NFL Week 3 Injury Report: Fantasy Advice Heading into the Weekend

Will Carroll@injuryexpertSports Injuries Lead WriterSeptember 19, 2013

NFL Week 3 Injury Report: Fantasy Advice Heading into the Weekend

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    Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

    Is fantasy football the new "what's your sign?" I'm not saying debating Ahmad Bradshaw's prospects for the rest of the season is going to help you pick up the brunette at the bar, but it's becoming a universal language. It seems everyone plays. 

    My friend, Neal Brown, an incredible restaurateur here in Indianapolis, joked that he can't talk to people outside the food business, but I've had long conversations with him about fantasy football. I get questions from Bleacher Report's guru of that other football, Sam Tighe, about his fantasy team. When explaining to people what I do, I can't remember the last time that the next question from them wasn't about their fantasy team.

    Fantasy football might be a headache to Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice, but it's a passion for a lot of people. With the universal nature, we have to develop our own etiquette to go with our own jargon.

    Arian Foster is playing for money and fame, not you. You didn't get any rights to Aaron Rodgers when you drafted him in your league, so be glad we live in a world where you can kvetch about him without being a downright...well, it rhymes with swoosh flag.  

    Let's take a look around the league...

Reggie Bush

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    Jennifer Hilderbrand-USA TODAY S

    While the Lions haven't been specific about Reggie Bush's injury, we know enough to make some educated guesses. The MRI showed no structural damage, and he had some immediate swelling and pain. Now, just a few days after the injury, he's up and running and hoping that he can play on Sunday, according to MLive. That reads a lot like an articular cartilage issue or perhaps a small meniscus tear.

    Bush's situation is fluid, and it's clear that the doctors are less enthusiastic about a quick return than he is. At best, he plays but gives up some of the touches to Joique Bell. At worst, we'll see whether Bell can be a valid RB1 in this system. 

    With the kind of knee issue that this seems to be, Bush can likely play well through it. It should affect his knees, and he will have to limit the quick stops and lateral shifts that he often uses. He would need to be more of a one-cut back or try to outrun defenders at the corner. Bush did that in high school and college, but in the NFL, guys are faster, so it took him awhile to learn other ways. 

    Playing Bush this week comes down to whether the doctors clear him and if you have a better option on your bench. It won't be clear-cut on either, so this is a risky play. 

Maurice Jones-Drew

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    It's impossible to say that the foot injury of last year is related to the ankle strain that Maurice Jones-Drew is dealing with now, but it's also hard to disconnect the idea.

    Did Jones-Drew's gait change? Is he unconsciously correcting for lingering issues with the foot? Is this just a simple ankle injury that we're all overthinking?

    He is making some progress, but without being able to practice on Thursday, his pronouncements that he expects to play on Sunday are a bit shallow. With remaining swelling and loss of function in the ankle, it's unlikely that he will be near full-go.

    Add in that the Jacksonville Jaguars are terrible and have no incentive to win, and there's just no reason to risk Jones-Drew. Of course, his contract status makes some wonder if the Jags care at all about his long-term prospects.

    I would wonder myself if this was a long-term injury. Instead, it's a relatively minor one that makes him a game-time decision behind a bad offense and a tough play outside of a flex this week. 

Steven Jackson

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    I wasn't at ESPN for a long time, but John Walsh, one of the architects of the Worldwide Leader, once told me, "We're not scared to repeat ourselves." It was a good lesson when talking about injuries. I may have done a video on Wednesday on Steven Jackson, but it bears repeating.

    Early reports were that he had a thigh bruise, but it didn't look that way to me. Jackson pushed his way toward the end zone, and when he went down (and stayed there awhile), he grabbed at the outside of his leg. He walked back to the locker room for tests, something that isn't needed on a bruise. 

    Let's face it: It doesn't take a kinesthetic master to know whether the problem is taking a knee to the thigh or that something inside the leg is wrong. There's a difference between the burning sensation of a muscle strain and the blunt pain of trauma. 

    The low-to-moderate grade strain is in line with Mike Smith's two-to-three week assessment, which means that it's possible Jackson comes back in Week 4. Jason Snelling appears to have the better prospect of taking on the touches, while Jacquizz Rodgers can stay doing Jacquizzy things. 

Larry Fitzgerald

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    Larry Fitzgerald is likely to be a GTD—not so much because of the injury, but because of his central role in the offense.

