Bobby Wagner and Wesley Woodyard aren't likely to play this weekend. Information on their possible replacements and how the Packers will handle the absence of Brad Jones in the game blurbs below. In better news, Bruce Carter is back starting today and the Niners are likely to get Patrick Wills back in a limited role.
NOTE: This column is a living document and will be updated throughout the morning. Major changes to the content will be in red. Check back often for additions as gameday inactives are announced and lineup / depth chart changes are reported. I'll also be retweeting those reports with quick bits of analysis, so make sure you're following @JeneBramel and checking my timeline on Twitter.
Carolina at Minnesota
Robert Lester is unlikely to play with a hamstring injury today. The Panthers had not planned to use Quintin Mikell and Mike Mitchell on the field at the same time this preseason, but the run of injuries in their secondary leave them no other option today. Neither player is a clearly better option than the other. Mitchell will have a more strong safety like responsibility, but Mikell has been effective as an interchangeable free in the past.
The Vikings come out of the bye healthy. Carolina has been a strong pass rush matchup, making Jared Allen a must start. This week is also a good week to consider Brian Robison a boom-bust DL2 in all scoring setups.
1150 ET: Just when it looked like the Vikings weren't getting Desmond Bishop ready to start through the bye week, news this morning comes that he's starting at weak side linebacker. Don't expect him to play every down, but watch his snap count and usage closely today.
Cincinnati at Buffalo
Michael Johnson was cleared to practice on Friday. Assuming no post-practice setbacks, he should be available today. Wallace Gilberry should still see some base defensive time and heavy nickel usage. The secondary remains healthy enough to limit Rey Maualuga to base defensive duty only. He's a marginal LB3 play at best.
All reports suggest Jairus Byrd will return for Buffalo today. He's likely to be a subpackage player only, however, and Da'Norris Searcy should have streaming DB value for one more week with Aaron Williams still at corner. Much of that is likely to change in the next week or two when Byrd returns to a full time role and Stephon Gilmore comes back from his injury.
1130 ET: Gilmore is active today. No word yet on how many snaps he'll play or how the Bills will line up at safety.
1145 ET: Bills list Gilmore / McKelvin as starting corners, Byrd / Williams as starting safeties. Also, Nigel Bradham over Arthur Moats at linebacker today.
Detroit at Cleveland
The Lions are healthy and there have been no changes to their depth chart recently. Ezekiel Ansah is off the injury report but has very tough matchup with Joe Thomas today. It'll be a good measuring stick for his progress.
The Browns may get Jabaal Sheard back today, but Barkevious Mingo will still see 45+ snaps. Mingo remains an every-week big play start and could have a big game if Calvin Johnson isn't back for Detroit today.
Green Bay at Baltimore
Jamari Lattimore replaces Brad Jones today at inside linebacker. Clay Matthews is also out for an extended period with a thumb injury. I think it's more likely that A.J. Hawk's snap count increases than Lattimore (the third string backer) takes over an every-down role today. Casey Hayward is still out with a hamstring strain, but there are enough healthy bodies in the secondary that a dime package with Hawk the lone interior linebacker seems the most likely passing down alignment. Mike Neal will see more snaps with Matthews out. He was already cutting into Nick Perry's playing time and impressing in a limited role.
Arthur Brown is a sneaky play in deep leagues today. He returned from a pectoral strain last week and was successful in coverage in the Baltimore nickel package. The nickel could see heavy usage today against Green Bay's spread offense and Michael Huff a late week add to the injury report with a back injury possibly limiting the Ravens' dime options.
Oakland at Kansas City
Oakland is still without Tyvon Branch but is otherwise healthy. With the Chiefs likely to challenge the Raiders with Jamaal Charles on the edges of the defense, Kevin Burnett is in line for another strong day. Keep an eye on D.J. Hayden; it shouldn't be long before he displaces Mike Jenkins and takes over a fantasy-friendly full time role.
Nothing new to report in Kansas City. it's just a so-so matchup for Eric Berry today, without a solid tight end or slot option to inflate his nickel stats. Justin Houston and Tamba Hali could have monster afternoons.
Philadelphia at Tampa Bay
Patrick Chung will likely return today for the Eagles. I think he'll be a rotational body for now -- as he was in New England due to durability concerns -- as long as Nate Allen and Earl Wolff hold up.
Johnthan Banks is the latest Buccaneer player to be dealing with a MRSA infection. Leonard Johnson would replace him if necessary, but Banks is expected to play. Mason Foster is a tough call today, but err on the side of sitting him if you have other solid options.
Pittsburgh at New York Jets
Stevenson Sylvester is back for the Steelers, who released Kion Wilson this week. That could cement Vince Williams into an every-down role next to Lawrence Timmons. There's also been some indication that Shamarko Thomas could begin taking snaps from Ryan Clark as the Steelers get healthier at cornerback.
Antonio Cromartie is expected to play after hyperextending his knee in practice this week, but Dee Milliner is out with a hamstring injury. If the Jets can hold up in coverage long enough, Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson could have a dominant day against the Pittsburgh offensive line.
St. Louis at Houston
Cortland Finnegan will miss another week with a thigh injury. Janoris Jenkins is easily the best bet to extend Matt Schaub's Pick-6 streak. Jo-Lonn Dunbar is starting for the Rams but Alec Ogletree remains locked into his every-down role.
The Texans have a lot of defensive starters dinged up, but I don't expect any changes to the depth chart today.
Arizona at San Francisco
Another good matchup for the Arizona inside linebackers today. It was a very good sign that both Daryl Washington and Karlos Dansby were used as pass rushers. That wasn't a lock after Ray Horton left and may have more to do with the lack of pass rush from the depleted outside linebacker group. That game plan should also continue to help Calais Campbell. Matt Shaughnessy continues to see 40+ snaps in a hybrid role and remains a boom-bust DL2 play.
Patrick Willis is expected back for San Francisco today. There's a slight risk that his snap count will be limited if the Niners choose to use more dime looks to save Willis from the stresses of coverage. Michael Wilhoite could also see a small nickel role as Willis eases back in as well. It's difficult to bench Willis, but it's a strong consideration today.
Jacksonville at Denver
The Jaguars should continue to benefit from a target-rich environment today. Geno Hayes and Jonathan Cyprien are strong plays on a defense that should be in the nickel frequently. Jason Babin faces a decent offensive line and an always tough to sack Peyton Manning. He's not a good option today.
Denver is likely to be without Wesley Woodyard and Robert Ayers today. Danny Trevathan will play every down, with Nate Irving likely to see more snaps, too. Irving isn't a great bet in this Jaguars' matchup. Expect to see more Steven Johnson at linebacker, with Shaun Phillips increasing his snaps at defensive end. Phillips has nice upside today in sack-heavy leagues.
New Orleans at New England
The Saints are still without Roman Harper. Malcolm Jenkins is also questionable with a neck injury. Jenkins was limited in practice all week, but there's been no other indication of whether he'll be available this afternoon. If Jenkins can't play, the Saints will go with Rafael Bush, who would be a boom-bust play and a strong hedge for Jenkins owners who don't have other late game options.
Brandon Spikes was back in the nickel over Dont'a Hightower last week. The Patriots used enough dime against Cincinnati, however, that Spikes can't be trusted against New Orleans. If Spikes is close to an every-down player this week, it might be time to again consider him a trustworthy LB3+ option.
Tennessee at Seattle
Derrick Morgan was back to a limited practice on Friday but is questionable to play through a shoulder injury. He'll be limited at best today. Zach Brown reportedly had a leg injury last week but he's not been on this week's injury report. He sat in subpackages for the third straight week last week. This week's matchup should be better for Brown, but the Seattle stat crew is very stingy with solo tackles and he's now a very high risk play.
Bobby Wagner reportedly has a high ankle sprain and could miss multiple weeks. Expect Heath Farwell to get the start today, though it's also possible that Seattle could move K.J. Wright inside and start Malcolm Smith. Wright is the only every-down linebacker, as it's likely that the Seahawks use a six or seven DB package. The personnel, matchup and stat crew issues make all of the Seahawks a tough start today in tackle leagues. Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas may prove to be the best bets. The highest upside here is with Chris Clemons and Cliff Avril in sack-heavy systems.
SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Washington at Dallas
Washington is healthy coming out of the bye week. London Fletcher may continue to give 5-10 snaps a game to Nick Barnett, but remains a high floor start. Brandon Meriweather is healthy at safety, but we're still waiting to see when Bacarri Rambo gets back into the mix.
Bruce Carter sat in some packages for Ernie Sims last week. He's back in the starting lineup and nickel today. Sims will start for the injured Justin Durant at the other outside linebacker spot.
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Indianapolis at San Diego
Pat Angerer is likely back to rotational duty. He's not on the injury report, but didn't look himself last week and split snaps with Kavell Conner. LaRon Landry remains out with his ankle injury. The Colts will also be short at outside linebacker, with Bjoern Werner down with a foot injury and Erik Walden practicing little with an elbow issue.
Donald Butler did not practice this week. His groin injury continues to limit him. Reggie Walker likely steps into an every down role against Indianapolis, with Manti Te'o a good bet to see nearly every down snaps as well. Walker is a solid LB3, but I'd wait to see Te'o take full snaps before trusting him. Richard Marshall and Jarrett Johnson are also very questionable, but Marshall may be closer to playing than Johnson.
Best of luck in your fantasy games this weekend. Reading the Defense returns on Tuesday with an early look at the top tiers by position. Follow me on Twitter @JeneBramel for breaking news and analysis during the games today.