There are a few key fantasy contributors that have had a number of injury question marks surrounding their playing status leading up to Week 5 of the 2012 NFL season. Here’s a little bit about these three and what you should consider.
Ben Tate, RB, Houston Texans vs. New York Jets (Monday night)
Texans running back Ben Tate is battling a sprained toe that kept him out of practice until Saturday. It was his first practice this week, albeit limited, and coach Gary Kubiak said he expects Tate to go Monday night. Limited Saturday, Sunday lineup deadline, Monday game, and probably game-time decision at best; not a good trifecta there. These aren’t your older brother’s Jets as they are allowing 4.52 yards per carry with six touchdowns to opposing fantasy running backs. But you have to question how much Tate will be needed after New York took a 34-0 pasting at home against the San Francisco defense and now gets an equally good Texans defense. You might want to find someone else for your flex instead of relying on the ultimate flex/handcuff each week in Tate.
Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Baltimore Ravens
A hamstring injury has Jonathan Baldwin on the injury report and he is listed as probable. However, he practiced on Friday and should be good to go Sunday against Baltimore. The Ravens have been pretty gracious to No. 2 receivers so far this year. It started in Week 1 when Cincinnati’s Andrew Hawkins went 9-for-86, followed in Week 2 when DeSean Jackson went 7-for-114, continued in Week 3 when Wes Welker went 8-for-142 and sputtered when the Ravens faced whatever Cleveland’s receiving corps is supposed to be. Four receivers not named Greg Little combined for nine catches for 109 yards. Baldwin has been second in targets to Dwayne Bowe each of the last three weeks and turned those 15 targets into 10 catches for 148 yards and no scores — or 8.3 fantasy points per week in a PPR. You could do better, but there’s nothing that says the Chiefs should be in this game and everything saying the Ravens are friendly to No. 2s.
Donald Jones, WR, Buffalo Bills vs. San Francisco 49ers
Donald Jones is listed as questionable with a head injury but is likely to play against San Francisco today. He is not a suggested start, however. When David Nelson went down for the season there was hope that Jones would emerge as the second target for Ryan Fitzpatrick outside of the red zone — since Fitz only has eyes for Chandler inside the 20 it seems. But outside of a 68-yard score on one of his three targets last week, Jones produced six catches for 42 yards and no scores on nine targets in the two weeks after Nelson’s season-ending injury. Nine targets in an offense that ran more three-wide receiver sets — and one of the receivers is on IR — is not going to get it done in fantasy. The emergence of rookie T.J. Graham, Steve Johnson being the target leader (36 in four games for 18th most in the NFL) and Chandler being the 25-yards-and-in TD threat means Jones will have to rely more on the one-play production like he had last week. There are more explosive — and healthier — receivers you can find to try and bank a TD on than Jones, who has four scores in three years.
— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter