The football fan’s annual holiday has arrived, as Week 1 finally arrives Sunday.
Several players who figure to be key contributors to the fantasy fortunes of many have been hampered by injuries throughout the offseason or during preseason. With quite a few key question marks heading into the NFL‘s opening weekend, here’s a breakdown of who’s slated to suit up and should therefore be in your starting lineups:
- We’ll start with the good news in terms of quarterbacks who were forced to sit out the preseason: The
returned to practice on Sept. 2 and has been a full participant leading into the Week 1 matchup against the
. The back injury that felled him for the duration of the exhibition slate is therefore no longer a concern, although the fact that he’s yet to be hit this summer heading into the opener could be.
scenario is a markedly different one, however, as the
signal caller did not practice at all this past week and has already ruled out of the opener. Luck is approximately eight months removed from the January surgery that repaired his partially torn labrum, and whether he’ll be able to take the field when Week 2 prep begins in earnest next Wednesday remains to be seen.
will helm the Colts’ offense in Week 1, downgrading all the team’s offensive skill position players to an extent.
questionable designation due to a shoulder injury is disconcerting on the surface, but coach Ron Rivera has confirmed that the tag is simply in lieu of the availability of a “probable” designation. The consensus is that Newton is fully expected to be out there and without restrictions against the new-look 49ers come Sunday.
- A concussion knocked the
of an Aug. 26 exhibition versus the Ravens, but he’s been trending in the right direction since. The 28-year-old cleared the league’s concussion protocol earlier this week. He’s put in full practices since that point and gets first crack at could be one of the more inept squads in the league with the
New York Jets
on his Week 1 schedule.
is officially questionable with a high-ankle sprain for the opener against the
Green Bay Packers
, despite practicing in full all week. Pete Carroll has labeled him a true game-time decision, leaving open the possibility that
will get the start against his old squad, with C.J. Prosise and rookie
seeing a bump in reps as well. All told, this situation looks like a mess right now.
- The Bills’
was sidelined with an illness early in the practice week, but he was back to a full session by Friday. He therefore should see a full workload against a Jets run defense that suffered a significant blow when former Pro Bowler
was traded to the Seahawks on Sept. 1.
- T.J. Yeldon was already to be a secondary figure in the
backfield during the coming season with first-round pick
taking the reins, and he may not see any touches at all in the opener due to a hamstring injury. He practiced in limited fashion in Thursday and Friday, but he’s 50/50 to miss Week 1, pushing Fournette’s stock – and to a lesser extent,
‘s – further up.
- The hamstring injury that plagued the
during the preseason is a thing of the past, as he’s been practicing in full and is well-rested after logging only seven preseason touches. Murray could certainly be in advantageous position from the jump, as the Titans face off with the
in a game projected to be one of the higher-scoring of the week.
- The Bengals’
faces a formidable challenge from rookie
this season, but a preseason ankle injury had been the biggest threat to his playing time heading into Week 1. However, Hill returned to a full practice on Wednesday and appears to be a full-go for the opener against the Ravens.
- Speaking of the Ravens,
looks set to make his Ravens regular-season debut Sunday after missing time in the preseason with a hamstring injury. Woodhead figures to take on his usual pass-catching role while
handles a solid bulk of the rushing workload.
- Two of the downtrodden Jets’ most talented skill players,
, are reportedly ready to take the field against the Bills on Sunday. Forte dealt with a hamstring injury earlier in the preseason, while Powell fought through neck and rib ailments.
- All eyes are on the
New York Giants
, Jr. heading into the Sunday night matchup against the
, with the high-ankle injury he suffered against the
in preseason rendering him a true game-time decision. Beckham didn’t practice all week but did travel with the team to Dallas, leaving him with a chance of suiting up. The fantasy stock of
would naturally see significant boosts in Beckham’s absence – though you may not know until Sunday night what to do here. Have a backup plan, potentially featuring Shepard or the likes of
, set to play Monday night.
- The Seahawks’
has been hampered by a knee injury, but he’s practiced all week and appears set to take the field for the first time since his broken leg since Week 16 of last season. Head coach Pete Carroll has said as much, but naturally didn’t reveal whether the speedster will play limited snaps.
