Six teams are on bye in Week 9 so injuries only add to the dilemma facing fantasy owners enterting today's action. Here are some key wide receiver injuries to pay attention to before setting your lineup.
Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Amendola is still listed on the injury report, but this week it’s because of his lingering groin issue not the concussion, and he’s Probable, not Questionable like he was last week. Edelman (right) also is Probable with a thigh injury. Both were able to practice in some capacity during the week and are expected to play. However, the Patriots’ passing game has struggled to produce and the Steelers’ defense is not only second in the NFL against the pass, it has been extremely stingy to opposing wide receivers. Pittsburgh has given up the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. While Amendola is likely to see an increase in targets this week, he should probably be viewed as nothing more than a WR3 with upside. Meanwhile Edelman’s value took a hit first with the return of Rob Gronkowski, then Amendola and now it appears that rookie Aaron Dobson has passed him in the pecking order. Edelman’s best fantasy days may be past him.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
Reggie Wayne tore his ACL in the Colts' Week 7 win over Denver, ending his season and presenting Heyward-Bey with a huge opportunity to step up not only for his team, but for his fantasy owners. Unfortunately, Heyward-Bey injured his hamstring in practice on Thursday and did not get on the field at all on Friday. He is listed as Questionable to face the Texans tonight, although head coach Chuck Pagano expects him to play. Wayne’s targets from Andrew Luck need to go to someone, so while the hamstring issue is not ideal, I think you need to throw DHB out there and see what happens.
Stevie Johnson, WR, Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Johnson is dealing with a hip/groin issue, but he was a practice participant to different degrees this week and is Probable. The Bills’ quarterback situation is definitely up in the air with Thad Lewis listed as Doubtful because of a rib injury, but regardless of who is under center, Johnson should remain an active part of the passing game. He has 13 catches for 133 yards and a touchdown in his last two games combined. Kansas City’s defense has been one of the best in the NFL, so Johnson’s ceiling this week is probably limited to WR2.
Dwayne Bowe and Donnie Avery, WRs, Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills
Bowe has been limited this week by a groin issue, but he practiced fully on Friday and is Probable. Avery has been dealing with a shoulder issue, but he also is Probable and good to go against Buffalo. The question is, however, does it matter? Bowe caught one pass for seven yards last week and his season-high numbers are five catches for 66 yards (Week 2). He has just two touchdown receptions in eight games. Avery has one 100-yard game to his credit, but he has one touchdown grab and just 11 receptions on 17 targets in his last four games combined. The Chiefs have been winning with Jamaal Charles on the ground (and as a receiver out of the backfield) and with a strong defense. Right now, it’s really hard to trust any Chief receiver in fantasy, as Dexter McCluster has been the most productive wideout the past two games. Bowe has been a disappointment this season and Avery has not been anywhere near as involved as he was earlier. If you are relying on either Bowe or Avery this week, I hope you have limited expectations.
Roddy White, WRs, Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers
White hasn’t played since Week 5 due to a hamstring injury, but there’s a chance he could return today. He practiced on a limited basis on Friday and officially is listed as Questionable. He most likely will be a game-time decision, and while the 1 p.m. ET kickoff helps, this isn’t vintage White we are talking about. Hampered by a high ankle sprain from the start, he has 14 catches and no touchdowns in five games. With Julio Jones on injured reserve, Harry Douglas has become Matt Ryan’s No. 1 target and he’s the Falcon wideout you must start, not White.
Jeremy Kerley, David Nelson and Stephen Hill, WRs, New York Jets vs. New Orleans Saints
Talk about your banged up position groups. A total of six Jets wide receivers appear on this week’s injury report. The worst of the bunch is Santonio Holmes, who will miss another game because of a hamstring injury. The rest are Probable, starting with Kerley, who missed some practice time due to illness. He should be fine for today’s game with New Orleans. Nelson was limited all week by a quad injury, while Hill is dealing with a foot injury. All three should play against the Saints, but Kerley seems to be the safest of this trio. Nelson has actually been the most productive wideout over the past two games, but it looks like he won’t be 100 percent today. Kerley is probably in the WR3 category, with the potential for more because of the injury situation to his running mates, while Nelson is a flex candidate. Hill has been the odd man out the past month and it’s too risky to expect that to change this week.