Don't think NFL injuries affect teams and bets? Ask a Jets fan, or anyone that had the over on the Jets game. With Aaron Rodgers gone for the season, we're likely to see things like that each week. Big players lost in-game that we can do nothing about but thoughts and prayers. What I try to do here is make sure you know about the key injuries around the league that we can do something about. Proper planning and all that right? So let's get to the injuries.
TRAVIS KELCE, TE KC (bruised knee)
Last week, it made sense that Travis Kelce was held out. He didn't pass the tests of the medical staff and with the long week ahead, it was more likely that Kelce could get healthy and not deal with the knee issue for the rest of the season. The problem is, sometimes things don't go to plan. We've all had that bruise that just doesn't seem to go away and this one's inside his knee. The bone bruise is healing slower than expected, but there's no setback and the long term plan is still key for the Chiefs. Andy Reid confirmed that Kelce will play on Saturday.
In Kelce's absence, Patrick Mahomes didn't have his favorite target and safety blanket. He seemed to be improvising more and let's face it, it's easier to cover the Chiefs' WR corps than it is when teams have to bracket Kelce and deal with the rest of them. Noah Gray's a nice complement, but not Kelce. (Who is?) If Kelce plays (and we now know he will), he'll be healthy and expected to do what he normally does.
Let's also be clear: sources insist there is no other damage inside the knee. There's likely some minor soft tissue damage, but none that's significant. The thing holding Kelce back is the bruise, which is making enough progress to play without compromising the longer-term goals.
MARK ANDREWS, TE BAL (strained quad)
Mark Andrews had much the same limited practices heading into his DNP in Week 1 due to a quad strain. Getting in a full practice Friday is a matter of definition. A source says he was still physically limited, if taking part in all the sessions of practice. The things he has a hard time with are precisely the things he's good at - solid blocking, precise routes, and physicality. The quad strain is keeping him from doing all of those at full capacity, but the medical staff will have to decide if it's risky to play while the field staff will have to decide if 80 percent of Andrews is better than the options.
The quad strain is problematic in both degree and location. The Ravens have rightfully been conservative with his play and aggressive with the treatment. He'll be tested again ahead of the game but is unlikely to be a true GTD. Keep your eyes on your trusted sources for updates on this one Sunday morning. My feel is that he'll play, but will likely be on a pitch count and with a very short leash if he shows any physical issues.
DARREN WALLER, TE NYG (strained hamstring)
All the tight ends are hurt? It feels that way - and George Kittle is still to come later - and with Waller, his hamstring strain has him "50/50" to play on Sunday, he was quoted late Thursday. By Saturday, Waller was off the injury list altogether, a reminder that the "injury report" is about availability, not injury. Yes, Waller will play, but how well will he play and how will he still be affected by his hamstring?
The hope is that after a week of rest and treatment, very little will be the answer. Waller was in on almost every snap of the first half against the Cowboys last week, then pulled when the game got way out of hand. Even with that, he was still designated and Waller was doubtful mid-week. That tells me that he's still feeling it. He'll play, but I don't think we can expect big yardage or deep routes just yet. He can be effective and affect the game, but I don't think he'll break it open, even against opposition that should be a couple steps down from last week.
AUSTIN EKELER, RB LAC (sprained ankle)
Austin Ekeler is the new Maurice Jones-Drew. Fantasy players love him because he acknowledges fantasy. He puts up nice numbers as well, but his one big issue (aside from the inconsistencies of the Chargers themselves) is his durability. It's a simple ankle sprain, but simple doesn't mean quick healing. Ekeler missed all this week's practice and while he's just listed as questionable, I'm told that the team will give him a chance Sunday but given that they're on the road against a run-dominant team (Tennessee), the gameplan might have to be built around Joshua Kelley and the upgrade wide receivers. Expect an early decision Sunday on Ekeler and that he's a risky play if he is active.
