Here are some midweek updates and news items that could impact your NFL fantasy plans this week.
Welcome, Mitch Trubisky!
Chicago is taking advantage of an 11-day layoff to prepare for Mitchell Trubisky’s NFL debut as the Bears host the Vikings on Monday night. Fans were clamoring for the change since the preseason when the rookie dazzled fans. Actually, they have been clamoring for the move since the Bears inexplicably traded up one notch in the draft to make sure the 49ers didn’t snag him first. That draft day maneuver, along with the Mike Glennon signing, could go down as two of the worst deals ever made by the Bears.
Welcome back, EJ Manuel!
Former Bill EJ Manuel will start in place of the injured Derek Carr on Sunday. Oakland says they were pleased with Manuel’s performance in relief of Carr last week. In the preseason, the Raiders reportedly worked on Manuel’s lower body strength and mechanics, which they believe will fix his past problems with accuracy. Michael Crabtree is expected to come back from his chest injury which will help the relief quarterback, but all Oakland receivers should drop a notch in fantasy value until we see how Manuel looks.
Welcome back, Matt Cassel?
Marcus Mariota did not practice Wednesday and will reportedly be a game-time decision on Sunday. Matt Cassel took all the first-team reps. The team also signed Brandon Weeden for depth at the position.
Injury surprise: Rob Gronkowski
Rob Gronkowski is listed as questionable for Thursday night’s game in Tampa Bay with a thigh injury. The team has not released any further details. Gronkowski traveled to Tampa with the team, so he is probably closer to playing than sitting – but if he is on your roster, you better watch for updates.
Injury surprise II: Wendell Smallwood
Philadelphia’s Wendell Smallwood did not practice Wednesday due to a knee injury. Smallwood finished last week’s game with no obvious problem. He was one of the most picked-up players last week after Darren Sproles went on injured reserve. Corey Clement and Kenjon Barner are the running backs behind Smallwood and LeGarrette Blount.
Ezekiel Elliott will play Week 5
Many were surprised to learn that it is not a sure thing that Ezekiel Elliott will play the full season. The NFL and the NFL Players’ Association presented their cases to another appeals court as the NFL tries to get a stay against the order to stop Elliott’s suspension for domestic violence. No decision has come forth yet, so by NFL rule, Elliott is assured of playing in Week 5. If the ruling goes against the Dallas star, his suspension would start after the Cowboys’ Week 6 bye.
Davante Adams is tough!
One week after the nation saw his mouthpiece flying across the field from a vicious head-to-head impact, the Packers’ Davante Adams was back on the practice field, albeit in a non-contact jersey. His presence shows he is progressing along the concussion protocol and has a shot to play on Sunday.
Ty Montgomery, too!
With a heavy padding protecting broken ribs, Ty Montgomery was also back on the practice field. Unfortunately, all the padding in the world doesn’t stop ribs from moving when you breathe, a little-discussed, but vitally important task in NFL football. His return comes down to pain tolerance and so far, he is insisting he will play Sunday. Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams should see more action than usual even if Montgomery starts.
Before you start Wayne Gallman…
Wayne Gallman’s solid performance last week for the Giants in relief of injured Orleans Darkwa and Paul Perkins made him a popular waiver wire pickup this week. But Perkins and Darkwa both practiced without limitations today, so who plays Sunday is up in the air. Coach Ben McAdoo gets defensive when asked about players being replaced. Don’t be surprise if Perkins and his 1.9 yards-per-carry are on the field ahead of Darkwa and Gallman despite their YPCs being much higher.
Marqise Lee in pain
Marqise Lee sat out practice today with a rib injury. He was in obvious discomfort and is not a sure thing to play Sunday. Allen Hurns would be the main receiver with little-used Arrelious Benn. But rookie Keelan Cole should get significant snaps and targets and don’t be surprised if Max McCaffrey shows up in the Jaguars box score.
Kareem Hunt is still good!
Kareem Hunt has gained more rushing yards in the second half of games than any other rusher has gained in four complete games.
Whine report: Antonio Brown
It was refreshing to see Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger call it like he saw it and not downplay his star receiver’s sideline tantrum last weekend. In case you missed it, Antonio Brown was wide open on the opposite side of the field from where Roethlisberger was rolling out. The pass went elsewhere and Brown responded by throwing a cooler and blowing off coaches who tried to talk to him. Normally, we would hear about his competitive attitude, but Roethlisberger called him out, saying the incident was unfortunate and he preferred to have receivers talk to him if they are upset. Brown apologized to the team for the distraction. Whether Ben looks Brown’s way with more regularity Sunday against the Jaguars will be interesting.
Whine report II: Melvin Gordon
Melvin Gordon caught himself and added that he would not be as upset if the Chargers were winning, but he wants the ball more. On Sunday, playing with a bad knee, Gordon could do nothing with the handful of carries he had. In the passing game, it appeared that Phillip Rivers stopped looking his way after a missed play. It would be a good idea for the Chargers to let Gordon run the ball a lot Sunday because…
The Giants defense is falling apart!
The Giants’ injury report is a who’s who of defensive starters. Damon Harrison was banged up Sunday, but practiced and says he will play – but both starting defensive ends might not. Olivier Vernon was on the sideline with the trainers tending to his ankle injury, which he aggravated last Sunday. In a surprise development, Jason Pierre-Paul wasn’t even on the field, despite finishing Sunday’s game with no report of injury. He is listed as questionable with shoulder and knee issues. Melvin Gordon’s NFL fantasy value should jump a notch, except that…
Chargers plan offensive changes
Head coach Anthony Lynn told reporters he is considering changes to spark the offense, particularly the running game. Austin Ekeler could be the beneficiary of those changes as his explosive plays, including a 35-yard touchdown on his first professional carry, could force the Chargers to give him a more consistent role. Melvin Gordon has been struggling with knee issues and Branden Oliver is only averaging 3.1 yards per carry in relief. The Chargers play the Giants in New Jersey this weekend.
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