Commentary

Week 4 inactives

Updated: October 2, 2011, 3:02 PM ET
By Tristan H. Cockcroft | ESPN.com

Welcome to Week 4. Here we'll be posting "live" updates and analysis as NFL teams release their inactive lists. Refresh often for the latest information!

For a complete list of NFL inactives, check out John Clayton's report.

Top players we're watching

Ruled out before Sunday: WR Miles Austin (hamstring), WR Earl Bennett (chest), K David Buehler (right groin), WR Braylon Edwards (knee), WR Lee Evans (ankle), RB Ryan Grant (kidney), TE Aaron Hernandez (knee), QB Peyton Manning (neck), WR Louis Murphy (groin), WR Eddie Royal (groin), RB Jason Snelling (concussion), WR Sammie Stroughter (foot), RB Derrick Ward (ankle).

Early games (1 p.m. ET)

WR Danny Amendola (elbow, questionable): inactive
WR Dez Bryant (thigh, questionable): active
WR Marques Colston (shoulder, questionable): active
RB Frank Gore (ankle, questionable): active
WR Mohamed Massaquoi (ankle, questionable): active
QB Tony Romo (ribs, questionable): active

Late games (4:05 p.m. ET)

WR Malcom Floyd (groin, questionable): active
WR Jacoby Ford (hamstring, questionable): active
TE Antonio Gates (foot, doubtful): inactive
WR Vincent Jackson (abdomen, questionable): active
RB Beanie Wells (hamstring, questionable): active
WR Roddy White (thigh, questionable): active

Updates/analysis (most recent first)

Jermichael Finley active (15:01 p.m. ET): The Green Bay Packers' official Twitter feed reports that TE Jermichael Finley (ankle, probable) is active. He matches up brilliantly with the Broncos defense and should be in all fantasy lineups.

Ryan Grant inactive (15:01 p.m. ET): The Green Bay Packers' official Twitter feed reports that RB Ryan Grant (kidney, out) is inactive. James Starks gets the start and a tremendous opportunity against a Broncos defense that will be unable to stack the box as they did in the previous two weeks. Starks has top-20 fantasy value at his position, with upside into the top 10.

Louis Murphy inactive (14:58 p.m. ET): The Oakland Raiders' official Twitter feed reports that WR Louis Murphy (groin, out) is inactive.

Jacoby Ford active (14:58 p.m. ET): The Oakland Raiders' official Twitter feed reports that WR Jacoby Ford (hamstring, questionable) is active. Ford should capitalize upon the favorable matchup against the injury-riddled and underperforming Patriots corners.

Jason Campbell active (14:58 p.m. ET): The Oakland Raiders' official Twitter feed reports that QB Jason Campbell (foot, probable) is active. As mentioned earlier, he's a fine fill-in if you're in a pinch at quarterback. Certainly Campbell should be starting in two-quarterback leagues.

Darren McFadden active (14:58 p.m. ET): The Oakland Raiders' official Twitter feed reports that RB Darren McFadden (shoulder, probable) is active. He's a top-10 fantasy option, even with the Patriots' defensive weakness being more in the secondary.

Louis Murphy inactive (14:58 p.m. ET): The Oakland Raiders' official Twitter feed reports that WR Louis Murphy (groin, out) is inactive.

Daniel Thomas inactive (14:55 p.m. ET): Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel confirms that RB Daniel Thomas (hamstring, questionable) is inactive. Reggie Bush is the Dolphins running back to get, but he's not a great fantasy option; he's a flex-play consideration.

Knowshon Moreno active (14:54 p.m. ET): The Denver Broncos' official Twitter feed reports that RB Knowshon Moreno (hamstring, probable) is active. His active status is more of a headache to Willis McGahee owners than anything, but the greatest headache for either back this week is that the matchup against the Packers is a poor one. McGahee is a mere low-level flex, and Moreno doesn't warrant consideration at all.

Eddie Royal inactive (14:54 p.m. ET): The Denver Broncos' official Twitter feed reports that WR Eddie Royal (groin, out) is inactive.

