- Stephania Bell, Fantasy Sports
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Week 1 is in the books! As always, injuries old and new will impact fantasy lineups everywhere. Here's what we know so far.
Danny Amendola, New England Patriots (groin): Don't say you weren't warned. Amendola has long been touted as a high-risk, high-reward option and both qualities were in plain view last Sunday. Amendola came into the season opener on the mend from a groin injury suffered in the second preseason game, and while he had improved, he resumed practicing on a limited basis just last week. He was not expected to be at full health, thus making him a risk for a setback in the game, and it didn't take long for that setback to occur. Late in the second quarter, Amendola could be seen reaching instinctively toward the injured area of his right upper thigh and pelvis as he limped off the field. Somewhat surprisingly, he returned to the game in the third quarter. More surprisingly, he delivered a solid performance in the aftermath of the setback, but it may have come at a price. The Patriots play Thursday night and Amendola was absent from the team's Tuesday walk-through, typically the most significant practice day in a Thursday game week. His status may come down to a game-time decision but fantasy owners should make plans to have a backup in place. If he does play -- which, according to ESPN and media reports, is unlikely -- he will not be at full health. The question if he does suit up will be whether he can muster another performance like last Sunday or whether he will potentially set himself significantly further back. If he sits Thursday against the Jets as it appears he will, it would give him a two-week recovery period before the Patriots' subsequent matchup against Tampa Bay.
Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons (ankle): White's status provided some last-minute pregame drama Sunday when reports emerged that his ankle injury was more serious than previously revealed by the team. It's not unusual for a team to downplay the severity of an athlete's injury. But even in the day and age of gamesmanship, it is still uncommon for a team to refute the nature of an injury outright. When White originally injured his ankle in the preseason, it was reported as a "minor ankle sprain". Reports from NFL.com indicated it was a lateral ankle sprain, not a high ankle sprain, which is an entirely different injury. The team denied that White's injury was a high ankle sprain. On Sunday, we learned from White himself (after the game) that he was indeed dealing with a high ankle sprain and that he had not been able to test it in various ways in the week leading up to the opener. White told reporters, "It's hard to cut. It's hard to do just about everything at the position." Although he was on the field, he was clearly not himself and the question facing fantasy owners now is when he will return to form.
Suffering a high ankle sprain does not automatically translate to a longer absence than a standard ankle sprain; the injuries are still measured in terms of severity and the extent of tissue damage. A severe lateral sprain can be worse than a mild high sprain. Some movements, however, particularly rotational, can be more difficult with a high ankle injury. It is also critical for the injury to heal properly to prevent longer-term problems down the line. White said doctors told him initially he would be sidelined for approximately a month. This week marks a month since the initial injury so, barring a setback, he should be rounding into form soon. It's not yet clear whether he will play this Sunday when the team hosts the Rams, although it seems likely, given he played in Week 1. Fantasy owners will want to see just how much he does in practice, however, before making a decision about Week 2.
Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys (foot): Bryant sprained his left foot late in Sunday night's game as he appeared to get it caught underneath him as he was rolled on by a defender. Although he walked off the field, Bryant's frustration with the injury on the sideline was immediately obvious. Then he returned to the game moments later, suggesting it was not perhaps as bad as originally feared. X-rays after the game were negative for any fractures. ESPN's Ed Werder reported that a subsequent MRI confirmed a mild foot sprain for Bryant, and the Cowboys -- as well as Bryant himself -- are optimistic about his chances for playing this week. Naturally, any foot injury is a concern for a running back or a receiver, but Bryant's ability to return to last week's game was a positive sign. Expect him to be perhaps limited in practice but, as of now, he appears to be in line to play against the Chiefs.
Shane Vereen, New England Patriots (wrist): Not that anyone would have known based on his performance Sunday, but Vereen fractured a bone in his left wrist on his first play of the game, a story originally reported by Fox Sports. (Vereen went on to finish out the day Sunday to the tune of 101 rushing yards and seven receptions.) While it was immediately apparent he would miss some time once the plan for surgery was announced, a definitive timetable remains hard to project. The Boston Herald cites a source as saying Vereen will miss at least a month. Beyond the healing parameters for a fracture (typically about six weeks, although surgical stabilization may allow sooner return to activity), there is the issue of regaining adequate motion and strength around the wrist and hand to provide ball security. Since Vereen was given extra work Sunday when teammate Steven Ridley was involuntarily sidelined after fumbling, the Patriots have made it clear that ball security is of the utmost importance. The Patriots placed Vereen on injured reserve-designated to return on Tuesday, meaning he can return to practice after six weeks and return to play after eight weeks. That means the earliest he could play is Week 11 because the Patriots have a bye in Week 10.
