Injury concerns regarding players heading into the Sunday and Monday games can be critical. Each Saturday, this entry will be dedicated to those who appear on the official NFL game-status injury report and how their statuses might impact fantasy teams.
For those who might be new to this blog: Injury reports provide some insight into a player's status. The NFL requires teams to submit practice injury reports several times a week, identifying the body part involved in the injury. This year, there has been a change in the language of injury reporting, per the league office. The most notable change is the removal of the "probable" designation. For more detailed information on the changes and what they mean, click here.
Early in the week, the practice injury reports indicate whether a player did not practice, was limited in practice or was a full participant in practice. On Fridays, all teams file a game-status injury report assigning one of the following designations: questionable, doubtful or out. The designations listed here reflect the injury reports filed with the league office Friday evening. Teams playing Monday night do not have to issue their designations until Saturday. The explanation for each designation is as follows.
Out: This is the easy one -- the guy is not playing Sunday.
Questionable (Q): This remains the most dreaded player designation. By definition, it means a player is "uncertain to play." How uncertain is uncertain? There is no percentage or measurement scale, leaving this classification rather vague. Whether a player ends up active or inactive often comes down to a game-time decision based on how he feels on game-day morning or how he performs during warm-ups. Final inactives are due 90 minutes before kickoff.
Doubtful (D): The doubtful designation means a player is unlikely to play that week. Rarely does a player labeled as doubtful end up playing, unless he experiences a major turnaround before game time.
Each week in the Saturday blog, we run down a list of key fantasy players, by position, who appear in the Friday injury report along with the injured body part as listed on the report, player status and any relevant developments or insight. The primary fantasy positions are covered (quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end).
This season, at the end of each positional section, there is a subgrouping of "players off game-status injury report." The probable tag no longer exists, so players who would have been listed as probable in previous seasons are simply removed from the report. This means there will be players who appear in the practice injury reports during the week but will not appear on the game-status report Friday because they are presumed active for game day. They are included in this blog so that fantasy owners can see where players who were on the practice injury report during the week have been upgraded in advance of the games.
At the end, key fantasy players listed Friday as "out" for the week's games will appear as a group.
In this final week of the NFL regular season there are games only on Sunday. The Thursday, Saturday and Monday games are finished. No one is on a bye. Yes, all 32 teams will play on Sunday for the first time this season. The challenge for those playing in their fantasy football championships lies in trying to gauge which players will sit out this week, whether it be due to a current injury, prevention of future injury, trying to evaluate younger talent in a lost season or some combination of the above. Many teams will opt not to play their key starters. Some fantasy-friendly teams, such as the Rams, have shown their hands and made it clear their stars will sit. Others, such as the Steelers, are leaving us guessing right up until Sunday. Still, just as with the previous 16 weeks, there were injury reports filed with the league office on Friday. In this final injury preview of the fantasy football season, we take you through the key fantasy players who appeared on this week's report.
Good luck in Week 17, everyone!
Players off game-status injury report
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers, right shoulder, 4:25 p.m. ET: This one's easy. Cam is here every week. He is on the practice injury report, then off the pregame injury report. He plays. And it has taken a while, but it is clear he isn't playing constrained in any way.
Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers, ankle, (Q), 4:25 p.m. ET: Gordon injured his left ankle last Sunday and was in a walking boot after the game, placing his Week 17 status in jeopardy. When the Chargers held their first official practice of the week, Gordon did not participate, and coach Anthony Lynn said he was day-to-day with no likely decision about his status coming until at least Friday. For his part, Gordon said Wednesday that he would be ready to go by the weekend and reiterated his confidence on Friday. On Thursday and Friday, he returned to limited practices and was out catching passes during the portion of practice open to the media. Lynn remained noncommittal, saying the team wanted to see Gordon go full-speed during a Saturday workout before making a final decision. Despite the questionable tag, Gordon would appear to be on track to play, especially if he has something to say about it (ESPN.com's Eric Williams notes that Gordon has been listed as questionable four times this season and has played each time). The Chargers are in a must-win situation if they hope to have a chance of making the playoffs. If Gordon can't go, Branden Oliver would likely get the start.
Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals, ankle, (Q), 4:25 p.m. ET: Mixon returned to action for the first time since suffering a concussion in Week 13 only to be forced out of the game in the first quarter with an ankle injury. He was held out of practice Wednesday and turned in limited practices both Thursday and Friday. Whether his ankle is game-ready is unclear, but even if Mixon is active, the Bengals might choose to lean on Giovani Bernard. Bernard's workload has gone up dramatically in Mixon's absence.
Kerwynn Williams, quadriceps/ribs/back, and Elijhaa Penny, hand/groin, Arizona Cardinals, (Q), 4:25 p.m. ET: Between these two Cardinals running backs, virtually every body part available to list on an injury report has been covered. Williams has been battling through a rib injury since the loss of Adrian Peterson to injury in Week 13. Last week he also played through a sore quadriceps muscle. This week his back is yet another sore spot. Considering he has been playing through his various ailments combined with the fact that he has been involved in limited practice sessions daily, it is likely that Williams suits up again Sunday. Penny was added to this week's injury report with a couple of bumps and bruises but is expected to be available as well. He retains a secondary role to Williams if both are active.
Damien Williams, Miami Dolphins, shoulder, (D), 4:25 p.m. ET: Williams has followed the same practice schedule this week but appears to not be ready for game play. Last week, coach Adam Gase noted that there were certain activities that generated shoulder discomfort for Williams. There is no reason to risk his long-term health by returning him if he isn't ready. Expect Williams to miss the Dolphins' season finale and Kenyan Drake to continue with the primary workload.
Players off game-status injury report
Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals, ankle, 4:25 p.m. ET: Bernard's workload has gone up the past three weeks, with injuries sidelining teammate Joe Mixon for all but part of one quarter of that span. Bernard -- who, it's worth remembering, entered the season coming off an ACL reconstruction -- played more than 80 percent of last week's snaps and posted more than 100 yards rushing while managing seven receptions. If Mixon takes the field, Bernard will yield some of that work back to him. If Mixon can't go, however, Bernard has shown that he can handle the work that comes his way.
Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers, hand, 4:25 p.m. ET: Ekeler was active last week despite a recent fracture of the ring finger in his left hand that required him to wear a bulky cast. He is now off the pregame injury report and has been a full participant in practice throughout the week but still needs protection over his healing finger. With Gordon questionable, it is expected that Branden Oliver will get the start if Gordon can't go with Ekeler available to contribute.
Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams, knee, (Q), 4:25 p.m. ET: Kupp apparently has been dealing with some soreness in his knee, which was aggravated in the Week 16 matchup against the Tennessee Titans. As a result, Kupp was held out of practice Wednesday and Thursday and did only limited work on Friday. Coach Sean McVay indicated early in the week that Kupp was not expected to play much. By Friday, it was clear Kupp would not play. Fantasy players need to look elsewhere.
DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins, ankle, (Q), 4:25 p.m. ET: Parker played through this ankle injury last week, managing five catches for 63 yards. There were no reports of a setback, and Parker returned to full practices Thursday and Friday after a limited session Wednesday. Although the questionable designation merits verification of his status Sunday, it appears that Parker should be good to go against the Bills.
Mike Wallace, knee, (Q), and Jeremy Maclin, knee, (D), Baltimore Ravens, 4:25 p.m. ET: Wallace has been the only fantasy relevant pass-catcher for the Ravens since the team returned to action following a Week 10 bye. Despite being listed on the injury report with a new ailing body part (last week it was his ankle), Wallace has practiced daily, including full sessions both Thursday and Friday. With teammate Maclin expected to miss his second straight game with knee soreness, Wallace will again be expected to be Joe Flacco's primary receiving target.