Demaryius Thomas inactive (14:54 p.m. ET): The Denver Broncos' official Twitter feed reports that WR Demaryius Thomas (finger, out) is inactive.

Ryan Mathews active (14:51 p.m. ET): The San Diego Chargers' official Twitter feed reports that RB Ryan Mathews (foot, probable) is active. Injuries are always a worry with Mathews, who hasn't been the healthiest fella so far in his NFL career, but all indications are that he should be fine to be the go-to back for the Chargers this week. He's off to a hot start, so keep him in there as a No. 2 fantasy running back.

Malcom Floyd active (14:50 p.m. ET): The San Diego Chargers' official Twitter feed reports that WR Malcom Floyd (groin, questionable) is active. He might see a few more targets with Antonio Gates out but isn't a great fantasy choice this week.

Vincent Jackson active (14:50 p.m. ET): The San Diego Chargers' official Twitter feed reports that WR Vincent Jackson (abdomen, questionable) is active. Despite his practice limitations, Jackson is still too integral to the Chargers' offense, especially with Antonio Gates again out, to sit in fantasy. He remains a solid option in all formats.

Antonio Gates inactive (14:50 p.m. ET): The San Diego Chargers' official Twitter feed reports that TE Antonio Gates (foot, doubtful) is inactive. Randy McMichael gets another golden opportunity -- and might get more in the coming weeks -- but to be clear, using him as a fantasy fill-in is speculating upon a couple catches and a possible touchdown. "Volume" in terms of statistics is not his strength.

Ras-I Dowling, Leigh Bodden inactive (14:48 p.m. ET): The New England Patriots' official Twitter feed reports that CBs Ras-I Dowling (hip, questionable) and Leigh Bodden (groin, questionable) are inactive. CB Kyle Arrington (chest, questionable), meanwhile, is active. This still means that the Patriots, an awful pass defense, are hurting significantly in the secondary, a huge plus for the opposing Raiders. Bump up Jason Campbell, Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore accordingly.

Aaron Hernandez inactive (14:45 p.m. ET): The New England Patriots' official Twitter feed reports that TE Aaron Hernandez (knee, out) is inactive. This was expected, but it provides an opportunity to talk up Rob Gronkowski, a solid fantasy start especially in games Hernandez is out.

Jason Snelling inactive (14:38 p.m. ET): The Atlanta Falcons' official Twitter feed reports that RB Jason Snelling (concussion, out) is inactive.

Roddy White active (14:38 p.m. ET): The Atlanta Falcons' official Twitter feed reports that WR Roddy White (thigh, questionable) is active. He wasn't expected to miss the game despite his questionable tag, and hopefully you waited long enough to now use him. He remains a top-10 fantasy wideout.

LaRod Stephens-Howling active (14:36 p.m. ET): The Arizona Cardinals' official Twitter feed reports that KR LaRod Stephens-Howling (hand, questionable) is active. He might be more involved than usual as Beanie Wells works back from a hamstring injury, but not enough so that he'd warrant fantasy consideration.

Beanie Wells active (14:36 p.m. ET): The Arizona Cardinals' official Twitter feed reports that RB Beanie Wells (hamstring, questionable) is active. Most Wells owners were expecting him to play, despite his sudden scratch a week ago, and if you have waited this long, he's fine to use.

Todd Heap active (14:36 p.m. ET): The Arizona Cardinals' official Twitter feed reports that TE Todd Heap (ribs, probable) is active. The Cardinals historically haven't involved their tight ends in the pass attack, and it has been no different with Heap this season. He's a mediocre fantasy option even in deeper leagues.

Mario Manningham active (14:34 p.m. ET): Pat Hanlon of the New York Giants reports that WR Mario Manningham (concussion, probable) is active. Going up against a weak Cardinals secondary, Manningham is a worthwhile No. 3 fantasy wideout, with upside in PPR formats.

Hakeem Nicks active (14:34 p.m. ET): Pat Hanlon of the New York Giants reports that WR Hakeem Nicks (knee, probable) is active. He's a top-10 potential fantasy wideout going up against the Cardinals' D.

