The injury status of each player is one of the most key inputs into our lineup decisions each week. The question isn’t only if the player will play but how limited will they be if they do play. However, the most important thing to consider is who will pick up their touches if they are limited or miss the game completely. Each week our resident injury expert Jene Bramel, with some help from Craig Zumsteg, will break down the injuries and Steve Buzzard will break down what it means for your cash and GPP lineups. See this article for definitions of all DFS terms.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears -- $8,400 (Questionable)
The Bears have insisted Jeffery was day-to-day since August 14th. He spent three days immobilized in a walking boot -- a clear sign he had more than a low grade calf strain -- and hasn't practiced in over three weeks. Jeffery doesn't need to build chemistry with Jay Cutler and the Bears' wide receiver depth chart is this, so it's not surprising to see them return Jeffery to practice slowly.
Jeffery has been limited all week and is listed as questionable. I think the limited practices are enough to expect him to be active. There is a chance for in game aggravation which gives him a lower than usual ceiling expectation.
You can’t play Jeffery as anything more than a contrarian GPP stack with Cutler at his price point and limited ceiling. It currently looks like he will play but if he doesn’t that is when things get interesting. The Bears have a plus matchup with the Packers and there will be a lot of targets to go around. Martellus Bennett, Eddie Royal, and Matt Forte all move into the cash game category and Bennett in particular becomes one of the best plays on the slate. All three of those guys plus Marquess Wilson make for great GPP plays if Jeffery is out especially since they will likely be under owned given the current expectation of Jeffery playing. I don’t mind taking a chance on any of these players even if Jeffery is playing in the case of in game aggravation.
Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- $8,300 (Questionable)
Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Evans suffered a hamstring strain on August 24th in a Week 2 preseason game. All reports, such as this one from Lovie Smith, were that it was minor, and that Evans' absence from the remainder of the preseason was nothing but precautionary. That all sounds legit, and it would be the smart way to treat a hamstring strain. Recent practice news though makes me think this injury might not have been as mild as reported though. Evans missed practice on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday (no Tuesday session). However, he did have limited practice on Friday to see how he looks this morning. If he responds okay, he'll be active and snap-to-snap. Similar to Jeffery here, but more likely to be inactive Sunday AM.
Evans may be the key guy to watch this weekend because his probability of missing the game is material and his impact would be significant. If Evans plays I would leave him as a GPP only option as a stack with Jameis Winston. If Evans doesn’t play the entire Tampa Bay offense is in play. Louis Murphy would likely get the start in his absence and would be a solid GPP option. Additionally, Vincent Jackson will take on a heavy workload and becomes one of the top cash game plays. Finally, I would also expect Austin Seferian-Jenkins to pick up a fair share of Evans targets and would be a legitimate cash game play as well. If you are playing multiple lineups you should consider stacking each of these guys with Winston and their price points make double stacks reasonable. If Evans plays all of the above becomes GPP options with the hope that Evans has an in-game set back.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills -- $8,400 (Probable)
There are disputing reports about the severity of LeSean McCoy's hamstring strain. ESPN's Josina Anderson reported that an MRI revealed a small tear. But then she went on to say that the tear was in a good location, "kind of high up, surrounded by stronger muscles in the glutes and things like that." As Dr. Jene Bramel pointed out when he diagnosed a high hamstring strain by video, high is not good. Strains that occur towards either end of a muscle are more likely to involve tendon damage, and tendon damage can take longer to heal. McCoy suffered the injury on August 18th, and sat out the final three preseason games. Has that extended absence been long enough for McCoy to rest and rehab? As of Wednesday, Rex Ryan seemed to think so, stating that McCoy would be, "ready to roll." Since then he has been a full practice participant but suggested that he is not 100%. McCoy is still at risk of in-game aggravation or higher than usual rotation.
Given the injury, McCoy’s price point, and projected game script McCoy isn’t worth playing in your DFS games this week.
Tre Mason, RB, St. Louis Rams -- $7,300 (Questionable)
Rams running back Tre Mason suffered what was called a mild hamstring strain back on August 29th. Mason then missed the preseaon finale, which wasn't a cause for alarm at the time, as Mason's roster spot was secure. The odd development came when head coach Jeff Fisher stated that Mason was questionable for the season opener two weeks in advance. Hamstring injuries have a habit of lingering, and Fisher's cautious approach was certainly the responsible way to handle this injury. Still, calling a player questionable that far in advance due to a muscle strain is rare in the NFL world. Fisher has not really changed his tune since then. Mason hasn’t practiced all week with a slim chance of being active. Mason’s ceiling would be 5-8 touches if active. Very high risk of in-game aggravation if active and tries to play.
You can’t play Mason in any of your DFS games this week. Benny Cunningham ($5,100) will get the start as Todd Gurley has already been ruled out. At his price point you would think he would be a must start since most running backs are plug and play. Unfortunately, the Rams have a very difficult matchup against the Seahawks. Our own Matt Bitonti ranks the Rams O-Line as the worst in the league and the Seahawks as the No. 2 defensive front seven. Combine that with projected game scripts and we could see the Rams completely abandon the run game making Cunningham a risky proposition.
Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers -- $8,400 (Probable)
Cobb put in three limited practices this week and is listed as probable. The Packers have been avoiding contact to prevent any practice aggravation. Cobb will play with some pain and there is risk of in-game aggravation, but currently that looks to be relatively low.
Cobb is a strong GPP play even with the injury as his price is depressed since salaries were released before Jordy Nelson’s injury. But I wouldn’t play him in cash games. I played Cobb in several Thursday GPPs and his ownership levels were lower than expected which makes Cobb even more attractive. He makes a good stack him with Davante Adams.
Ladarius Green, TE, San Diego Chargers -- $5,700 (Questionable)
Green had full participation on Friday which means the team cleared him to the point of independent neuro. That exam happens Saturday which will give us a clear picture of if he will be playing or not. The trend is positive here, though.
Green is not worth starting in DFS this week but if his tests go poorly on Saturday and is not cleared look for bumps to Steve Johnson, Keenan Allen and even Danny Woodhead who should all already be on your DFS radars. Johnson would become one of the better punt options at wide receiver and all three would be great GPP plays.
DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins -- $5,400 (Probable)
Parker put in three full practices and is listed as probable. The injury is now a non-issue really. It's snap count and target expectation and we've been told to expect him to be eased in. It will not shock me if the team lets him play if he looks good and is productive early. A full week of practice means they could have chosen to involve him in the game plan if they chose.
Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles -- $5,400 (Questionable)
Ertz was limited in the last two practices but the key will be the Saturday report. Right now it’s a tough call on whether he'll be active. Our current expectation is that he would be active with a limited snap count right now.
Throughout the season Ertz will be in our DFS game plan quite often but I just can’t pull the trigger this week. Look for Jordan Matthews to be the biggest beneficiary of this missed time.
Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants -- $6,300 (Out)
Cruz has already been announced as out which gives a slight bump to Odell Beckham and Rueben Randle. Both are solid GPP options and I can never fault you for finding a way to get Beckham into your cash game lineups.
Check the FanDuel blog on Sunday morning for the latest injury expectations.