Fantasy Football Week 1 Injury News & Report: SD’s Gates Has Mishap; Ellington “Optimistic”

by Richard Savill

BREAKING: Allen Hurns starting in place of Cecil Shorts
Cecil Shorts (JAX) Although I didn't mention Cecil Shorts in my original injury report, he was doubtful. There has been some buzz about Allen Hurns ever since Toby Gerhart considered him the Jaguars' own "sleeper" earlier this week. Hurns is a dark horse start in a shaded corral at dusk, but should be watched to see how he performs against the Eagles.
Status: Out this week

BREAKING: Antonio Gates suffers mishap in Saturday morning practice - unexpectedly goes questionable
Antonio Gates (SD) In a late development with little or no press coverage at the time, Antonio Gates reportedly suffered a hamstring injury. Details are sketchy. Ladarius Green has been one of the fantasy movers this year, and if this is a serious injury to Gates, his value is set to increase further.
Status: Questionable - Uncertain

BREAKING: Andre Ellington condition not as bad as first thought
Andre Ellington (ARI) injured his left foot in practice on Thursday. Early reports were ready to expect a lengthy absence. Bruce Arians met with reporters on Saturday with the encouraging news that there was an "optimistic" chance he could play on Monday Night against the Chargers. I would naturally speculate if Ellington does play, it could be a limited workload. Either way, the RB cuff is Jonathan Dwyer  - not the most ideal, but who you can stash to keep some options open. In case you were wondering, the Chargers were 12th best against the run last year in standard scoring.
Status: Questionable - Game Time Decision


You always expect some of the wounded from the preseason and training camp to require extra time before joining their team on the football field. Usually there is enough time for fantasy owners to compensate. But when you add in unexpected suspensions, just before the opener, you may wonder how you can plan for anything in fantasy. Such is the game.

The injury roll call to open the season is not all that extensive. Players with direct fantasy impact are mostly present and accounted for. There are a few who are playing through some bruises and bone fractures, but overall it is a fairly manageable sheet of injuries to start things off this year.

Quarterbacks
Cam Newton (CAR)Cam Newton (CAR) Cam Newton is expected to play on Sunday in Tampa Bay with a flak jacket to protect his ribs. He has had a rough preseason with not only cracked ribs, but just before that he was nursing a bad ankle. The question of mobility is always a concern with rib injuries and Newton's value for running yardage is one of diminshed expectation. But if he's in - he's playable. With a strong defense against a patched up offensive line for the Bucs, you can hope for some short field opportunities for the Panthers to score. But the leg work I expect will be left to DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. What everyone will be watching on the Panthers is how Kelvin Benjamin translates his fine preseason performance into the main event. With Newton expected to rely on passing instead of his feet, we may get a good opening look.
Status: Questionable - uncertain
UPDATE: After Thursday's practice Cam Newton has now hinted he may not suit up and will be a game day decision.

Sam Bradford (STL) It is already well-known that Sam Bradford is out for the season. While he himself is not the value that is missing on the field, it is how the backup, Shaun Hill will manage the passing game. Bradford's absence puts further doubt on the sleeper value of Kenny Britt and Tavon Austin. I think one thing that has been noticeably missing in the discussion is Jared Cook. Since we can expect Hill to rely on short passing to gain his rhythm, Cook may be the one player that Hill could rely on. Jared Cook has the ability to hook waiver leeches when he has a big game - which he is fully capable of. Sometimes stringing 2 or 3 games together just make it look real. The inconsistency seems to always come out with Cook and when the ride ends - it ends.
Status: Out for the season

Running Backs
LeSean McCoy - Chris Polk (PHI) No concerns for Shady about the thumb or toe. It's funny how some draft messaging boards vainly try to dissuade the managers of early draft positions by making McCoy's thumb sound like a near season-ending catastrophe. Can't fault them for trying. He's the cream of the crop and drafting him means you have a weekend workhorse set in stone for the year. His handcuff, Chris Polk, officially listed as questionable, is also expected to play in the opener. The hamstring pull is not bothering Polk from the latest reports, so the backfield is ready and are a full go.
Status: McCoy Probable - will start; Polk Questionable - expected to play

Christine Michael (SEA) While Robert Turbin already won the No. 2 spot behind Marshawn Lynch, the injury to Michael will ensure there are no backfield fantasy surprises. Michael is still in the Seahawks future, but will not play for the team in the showcase season opener on Thursday. The official line is that Michael is questionable, so the injury is only by the week and he could probably play if push came to shove. But the Seahawks are contented to let him rest. Somewhere down the road this year, Michael will start seeing more and more touches as the Seahawks begin to transition out of the Lynch era.
Status: Questionable - will not play