Brandon Stokley inactive (14:34 p.m. ET): Pat Hanlon of the New York Giants reports that WR Brandon Stokley (quadriceps, out) is inactive.

Laurent Robinson starting (12:29 p.m. ET): Tim McMahon of ESPNDallas.com reports that Laurent Robinson, not Kevin Ogletree, will start opposite Dez Bryant in Week 4. No surprise; Ogletree has been nothing but disappointing in past starting opportunities. Robinson isn't a fantasy option just yet, but his performance bears watching for future-week pickups.

Earl Bennett inactive (12:07 p.m. ET): Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports that WR Earl Bennett (chest, out) is inactive for the Bears.

Marion Barber active (12:07 p.m. ET): Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports that RB Marion Barber (calf, probable) is active for the Bears. It'll be his debut for his new team, and it'll be interesting to watch whether he thieves any of Matt Forte's goal-line carries, as advertised in the preseason. Forte remains a solid fantasy play even with Barber active.

Felix Jones active (12:05 p.m. ET): The Dallas Cowboys' official Twitter feed reports that RB Felix Jones (shoulder, probable) is active. So long as he's got the OK from his team, he remains a worthwhile No. 2 fantasy running back. But he's always a risk to get hurt, so keep his downside in mind.

Miles Austin inactive (12:02 p.m. ET): The Dallas Cowboys' official Twitter feed reports that WR Miles Austin (hamstring, out) is inactive. This was expected. Kevin Ogletree gets another week to fill in, not that he's a recommended fantasy fill-in.

David Buehler inactive (12:02 p.m. ET): The Dallas Cowboys' official Twitter feed reports that K David Buehler (right groin, out) is inactive. Dan Bailey will continue to fill in at kicker for the Cowboys.

Tony Romo active (12:02 p.m. ET): The Dallas Cowboys' official Twitter feed reports that QB Tony Romo (ribs, questionable) is active. He wasn't expected to sit, and it's a plus that he has Dez Bryant in the lineup at wide receiver. Romo remains a worthwhile fantasy option in a potential shoot-out this week.

Frank Gore active (11:55 a.m. ET): ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that RB Frank Gore (ankle, questionable) is active for the 49ers, however, Kendall Hunter will start at running back. This is a much cloudier situation as a result of that news; there have been whispers all morning that the 49ers might evenly divide the carries between the two. Hunter's "starter" status could be a hint that the 49ers plan to take it easy on Gore, making Hunter the stronger choice of the two. But the divide in rushing chores detracts from both, and limits them to flex-play appeal. The relevance here: The Eagles are off to a miserable start as a run defense, so either back warrants a look in that flex class.

Steve Johnson active (11:54 a.m. ET): Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that WR Steve Johnson (groin, probable) is active. Not that there was any worry. Johnson is off to a hot start and warrants consideration in most any fantasy league this week.

Arian Foster active (11:50 a.m. ET): The Houston Texans' official Twitter feed reports that RB Arian Foster (hamstring, probable) is active. He is expected to return to a full workload this week, though his matchup against the Steelers isn't especially attractive. On skills, and considering the Steelers' defensive troubles so far, Foster remains a high-end No. 2 fantasy running back. But it might be another week before he returns to "must-start stud" status.

Ben Tate active (11:50 a.m. ET): The Houston Texans' official Twitter feed reports that RB Ben Tate (back, probable) is active. A healthy Arian Foster should recapture the bulk of the carries in the Texans' backfield, relegating Tate to a little-used backup role. He might be more involved than your usual backup, accounting for his inspired play in Foster's absense, but he's not an advised play this week because of the possibly small number of touches.

Joel Dreessen active (11:50 a.m. ET): The Houston Texans' official Twitter feed reports that TE Joel Dreessen (knee, probable) is active. He's now seemingly third on the depth chart, and a no-go in fantasy.

Andre Johnson active (11:50 a.m. ET): The Houston Texans' official Twitter feed reports that WR Andre Johnson (knee, probable) is active. He's well worth starting in all leagues, even against the Steelers. Remember, he managed 100-plus yards in his last game against them, when their defense was off to a much better start to that season.

