September 06, 2019
NFL teams will never be healthier than they are before their Week 1 games, and that makes deciding who to start pretty easy to start the fantasy football season.
Still, there are a few lingering injuries (and suspensions) that make for a handful of tough decisions before Sunday's kick off — plus the return of Ezekiel Elliott who has not practiced a lick with the Cowboys during his hold out.
Here's a look at the latest on some key fantasy football players to glance over before finalizing your line up for the first time.
Antonio Brown, WR, Raiders
UPDATE [1:50 p.m.] — Andddddddd now Antonio Brown is going to play.
Jon Gruden said Antonio Brown will play Monday night vs. Denver.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 6, 2019
Of course, with their Week 1 game slated for Monday night, anything could happen between now and then — so be careful.
UPDATE [12:30 p.m.] —Antonio Brown owners rejoice, it seems like his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, has somehow found a possible solution for issues that had Brown suspended for Week 1 and possibly beyond. Here's the latest from NFL insider Ian Rapoport:
Here is a sense of how quickly things are changing in Oakland: Yesterday, #Raiders coach Jon Gruden told people AB was not in their plans for Monday. Now, I hear… there is a real chance he not only does not get suspended but actually plays. Wild times— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 6, 2019
Nothing has been resolved officially but this is a tonal shift from what sounded like an impasse earlier this week. More from earlier Friday:
You just knew something like this would happen. Though his weird frostbite injury and the saga over his helmet, it never really seemed like Brown would work out in Oakland and the chances are now he will not. Brown will be suspended for at least Monday's season opening nightcap and there appears to be the very realistic chance he never plays for the Raiders after a blow up fight between Brown and GM Mike Mayock.
It goes without saying Brown's fantasy stock is way, way down. Whether he will play at all this year and with what team is completely in doubt. What does become clearer is the passing situation in Oakland, as Derek Carr will now be throwing to Tyrell Williams and J.J. Nelson (who was limited in practice this week) and not to Brown. The stock of those two wideouts is up, as is the potential production of tight end Darren Waller.
Ezekiel Elliot, RB, Cowboys
Elliott is set to become the richest RB in NFL history and if you were able to steal him somewhere after the fourth pick in your fantasy draft, congrats. Having missed the entire preseason and training camp, is he startable in Week 1? Yes.
Though he won't be a workhorse right away, Elliott will get enough touches against the Giants to be worth playing.
Ahead of Ezekiel Elliott’s first team practice since June, I’m told the plan right now is about 20-25 reps on Sunday, rookie Tony Pollard behind him and FB Jamize Olawale as your best blitz pickup guy on 3rd downs. Things can always change but this is the plan heading into today.— Jane Slater (@SlaterNFL) September 4, 2019
Melvin Gordon III, RB, Chargers
Gordon won't be playing for L.A. this year, and unless he is traded sometime in the next couple months, he's a wasted pick and won't play at all in 2019. While a few teams are rumored to have interest, the asking price from the Chargers appears to be unrealistically high, for now at least.
Stefon Diggs, WR, Vikings
Diggs is a must start — if healthy — against Atlanta and if his hamstring injury forces him to miss Sunday's game it will have a ripple effect. Minnesota is thin at WR after Diggs and Adam Thielen, which may increase the workload of running back Dalvin Cook. Diggs didn't practice Wednesday but did (in a limited role) Thursday. It's worth monitoring closely this weekend.
Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
Newton hurt his foot a few weeks ago but he has been participating fully in practice and is full go to start in Week 1. The only thing worth thinking about fantasy-wise is whether he will be as aggressive running the ball or putting himself in harm's way following a recent fracture to his foot. Even still, if he's your best starting option he is certainly worth starting.
A.J. Green, WR, Bengals
Green will not be playing in Week 1 with his foot still in a walking boot. As he works his way back from an ankle injury, Tyler Boyd solidifies himself as the No. 1 WR in Cincinnati's offense with John Ross III becoming a playable fantasy option moving into the No. 2 role.
Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles
Both Jeffery and Jackson are a little less than full strength entering the season. Jeffery has a bicep injury that seems to be nagging him as the opener approaches, and Jackson is looking to rebound from a broken ring finger. Both will, barring a setback, play in Week 1 and should be fine fantasy-wise unless something changes.
Robby Anderson, WR, Jets
Nursing a calf injury and limited in practice this week, Jets head coach Adam Gase says Anderson will play and be the No, 1 wide receiver when the regular season kicks off.
Keke Coutee, WR, Texans
Coutee has been battling injury all offseason and was listed as limited in practice this week ahead of Week 1. If you have a better option at WR, it's not worth risking it on Coutee.
Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins
Yet another concussion doesn't seem to have slowed down Reed as he participates (in a limited capacity) in practice this week. He will probably be touch or go to play Sunday.
Follow Evan on Twitter:@evan_macy
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports