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Hernandez loss bodes well for Welker's return to prominence

I had one of those weeks. Worse, one of my fantasy teams had one of those worst-case days -- you know the type -- when Larry Fitzgerald gets shut down, your running backs together score in the single digits, and your defense puts up a negative number? Yeah, heading into the Monday game, that team had scored 15 points. Fifteen. There's nothing you can do about those days. Good teams get beat sometimes, as the Pats showed last week against the Cardinals. What good teams don't do is panic. It's a perfect time to step back, assess whether or not this was a one time thing or whether it's time to fix big issues. For me, it could have been worse -- at least I didn't start Jay Cutler. Of course, injuries can make any week bad, so let's take a look around the league:

UPGRADE: Steve Smith

DOWNGRADE: Ahmad Bradshaw, Jonathan Stewart

Bradshaw doesn't have enough time to heal up his neck sprain (really, a stinger) on a short week, meaning Andre Brown and (maybe) David Wilson will get the touches. Hakeem Nicks did not practice Wednesday and while thought to be a GTD, he didn't even travel with the team and is out. Domenik Hixon is out with a concussion, which should provide more targets to Martellus Bennett, who's become the third look for Eli Manning. David Diehl is also out with his knee sprain. The Panthers have Steve Smith ready to go. His probable designation is formality. Jonathan Stewart is also expected to play, but a new injury -- a sore toe -- makes him a GTD+. The workload split could tip back to DeAngelo Williams, though Cam Newton's running was key to last week's game.

Hernandez is a listed tight end, but he had, in fact, been playing the slot more during the first two weeks. He essentially had replaced Wes Welker. But in being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Hernandez got rolled from the outside and suffered a significant high ankle sprain. For a player who needs to cut and to push in blocking schemes, this is a bad injury. Until he gets near-full function back, Hernandez will be nothing more than a decoy. He's likely out a month, which should put Wes Welker back on the field for more plays. Then again, the Pats brought Deion Branch back this week.

Forte isn't back at practice, but reports out of Chicago are that Forte isn't wearing any sort of protection on his injured ankle either. He's jogging, not running, but there are some positive signs. It's unlikely that he'll be able to get back enough function to start in Week 3, but it has not been completely ruled out yet. The low ankle sprain is not better than having a high ankle sprain; in this case, it's merely that Forte's sprain is a relative low Grade II. This changes the timeline, down significantly from the four-to-six weeks initially speculated. Information now signals that even the extra time off won't be enough to get him back until Week 4, and even that depends on the rehab and healing continuing at the current pace.

The Rams continue to insist that Jackson came out of last week's game due to a strained groin and not disciplinary reasons. That said, the Rams haven't exactly gone out of their way to talk up the severity of the injury. "Tight" is how they continue to describe it, but seldom following up with any sort of precautionary talk. The solid play of Daryl Richardson in Jackson's place raises additional questions. Until Jackson is back in practice fully and the clear RB1, be careful putting him in the lineup.

Greene took a huge hit to the head, triggering the proper response from both the "eye in the sky" and the Jets medical staff. Greene was taken off the field, evaluated by a member of the medical staff while several others observed, and then he was returned to the field. I'm told that one of the medical staff was assigned to watch Greene once he did return, in order to monitor if he took another hit to the head. Greene had no noticeable deficits, making this an example of exactly how the system is supposed to work -- reactive, noticeable and quick. If we're going to knock teams when they get it wrong, teams that get it right deserve some credit as well. Greene will play normally this week.

Gabbert doesn't have a strained hamstring, as originally reported, but something a bit higher. The glute is just as important a muscle, but strained less often because of its size and function. Gabbert's mobility and push could be compromised, but his work at practice on Wednesday was a positive for him playing on Sunday. The Colts will surely test that mobility early on Sunday, so note that he's risky in addition to his normal issues. The injury will force the team to go to with many more short passes and swings, which should help Marcedes Lewis and Maurice Jones-Drew, who are already matchup problems for the Colts.

The Chargers surprised everyone by putting Gates on the inactive list in Week 2. I actually had a source call to apologize after he'd told me during my Sunday chat that he fully expected Gates to not only play, but to start. It doesn't help anyone that started him on my advice, but this demonstrates how important it is to be absolutely sure with late game starters. So why did Gates get the late scratch? The Chargers coaches simply weren't comfortable putting Gates at risk. With options like Dante Rosario and Randy McMichael available, the staff thought they could get by -- and given Rosario's huge day, they were right. Some were asking if Gates missing time indicated that the injury had been downplayed or that Gates had broken, rather than bruised, ribs. There's no indication that's the case, though it's a valid question.

I spoke with an NFL offensive coordinator about Peyton Manning's arm strength. He thought the question was less one of arm strength issue than about Manning being warm. "He looked cold early, like he hadn't done enough in pre-game. I bet he was trying to save himself for the game rather than running his normal hard trees and ended up costing himself. He'll learn quickly" ... There was a point when Michael Vick took a hit and kneeled for a moment. He got hit on the wrist and was in pain, but it wasn't serious. And it wasn't his ribs ... John Skelton made progress but was never going to play last week. Kevin Kolb's performance means the Cardinals are not rushing him back this week either ... Jamaal Charles has a simple bruise on his knee. It's unrelated to his ACL surgery, though the Chiefs were smart to be cautious with him. Expect him back in Week 3 ... Word from San Diego is that Sunday's game plan includes "normal touches" for Ryan Mathews. If you've been waiting, you have to start him once he's a confirmed in ... Rashard Mendenhall will be a GTD, but if he plays, expect 8-12 touches ... Steve Smith (of the Panthers) was cramping hard during the second half of this week's game. It could be a conditioning issue, given his lack of practice time. It can be fixed easily ... Greg Jennings was back at practice on Wednesday and is expected to start in Week 3 for the Packers ... Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson are in pretty much the same position as they were last week. Maclin re-injured his hip and will be questionable, while Jackson missed some practice but should be up for another good week ... Marques Colston is dealing with a foot injury. Not much is known, but I'll be watching his status closely over the next couple days ... Pierre Garcon was limited in practice and will be a GTD- again ... Kenny Britt came out of his first start of the season with no further problems with his knees. Very good sign ... Austin Collie was back at practice on Wednesday, but he hasn't made it through two days yet. If he does make it back, he's the WR3 and will be behind two tight ends as well for targets. He's a good stash, but not a good start ... Fred Davis is having no further symptoms from his concussion. He's been working out, but watch his contact status in practice Thursday ... Dustin Keller is very iffy for the Jets due to a hamstring strain. He's GTD- and indications are that the Jets are planning to use more Tim Tebow in his absence ... The oft-injured Todd Heap has a mild PCL sprain. It's not nearly as severe as the one that cost Andre Johnson nearly half a season, but Week 3 is probably out for Heap ... Rodger Saffold is having a tough year. He has an MCL strain and will miss some time after returning quickly from his scary neck injury. Many are asking if he returned to soon, leaving him a beat slow and at more risk ... Tough times for the Redskins defense, losing Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker for the season. Orakpo re-injured his pectoral and will need more surgery. Carriker tore his quad significantly and will also need repair ... Drayton Florence broke his forearm and was placed on the IR that can return in six weeks. Seems right. The Lions have real depth issues in the DBs right now ... Gerald Sensabaugh's calf strain has the Cowboys worried. Watch this one closely given the Cowboys DB struggles ... Darrelle Revis was very close to playing last week, nearly talking his way into the game with the coaches. The doctors held firm, but he is likely to play this week ... Thanks for all the feedback on the SI Inside Fantasy podcast, the weekly chats and opinions on Twitter. I'm listening to all of it.

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