PACKERS WRs (strained hamstrings)
It's bad when I don't even list the names up top. With Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, and Aaron Jones - who had four targets - all dinged up, first-year starter Jordan Love might end up with unknown names like Dontayvion Wicks and Malik Heath. (Yes, Packers fans, you might know them, but not household names.) It's notable that all three have hamstring injuries, which is more than coincidence. The Packers medical staff is going to have to take a hard look at things to make sure this doesn't become an even bigger problem.
Christian Watson returned to practice, but is listed as questionable. Even if he plays, there's likely to be some limitations and being the deep guy, that's not a good thing. Expect something of a play count and for DBs to jam him early to see if he can adjust. Watson fought injuries last year and he's going to need to prove he's more durable to stick at the top of a depth chart. The same is the case for Doubs, who doesn't have an injury designation, but played through his strain. There's likely been some healing, but don't expect much more than what he gave you last week.
Jones is the tougher question. While AJ Dillon has been a good change of pace, losing Jones to his hamstring strain doesn't help. With the WRs down, it's easy to imagine the Packers forced to go more run-heavy and they've often done that when Dillon steps in. There's still a lot of unknowns about this Packers team and losing so much this early isn't going to help anyone discern what they really are, despite the big win against the Bears.
DEANDRE HOPKINS, WR TEN (strained ankle)
Things are worse in Cheeseland, but they're not much better in Nashville. Both starters, DeAndre Hopkins and Treylon Burks, were reported to be banged up heading in to Week 2. Losing either of those, or much drop-off, puts Ryan Tannehill into the part of a very shallow WR pool he doesn't want to go. However, while there were reports that Burks was injured, his practice miss was for the dreaded "personal matter." A source tells me he's fine and good to go. That's less the case for DeAndre Hopkins, who's dealing with an ankle injury that's kept him out of practice. He has a questionable tag and will be, at best, a GTD who is likely to be limited. He's a big enough physical presence that he could be useful even if he's below 100 percent, but the lack of depth will make things harder on Burks and Tannehill if that's the case. I'm also told Hopkins' injury is a strain, not a sprain, implying it's tendon over ligament. That can often take longer to heal.
JAKOBI MEYERS, WR LVR (concussion)
After having a big day, one hit at the end of the game puts Jakobi Meyers out for Week 2. Meyers feasted off a lack of double teams and it looked like he might be taking on the Welker/Edelman role in Josh McDaniels' offense. That's not a bad place to be, especially for PPR leagues. With any concussion, there's simply no way to tell. There's often some guidance with the steps of the concussion protocol, but the NFL often "adjusts" that as needed. Meyers' status for this week is known and implies he's made no progress, but concussions move at their own speed. You can't tell from how big the hit is, how long someone is down, or anything, frankly. This is a wait and see, and hope that Meyers isn't one of the small percentage that have lingering symptoms over the course of weeks, months or even years.
Bumps and Bruises
George Kittle will play again, but he's still being affected by the groin strain. The Rams will try to force him to cut on the affected leg by sets and contact ... Famously fragile, Jimmy Garoppolo came through Week 1 with a mild ankle sprain. It's not related to his previous foot issue, which is on the same foot. "He just rolled it," said a source ... Whispers out of the desert have Kyler Murray ahead of most timelines. Week 5 isn't going to happen, but don't be surprised to see Murray in practice when Week 5 or 6 rolls around ... Aaron Rodgers had his Achilles repaired by Dr. Neal ElAttrache. Reports are all went as planned and a six to nine month recovery is expected. While a return this season is not impossible, it's extremely unlikely ... I'm told Joe Burrow had "no issues at all" with the calf, despite the rough play of the Bengals offense ... If you spent all your FAAB on Puka Nacua, he's got an oblique strain and will be a gametime decision. Ben Skowronek would likely be the replacement in role for the Rams ... The Rams also spoke very positively about Cooper Kupp, both on and off the record this week. My source says "huge progress" while Sean McVey pointed at Week 5 as the return target ... Brandin Cooks has an MCL sprain, hasn't practiced, but Jerry Jones says he's a GTD. Risky ... Greg Zuerlein is questionable for the Jets with a groin strain. They're expected to sign an insurance kicker by gametime.
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