‘ defense rightfully earns headlines, but
is as pivotal to the team’s success as anyone. He’s been sidelined for most the past three weeks with a thumb injury, but he returned to practice Monday and was removed from the Week 1 injury report Thursday. Meanwhile, teammate
has participated fully in practice this past week following a preseason ankle injury, and he too looks set to line up against the Jaguars on Sunday.
surprisingly popped up on the injury report Wednesday with a knee ailment, but was back to full practices Thursday and Friday. He’s fully expected to take the field for the Raiders’ Week 1 showdown against the Titans.
has been fighting groin and hamstring injuries since the third week of preseason, but full participation beginning with Thursday’s practice seemingly has him on the right track to take the field against the
Los Angeles Chargers
in the opener.
- The presence of the
on Thursday’s injury report with a hip flexor injury apparently isn’t cause for concern, even with limited participation on Friday. The same applies for fellow wideout
, who has been practicing in full since Wednesday, apparently putting the hamstring injury that lingered throughout the preseason behind him.
- The timing of the Bills’
‘ sternum injury couldn’t have been much worse, as it occurred during his first practice in Buffalo after being traded from the
. However, he’s been practicing fully since Wednesday, making him a full go for Sunday’s opener against the Jets. However, this week’s three sessions essentially represent the extent of Matthews’ work with Taylor, which could affect his early-season performances.
- The Ravens have a clean bill of health on a pair of important offensive weapons heading into Sunday’s showdown against the Bengals, as
(hamstring) participated fully in practice during the week.
is apparently making a faster-than-expected recovery from his broken finger, as there now appears to be at least a chance he takes the field for Sunday’s opener against the
. Wheaton was originally slated to be out until at least Week 2.
- The Bengals also have a couple of pass catchers with some injury concerns, but they have slightly different prognosis heading into Sunday.
was on the injury report with a hamstring injury but seems ready to go for Week 1, while rookie
is listed as a game-time call after practicing in limited fashion with a knee injury on Thursday and Friday. It appears that Ross is trending toward the doubtful side of the questionable tag, however.
- Another talented first-year player, the
, is questionable with an ankle injury after practicing in limited fashion all week. Although he got off to a fast start in preseason, he’s slated to open the season as the No. 4 receiver.
- The Chargers’
have different outlooks coming into Monday’s opener against the Broncos. Inman is questionable with a groin injury that limited him in practice all week, while Williams is out with the herniated disk that he’s been recovering from since rookie minicamp.
- The Bengals’
is apparently over the knee tendinitis that caused him to miss the Bengals’ final pair of preseason contests. He practiced fully all week and looks to be without restrictions entering Week 1 against the Ravens.
- The Raiders’
had an interesting week, one that started with the veteran refusing the team’s request to rework his contract. He then popped up on the injury report with a back issue, although he continued to practice in limited fashion. That made his Saturday move to injured reserve quite a surprise and leaves
as an intriguing kicking option on a team expected to put up plenty of points.
Key Defensive Players
Los Angeles Rams
ended his holdout Saturday and passed his physical, bringing his months-long absence to an end. While he doesn’t project to be available against the Colts come Sunday, the goal is to apparently have him ready to roll by Week 2. Facing a depleted Indianapolis attack in Week 1 likely makes Donald’s absence a bit more tolerable.
- The Browns will be without an important defensive piece in first-round pick
, who suffered a high-ankle injury in Wednesday’s practice. Given the lingering nature of that type of injury, he could be out until at least Week 3, if not longer.
- The status of a key component of the
defense is in doubt as well, as
‘s shoulder injury has earned him a questionable tag heading into Sunday’s game against Cleveland. Dupree has insisted his availability is not in question, despite practicing in limited fashion throughout the week.
appears ready to go for Sunday for the Raiders versus the Titans after practicing in full on Thursday and Friday. There’d been some concerns Wednesday after he missed that session with a knee injury.
- The Seahawks’
will apparently be out there defending
and company on Sunday after a thigh injury prompted his presence on the injury report during the middle of week.