Week 5: Game Time Decisions - Injury Update
In this article we will profile some of the more fantasy relevant injuries that have cropped up and suggest which players are likely to benefit from increased playing time (some of the replacement players might be sitting on your waiver wire). With the BYE weeks in full swing (Dallas, Detroit, Oakland, and Tampa Bay will be resting in week 4), depth on fantasy rosters will be further tested.
Not as many major injuries to report from week 4. Jake Locker's shoulder injury could keep him out multiple weeks and the sputtering Jets passing game got a death blow when leading WR Santonio Holmes was placed on IR ending his season following a foot injury suffered in the week 4 shutout loss to the 49ers.
Buffalo's backfield returned for week 4 as CJ Spiller (sprained shoulder) and Fred Jackson (LCL) had limited success against a solid New England run defense. Things won't get much easier for the Buffalo ground game this week as they travel to face San Francisco. Miami's Reggie Bush (knee/hip) played against Arizona but had just 17 carries for 67 yards and no catches. With his laundry list of career ailments, Bush owners would be wise to secure Daniel Thomas and/or Lamar Miller.
The WR position has also seen its fair share of injuries as Jeremy Maclin and Pierre Garcon each returned for week 4 but each registered just one catch and were a fantasy after thought. Maclin and Garcon are solid buy-low candidates as they should be close to 100% in the near future. TE Aaron Hernandez was one of the bigger week 2 casualties as a severe ankle sprain was expected to keep him sidelined for 4-6 weeks. Reports surfaced Thursday that Hernandez returned to a limited practice but is considered a long shot for the week 5 matchup with Denver (on a positive note a week 6 return seems more likely).
Mendenhall has been on the shelf since suffering a late season ACL injury that kept him sidelined for the Steelers' playoff loss to the Denver Tebows. He is expected to make his season debut after putting in a full Wednesday practice. The Steelers return from the Bye to host a stout Eagles defense allowing the 6th fewest fantasy PPG to opposing RBs. Mendenhall is just 25 years old and has amassed 30 TDs over the past three seasons. His YPC has remained pedestrian, but Mendy might make for a lottery ticket worth punching depending on your level of risk taking if he's sitting on your waiver wire. The duo of Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman have struggled mightily during the first four weeks, so Mendenhall should be primed to reclaim his starting job.
After an impressive 2011(942 yards and four TDs), everyone's favorite handcuff has failed to produce over the first month of the 2012 season. Through 4 games, Tate is averaging 29 YPG and has reached the end zone twice. Unless Arian Foster gets injured, Tate will continue to be a lower end flex play despite playing in arguably the league's best rushing attack. Tate missed Thursday's practice with a toe injury and speculation is it could be a dreaded turf toe injury. With Houston having an extra day to prepare for the Monday nighter against the NY Jets, he should remain out of lineups unless you have a Jets RB (Bilal Powell or Shonn Greene) that can plug in if Tate is unable to suit up.
Britt was unable to practice last week due to his injured ankle, and he was inactive on Sunday after being listed as questionable. Over two games, Britt has posted just 6 catches for 60 yards without a TD. The Rutgers alum missed all but 3 games last season with multiple injuries. In 2010, the troubled WR finished with 775 yards and 9 TDs. The Titans list Britt as questionable for the week 5 matchup in Minnesota, but he's yet to practice and could be shaping up as a game time decision. Kendall Wright would likely draw another start opposite Nate Washington if Britt is forced to miss another week.
In week 4, Garcon returned from the foot injury that sidelined him for weeks 2 and 3, but posted just one catch for 20 yards. He's returned to full practice this week as the Redskins prepare to face the high flying Falcons in week 5, but has acknowledged that his recovery is not quite 100% and could take multiple weeks before he's back to full strength. Atlanta's pass defense ranks 8th (allowing 207 YPG) and just 4 TDs over the first month of the season. The Redskins' #1 WR should make for a solid WR3 play in a game with shootout potential.
Jennings appears to have suffered a setback with the groin injury that forced him to miss week 2 as he finished the week 4 win over New Orleans with just one catch (fortunately it was a 9 yard TD). James Jones filled in admirably hauling in two touchdowns and could be in line for another start this week when the Packers travel to Indianapolis to face a Colts defense yielding the 8th most fantasy points to opposing WRs. Randall Cobb could also see an uptick in targets if Jennings sits out and could be a decent BYE week filler. On the season, the 29 year old Jennings has just 12 catches for 78 yards (not what he was hoping for in a contract year).