- Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans – Mariota took a direct hit to the inside of his throwing elbow in Week 1, forcing him to exit the game. After the game, Mariota explained that he was dealing with numbness in his hand and difficulty gripping the ball, and this weakness lingered into Weeks 2 and 3. He started Week 3 as a backup to Blaine Gabbert, but after Gabbert went down with a concussion, forcing Mariota back into action. He didn’t look like himself, and I suspect it will continue to take a few more weeks for Mariota to be 100%. A Titans reporter earlier this week suggested Mariota was actually having difficulty tying his shoes when the injury originally happened, indicating this injury was more serious than we originally thought. Mariota will get the start in Week 4, but he’s tough to trust.
- Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals – Mixon remains sidelined with the knee injury he suffered in Week 2. Details surfaced that Mixon underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove a piece of a torn meniscus in his knee, and his recovery is right on track. Reports out of Cincinnati indicate Mixon is already sprinting and cutting just two weeks out from surgery. I would be surprised if Mixon isn’t back next week given his progress so far.
- Davonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons – Devonta Freeman will not play once again in Week 4 after missing Weeks 2 and 3 with a knee injury. He left Week 1 early against the Eagles after taking a hit to his knee and hasn’t done much since. He’s dealing with a significant bone bruise in the same knee that he injured at the end of 2017. Freeman sprained the MCL and PCL in his knee and did not undergo surgery. MCL injuries heal extremely well without surgery, and the PCL is typically treated non-surgically as well, but it is more likely to be a lingering issue due to the fact that there is a bit of laxity in the knee. Freeman may pop up on this weekly article frequently throughout the season.
- LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills – McCoy sat in the team’s surprising Week 3 victory over the Vikings with fractured rib cartilage, but there’s a chance he’ll suit up in Week 4. He actually told reporters that he’s going to play, but owners relying on Shady will want to check the final inactives on Sunday morning. McCoy also mentioned that “cutting was a minor setback.” Fractured ribs and rib cartilage is one of the most painful injuries to play through, so there’s a chance McCoy could take a big hit and be done for the day. He’s a risky play against the Packers given his own admission that cutting is still causing pain.
- Marlon Mack, Indianapolis Colts – Mack looks like he’s set to make his return in Week 4 after missing last week with a hamstring injury. This is the same hamstring injury that kept Mack out the majority of the preseason and the first two weeks of the year. Until he proves it, he can’t be trusted in fantasy.
- Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars – Fournette left Week 1 and has yet to see the field since. He didn’t play in Week 2 after not practicing at all that week, but he practiced on a limited basis last week before ultimately being ruled out. Now 3 weeks removed from the injury, fantasy football owners are likely to get their star RB back in their lineups. He practiced again on a limited basis throughout the week, and actually tweeted on Saturday, “I’m just thankful happy to be back…see y’all Sunday.” I expect Fournette to play, but owners will get the final word on Sunday morning.
- Jay Ajayi, Philadelphia Eagles – Ajayi played just two snaps in the first half of the team’s Week 2 loss to the Bucs as he dealt with back soreness and spasms off and on. Details finally surfaced that Ajayi suffered a fracture in his lower back, which explains it a lot. This injury comes with a lot of pain and discomfort but is ultimately a pain tolerance issue. We saw him rest in Week 3, but after being taken off the team’s final injury report, it looks like he’s going to gut it out in Week 4. Ajayi will probably play with a flak jacket on in order to protect the injured area, but if he takes one big shot to the affected area, he could leave early. He’s a risky start in fantasy football this week.
- Matt Breida, San Fransisco 49ers – Breida went down with a non-contact injury to his right knee in Week 3, but he came back into the game a few players later. Breida looked like he hyperextended his knee when planting, and you saw him immediately grab for the back of his knee. When the knee is hyperextended, the back part of the joint gets stretched very quickly, which can lead to pain, stiffness, and swelling. Fortunately for Breida, no ligament damage was sustained, but he still may not play in Week 4. He’s being called a game-time decision, so owners relying on Breida will need to make backup plans if he is ruled out.
- Alfred Morris, San Fransisco 49ers – Breida’s teammate, Alfred Morris, was added to the team’s injury report in the middle of the week with a knee injury. Being added in the middle of the practice week is never a good sign, but this injury is difficult to comment on because we don’t know any specifics. He’s listed as questionable and figures to also be a game-time decision.
- Rex Burkhead, New England Patriots – Burkhead has landed on I.R. after suffering a neck injury in Week 3. There have been no medical details regarding the specifics of the injury, but I suspect this is either a fracture or a disc issue, which can have long-term complications. We saw three notable players (Pierre Garcon, Adrian Peterson, and Quincy Enunwa) go down with similar injuries last season and end up on injured reserve. New England will now turn to Sony Michel and James White out of the backfield.
- Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks – Carson is listed as questionable with a hip issue heading into Week 4, but this is simply a formality. He got a whopping 34 touches in Week 3, so the team is just managing his practice reps. He will play in Week 4, as confirmed by head coach, Pete Carroll.
- Darren Sproles, Philadelphia Eagles – The veteran is out for Week 4 once again with the same hamstring injury that kept him off the field in Weeks 2 and 3. Look for Corey Clement to receive a bit more work in the receiving game out of the backfield.
- Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks – Baldwin looks like he’s set to make a return to the field after missing the last 2 weeks with a sprained MCL in his right knee. Head coach, Pete Carroll, praised Baldwin’s explosiveness in practice this week, stating that he looked strong and ready for game action. I’m not so sure, given how overly optimistic Pete Carroll tends to be. The MCL gets stressed a lot while a player changes direction and cuts, so it’s certainly possible that Baldwin suffers a setback during the game. Already playing with a lingering left knee issue, I’m not trusting Baldwin in my lineups this week, though I do expect him to be active.
- Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals – Fitz is listed on the team’s injury report again heading into Week 4, but there isn’t much concern here. He injured his hamstring in Week 2 and ended up playing in Week 3 without aggravation of the injury, so this is likely just a formality as the team manages his reps during practice. He’ll be out there on Sunday.
- Alshon Jeffery, Philadelphia Eagles – Jeffery is still recovering from off-season rotator cuff repair surgery, but he’s finally been cleared for contact. He got in some limited work on Wednesday, but he missed practice Thursday and Friday with an illness. During his first game back with the team, it’s not ideal for the player to miss practice, which makes me hesitant to play Jeffery in any format. We still don’t know for sure that he’ll be active, but I do anticipate he will play on a snap count for at least this week if he does ultimately suit up.
- Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers – Cobb popped up on the injury report on Thursday with a hamstring injury and didn’t practice on Friday. Soft tissue injuries that occur just days before a game make me very nervous and fantasy owners need to plan to be without Cobb on Sunday. He will test the hamstring pregame during warm-ups to decide if he’ll play, but I’m looking elsewhere given that Cobb could aggravate the hamstring early in the game, leaving you disappointed if you started him.
- DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans – Nuk has been listed on the team’s injury report all season with a variety of injuries, but he has yet to miss any time. He’s been dealing with some soreness in the ankle, hamstring, and thumb, but there are no indications anything serious is going on. Nuk will be fine for Week 4.
- Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers – Allen got banged up during the team’s Week 3 game against the Rams with a minor knee injury. He left the field for a few plays but ultimately came back in to finish the game. He missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday but did return to a limited practice on Friday, giving him a shot to play. I’d be surprised if Allen doesn’t play given that the team hasn’t given any details to indicate the injury is serious and because he returned to the game last week. Fantasy owners should be mindful of Allen’s status as he plays in the late afternoon slate.
- Anthony Miller, Chicago Bears – The rookie out of Memphis dislocated his left shoulder in Week 3 and won’t play this Sunday. It’s not impossible to play the following week after a shoulder dislocation, but it’s very, very painful to do so. No surprise here as the team has already ruled out the youngster. He has a chance to play next week, likely with a brace or protective sleeve in order to help create more stability in the shoulder.
- Josh Gordon, New England Patriots – Patriots fans may finally get to see Josh Gordon in a New England jersey for the first time this week. After being traded to the team, he didn’t play last week as he dealt with a hamstring injury. This week, I do anticipate he will play given that he’s been ramping up his practice activity throughout the week. As one of the most polarizing players in fantasy football, his usage in his first game with Tom Brady is difficult to predict. I’m avoiding for at least one week until we see how he’ll be used.
- Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts – Doyle has been ruled out for Week 4 against the Texans with a hip injury after not practicing at all throughout the week. Eric Ebron will start in his place and could be a serviceable option at tight end given the barren landscape that is the tight end position in fantasy football.
- Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots – Gronk was added to the Patriots injury report last Thursday with an ankle injury, but he was ultimately active for Week 3. No reports indicate that this injury was aggravated during the team’s Week 3 game, but the Pats limited his practice reps all week, so he draws the questionable tag. Owners need not worry about Gronkowski, who will be fine for Week 4.
- Evan Engram, New York Giants – Engram suffered a grade 2 MCL sprain in his knee last week against the Texans and will be out for 2-4 weeks. Rhett Ellison will start in his place for at least this week and likely next week as well. Look for more updates on Engram in the next 2 weeks.
- Jake Butt, Denver Broncos – Unfortunately for second-year TE, Jake Butt, he’s done for the season with a torn ACL. He went down in practice this week with a classic non-contact mechanism of injury. Butt showed promise coming out of Michigan, but he tore his ACL during the team’s final game of the season and missed his entire rookie year. It’s his second ACL tear in just two years. His NFL future is murky at best.