Adam Levitan

Last Minute Decisions

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Week 3 Injury Questions

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Who is hurt? Everyone.

It feels a little early for the injury situation to be so dire. As we head into Week 3, the question marks include fantasy studs that were going off like Aaron Hernandez and Miles Austin. It includes first-round picks like Arian Foster and Michael Vick. And it even includes guys we thought were fully healed like Antonio Gates.

Gates' status is perhaps the most concerning. Plantar fasciitis is a recurring injury that is hard to shake, but Gates was stringing together long stretches of consecutive practices in training camp. The Chargers showed no hesitancy in his workload whatsoever. Now, just two weeks into the season, he has a zero-catch game and has missed a full week of practice. Not good.

With Gates headed for a true game-time call in the 4 p.m. ET games, owners need to have a backup plan in place. We'll know his official status around 3 p.m. ET.

UPDATE Saturday 10:20 p.m. ET: Multiple outlets, including our bretheren at ProFootballTalk, are reporting that Gates will NOT play Sunday. Adjust accordingly.

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:

* Marcedes Lewis (calf) is ready to go as a weak TE play in Blaine Gabbert's first career start.

* Arian Foster (hamstring) is headed for a true game-time decision, but he is not expected to start regardless. Ben Tate is the play here as the likely workhorse. Derrick Ward (ankle) is out.
* Kevin Walter (shoulder) is ready, sending Jacoby Jones (knee) back to the bench even if he's active.

* Aaron Hernandez (knee) is out. Rob Gronkowski projects as a target hog and Chad Ochocinco will likely see a boost in his previously meager snap count.  
* Roscoe Parrish (ankle) is out for the year. David Nelson will see a full complement of snaps in the slot.
* Stevie Johnson is going to play through his minor groin tweak.

* Peyton Hillis got sick on Friday, but should be fine. Just note that the coaches have been talking about sprinkling in Montario Hardesty a little more starting this week.
* Mohamed Massaquoi (ankle) is likely to play, but Greg Little is the preferred fantasy option for desperate owners.

* Eddie Royal (groin) is out. Eric Decker gets the start.
* Knowshon Moreno (hamstring) is headed for a game-time decision. Look for Willis McGahee to carry the load no matter what.
* Brandon Lloyd (groin) is ready to go as Kyle Orton's No. 1 target.
* Kenny Britt (thigh) gave owners a mid-week scare but he's fine. Must start against a Broncos secondary that may be playing without Champ Bailey (hamstring) again.

* Michael Vick (concussion) is virtually certain to start.
* Mario Manningham (concussion) is out and Domenik Hixon (knee) is done for the year. Victor Cruz is expected to start opposite Hakeem Nicks in this difficult matchup.

* Calvin Johnson (ankle) appears healthier this week than he did last. Look out.
* Brandon Pettigrew (shoulder) should be avoided even if he is active. The tight end position is so deep.
* Percy Harvin got a little sick this week but claims it wasn't migraine related. He's expected to have a major role this week.

* Nate Newton -- I mean Jerome Simpson -- is questionable. If he can't go Andre Caldwell will start as Jordan Shipley (knee) is done for the year.
* Braylon Edwards (knee) is out. Michael Crabtree (foot) is ready to take his place, but no Niners' wideout can be trusted.
* Alex Smith (concussion) was cleared early in the week.
* A.J. Green (toe) is a full go.

* Shonn Greene is hurt by the absence of elite C Nick Mangold (ankle).
* Jacoby Ford (hamstring) and Louis Murphy (groin) are both out. Chaz Schilens and Derek Hagan will rotate at flanker.
* Darrius Heyward-Bey (knee) is ready to go at split end, which is Denarius Moore's position. With Darrelle Revis lurking, Moore is a poor bet to match last week's production.

* Antonio Gates (foot) appears headed for a true game-time decision after missing the entire week of practice. See above for more.
* Thomas Jones will start with Jamaal Charles (knee) done for the year. Dexter McCluster should get double-digit touches as the Chiefs fall behind.
* Malcom Floyd (groin) is not expected to play. Patrick Crayton will see snaps opposite Vincent Jackson but isn't a fantasy option.
* Mike Tolbert (calf) is fine, but Ryan Mathews is coming on strong.

* Steven Jackson is staring at yet another game-time decision. If active, he'll be a really weak play with Cadillac Williams (hamstring) ready and the Ravens' run defense swarming.
* Lee Evans is going to take a week off on his battered ankle. Torrey Smith has a chance at his first career catch.
* Danny Amendola (shoulder) is improving but not yet ready.
* Greg Salas (ribs) is healthy but looked like a UFL-caliber player last week.

* Earl Bennett (chest) is out. Undrafted rookie Dane Sanzenbacher is looking like a deep sleeper play in the slot.
* Roy Williams (groin) appears ready to go. Get Johnny Knox on benches.
* Marion Barber (calf) should be ready to make his Bears' debut.

* Beanie Wells (hamstring) says he's going to play, but is more like a game-time call. There is no strong handcuff here, so should be exploring other options. Wells has a history of performing poorly at less than 100 percent.
* Sidney Rice (shoulder) will finally make his Seahawks debut. Yawn.

* Kellen Winslow (knee) is fully expected to play as a weak fantasy option.
* Sammie Stroughter (ankle) remains out, giving Preston Parker the slot gig.

* Kerry Collins (shoulder) will start but figures to get physically abused by the Steelers' defense.
* Dallas Clark (foot) is completely up in the air and projects as a blocker more than a receiver in this one. Try to look elsewhere.

* Tony Romo (rib/lung) is tentatively expected to play and prove he's a tough hombre. Nervous owners can roster Jon Kitna just in case.
* Dez Bryant (quad) is headed in the right direction, but will likely be a true game-time call. With Miles Austin (hamstring) also out, the Cowboys starting wideouts could be Kevin Ogletree and Jesse Holley. Yikes.
* Felix Jones (shoulder) is expected to be active, but his role is unclear. The Cowboys seem likely to use Tashard Choice and DeMarco Murray more with Jones looking ineffective at less than 100 percent of late.


Well, we are still alive. In Week 1 I used the Texans and in Week 2 Pat Daugherty filled in with the Lions. Only 15 more weeks to go. No problem.

This week is not easy. Keeping with our strategy of exclusively taking home teams, the only strong options are the Chargers (vs. Chiefs) and Eagles (vs. Giants). I'm going with the Chargers as their remaining home schedule does not include many great spots. The reeling Chiefs are also far unlikelier to show well than the Giants after KC lost Jamaal Charles last week.

One sneaky play I'll mention is the Panthers at home against the Jaguars. It's very risky, but it's also the only time we'll feel O.K. about using Carolina this year. Blaine Gabbert is making his first start and the Panthers are desperate at 0-2.

Some trap spots I wouldn't touch include the Patriots at the Bills (we can find much better spots to use New England later) and the Lions at the Vikings (Detroit due for a letdown).

In a 12-team half-PPR league, my WR3 choice came down to Eric Decker vs. Lance Moore.

My biggest concern with Moore is his snap count. He was on the field for just 22-of-67 snaps in Week 2, perhaps due to his lingering groin issue. Or maybe because the Saints were taking the Bears to the woodshed. Either way, Moore is back practicing in full this week and his snap count figures to rise. Remember that he was "limited" in practice leading up to Week 2.

While I love Decker's raw talent, he figures to see plenty of physical corner Cortland Finnegan this week. And Brandon Lloyd is back to steal hog targets. So in a very close call, my choice is Moore.

Adam Levitan is in his seventh 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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