepared, read every word of these rankings from Gregg Rosenthal/Chris Wesseling in combination with Evan Silva’s unprecedented Matchup Column.

And if you want to draft a new team just for this week, check out SnapDraft here.

OK, let’s get to the hurt folks:

1 P.M. GAMES
STEELERS at RAVENS
* Jerricho Cotchery (hamstring) is unlikely to play. Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders are ahead of him on the depth chart anyway.

BENGALS at BROWNS
* Mohamed Massaquoi (foot) practiced in full this week. He’s ready to serve as the Browns’ No. 1 receiver but remains a low-upside fantasy option.
* Ben Watson (hip) is going to play and will likely share reps with the emerging Evan Moore.

COLTS at TEXANS
* Arian Foster (hamstring) is officially a game-time decision. However, most observers have predicted that Foster will sit. Derrick Ward is the expected starter and figures to get more touches if he handles himself well early. Ben Tate will come on and projects as the more explosive runner.
* Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know Peyton Manning (neck) is out. Kerry Collins will start.
* Austin Collie (foot) is ready to play but is a high-risk option as the Colts overhaul their offensive scheme without Manning.
* Anthony Gonzalez (hamstring) and Blair White (back) are both nearing health but not fantasy options.

TITANS at JAGUARS
* Chris Johnson (holdout) is fully up to speed and ready to go. Do not sit him under any circumstance.
* Backup Javon Ringer (hip) is a game-time decision, enhancing Johnson’s appeal even more.
* Zach Miller (knee) will probably play but is not a viable pass-catcher even when 100 percent.

BILLS at CHIEFS
* Matt Cassel (rib) is going to strap on a flak jacket and get out there. His performance shouldn’t be limited.
* Steve Breaston (hamstring) was a late addition to the injury report, never a good sign. He’s a very weak fantasy play.
* Jonathan Baldwin (thumb) is out after foolishly dropping the gloves with Thomas Jones a few weeks back.

FALCONS at BEARS
* Roddy White (thigh) is a full go. He picked up a mere bruise way back in the second preseason game.
* Marion Barber (calf) is out. Look for Matt Forte to pick up the goal-line work as Khalil Bell moves into the backup role.

LIONS at BUCS
* Maurice Morris (hand) is ready to go despite an erroneous report in the middle of the week. He’s the backup to Jahvid Best, slightly ahead of Jerome Harrison.

EAGLES at RAMS
* Vince Young (hamstring) is going to sit this one out. Mike Kafka would step in if anything happened to Michael Vick.
*Steve Smith (knee) is expecting to be active for a small package of plays.
* Michael Hoomanawanui (calf) is likely out, but he’s just a blocker anyway. Lance Kendricks’ role is unaffected.


4 P.M. GAMES
GIANTS at REDSKINS
* Chris Cooley (knee) is very questionable. Even if he plays, Fred Davis figures to be worked in plenty. We can do better.
* Travis Beckum (hamstrings) is headed for a game-time decision. Despite pass-catching skills, he has not earned a major role.
* Ryan Torain (hand) is expected to be ready to serve as the No. 3 back.

PANTHERS at CARDINALS
N/A

SEAHAWKS at 49ERS
* Sidney Rice (shoulder) is not going to play and may have a serious injury. Ben Obomanu is going to start.

VIKINGS at CHARGERS
* Visanthe Shiancoe (hamstring) is ready to go despite missing the majority of camp. Yawn.


SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
COWBOYS at JETS
* Miles Austin (hamstring) hasn’t been practicing in full but will play. The bigger concern is that he’s at less than 100 percent and scheduled to do battle with Darrelle Revis.
* Martellus Bennett (ankle) is out.

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
PATRIOTS at DOLPHINS
* Daniel Thomas (hamstring) looks like he’ll be a go, but has had a nightmarish preseason. Avoid.
* Taylor Price (hamstring) should be fine for a limited role.
* Shane Vereen (hamstring) and Stevan Ridley (ankle) will both likely be available. Neither are on the fantasy radar yet.

RAIDERS at BRONCOS
* Kevin Boss (knee) is not expected to play, with Brandon Myers starting instead.
* Chaz Schilens (knee) is healthy for now. He’s part of a very muddled receiver rotation behind Jacoby Ford in Oakland.
* Demaryius Thomas (Achilles) is ahead of schedule, but still a few weeks away from playing.


SURVIVOR PICK OF THE WEEK

Week 1 is always a danger spot in Survivor and this year is no different. Vegas lists zero double-digit favorites as they are just as unclear as everyone else about who is elite and who isn’t. Parity rules in the NFL.

I will be taking the Texans for simple reasons. They are at home, they are facing a Colts team starting Kerry Collins and they have made massive upgrades in personnel and coaching defensively. The Colts are obviously going to be a shell of themselves physically, but the mental adjustment of playing without Peyton Manning figures to be jarring.

I strongly considered the Browns this week, but they have the Seahawks at home in Week 7. The Texans next really strong option isn’t until Carolina in Week 15.

I would stay away from some of the “too good to be true” road teams in Week 1. The Patriots and Eagles will have safer spots down the line we can exploit.

MY TOUGHEST DECISION OF THE WEEK
In a 16-team full PPR league, my WR3 choice came down to Austin Collie vs. Mike Sims-Walker. If Peyton Manning was healthy, this would be a simple decision. Instead, I was forced to agonize over it.

The Colts are likely to abandon their four-wide sets, leaving Collie’s snap count in jeopardy. However, I believe Collie is a better talent than Pierre Garcon and Kerry Collins will need to lean on Collie’s skills as a possession receiver. To me, that’s a safer bet than Sims-Walker, who is still establishing his role on the Rams. Also, the Colts figure to be playing from behind, leading to more pass attempts than they want. So the choice is Collie, by the smallest of margins.



Adam Levitan is in his sixth season covering football and basketball for Rotoworld. He won the Fantasy Sports Writers Association award for Best Series in 2011 and 2009, and ESPN's overall fantasy football title in 2000. Find him on Twitter.
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