September 24, 2009

Kurt Warner: Aggravated right-shoulder injury

After aggravating a right-shoulder injury, Warner was pulled in third quarter of the Cardinals then-blowout victory over the Jaguars. Even when Jacksonville narrowed the lead to 14 points with two straight touchdowns, Ken Whisenhunt declined to put his aging star back in the game.

There's not much being made of the injury, and it shouldn't affect him in the short term, but astute fantasy owners need to look at the big picture and see this for what it is; a growing crack in a shaky foundation. If you haven't already, now would be a good time to come up with a "Plan B."

Jerious Norwood: Concussion-like symptoms

As usual, the additional touches fantasy owners were promised in the offseason haven't materialized for Norwood, and now he may be on the verge of losing even more of his already meager opportunities.

When he left the field with an apparent head injury (his third in three seasons), little-known Jason Snelling took Norwood's place and contributed a touchdown reception to go along with 37 yards on six carries. Snelling has a bruising, physical style of play that's in stark contrast to the speed-based game of Norwood. With another mouth to feed in the A.T.L., the perpetually teasing runner's value is at an all-time low. Feel free to sever ties.

Marion Barber III: Strained left quad

Barber may not be ruling himself out ("If I'm good today, I'm going to be good tomorrow, and then I'm going to be good up until Monday," he said before a workout on Wednesday), but I'm ruling him out.

When the quad "popped" on him in Sunday night's game, he reacted like an elephant that had just been struck by a high-dosage tranquilizer dart. The Cowboys are playing a Panthers defense that's been wrecked by injuries. Oh, and his backup averages 8.9 yards-per-carry for his career, and his backup averaged 141.3 total yards filling in for Barber last year (against the Steelers, Giants and Ravens, no less). I'd say the 'Boys are in good hands if they act prudently and deactivate the Barbarian.

And if you're wondering, Felix Jones becomes an automatic must-start and Tashard Choice a sneaky-good flex play if the aforementioned benching does occur.

LaDainian Tomlinson: Sprained right ankle

It could be that Tomlinson's ankle is significantly worse than the Chargers are claiming, or it could be that they're just being extra-super cautious with him early in the season. But there's also the possibility that San Diego is attempting to maximize Darren Sproles without publicly embarrassing LDT. Whichever is the case -- and as a Tomlinson owner I'm on my knees praying they're just being judicious -- it doesn't look like he'll be active against the Dolphins.

While this news is more than a bit disconcerting, it's still not quite time to panic on Tomlinson. If, however, he doesn't suit up for the Week 4 matchup in Pittsburgh, feel free to sound the alarms.

Troy Williamson: Torn Labrum in shoulder

Willamson had a nifty preseason that earned him a starting spot over the promising Mike Sims-Walker. He actually looked capable of providing useful numbers for a minute there, but alas, it was not to be. Suffering a torn labrum in last weekend's game, Williamson's season is likely over, and considering how good Sims-Walker looked as his replacement (six catches for 106 yards and a touchdown), his time as a starting receiver for the Jags is probably finished as well.

"MSW," a big boy at 6-2 and 214 lbs., is a terrific add in any format. Don't expect greatness, but there're plenty of productive fantasy days on the horizon for the man with the newly hyphenated last name (think Matt Jones circa 2008).

Wes Welker: Knee Injury

Oh boy, here we go. Welker was a surprise last-minute scratch before the Jets game with what the team is calling simply a "knee injury." He'll likely be limited in practice, but published reports earlier in the week indicated Welker "expects" to play against Atlanta. Whatever. I wouldn't even bother reading anything regarding the status of Brady's "Boy Toy" before Sunday morning.

In the meantime, stash Julian Edelman, would ya?

Brett Favre: Mangled fingernail

In an agreement set forth by Brett Favre LLC, I'm obligated to mention that Favre suffered a bent fingernail in the Vikings win over the Lions. Unfortunately, his games started streak won't be ended by such an injury.

