Training Room: Fantasy Football Injury Updates – Week 1

Each week we’ll venture into the Training Room to discuss injuries around the league that have an impact on the fantasy world. Hopefully, you won’t be reading this shaking your head as one of your team anchors surfaces on these posts but every year it’s someone, so here we go.

Jerick McKinnon, RB, SF – This is the first devastating blow for fantasy owners as the much-hyped breakout candidate went down for the season with an ACL injury. His loss leaves a void at running back for the 49ers that veteran Alfred Morris and Matt Breida will compete with each other to fill. Morris will likely get the first look with Breida being a long-term play, both backs should be owned in all formats.

Rashaad Penny, RB, SEA – Penny broke his finger three weeks ago and appears on track to suit up week one, but the injury cost him much needed reps and work to chip away at the strong preseason performance of Chris Carson. This injury has put a couple of factors in to play for fantasy: Carson moves into a must-start Week 1 with every down work on tap, Penny slides into later rounds in drafts and makes for a stellar late round buy and dynasty pickup. Carson is a solid play early, but Penny is too talented and could be the guy in Seattle before the season is up.

Doug Baldwin, WR, SEA – Baldwin has been dealing with a knee injury all preseason and still says its not at 100%. This has pushed the top receiving threat deeper into the mid-rounds making him a draft day steal – provided he returns to form and the knee doesn’t get worse. If Baldwin recovers, owners who gamble will be rewarded with WR1/2 production, if he falters, Tyler Lockett will be in line for an expanded role and Russell Wilson could struggle overall. Big fantasy implications here, but my gut says Baldwin turns in another big year.

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Rex Burkhead/Sony Michel RB, NE – Burkhead has practiced in full for three straight weeks but hasn’t seen any preseason work and Michel finally returned to practice last week. What does it mean? The beat writers feel that Burkhead will be a full go and Michel will be limited out of the gate. This makes Burkhead a solid fantasy start Week 1 as a multi-down weapon and especially in PPR leagues. Meanwhile, Michel is in the wait and see department but carries value as a late round dynasty pick and second half value for your teams.

Jordan Reed, TE, WAS – The word out of DC from the Redskins head coach, Jay Gruden, is that Reed is on pace to play Week 1. Reed has never struggled to produce when he’s on the field and Alex Smith loves to utilize his tight ends, just ask Travis Kelce. Furthermore, the Redskins receiving corps is lacking any dominant talent which will translate to more targets for the athletic Reed. He’s a solid Week 1 start.

Chris Thompson, RB, WAS – Thompson, like Reed, should be a full go week one and while Adrian Peterson looked great in his preseason debut for Washington, Thompson is going to get his touches and with the leg injury behind him, should be a viable flex option. Peterson moves into a standard scoring league start only for this week.

Carson Wentz, QB, PHI – The 2017 breakout is likely to miss Week 1, despite Doug Pederson’s cat and mouse game with the local beat writers. However, word is that Wentz is close to a full return putting him on track for a Week 2 start. For those lucky enough to snag the gunslinger in the back end of drafts be prepared for a slow start because of other injuries on the Eagles offense but as the season goes on he should return to MVP potential form.

Alshon Jeffery, WR, PHI – Speaking of other Philly injuries, enter Jefferey. Pederson has labeled the wideout “week-to-week” and Adam Schefter has called him out for the first two weeks. Either way, you need to have a replacement handy to start the season, but once he’s back, Jefferey will pose a weekly threat to hit pay dirt. He’s a perfect late-mid round stash for a second-half run. In the meantime, Nelson Agholor should be in line for a substantial role this week as a WR2 start.

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Will Fuller, V, WR, HOU – Fuller’s been dealing with a hamstring issue this preseason and has been day-to-day but all signs indicate he will suit up for the season opener this weekend. Fuller rattled off 7 TD with Deshaun Watson at the helm to open the season last year in only four games. When healthy, he is a big-time threat and he’s been the 33rd wide receiver off the board in most formats.

Marlon Mack, RB, IND – Mack has been fighting a spotty hamstring all preseason which is less than ideal for a RB, combined with a solid camp for rookie Jordan Wilkins and the fact that Mack didn’t practice on Monday and you have a double-edged fantasy sword. Mack can’t be trusted this week, but Wilkins is a nice value start due to volume, especially in DFS leagues where he’s coming in dirt cheap.

Devante Parker, WR, MIA – Parker is apparently feeling “substantially better” according to the Miami Herald but he still hasn’t been practicing and right now appears primed to miss the season opener. Even if he miraculously did suit up, he hasn’t had much for reps this preseason and would be a risky play on a bad Dolphins offense. He’ll be a solid contributor at some point this year, just not now.

Jermaine Kearse, WR, DET – Kearse missed practice to start the week which doesn’t seem relevant because he’s not exactly a fantasy name at the moment, but his absence means more targets for Quincy Enunwa and underrated Robby Anderson, as well as an opportunity for Terrell Pryor to find his way back to the world of the living. The Jets will likely be playing catch up this week against a potent Lions team and this news makes Anderson a solid WR2.

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Jermaine Gresham, TE, ARI – Gresham returned to practice this week but is still expected to miss Week 1. This makes Ricky Seals-Jones a dynamite starter this week as Sam Bradford’s safety blanket. It also could open the door for RSJ to run away with the job outright and deliver as a sleeper at the TE position.

Marqise Lee, WR, JAX – The loss of Lee has sent fantasy owners scrambling to figure out who will dominate the targets from Blake Bortles. The smart money is on the talented Dede Westbrook but the initial depth chart this week had Keelan Cole and Donte Moncrief as the starters. This situation should be avoided for starts this week while the pecking order sorts itself out and the lack of clarity could thrust Leonard Fournette into a larger receiving role.

BONUS

Le’Veon Bell, RB, PIT – OK, this isn’t an injury but Bell hasn’t shown up to practice in Pittsburgh yet and even if he does at this point, it would be shocking for the Steelers to utilize him as a work horse. We’re now at the point of calling Bell a week one bench and a day or two away from calling second-year sensation James Conner a must start. Stay tuned here folks.

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Ben Stecker

Ben Stecker

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Writer, sports connoisseur, Pacific Northwesterner. Rarely met a sport I couldn't be great friends with. Follow me on twitter @Softball_Guy
Ben Stecker