DeSean Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, ankle, (Q), 4:25 p.m. ET: Jackson was relegated to crutches and a walking boot after injuring his ankle in the team's Week 15 contest. He did not practice last week and sat out the game. This week, Jackson returned to a limited practice effort daily and comes into the game listed as questionable. He hasn't exactly been lighting up the fantasy boards of late, so players likely have a better option elsewhere.
Players off game-status injury report
Kelvin Benjamin, Buffalo Bills, knee, 4:25 p.m. ET: Benjamin has a permanent spot on the injury report since tearing the meniscus in his right knee in Week 11. Since returning to action in Week 14, Benjamin's routine has been one of limited practice sessions during the week and suiting up on Sunday. The plan is for him to do the same again this week as the Bills cling to playoff hopes.
Devin Funchess, Carolina Panthers, shoulder, 4:25 p.m. ET: Funchess and his sore left shoulder are familiar to those who have him on fantasy rosters. It is also familiar for him to play each week despite being listed on practice injury reports. His clearance from the pregame report indicates that the team expects to have him again this week.
Allen Hurns, ankle, and Keelan Cole, quadricep, Jacksonville Jaguars, 4:25 p.m. ET: Once again, Marqise Lee has been ruled out in advance of this game with an ankle injury. The division of targets among receivers depends on who is healthy enough to take the field. Hurns has not played since suffering a right high ankle sprain in Week 10. He was making good progress last week, but the team wasn't quite comfortable with returning him to game action. His clearance from the pregame injury report this week indicates that they feel differently about his status this week. His teammate Cole has been a pleasant surprise, posting more than 100 yards receiving in each of the past two weeks. Despite being on the practice injury report with a quad issue, Cole was able to practice on a limited basis both Wednesday and Thursday, followed by a full session Friday. Both Hurns and Cole are expected to play Sunday.
Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints, hamstring, 4:25 p.m. ET: The late addition of Thomas to the injury report with a hamstring injury last Saturday had fantasy players in a panic. Thomas did play but was limited to 40 snaps and a moderate showing in terms of productivity. He explained this week that he had developed soreness in his hamstring after Friday's practice session, hence the late addition. Thankfully the injury wasn't serious enough to sideline him, and a week later he has improved. The Saints held him to limited practice sessions daily, but his clearance from the pregame injury report illustrates the confidence they have in his health.
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons, ankle/thumb, 4:25 p.m. ET: Last week coach Dan Quinn gave all the reasons he was confident about playing Jones, despite injuries to both his ankle and his thumb. There were reports of Jones appearing uncomfortable in warm-ups. Once the game began, however, there was no indication of any limitation. Even matched up against the Saints standout cornerback Marshon Lattimore, Jones posted 149 yards on seven receptions. It's fair to say he's healthy enough to insert into your lineup.
Marquise Goodwin, back, and Trent Taylor, shoulder, San Francisco 49ers, 4:25 p.m. ET: Goodwin and Taylor have both already appeared on the injury report with these ailments, and both have played through them. The addition of Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback has cured many things in San Francisco, including the receiver stat lines. Goodwin in particular has been a beneficiary, though last week, while facing the Jaguars' defense, Goodwin's numbers fell. This week the 49ers play a Rams team that is opting to rest many of its starters, so both of these receivers could see an upturn in their production.
Amari Cooper, ankle, and Cordarrelle Patterson, hip, Oakland Raiders, 4:25 p.m. ET: Cooper did indeed return from his ankle injury this past week and managed three catches for 66 yards, one of those catches being a 63-yard touchdown. More importantly, it appears he suffered no setbacks with his ankle. The team held him to limited practices Wednesday and Thursday, but a full session Friday and removal from the pregame injury report confirm his availability for Sunday. His teammate Patterson has been listed on the report for multiple weeks because of his hip but has managed to play through it. He is expected to do so again this week when the Raiders visit the Chargers.