Santonio Holmes: Jammed left wrist

Holmes was targeted a healthy 14 times in the Steelers loss to the Bears, but managed to hold onto just five balls, most likely the result of a "jammed" wrist he suffered early in the game. The NFL's second-leading receiver was seen sporting a small cast on Tuesday, but Mike Tomlin made no mention of it in his press conference.

The speculation is the cast is just being used for stabilization during the week, but there's no doubt it could prove to be an issue come Sunday. Holmes can't be benched at this point, leaving owners with worry and prayer as the only recourse to combat the troubling ailment.

Matt Cassel: Recovering from a strained knee ligament

For Cassel's sake, I sure hope his knee was bothering him because he certainly wasn't impressive in leading the Chiefs on a single scoring drive against the Raiders last Sunday. Oh sure, his numbers were serviceable (241 yards, a touchdown, two picks and 34 rushing yards), but consider Todd Haley -- who's been praising Brodie Croyle's poise and development in recent days -- less than impressed;

"You've got to ultimately do what gives your team the best chance to win," Haley said Tuesday. "If that means another quarterback being in there other than Matt Cassel, then sign me up."

Sign me up?!?! Jeez, the guy sounds almost enthusiastic doesn't he?

It could have been a combination of rust and being at less than 100-percent that contributed to the poor showing, so I'll begrudgingly give Cassel a pass for now. But with the knee as close to full strength as it'll be, and a game under his belt, "Backup Matt" has only a few chances left to prove his fantasy worthiness.

Mike Bell: MCL sprain in right knee

There's no structural damage in Bell's knee, but there is a sprain of the medial collateral ligament, which makes his injury very similar to that of his backfield mate, Pierre Thomas.

Thomas essentially missed a month with his sprain, and despite some early optimism, it's not expected Bell will be activated this week. Which brings up the question of whether or not Pierre is ready to handle a full workload. Reggie Bush's role will remain static, regardless of who the other runner is, so the Saints need to find a way to replace the 22.5 carries a game Bell was averaging through the first two.

If Thomas proves incapable, watch out for super-sleeper Lynell Hamilton. The undrafted rookie impressed during the preseason; rushing for a team-high 177 yards, and contributing another 104 through the air. Trust me, more improbable things have happened.

Donovan McNabb: Broken rib

With a bye coming in Week 4, and the Chiefs on tap this Sunday, it's all but guaranteed the Eagles will sit McNabb for a second consecutive week. Kevin Kolb will once again get the start (although look for Mike Vick to make several appearances). Kolb has the potential to be an intriguing play for deep league/desperate owners against a Kansas City squad allowing over 25 points a game, but don't consider this an official recommendation. Just a word to the wise.

Brian Westbrook: Sprained right ankle

Like you didn't see this coming. Westbrook sprained his right ankle late in the Eagles loss to the Saints. That's the same ankle he recently had surgery on; the same one experts felt wouldn't be stable enough to hold up for the entire season. Looks like they were right. He didn't practice at all on Wednesday, and will be very limited if he does see the practice field, putting Westbrook into the very familiar position of being a game-time decision.

If I was a betting man (which I would be if I hadn't spent all my money on Bobblehead collectibles and Arby's Roast Beef sandwiches) I'd put a hefty amount down on Westbrook not playing this week. If you were wise enough to roster LeSean McCoy, this really shouldn't be a problem. If you weren't, may the Fantasy Gods have mercy on your soul. I really don't see this situation working out beneficially for Westbrook enthusiasts.

DeSean Jackson: Strained groin

According to Jackson, his "groin has been banged up all week," but he does expect to play. He then went on to single out an especially heavy-set groupie as being the catalyst for the nagging ailment that's kept him on the practice field sidelines the past few days. Just kidding (c'mon, he set himself up for that one).

An injury of this nature can certainly be debilitating to a guy who relies on speed and agility as much as D-Jax does, and with Kolb's reliance on Brent Celek and Jason Avant (the pair combined for 15 catches and 183 yards last game), it's not unreasonable to consider temporarily benching the explosive wideout.

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