Week 8 was thankfully quiet on the injury front, but many big-name fantasy players were out because of injuries suffered in previous weeks. That’s where we focus our attention in the Week 9 Training Room, with the possibility that many of those stars will make their return this week. As always, we’ll give you the injury nuts and bolts, provided by 4for4’s Russell Manalastas, a physical therapist and strength coach based in New York, and the fantasy spin to go with them.
Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers
Injury: Strained hamstring
Injury take: Gordon had a bye week to recover from his hamstring issue after being inactive for the Chargers game in London against the Titans in Week 7. Head coach Anthony Lynn seems optimistic that he’ll be able to practice this week, but he’ll still need to get through the week relatively unscathed to have his usual workhorse role on Sunday against the Seahawks. The bye week likely helped, but he’ll need to test out the hamstring to see how the hamstring responds to higher levels of stress and activity. We should have a good idea of where he stands by the start of the weekend.
Fantasy spin: Both fantasy owners and the Chargers are desperate to get Gordon back this week. The former because he’s likely their best player, and the latter because they have a tough game against the red-hot Seahawks in Seattle. This is a wait-and-see situation. Hopefully Gordon is practicing in at least limited fashion by Thursday or Friday. If not, you might have to go in another direction, and the late kickoff time for this one would make Gordon a risk if he’s a game-time decision.
Cooper Kupp, WR, Rams
Injury: Sprained MCL
Injury take: Rams head coach Sean McVay said in his Monday press conference that he feels Kupp has a good chance to play in Week 9 against the Saints. Kupp has missed the last two games due to an MCL sprain, but all signs point to Kupp returning as long as he’s able to return to practice and not have any setbacks. In fact, Kupp likely would have played against the Packers last week were it a postseason game and not just a regular season contest that likely wouldn’t have had any bearing on the Rams’ playoff standing. There’s a high probability that Kupp will likely return with some sort of knee brace to give him additional support, but he shouldn’t have many restrictions come Sunday.
Fantasy spin: Assuming Kupp plays, and it sounds like he will, fantasy owners should plan on deploying him, as well as Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods, as they normally would. Rams-Saints opened with an over/under of 60.5 points.
Keke Coutee, WR, Texans
Injury: Strained hamstring
Injury take: Although Coutee has a great opportunity to see a consistent role with Will Fuller out for the season because of a torn ACL, he, too, has his own injury issues. Coutee aggravated a pre-existing hamstring injury in his last game, and aggravations typically require more recovery time. He’s going through the same recovery process as a first-time he would for a first-time hamstring injury, but the re-injured tissue is now more sensitive. His practice participation this week will tell us a lot about where he currently stands, but there’s a good chance the Texans will list him as a game-time decision to give him as much time as needed to see if he can give it a go Sunday.
Fantasy spin: We covered Coutee at length in this week’s waiver wire column. When he’s ready to return, he will be on the WR3 radar. If you can still grab him, do so now. Even if he misses another week, he could be a key player for the fantasy stretch run.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Jaguars
Injury: Strained hamstring
Injury take: The expectation is that Fournette will return from his hamstring injury after the Jaguars Week 9 bye, but that is not a guarantee. Not only is Fournette dealing with the same aggravation issue as Coutee, but he has also suffered multiple injuries, dating back to his college days at LSU, that took longer than the initial timetable to heal. We likely won’t get much news on him this week with the Jaguars on bye, but he’ll need to show that he’s practicing in at least limited fashion before Week 10 to give fantasy owners confidence that he’s trending in the right direction.
Fantasy spin: It’s entirely possible that Fournette’s injury woes have already knocked all his fantasy teams out of the playoff hunt. If you’ve managed to stay alive without his services, you may need to weather the storm for just one more week. Still, injury optimism is even more dangerous than usual with a player who hasn’t had a fully healthy season in the last three years. If you’re a Fournette owner who’s desperate for a win, see if you can trade him to an owner in your league who’s at the top of the standings and almost certainly headed to the playoffs. That person can afford to take the risk that Fournette will be himself by the middle of November or early December.
Allen Robinson, WR, Bears
Injury: Strained groin
Injury take: Robinson missed last week’s win over the Jets because of a groin injury he suffered, and played through, in the Week 7 loss to the Patriots. Groin strains have a tendency to be multi-week injuries so if Robinson isn’t practicing in any fashion early in the week, then it is not a good sign for his potential availability this upcoming week. The Bears, too, are likely to be double-digit favorites in Buffalo, so it’s unlikely the team would push him for a game it is expected to win with relative ease, even without him.
Fantasy spin: It would be a surprise to see Robinson back on the field for the Bears this week. That will make Taylor Gabriel a viable play in all formats, while Anthony Miller could show up on the WR3/4 radar in deeper leagues.