Reggie Bush, Detroit Lions (thumb, groin): Bush appeared to have a new lease on his running back life Tuesday, amassing 90 rushing yards and, perhaps more impressively, 101 receiving yards Sunday with a touchdown thrown in for good measure. But the oft-injured running back -- most notably in the early part of his career, as he missed only one game in the past two seasons with Miami -- sustained not one but two injuries Sunday. Bush dislocated his thumb, later telling reporters, "it was pointing in the wrong direction, but they were able to pop it back in and tape it up." It would seem that this could have presented a big problem for a running back who needs to catch and carry the ball, but Bush's solution was simple. "After that, I just carried the ball with my right hand," Bush said. As if that weren't enough, Bush indicated that on the subsequent series he pulled a groin muscle. None of that was enough to keep him from being exceptionally productive last Sunday, which also bodes well for his chances of playing this week in Arizona. Naturally, there will be concerns about the potential aggravation of the groin injury, but at least Bush appears in line to start. According to the Detroit Free Press, coach Jim Schwartz has no plans to limit Bush's workload in an effort to protect his body (unsurprising if you look at track record of play for injured running backs in Detroit). "That's life in the big city," Schwartz said. "You're a running back in the NFL." Bush's fantasy owners should make every effort to acquire Joique Bell, who looked pretty darn good for the Lions on Sunday in that No. 2 role.
Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs (quad): Charles left Sunday's game early with what is being called a "quad contusion," otherwise known as a deep bruise of the large muscle on the front of the thigh. The biggest factor in determining how much this will affect Charles is how much bleeding or bruising there actually is in the muscle and how quickly it dissipates. Head coach Andy Reid told reporters Monday that Charles does have his range of motion (a positive, suggesting the thigh is not overly stiff or swollen), and the Kansas City Star reports Reid was hopeful about his availability for Sunday's home opener. The key will be how well Charles can move throughout the week and whether he can run without discomfort and at full speed by Sunday.
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys (ribs): We were told Sunday night on the television broadcast that Romo "got the wind knocked out of him" when he absorbed a double-crunch blow to the ribs just before halftime. It certainly looked like it had the potential to be more serious, but Romo's ability to return and finish out the game eased some concern. He clearly wasn't comfortable and did undergo further testing postgame. The good news is that there was no structural damage and the subsequent diagnosis was "bruised ribs." The Cowboys and Romo fantasy owners had to be relieved to hear "bruised" and not "broken." It was just two years ago when Romo played with broken ribs, leading us to believe he will continue to play now. He may get some additional rest this week in practice to allow the pain to settle and he may get some additional padding in the area for the game, but this is not expected to keep him from facing the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars (hand): Gabbert came into the opening week of the season as questionable with a nondisplaced fracture in his right (throwing) thumb, an injury suffered during the team's second preseason game. After doing enough in practice during the week to convince the team he was ready to play, Gabbert did indeed start. He did not finish. Gabbert left in the fourth quarter with a laceration on his right hand that required 15 stitches to close. He has already been declared out for Week 2. Chad Henne will get the start in Oakland.
Zach Sudfeld, New England Patriots (hamstring): Sudfeld was apparently dealing with a hamstring issue, which may have been a factor in his lack of contribution last Sunday. With the Patriots on a short week, it's unclear whether Sudfeld will be available Thursday and whether he would even be fully healthy if active.
And we're keeping an eye on:
Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots (back/forearm): Gronkowski is working his way back to action, but don't expect it to come on a short week. At least, it doesn't appear that way as of Tuesday.
Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers (foot): Bell proclaimed he would aim to return in Week 2 but followed that up with the caveat that he wasn't making any promises. That would indeed be a quick turnaround following a midfoot sprain, but no timetable -- especially when it comes to foot injuries -- is set in stone. With the report Tuesday from Bob Labriola of Steelers Digest that Bell has not yet begun individual drills in practice, it does not appear likely Bell's return is imminent. The Steelers also re-signed Jonathan Dwyer in the wake of LaRod Stephens-Howling's ACL tear.