Jacoby Jones active (11:50 a.m. ET): The Houston Texans' official Twitter feed reports that WR Jacoby Jones (knee, probable) is active. A healthy Kevin Walter will cut into Jones' targets, and assure that Jones' primary role might be on returns.

Kevin Walter active (11:50 a.m. ET): The Houston Texans' official Twitter feed reports that WR Kevin Walter (shoulder, probable) is active. He should be the Texans' No. 2 wideout this week, but that might not mean enough targets to make a difference in fantasy. Try to do better.

Josh Cribbs active (11:47 a.m. ET): The Cleveland Browns' official Twitter feed reports that KR Josh Cribbs (groin, questionable) is active. He doesn't get quite enough targets in the passing game to warrant consideration in ESPN standard leagues, but if you're in a deeper league that rewards for return yards, Cribbs is worth a look.

Mohamed Massaquoi active (11:47 a.m. ET): The Cleveland Browns' official Twitter feed reports that WR Mohamed Massaquoi (ankle, questionable) is active. He's largely a hit-or-miss receiver, stress "miss," and a matchup against the hot-starting Titans D isn't an especially attractive one.

Peyton Hillis active (11:47 a.m. ET): The Cleveland Browns' official Twitter feed reports that RB Peyton Hillis (illness, probable) is active. He should be ready to handle a full workload, and returns to borderline No. 1/2 fantasy running back status this week.

Matthew Stafford active (11:44 a.m. ET): The Detroit Lions' official Twitter feed reports that QB Matthew Stafford (right forearm) is active. No surprise; he was expected to play. Stafford, for so long as he's healthy, is an almost must-start; the "almost" referring to the fact that a lot of fantasy owners actually drafted him as their No. 2 quarterback.

Calvin Johnson active (11:44 a.m. ET): The Detroit Lions' official Twitter feed reports that WR Calvin Johnson (ankle, probable) is active. He's a threat to score every single week, particularly in games started by Matthew Stafford. Get him into your lineup in all formats.

Brandon Pettigrew active (11:44 a.m. ET): The Detroit Lions' official Twitter feed reports that TE Brandon Pettigrew (shoulder, probable) is active. He's quickly shaping up as Matthew Stafford's go-to tight end, though he's still not quite targeted enough to be much more than a low-end No. 1/high-end No. 2.

Chris Cooley active (11:42 a.m. ET): The Washington Redskins' official Twitter feed reports that TE Chris Cooley (knee, probable) is active. He remains in an almost-even split of the tight end targets with Fred Davis, though Davis still seems to have a slight edge. This news keeps Davis in the No. 2 class of fantasy tight ends, albeit the upper tier of that group.

Anthony Armstrong inactive (11:42 a.m. ET): The Washington Redskins' official Twitter feed reports that WR Anthony Armstrong (hamstring, questionable) is inactive. He hasn't been terribly involved in the passing game thus far, so this probably doesn't hurt many fantasy owners.

Hines Ward active (11:41 a.m. ET): Steelers Digest reports that WR Hines Ward (not injury related) is active. He appears to have been surpassed on the depth chart by Antonio Brown, and isn't an advised option except in deep PPR leagues.

Mike Wallace active (11:41 a.m. ET): Steelers Digest reports that WR Mike Wallace (rib, probable) is active. He was no risk to sit this week and is the most lethal weapon, fantasy-wise, in the offense. Start him.

Dez Bryant active (11:39 a.m. ET): ESPN's Ed Werder reports that WR Dez Bryant (thigh, questionable) is active for the Cowboys. Bryant is a strong No. 2 fantasy wideout this week, being that the Cowboys don't have a lot to rely on deep right now. That he missed practice all week probably caps his upside, but he should be targeted enough to make an impact.

Sam Bradford active (11:36 a.m. ET): The St. Louis Rams' official Twitter feed reports that QB Sam Bradford (toe) is active. He's off to a sluggish start and facing a Redskins pass defense that is off to a reasonably hot start. Consider him a low-end No. 2 fantasy option.

