There are injured players that are worth keeping tabs on every Sunday, but today, we have a major story in Calvin Johnson. He didn't practice at all this week, but he's done that before and produced. No worries, right? Well, then Pro Football Weekly reported Saturday that Johnson may play on third downs only if he is active versus the Jaguars. Oh boy.
This morning, there have already been reports than Johnson is expected to play despite his knee injury. But play how much? We hope to find out before kickoff. For the latest developments on Calvin as well as other wounded players -- Jordy Nelson , Donald Brown , Ryan Tannehill , etc -- keep checking back on this post until kickoff of the early games.
Players who have already been ruled out for Week 9 include Darren Sproles , Ben Tate, Coby Fleener, Maurice Jones-Drew and DeMarco Murray. For a full list of injured NFL'ers this week, click on the link below to the league's official injury report.
-- Colts RB Donald Brown is active but will not start. That job will be handled by Vick Ballard. This is probably the worst news possible for fantasy owners since these two will likely split carries against the Dolphins really tough run defense. Ballard is a low-end flex. Brown would be on my bench.
-- Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill is active and will start against the Colts. He's a low-upside QB2. WR Brian Hartline will also start, but he will be "monitored." He hasn't done much since his big game in the desert. Hartline is a low WR3. Update: NFL Network's Albert Breer said a few mintutes ago that Hartline "may not finish the game" against Indy. Hartline isn't worth the risk.
-- Jordy Nelson is active for the Packers despite a hamstring injury that held him out of Week 8. This is a surprise. The Packers have a bye next week and should have no problem defeating the Cardinals at home, with or without Nelson. He may be limited, but I think he should be in your lineup. This reminds me a lot of Trent Richardson's situation from last week, and a lot of people got burned by that. I think Jordy is too good to sit when active. His presence actually helps James Jones and Randall Cobb, I think.
Update: FOX Sports' Jay Glazer reports that Nelson is "full go" for today's game. That makes me feel a little better. Again, get him into your lineup.
-- Calvin Johnson is active. We haven't heard if he will play on third downs only, but there is no doubt he will be limited by his knee. Still, it's Calvin Johnson. Get him in there against an overmatched Jaguars secondary and, much like with Nelson and his hamstring, hope for the best. Calvin will be playing with a wrap over the injured knee. But he WILL be playing.
-- Elsewhere with the Lions, Titus Young and Brandon Pettigrew are both active. They were listed as probable on the injury report. Young is a solid WR3 today. Pettigrew is more of a PPR option, but he could very well see more targets with Calvin Johnson banged up.
-- Browns RB Trent Richardson is active. His ribs are much better, and he's ready to roll against the Ravens.
-- Panthers WR Brandon LaFell is inactive, as expected, due to a concussion. Louis Murphy will see more snaps in his place. The matchup is outstanding, but Murphy isn't worth using. On the other hand, Steve Smith and Greg Olsen are tremendous starts against the Redskins.
-- Ravens nose tackle Haloti Ngata is active despite knee and shoulder injuries. He isn't expected to play a full complement of snaps, but he'll definitely help the Ravens in their attempt to slow down Trent Richardson.
-- Titans WRs Nate Washington and Kenny Britt are both active. Against the Bears, both guys are nothing more than mediocre WR3 options.
-- Packers TE Jermichael Finley is active despite a shoulder injury. Considering how he has played this year, he might as well be inactive. Keep Finley on your bench. There are better options out there.
-- Wide receiver Aldrick Robinson is starting over Leonard Hankerson for the Redskins today. If this group keeps dropping passes like it did last week, it won't matter who starts. None of them are reliable enough to be fantasy starts right now.
-- Texans TE Owen Daniels is active despite a hamstring injury. The Texans will do a lot of running today, but Daniels is a nice TE1 against that awful Bills defense.
-- Browns WR Mohamed Massaquoi is active for the first time since Week 3 due to a hamstring injury. Josh Gordon will still start for the Browns, and Massaquoi will probably see limited snaps behind Greg Little, but Gordon might lose a target or two. He is still a WR3.
-- Lions RB Mikel Leshoure is active. He wasn't even on the injury report this week. He is a decent RB2 against the Jags, but he'll keep coming off the field on third downs.
-- One big-time note regarding the Sunday night game: Dez Bryant aggravated his hip injury after he fell on it during Friday's walkthrough. ESPN's Sal Paolantonio is reporting that there are "major concerns" about Bryant playing in tonight's game against the Falcons. Again, like Nelson and Calvin Johnson above, Bryant should probably be started if he's active, but have a replacement available. We won't know if Bryant will play for sure until about 7 p.m. Eastern.
Sproles needed surgery to fix a break in his left hand, so he'll miss some time. However, the projected timetable has shrunk in the past day from 4-6 weeks to, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, 1-2 weeks. But since Sproles is more receiver than runner, it would be difficult for him to perform his main task very well with any sort of protection over his repaired hand. I think he will miss at least a couple of games. As long as Sproles is out, Pierre Thomas becomes an RB2, and Lance Moore shoud see a few extra targets, too.
Tate is out due to a hamstring injury today. He is safe to drop unless you own Arian Foster. Justin Forsett is not a bad deep flex option today against the Bills. He'll get at least 5-8 carries and maybe more since the Texans should be literally running away with this one late.
Fleener is expected to miss a couple of weeks due to a shoulder injury. Fellow rookie Dwyane Allen will step in, and I like him if you are in a pinch at TE. He's a big target around the end zone.
Rashad Jennings will continue to fill in for MJD for at least a couple more weeks. Jennings is a fine RB2 versus the Lions today.
It seems like the Cowboys always say "next week" when asked when they expect DeMarco Murray to play again. I think they know something and aren't telling us. That situation really concerns me. For now, Felix Jones and Phillip Tanner will continue to pick up the slack. Jones will get the large majority of the touches, but he's nicked up and just not good. He is only a flex play.