Ray Rice - Bernard Pierce (BAL) I was surprised in a few of my leagues how many people passed on Ray Rice before picking him up. I got him at a bargain in one draft. Stigma? Maybe. But there's no question when he returns, he'll come off the bench in many leagues immediately. I mean it's only two games. He'll be back by week 3. For those with his partner Bernard Pierce, there was some doubts he might not be able to play and Justin Forsett might have to step in. Forsett will probably have a role in the opener anyway, as Pierce won't be in all the time. Pierce had a concussion and it seemed like just a protocol issue. But slight or heavy, concussions are all treated the same.
Status: Rice - Suspension, week 3 return; Pierce - Questionable, will likely play

Wide Receivers
Wes Welker (DEN)Wes Welker (DEN) It was already doubtful that Wes Welker would play in the opener against the Colts in Denver because of his preseason concussion, but now with the unexpected news that Welker would be suspended for performance enhancement violation, it's a certainty. Welker would have been the last person you'd expect for this and his own admission that he would never do it knowingly, a typical excuse of the offenders, seems to ring true coming from him. As I say, Welker was a likely scratch for one game anyway, but this now means he is not expected back until week 6. It is seldom emphasized that suspensions like this means the Broncos facilities are out-of-bounds and Welker will have to have a personal trainer. All this puts Emmanuel Sanders firmly into the no. 2 slot and will boost his value into high WR2 territory - at least for a few weeks. Demaryius Thomas is not without benefit as well. So everyone moves up for a while in the absence of Welker, including Andre Caldwell and the much touted Cody Latimer. It's the opportunity that sleeper speculators could only wish for with Latimer, and he will start getting significant interest now. The only people getting the shiv are owners of Welker - with further adjustments required beyond only a game. But these things happen and Welker's suspension simply means he turns into a stash for benches in 10 or 12 team leagues.
Status: Suspension - 4 games; expected return week 6

Sammy Watkins (BUF) Watkins has been unlucky with rib injuries, but has managed to shrug them off. The problem with Watkins, who looks like a very promising receiver in the NFL, is the unfortunate offense he is a part of. He would be a far better prospect with an effective passer, but EJ Manuel just doesn't seem to be able to deliver the ball. Once things settle in Buffalo, he'll start getting a better fantasy outlook. Right now he is being stashed in hope of an upturn in fortunes for the team.
Status: Probable - will play

Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) Fitz is doing well despite his knee injury and claims to feel fine. Last year he was somewhat sporadic in production in part due to injury then, but nonetheless continues to be the proven performer as he ever was. I definitely can be accused of ageism with regards to guys like Fitz and Reggie Wayne, but they still put up the numbers and often given owners more than they expect on any given Sunday. There is bias toward Michael Floyd and T.Y. Hilton because of the peaks they are still climbing, whereas the other two have been there and got the t-shirt long ago. The reality is points over potential and a great player like Larry Fitzgerald never plays out the string, he plays the game and plays it hard.
Status: Probable - will start

Dwayne Bowe (KC) Dwayne Bowe is the problem child of fantasy football. If you decide to pick him up, you can expect it to be difficult to trade him or drop him. The problem is he could suddenly break for a streak of decent scoring games and you left him on the bench. Bowe is a tough nut to crack. He is currently under stash in fantasy because of a game suspension for narcotics. He is listed as injured (quad), but it seems he'll be ready for week 2. I dropped Bowe by week 4 or 5 in one of my leagues last year and never looked back. But even at that time, I felt much the same as I did this year about him.
Status: Suspension - expected for week 2

Kenny Stills (NO) With the acquisition of Brandin Cooks, Kenny Stills looks like old news. But as is the nature of the Saints offense, prolific as it is, Kenny Stills would just be another one of the receivers with a place at the Drew Brees dinner table. It seems a shame that such a high powered offense produces so few fantasy ready players. Brees has one favorite and the rest collect the scraps. Even the running game is frustrating because of the all inclusive bunch of Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson. All very good players in their own right. Some may think Stills is just as ready as last year for the odd plug and play, but when and how? He won't play in week 1, but unlike what would be the case for some other teams, his absence raises no expectations for extra touches for the others.
Status: Questionable - return uncertain
UPDATE: Stills is officially out

Michael Crabtree (SF) In a late Wednesday development, Crabtree did not take part in the days' practice due to a calf injury on Tuesday. He returned to practice on Thursday. The indications are that Wednesday's absence was precautionary.
Status: Questionable - likely start
UPDATE: The latest news is that Crabtree will be ready for Sunday.

Tight Ends
Rob Gronkowski (NE)  Well, here we go again with Gronk. I can undertstand the need to draft him. Without a doubt, that outside Jimmy Graham, he is the next dominant TE. But we always seem to be watching Gronk's health instead of his numbers. I think it will be an issue this year, despite Gronkowski insisting he will play the entire season. So what's wrong with Gronk this time? It's his knee and Bill Belichik is hedging whether or not he'll be ready. The consensus is that he will play in the opener. If he plays, you play him and you have to, because if you have Gronk, you sacrificed a high pick to get him. Get your worth of him while you can.
Status: Questionable - likely will play

You can follow me on Twitter @RRSSavill for more news and to ask me any questions about your team. Also be sure to like us on Facebook, Google+ and Instagram for all updates from Fantasy Six Pack.

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