It’s Week 5 and even with four teams on bye, the injury report is pretty full and something fantasy owners definitely need to pay attention to. How bad it is? Every position is represented, which means there’s even a fantasy-relevant kicker that makes the list!
Some players have already been ruled out, so that makes some decisions a little easier. This group is headlined by Cam Netwon, who will not play Monday night as he’s still dealing with a concussion, and also includes running back Latavius Murray, wide receivers Donte Moncrieff and Eli Rogers and a trio of tight ends in Tyler Eifert, Eric Ebron and Jared Cook.
There also are a handful of key guys who are listed as Doubtful and likely not going to play: Arian Foster, Jeremy Langford, Eric Decker, Dwayne Washington and a somewhat late entry into this group, Minnesota’s Stefon Diggs. Dez Bryant is listed as Questionable, but he’s not going to return in Week 5.
So who are the players that you need to pay the most attention to? Below will cover the quarterbacks, running backs and the kicker I already teased. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the wide receivers and tight ends before setting your lineups.
Teams on bye: Jacksonville, Kansas City, New Orleans, Seattle
Note: All times are ET and all games are on Sunday unless noted otherwise.
Cam Newton (concussion), QB, Carolina Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Monday, 8:30 p.m.
This was already mentioned above, but it bears repeating: Newton has already been ruled OUT and will not play Monday night. He suffered a concussion in last week’s loss in Atlanta and head coach Ron Rivera announced after the team’s Saturday practice that Derek Anderson would get the start in place of Newton. Rivera did not have an update on his quarterback’s status in the league-mandated concussion protocol, but it’s safe to assume that Newton is not completely over the effects of the hit he sustained last week. If you need a replacement for Newton and have no better option, Anderson should be available, but at least you have time to make up your mind.
Trevor Siemian (shoulder), QB, Denver Broncos vs. Atlanta Falcons, 4:05 p.m.
Even though Siemian was listed as Questionable, multiple reports early Saturday evening confirmed what many thought would happen: Paxton Lynch will make his first career NFL start this afternoon at home against Atlanta as Siemian will be made inactive. Lynch threw for 170 yards and a touchdown in Denver’s 27-7 win in Tampa Bay last week in relief of an injured Siemian. Hopefully Siemian will be back soon considering the injury was to his non-throwing shoulder, but for now Lynch is a low QB2 replacement for Siemian and those looking for a bye week fill-in for Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, Blake Bortles or Alex Smith.
LeGarrette Blount (hip), RB, New England Patriots at Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m.
Blount has put in limited practices this week, which puts him on track to play in Week 5. Neither the team nor the beat writers seem overly concerned, so fantasy owners should plan on starting Blount. The expectation is that this will not be a close game, but it may be due more to damage done in the air rather than on the ground because of the return of a certain quarterback. Blount is probably best viewed as a RB3/flex this week.
Rashad Jennings (thumb), RB, New York Giants at Green Bay Packers, Sunday, 8:30 p.m.
Last week, Jennings was Questionable heading into the Monday night game. He had limited practices again this past week and will likely be a game-time decision for the Sunday night game. Fantasy owners should avoid the situation if possible. Even if Jennings plays, this is not the ideal matchup. Green Bay has given up the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs, so Orleans Darkwa isn't a reliable option either. Jennings should be left on the bench; Darkwa is a desperation play. Bobby Rainey, as a passing downs back, has value as a low RB3 in PPR leagues.
Charles Sims (knee), RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers, Monday, 8:30 p.m.
Following practice on Saturday, the Buccaneers listed Sims as Doubtful. He missed practice all week and even though the game isn't until Monday night, there’s no reason to even count on him being available. Doug Martin also is Doubtful, which makes Jacquizz Rodgers the main running back for Tampa Bay. In other words, despite what happened last week against Atlanta, you can fire up the Panthers DST with confidence in Week 5.
Kenneth Dixon (knee), RB, Baltimore Ravens vs. Washington Redskins, 1 p.m.
Dixon is still listed as Questionable, but all signs point to him making his NFL debut today. Even if he does play, there’s no reason to think that Dixon won’t be eased back into the action after missing so much time with a torn MCL He'll likely play a handful of snaps behind Terrance West to get a feel for the game. West had a great game last week against Oakland and he has another favorable matchup today in Washington. But chances are he’ll take a back seat to Dixon in a few weeks. The rookie is a desperation start for Week 5, but he should be owned in all formats.
Dan Bailey (back), K, Dallas Cowboys vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 4:25 p.m.
It's odd to write about a kicker, especially when there's not a lot of news to report. Bailey missed practice on Thursday and Dallas was reportedly arranging workouts with other kickers just in case. Bailey was able to practice on a limited basis on Friday, and is considered Questionable for this afternoon’s game. To be on the safe side, Bailey owners may want to grab another kicker for one week or just drop him and go in a different direction. Dallas has a bye in Week 7, so Bailey owners aren’t too far away from needing a fill-in anyways, and there’s always a chance that this back injury causes him to miss an extended period of time.
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.