John Brown, Arizona Cardinals, toe, 4:25 p.m. ET: Brown is likely not on any fantasy radars at this point, but for those who might be looking for a long shot, it appears that Brown will be available. He returned last week following a month-long absence for a turf toe injury and managed to find the end zone. Although there are no production guarantees, Brown's full practice session Friday and removal from the pregame injury report indicate that he is expected to play Sunday when the Cardinals visit the Seahawks.
Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, hip/knee, (Q), 4:25 p.m. ET: Brate played through both of these injuries last week, and there were no reports of a setback. After a day off Wednesday, Brate returned to limited practice Thursday and was upgraded to full on Friday. Although he wasn't productive last week (three catches for 13 yards), he remains the primary receiving tight end with O.J. Howard now on injured reserve.
Players off game-status injury report
Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers, foot, 4:25 p.m. ET: Week 16 didn't look like Week 15 in terms of production for Olsen, but at least now fantasy players know he is again a threat in the passing game. This week, the Panthers can help position themselves for a division title with a win against the Falcons. In what could be a high-scoring affair, it would stand to reason that Olsen would be heavily involved, and thus far, his foot has been cooperating. His removal from the pregame injury report is an excellent sign, as is his full participation in practice throughout the week.
Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills, knee, 4:25 p.m. ET: By now, fantasy players know Clay is a weekly fixture on the practice injury report. More importantly, he has routinely been removed from the pregame injury report in recent weeks. Most importantly, just two weeks ago, Clay racked up 68 yards on five catches against the Dolphins, the same opponent he will face on Sunday.
Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks, knee, 4:25 p.m. ET: Health is not the issue for Graham. He is off the pregame injury report once again after limited practice during the week. He will play. But will he be involved? Last week he was targeted just twice and caught one pass for 3 yards ... and a touchdown. Yes, the red zone targets help, but the overall number of targets directed at Graham has fallen off dramatically the past few weeks. Fantasy players are hoping that will change this week as the Seahawks face the Cardinals.
Antonio Gates, Los Angeles Chargers, illness, 4:25 p.m. ET: The status of Gates is more important now that Hunter Henry has been placed on injured reserve. Although an illness caused him to miss Thursday's practice, Gates was back to a full session on Friday. His removal from the pregame injury report indicates that he will play.
Garrett Celek, San Francisco 49ers, knee/rib, 4:25 p.m. ET: Celek has been playing through some bumps and bruises, but his status has improved heading into this week's game. After practicing on a limited basis each day, Celek was removed from the team's pregame injury report. He will suit up against the Rams.
Jared Cook, Oakland Raiders, wrist, 4:25 p.m. ET: Cook has been playing through a wrist injury and will do the same again this week. His production has been inconsistent at best, and with Amari Cooper back in the mix, it might remain that way this week. At least his removal from the pregame injury report lets fantasy players know he will be available.
This space is intended for a list of key players, not including those who have been moved to injured reserve status, who are officially listed as "out" for the upcoming game.
Matt Forte, New York Jets, knee: Forte's status has been in flux each week because of the chronic swelling in his right knee. Still, until now, he has played in every game since the team's Week 11 bye. In recent weeks, his volume of work has decreased as part of a three-way timeshare that has helped offload Forte, but the team is finally ending his painful season. On Saturday, Forte was placed on injured reserve. Bilal Powell and Eli McGuire are both healthy this week and will presumably share the load. Running back Jahad Thomas was signed from the practice squad.
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers, calf: As expected, Brown will miss his second consecutive week with a calf injury. He has not yet returned to practice. Although the Steelers have not offered much in the way of specifics, the hope is that he will be available for the team when the playoffs get underway. The team has secured a first-round bye so Brown benefits from an additional week of recovery time.
