- How should fantasy managers adjust their lineups following injuries to some of the league's key players entering Week 1 of the 2019 NFL season?
Welcome to Week 1, where fantasy football managers are quickly reminded of the struggles that come along with setting their lineups during the NFL season.
The ambitious hopefulness. The fresh start. The excitement of drafting your players. It’s all rapidly washed away thanks to phrases like “questionable," “did not practice” and “doubtful.”
Yes, football is a violent sport and naturally players get hurt. When they get hurt, they wind up in this article. But fear not. We are here to help you navigate the murky waters of the often mysterious and complicated injury report.
Gone are the days of players being considered "probable." Instead, at a minimum, any player with a hangnail or blister on his thumb is slapped with the questionable tag. It’s the same category players are put into if they are in danger of missing a game or two due to a sprained ankle.
Who are those players for Week 1? Let’s get to it.
Ruled out for Week 1 and beyond
A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals, WR
The Bengals’ 31-year-old receiver had surgery in late-July to repair torn ligaments in his ankle, an injury he suffered during the first week of training camp. Initial reports indicated Green would be out of action for six-to-eight weeks, which would have put him on track to have a potential return of Week 2 or Week 3. However, Green is still sporting a walking boot, which raises some questions about the speed of his recovery. For now, fantasy managers shouldn’t expect the seven-time Pro Bowler back in action until Week 4 at the earliest. Green will be a weekly staple on this year’s injury report considering he’s likely to sit out of practice even when he does return to the field.
Jerick McKinnon, San Francisco 49ers, RB
The hype surrounding Jerick McKinnon heading into last year quickly evaporated after the running back tore his ACL just two weeks before the start of the season. With a year to recover, fantasy managers and the 49ers’ management expected McKinnon to share a role with Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida in the 49ers’ backfield.
Once again ... POOF! That thought vanished into thin air. McKinnon suffered several setbacks this summer on his road to recovery, the latest of which forced San Francisco to place him on season-ending Injured Reserve.
Drafted Breida or Coleman? Congratulations! With McKinnon out, you just secured yourself a weekly flex, low-end RB2 option for your lineups.
N’Keal Harry, New England Patriots, WR
With the final pick in the first round of the 2019 NFL draft, the Patriots took the 6'4" receiver out of Arizona State as the second pass-catcher (Marquise Brown) to come off the board. For the second year in a row, the Patriots will be without their first-round pick (Isaiah Wynn, 2018). The Pats decided to place Harry on short-term Injured Reserve due to an ankle injury. That means he’ll be eligible to return (if at all) after Week 8. With Josh Gordon getting reinstated and the team resigning Demaryius Thomas, Harry would at best be the fourth or fifth receiver on the depth chart.
Jordan Thomas, Houston Texans, TE
Expected to be the starting tight end for the Texans, Thomas is now heading to Injured Reserve with a rib injury. In his place, Jordan Akins and Darren Fells will move up the depth chart. However, if we are being honest with each other, quarterback Deshaun Watson has plenty of other weapons to target before needing to check down to Akins or Fells.
Probable for Week 1 even though the NFL dumped the “probable tag”
Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys, WR
After sitting out for much of the preseason and training camp with a heel/foot/ankle injury, Cooper says he’s not only ready to practice but is ready to play in Week 1 against the Giants. That’s good news for both any fantasy manager with Cooper on their roster along with his quarterback, Dak Prescott.
DK Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks, WR
A “small” knee procedure in mid-August has kept the Seahawks’ second-round wide receiver on the sideline for the final few weeks of practice. Seattle head coach Pete Carroll says Metcalf had a “fantastic recovery” and is on track to make his NFL debut in Week 1 against the Bengals.
DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles, WR
The Philadelphia Eagles’ 32 year-old wide receiver broke his left ring finger during practice in the last week of August. Broken fingers and catching passes typically do not go hand in hand, but miraculously the team expects Jackson to be fine for the start of the season. If Jackson cannot go against the Washington Redskins, look for rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Nelson Agholor to see more action against the NFC East division rival..
Truly questionable for Week 1—as in their availability is in question
Trey Burton, Chicago Bears, TE
Sports hernia surgery kept Trey Burton on the sidelines for most of Bears training camp and he is now dealing with the after effects of the surgery by way of a groin injury. He’s limited in practice about 24 hours before their first game, and considering the Bears take on the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night, it would appear Burton is perhaps the most questionable player of the week. Head coach Matt Nagy is calling the Bears tight end a “game-time decision.”
Jimmy Graham, Green Bay Packers, TE
The Packers’ 32 year-old tight end is still bothered by the same finger injury that’s kept him in and out of practice throughout the last month of training camp. With Green Bay facing off against the Chicago Bears on Thursday Night, fantasy managers will have to monitor the active/inactive report about 90 minutes before kickoff.
Keke Coutee, Houston Texans, WR
Some good news for the Texans’ second-year receiver, as coach Bill O’Brien says Coutee is heading in the right direction for Week 1. That update from O’Brien comes just a few days after he indicated Coutee would need some more time to get back on the field, which gave some team reporters the feeling that the pass-catcher would be out for the opener against the Saints. Fantasy managers need to keep in mind the Texans play on Monday night, so it’s unlikely there will be an update on Sunday—while fantasy managers are setting their lineup—regarding his status.
Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins, TE
The Redskins’ veteran tight end suffered a concussion during the team’s third preseason game, which is reportedly the seventh concussion of his career. Reed remains in the concussion protocol, and though he’ll be two weeks removed from the injury when the season starts on Sept. 8, it’s unclear if he’ll be ready in time to take on the Philadelphia Eagles.
Not necessarily on the fantasy radar, but maybe in deep or dynasty leagues
Jalen Hurd, San Francisco 49ers, WR, back injury (questionable)
Darius Slayton, New York Giants, WR, hamstring injury (questionable)
Missing in action due to suspension
Antonio Callaway, Cleveland Browns, WR: Eligible to return after Week 4
Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns, RB: Eligible to return after Week 8
Ben Watson, New England Patriots, TE: Eligible to return after Week 4
Golden Tate, New York Giants, WR: Eligible to return after Week 4
Chris Herndon, New York Jets, TE: Eligible to return after Week 4