I've been telling you for the past two weeks that the salad buffet of an injury report wouldn't stay light forever. As if to prove my point, the fantasy Gods served up a hearty helping of beef and brats this week. Odd food metaphors aside, there's plenty of significant ailments on the menu for this coming Sunday, starting with three of the top scoring wideouts in this make-believe game of ours.
Andre Johnson: Lung contusion
Johnson initially suffered a bruised lung when he took a shot to the lower back early in the game against San Francisco. He kept playing despite experiencing pain and shortness of breath, but when he began coughing up blood after landing awkwardly on the ball, Johnson was taken to the dressing room. Somehow he escaped the clutches of the trainers long enough to re-enter the game for one more possession, but the medical staff took control by hiding his helmet and then interlocking arms in front of it to prevent him from attempting to play.
He didn't practice Wednesday, but did run on the sidelines, and head coach Gary Kubiak maintains that Johnson doesn't have to practice during the week to be ready to go on Sunday. Andre Davis would start if "A Joe" is a game-time scratch, and he'd be worth starting in a flex role against lowly Buffalo.
Reggie Wayne: Strained groin
It's hard to get a read on Wayne's groin right now. Partially because he wears pants all the time, but mostly because there are conflicting reports coming out of Indy. Wayne initially felt a strain early in the victory over St. Louis, but he was healthy enough to return briefly before the Colts put the game completely out of reach. Neither Bill Polian nor Jim Caldwell seems overly concerned with the injury, but he didn't practice Wednesday, and with the team sitting comfortably at 6-0, there's a chance they err on the side of caution.
If that happens, look for the Colts to go primarily with a two tight end set (Jacob Tamme would instantly become a great plug-and-play tight end), with Hank Baskett seeing some game action on the outside (possible deep, deep league flex play ... hey, I'm here to help owners from all walks of fantasy).
Calvin Johnson: Leg issues
It was assumed that Johnson's thigh injury would heal up enough during the Lions' bye week that he'd be able to go this Sunday. And that seems to be the case ... kind of. The thigh is no longer the issue, now it's Megatron's knee that's being listed as the reason for missed practice time. He didn't participate on Wednesday, and it's looking less and less likely he'll be in uniform for the incredibly tasty matchup against the Rams.
You'll have to keep your ear close to the rumor mill for this one, because if he starts in real life, Johnson has to start in the fantasy world. If you're caught with your pants down come Sunday and need a Lions replacement to fill his role, Dennis Northcutt is your guy. He's snagged 11 balls for 119 yards and a touchdown over the last two weeks with Johnson missing.
Jerricho Cotchery: Strained hamstring
After essentially missing the last three games (he hobbled through a one-catch performance three weeks ago), Cotchery is expected to be in action against the Dolphins on Sunday. Although it was in a limited fashion, Cotchery "looked sharp" during Wednesday's practice. Assuming there are no setbacks, fantasy owners will finally get a look at how the Braylon Edwards/Cotchery duo operates together. My guess, it helps open up the deep ball to Edwards, while allowing Cotchery to move freely underneath. It's what we in the business like to call a "win-win."
Bernard Berrian: Left hamstring strain
Berrian left Sunday's game after pulling up lame during a streak down the field. Luckily -- and I'm looking on the bright side here -- he was clutching his left hammy as opposed to the right one that kept him out all of the preseason.
I'd be very surprised if Berrian was active against Green Bay this weekend, especially with a bye looming in Week 9. The speedy wideout has dealt with hamstring issues in the past and has typically been slow to heal. Greg Lewis stands to see an increase in playing time, but the real benefactors are Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice. Particularly Rice, who has quickly gained the trust of his elderly gunslinger, and that's putting it mildly.
Leon Washington: Grossly disfigured right leg
Washington suffered a compound fracture of the tibia and fibula bones in his right leg. For anyone who flunked out of nursing school, a compound fracture means that the bone splinters completely in half, followed by the jutted out edges puncturing the skin, exposing the wound to dirt and bacteria. As Rex Ryan said, "They needed to get surgery done [immediately]."
Obviously, he's done for the season. Shonn Greene is the no-brainer add after his 144 yard, two touchdown performance on Sunday, while Thomas Jones retains his original RB2 status.
Note to reader: Don't Google "Leon Washington Injury Video." For one, it doesn't exist. For two, every site that says they have it is a virus in disguise. And three, if it did exist, it would probably make you puke. Word on the street says it was Theismann-esque.
Donald Brown: Bruised shoulder
Brown's been a fairly reliable RB3/Flex play this season (averaging 7.1 fantasy points a game in standard scoring leagues), but he's not irreplaceable. A shoulder injury -- it's been described as a "very painful contusion" -- is likely to keep him sidelined against San Francisco, and possibly longer.
On his weekly radio show, Bill Polian indicated Brown could miss up to three weeks. His replacement is expected to be Mike Hart, not Chad Simpson, who reeled off a 31-yard touchdown run last week. Hart won't necessarily inherit all of Brown's touches, but he will spell Joseph Addai at times, and makes for a nice speculative add with the Colts facing the Niners and Texans over the next two Sundays.
Chris Cooley: Broken right leg
Initially thought to be a season-ending injury, Cooley had successful surgery on the chipped bone in his lower leg, and is now expected to miss just four weeks. That puts him in line to return just in time for the fantasy playoffs, so if you were thinking about dropping him, don't. Matchups against New Orleans, Oakland, Dallas and San Diego over the season's final five weeks could prove very fruitful in your quest for a championship.
Pass catching specialist Fred Davis replaced Cooley in the lineup after he went down, and proceeded to live up to his reputation by hauling in eight passes for 78 yards and a touchdown. Of course, being known only as a receiving tight end has its drawbacks.
As Jason Reid of the Washington Post pointed out, Davis "struggled mightily with his blocking assignments," meaning road grader Todd Yoder will be used quite a bit in an attempt to solidify the reeling Redskins offensive line. Davis is worth a look in 12-team leagues, but he's not someone that can be comfortably started at this point.
Brian Westbrook: Concussion
Here's a surprise, Westbrook is already being listed as a "game-time decision" for Sunday's important tilt against the Giants. I know, it's tough to imagine such a pillar of reliability being listed as questionable, but that's the nature of the fantasy game. Westbrook didn't practice Wednesday, and it was reported that he was still suffering from headaches and his scores on the ImPACT test (a league mandated concussion examination) weren't high enough to clear the always injured back for game action.
In a telling move, the Eagles added P.J. Hill from New Orleans' practice squad earlier in the week, perhaps signifying their concern over a lack of depth at the running back position. If Westbrook sits -- which seems probable -- rookie LeSean McCoy will assume the bulk of the workload. The shifty runner had 84 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries filling in for Westbrook in Week 3, and his involvement in the passing game makes him a very intriguing RB2 play if the situation warrants it.