DeMarco Murray, Tennessee Titans, knee: Even though the Titans didn't officially rule Murray out until Friday, most people recognized that it would be virtually impossible for him to be functional in an NFL game a week after suffering a third-degree MCL sprain in his right knee, as reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter. Medial instability, the primary consequence of a severe MCL injury, would compromise not only lateral mobility but also power moving straight ahead. Thus, Murray sits out Week 17, and teammate Derrick Henry is expected to see the bulk of the work in his place. Behind Henry, fellow backs David Fluellen and Khalfani Muhammad, recently elevated from the practice squad, provide support.
Davante Adams, concussion, and Jordy Nelson, shoulder, Green Bay Packers: Adams has been away from the practice field since he sustained his second concussion of the season in Week 15. Given his newly signed deal with the Packers, there is good reason to believe that he is on the road to recovery, but he will not play again this season. His teammate, Nelson, was never the same player without Aaron Rodgers on the field. Last week, he capped off a difficult season with a shoulder injury, and he will quietly end it on the sideline with his lowest production since 2010.
Aaron Jones, knee, Green Bay Packers: Jones sprained the MCL in his left knee in the team's Week 16 loss to the Vikings. Although there was no word on the severity of his injury, it is hardly surprising that he will miss the team's final contest of the season.
Rex Burkhead, knee, and Mike Gillislee, knee, New England Patriots: Burkhead sprained his knee in Week 15 and is still working his way back in the rehab department. He did not practice again this week and, unsurprisingly, was ruled out early for Sunday. As for Gillislee, his appearance in the Week 16 game represented his first time playing since Week 8. He carried the ball six times and managed a touchdown. He also managed to injure his knee. After sitting out practice all week, Gillislee was ruled out in advance of Week 17 as well.
Deandre Hopkins, Houston Texans, calf: Hopkins has played through a toe injury for several weeks but now has a calf ailment, and the Texans are holding him out. As he tweeted Friday, this will be Hopkins' first missed game in his five-year career.
Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos, ankle: Sanders' ankle remains an issue for him, and he will not play again this week. Although he tried to play through the injury earlier in the season, the increased soreness in his ankle recently made shutting him down an easy decision. It's worth noting that fellow receiver Cody Latimer will also sit this week out with a thigh injury.
Marqise Lee, Jacksonville Jaguars, ankle: Lee said last week that this is the exact injury he suffered in the preseason to his right ankle and left little doubt that he would be missing some time. He has not yet returned to practice and will sit out his second consecutive week. The focus for Lee is getting healthy enough to return during the team's first visit to the playoffs.
Evan Engram, rib and Sterling Shepard, neck, New York Giants: Engram was injured in the first quarter of last week's game, and it was originally reported as an abdominal injury. It was later revealed to be a rib injury. X-rays were negative, but even bruised ribs are extremely painful. Engram was not able to practice at all this week and will miss this game against Washington. Shepard has been dealing with a hamstring ailment in recent weeks, but when he left the Week 16 contest, it was because of a neck injury. Although Shepard did stretching and stationary bike work on the side, he did not practice this week and sits this one out.
Already kicked off
James White, New England Patriots, ankle, (Q), 1 p.m. ET: White injured his ankle two weeks ago and sat out last week as a result. This week he was a limited participant in practice throughout the week, and he comes into Sunday's game as questionable, the same practice pattern and pregame designation as last week when he was inactive. The Patriots are thin at running back with both Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee already ruled out for this game, but they also have an eye on the postseason. With a first-round bye already secured, it might be beneficial for some injured players to rest two more weeks before returning to game action. White might well be one of those players and should be considered at risk of resting. Fantasy players should check pregame inactives to verify his status.
Jerick McKinnon, Minnesota Vikings, shoulder, 1 p.m. ET: McKinnon has been on the injury report for several weeks now, and he has not only played but also put up decent numbers. At times, he has been the victim of a lower workload in running back carries relative to his teammate, Latavius Murray, but his involvement in the passing game (with the exception of a single catch in Week 16) has helped keep him fantasy-relevant. It is hard to gauge how the Vikings will utilize their starters this week, given that they have already secured a playoff spot. It won't be the health of his shoulder that limits him, though, as McKinnon has been a full participant in practice throughout the week and is not on the pregame injury report.
