Who's in and who's out of the early games in Week 7
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Who's in and who's out of the early games in Week 7

Hopefully the midway point of the fantasy football season finds you and your team in the thick of the playoff hunt, not already thinking about 2014. To help you get a win today, we'll be here all morning to give you the latest on the injured stars of today's early games. Some of the names we're tracking include Rob Gronkowski @RobGronkowski, Cecil Shorts @CecilShortsIII, Justin Blackmon @JustBlack81, DeMarco Murray @DeMarcoMurray and many more. Keep refreshing this post from 11: 30 a.m. until about 1 p.m. Eastern for all of the notable actives and inactives.

-- Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is officially active. The wait is over. Unless you have an elite option, start Gronk. Brady will look for him whenever he's on the field
-- Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib is inactive because of his hip injury. That's good news for Geno Smith and Stephen Hill.
-- As expected, Michael Vick is inactive. Nick Foles is a rock-solid QB1 today versus the Cowboys.
-- Calvin Johnson @Bigplaycj and Joique Bell are both active for the Lions. Calvin isn't expected to be limited and is a must-start. Bell is a must-bench. He will likely be limited due to his rib injury.
-- Jaguars WRs Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts are active. Blackmon is a top-10 wideout against the Chargers. Conversely, I would not play Shorts unless I was desperate. He was in considerable pain during the week -- so much so that he had trouble sleeping and putting on his jersey. His shoulder injury will likely keep him limited.
-- C.J Spiller and Fred Jackson are both active for the Bills. Both are start-worthy against Miami's poor run defense. I always favor Spiller and his big-play potential. He practiced more this week and said his ankle is feeling better.
-- Bears TE Martellus Bennett is active. He is a TE1 against the Redskins' pass defense.
-- Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray and LB DeMarcus Ware are both inactive, as expected. Rookie running back Joseph Randle will get the vast majority of the carries against the Eagles' very soft defense. He is a legit flex option.
-- In a later game today, FOX Sports' Jay Glazer reports that Packers WR James Jones will not play against the Browns. Full rundown: Jordy Nelson is a high-end WR2, even when matched up with Joe Haden. Tight end Jermichael Finley is a worthy play, and Jarrett Boykin is OK to start if you need a WR3.
-- Buccaneers WR Mike Williams is active despite his hamstring injury. He is a boom-or-bust WR3 today and most other days.
-- Bills WR Stevie Johnson is active. He should be Thad Lewis' top target, but Johnson is just a flex option against Miami's decent pass defense. Elsewhere in Buffalo, newly signed Matt Flynn is inactive, so Jeff Tuel is the direct backup to Lewis.
-- Panthers TE Greg Olsen is active despite his foot injury. He is a low-end TE1, but he may be limited.
-- Redskins TE Fred Davis is a healthy scratch. My, how far he has fallen. Jordan Reed is a solid PPR play if you need a tight end today.
-- Chargers WR Eddie Royal is active despite a toe injury. You should not care. He is no higher than fifth on San Diego's pecking order for receptions.
-- Bears cornerback Charles Tillman is active. He didn't play in Week 6, but has had ample time to rest his knee injury. That could make things tough for Pierre Garcon.
-- Falcons RB Jason Snelling is active. He was cleared to play following his Week 5 concussion long ago. He will split the touches with Jaquizz Rodgers once again. If I had to pick one today, I'd go with Rodgers.
-- A lot has been said about Harry Douglas this week, but you should know that he will be starting alongside Drew Davis against the Bucs. Davis is a second-year player who has seen most of his playing time up to this point come on special teams. He is not a fantasy option right now and will be pushed back out of the starting lineup once Roddy gets healthy.
-- Patriots WR Julian Edelman is active. He was listed as questionable because of a thigh injury, but he was never at risk of missing this game. Edelman is a WR2 in PPR leagues with Danny Amendola once again inactive.
-- Patriots RB Brandon Bolden is active. Pay him no mind against the Jets' defense.
-- Rams RB Zac Stacy is active, as expected. He's a low-end RB2 against the Panthers. It's not a great matchup, but at least he'll get a healthy workload.

Players who have already been ruled out for Week 7 include Matt Schaub, Michael Vick, Steven Jackson, Roddy White, Danny Amendola, and Randall Cobb. I discuss these players and the impact of their absences below in the "Fantasy Analysis" section

Fantasy Analysis:

-- Schaub has been ruled out because of his right-leg injuries. That probably makes some Texans fans happy; they've been calling for Schaub to be benched for a couple of weeks. Be careful what you wish for. In comes undrafted second-year quarterback Case Keenum, and his first appearance in an NFL regular-season game will come in a raucous Arrowhead Stadium against the league's best defense in terms of sacks and interceptions created. Hey, maybe Keenum will shock us all and perform like fellow undrafted third-stringer Brian Hoyer did for the Browns earlier this season. Most likely not, but the Texans want to see what they have in the local product. Arian Foster remains a must-start as he will be heavily leaned on all day. Andre Johnson may be more WR2 than WR1 today, but he'll get enough targets to be worth starting.
-- Officially, Vick is questionable for today's game against the Cowboys. But he said Thursday that he won't play, so I'll take him at his word. Nick Foles will get his second consecutive start, and he is a top-10 option against a Dallas defense that has allowed the most fantasy points to quarterbacks, even after holding Robert Griffin III out of the end zone last week. You should basically start all of your Eagles and Cowboys.
-- With Jackson, White and Julio Jones all out, Matt Ryan will be throwing a lot of passes to some relatively unknown targets versus the Buccaneers. However, Tony Gonzalez remains and is a solid TE1. Harry Douglas has a big opportunity as he seemingly is Atlanta's No. 1 WR today. But he is limited on talent, and I think he will largely struggle against a good Tampa Bay secondary. I consider a WR3 at best. Ryan is a low-end QB1
-- Jackson's hamstring injury is healing very slowly. Or rather, it's healing as you would expect it to heal for a 30-year-old running back with almost 2,500 carries weighing on his body. Jason Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers will split the touches for yet another week. They are merely flex options against a defense that has kept all running backs out of the end zone through five games.
-- Another week, a new injury for Amendola. He has been ruled out due to a concussion. It's sad that he really can't stay healthy. Julian Edelman returns to WR2 status in PPR leagues.
-- Cobb is out until at least Week 15 because of a fractured fibula. Add that to the fact that the Packers will likely be without James Jones today, and Aaron Rodgers is running low on weapons. However, he's still Aaron Rodgers. Start him. Jordy Nelson will be matched up on shutdown cornerback Joe Haden for much of the day, but he should still be started in fantasy lineups unless you are absolutely stacked at WR. Jermichael Finley is a TE1, and Jarrett Boykin is a popular sleeper. And why not? The No. 2 WR in a Rodgers-led offense stands to see a lot of looks.

Source:
NFL.com

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Brian Murphy -
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Los Angeles, CA
FFToolbox Fantasy Football Writer since 2002
Follow me on Twitter: @Spokes_Murphy.

I have played fantasy sports since 2001, specializing in fantasy football and baseball. I wrote for FFToolbox from 2002-2005 and re-joined in 2009.

I am a journalism/mass communication grad student at Cal State University, Northridge. I am aiming to be a sports reporter for a website, newspaper, magazine, anything. I am a graduate from the University of Central Florida. I make my home in Long Beach, Calif.

While I grew up in California, my favorite football team has always been the New York Giants.
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