    In most NFL offenses, the quarterback is the key personnel, but it's clear that the Arizona Cardinals have built everything around Fitzgerald. Without him, everything else drops a notch. So even when he's limited, he's important.

    He showed good self-awareness last week, pulling himself before he did significant damage to his hamstring. That puts him in a position to do much the same as last week. He was a good but not great option last week, even with the injury. I can't see that changing just yet. The Cards have a long way to their bye week, so they'll have to manage this one. 

    Fitzgerald isn't practicing at Bruce Arians' orders, but that won't stop the coach from playing Fitzgerald if the medical staff signs off on it. The Cards play early this week, which makes dealing with the GTD a bit easier.

    Whether he plays or not shouldn't affect Michael Floyd or Andre Roberts significantly. They benefit from Fitzgerald's presence and defensive attention as much or more than they would an increase in targets in his absence.

Rob Gronkowski

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    Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

    A coin flip: 50-50. That's what reports earlier this week said were Rob Gronkowski's chances of playing in Week 3. 

    Zero. That's what they are now. While the New England Pats took advantage of the long week after their Thursday Week 2 matchup to try and get Gronkowski back on the field, they're just not comfortable. Even with its offensive issues, the team is 2-0. 

    He is not yet taking hits, and as I've said for weeks, taking hits will be his last test. The Pats can say "conditioning" all they want, but contact and force are keeping him out even at a time when he could be a difference maker for Tom Brady.

    Bonus: Danny Amendola is back at practice, but do not expect him to play this week. The reason he's not having surgery to fix a sports hernia is that doctors don't think he has one. Surgery is almost the only fix for these, so the groin problem is the bigger issue. It's going to be a few more weeks, although having him back at practice makes me think it could be a bit quicker. 

Vernon Davis

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    Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

    It's interesting to hear people talking about the addition of Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts as being a dynasty-maker, and at the same time hearing sources from the San Francisco 49ers say they might sit Vernon Davis because they like their matchup this week against the Colts even without him. 

    Davis strained his hamstring late in last week's matchup, and while it's not a bad strain—likely a mild Grade II given the information we have—it's reading a lot like Larry Fitzgerald's situation. Davis is pushing to play, and it's possible, but the medical staff is concerned about him doing more damage and missing additional time.

    That makes Davis a true GTD. He has a great matchup, so I'd advise keeping him at the ready until we know Sunday, but have a Plan B tight end ready to go since it's a late game. Coby Fleener is one option, although Martellus Bennett, who plays in the Sunday night game, is even better. 

The Others

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    Ryan Tannehill

    Tannehill didn't come out of Sunday's win against the Colts unmarked. He seemed to injure his shoulder in the third quarter. While it doesn't appear serious, the Miami Dolphins are taking no chances with their franchise QB. I expect him to play, but I also expect Miami to focus on keeping him upright, which might mean an offensive shift. 

    Ray Rice

    It looked bad for Rice, but perhaps the way he went down when his hip flexor strained was actually good. Players like him have the ability to sense their body in space, and by going down, he may have saved further damage. This is a mild strain, and there's a good chance he plays this week. The Baltimore Ravens will have to be careful with him, but things look positive. 

    Le'Veon Bell

    It was a bit of a shock to see that Le'Veon Bell was listed as a full participant on Thursday's practice report. He was thought to be at least two weeks away from this point while rehabbing from his Lisfranc injury. This one bears watching leading into the weekend. 

    Dwayne Allen

    The Colts are playing this one very tight by not releasing the specifics of Allen's injury. The Colts have been paranoid with injury info for a while, but I haven't seen this before. (And remember, I live in Indianapolis.) It makes me worry this is something more serious, but while Allen is done for the season, we have to hope he's not done, period. 

    Ryan Clady

    Without the big tackle for the rest of the season, Peyton Manning is going to be a bit quick this week. Manning works on trust and repetition, so a new tackle will have him going shorter, likely to Wes Welker and Julius Thomas, which could work against Eric Decker. It might also help Knowshon Moreno, the best pass-blocker in the running back by committee. 

    Be sure to get your fantasy questions in for the Sunday Morning Med Check or Bleacher Report's Fantasy Live show, which runs from 12 to 1 p.m. ET every Sunday. Use the #BRFantasy tag, and we'll try to get to them.