Samaje Perine, Washington Redskins, groin/shoulder, 1 p.m. ET: After being a late addition to last week's injury report, Perine appeared to be in serious jeopardy of missing the game. Once he was declared active, it was still hard to anticipate him doing much, knowing the recency of the injury. Although he wasn't particularly productive, Perine managed to touch the ball 20 times, a bit surprising given the injury context. (He also left the game briefly in the fourth quarter to be examined but later returned.) After practicing in full each day, Perine was removed from the pregame injury report and is expected to play Sunday.
Isaiah Crowell, shoulder, and Duke Johnson, shoulder, Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m. ET: Both Crowell and Johnson appear weekly on the injury report because of their shoulders, but their status remains virtually unchanged. Once again, they are cleared from the pregame injury report, and again they are both expected to take the field.
Chris Hogan, New England Patriots, shoulder, (Q), 1 p.m. ET: Hogan returned to game action in Week 14 after a month-long absence due to a shoulder injury, but it didn't go so well. Meeting the challenge of all the in-game duties of a receiver aggravated Hogan's shoulder, and he has not played in a game since. He did return to limited practice last week but ended up sitting out that game. His practice activity has remained the same this week, rendering his status legitimately uncertain. With a first-round bye secured, the Patriots could opt to allow Hogan two more weeks of recovery. On the other hand, this game could be a good test to see how much progress he has made in the three weeks since he last took the field. A test run Sunday would allow him two weeks postgame recovery if there is any lingering discomfort. This one is a real toss-up for fantasy players, with no real clues as to how much work would be in store for Hogan if he does end up active, a decision that could come down to game time.
Geronimo Allison, Green Bay Packers, illness, (Q), 1 p.m. ET: Allison was listed on the injury report because of illness. He did not practice Wednesday or Thursday but is expected to participate in a Saturday workout, according to ESPN.com's Rob Demovsky. The Packers are already without receivers Davante Adams and Jordy Nelson this week, meaning Allison could be a beneficiary, if he is healthy enough to play.
Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys, knee, 1 p.m. ET: Bryant pops up on the injury report this week with a sore knee, but there is no real concern. After a day off Thursday, Bryant was a full participant Friday and is expected to play Sunday. It should be noted that his teammate, Cole Beasley, has been ruled out with an illness.
Robby Anderson, New York Jets, illness, 1 p.m. ET: Anderson has been on the injury report for several weeks because of a hamstring injury, but this week it is an illness that has landed him here. The good news is that after turning in a full practice Friday, Anderson was removed from the pregame injury report, indicating that the Jets expect him to play.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, New York Jets, ribs/foot, (D), 1 p.m. ET: The doubtful tag tells you everything you need to know. Seferian-Jenkins emerged from Week 16 with two ailing body parts and has not practiced all week. He is not expected to play.
Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings, ankle, 1 p.m. ET: In Week 15, Rudolph proved that he could play efficiently, even while compromised by an injured ankle. Although he didn't see his usual complement of snaps, he did find the end zone. Last week he had only one target and one reception for 6 yards -- not exactly what those playing in fantasy championships were hoping for from him. Although the ankle injury is undoubtedly a factor in his limited productivity the past two weeks, the positive news is that Rudolph remains off the pregame injury report. He also had a strong outing against the Bears when these two teams faced each other in Week 5.
Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions, knee, 1 p.m. ET: Where was this version of Ebron earlier in the season? Not the injury report version; fantasy players are familiar with him. We're talking about the multi-catch, scoring version of Ebron who has made his presence felt the past three weeks in particular, managing a touchdown in each of his past two games. Although he was limited in practice to start the week, Ebron was a full participant Friday, and his removal from the pregame injury report confirms his status for Sunday.
Be sure to check out Fantasy Football Now at 10 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2 (note new start time -- a full three hours of news and analysis!) for last-minute inactives, rankings, injury impact and more!