Danny Amendola inactive (11:36 a.m. ET): The St. Louis Rams' official Twitter feed reports that WR Danny Amendola (elbow, questionable) is inactive. The Rams are playing it safe what with their bye due up in Week 5. Check back in Week 6.

Cadillac Williams active (11:36 a.m. ET): The St. Louis Rams' official Twitter feed reports that RB Cadillac Williams (hamstring, probable) is active. Steven Jackson is also healthy, however, which means that Williams won't see enough of the field to warrant fantasy consideration.

Steven Jackson active (11:36 a.m. ET): The St. Louis Rams' official Twitter feed reports that RB Steven Jackson (quadriceps, probable) is active. He's probably going to handle the vast majority of the rushing work this week, and warrants No. 2 fantasy consideration.

Adrian Peterson active (11:35 a.m. ET): The Minnesota Vikings' official Twitter feed reports that RB Adrian Peterson (calf, probable) is active. He's a must-start in all fantasy leagues regardless of matchup, but don't worry, this is a good one.

Steve Smith active (11:33 a.m. ET): Dan Graziano of ESPN's NFC East Blog reports that WR Steve Smith (knee, probable) is active. He's still third on the wideout depth chart in Philadelphia, a low-end PPR option but not involved enough to warrant consideration in ESPN standard leagues.

Michael Vick active (11:33 a.m. ET): Dan Graziano of ESPN's NFC East Blog reports that QB Michael Vick (right hand, probable) is active. He claimed he'd play all week and play he shall. That said, he has taken a slew of hits and is a risk to make an early exit at any point. Vick is as risk/reward as they come; start him but understand the downside.

Jeremy Maclin active (11:33 a.m. ET): Dan Graziano of ESPN's NFC East Blog reports that WR Jeremy Maclin (hamstring, probable) is active. He has been the Eagles' most reliable receiver so far, and a healthy Michael Vick -- at least to begin the game -- is a plus. Get Maclin into your lineup.

David Thomas inactive (11:31 a.m. ET): The New Orleans Saints' official Twitter feed reports that TE David Thomas (concussion, out) is inactive. It's a plus for Jimmy Graham, who no longer has his backup threatening his target total. Graham might be the one completely "safe" play among the Saints' receivers this week.

Marques Colston active (11:30 a.m. ET): The New Orleans Saints' official Twitter feed reports that WR Marques Colston (shoulder, questionable) is active. He was expected to play, but it's somewhat unclear how many snaps he'll play. Colston's presence is actually a negative to owners of the Saints' other wideouts; the team tends to spread it around and that means that no individual stands out as a top fantasy play. Plan accordingly.

Marcedes Lewis active (11:29 a.m. ET): Mark Long of the Associated Press reports that TE Marcedes Lewis (calf) is active. This was expected; if you've been waiting on Lewis, he's OK to play. Still, he's only a No. 2 fantasy tight end as Blaine Gabbert adapts to life as an NFL starter.

Jon Baldwin inactive (11:28 a.m. ET): Josh Looney of the Chiefs' official website reports that WR Jon Baldwin (thumb, out) is inactive.

Brandon Flowers active (11:26 a.m. ET): Josh Looney of the Chiefs' official website reports that CB Brandon Flowers (ankle, questionable) is active. Downgrade the opposing Vikings' passing game somewhat as a result; Percy Harvin in particular suffers slightly in terms of matchup. He's a lower-end No. 2 wide receiver with this news.

Daniel Thomas out (10:50 a.m. ET): The Associated Press reports that RB Daniel Thomas (hamstring, questionable) is out for the Dolphins this week. He has been removed from the "players we're watching" list accordingly, though the Dolphins have yet to officially downgrade him from questionable, meaning expect another official confirmation on his status once the 4 p.m. games' inactives roll in. Reggie Bush should get his second start -- he also started in Week 1 -- but isn't recommended as more than a flex option, considering his historical struggles as a runner. Newly acquired Steve Slaton might also see increased work, though the awkward aspect of this backfield is that both Dolphins alternatives have better pass-catching than running skills. Don't expect big numbers from either.

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