Calvin Johnson appears to be on the mend, while the Packers, Jaguars and Patriots are dealing with injuries among their wide receiving corps. Which targets can you count on in Week 7?
Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Johnson played last week, sore knee and all, but he clearly wasn’t himself. He was targeted eight times, but caught just three for 25 yards against the Browns. Cleveland cornerback Joe Haden also should get some of the credit for Johnson’s slow day, as Matthew Stafford finished with four touchdown passes in the Lions’ win. But as far as Johnson goes, the best news for his owners is that he was able to practice in a limited capacity all week and is Probable for today’s game. Considering he was Questionable the past two weeks, this seems to indicate that he is making progress with his knee. The Bengals’ secondary is pretty banged up in its own right, so maybe this is just what Johnson needs to get rolling again. Besides, as long as he’s on the field, you’re playing Megatron, right?
Randall Cobb and James Jones, WRs, Green Bay Packers vs. Cleveland Browns
Last week’s win over Baltimore was a costly one for the Packers. Both Cobb and Jones (right) left the game early with injuries, and Cobb will be out for at least eight weeks after breaking his fibula. Jones sustained a less serious knee injury, but he did not practice all week and is listed as Questionable. Because he didn’t practice, it seems highly unlikely that Jones will play against the Browns. With a late afternoon (4:25 p.m. ET) start, it would be best to leave Jones on your bench and look elsewhere for help. Jordy Nelson will move into the No. 1 spot in Cobb and Jones’ absence, while Jarret Boykin is expected to start alongside Nelson and serve as the Packers’ No. 3 WR once Jones returns. Boykin is unproven, but Aaron Rodgers targeted him six times last week, so the opportunity and potential is there.
Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts, WRs, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. San Diego Chargers
Few, if any, wide receivers have been hotter than Blackmon over the past two weeks. Since returning from his four-game suspension in Week 5, all Blackmon has done is post 19 catches for 326 yards and a touchdown – in two games. Last week, Blackmon hauled in 14 passes for 190 yards in the Jaguars’ loss in Denver. Blackmon injured his hamstring during the game, which kept him out of practice on Friday and is why he is listed as Questionable. However, head coach Gus Bradley said he fully expects Blackmon to play, which is all you need to know to put him in your lineup. The only thing keeping Blackmon from every-week WR1 status is the Jags’ quarterback play, and even that may not be an issue some weeks. Some of Blackmon’s heavy workload last week can be attributed to Shorts injuring his shoulder on the Jags’ first possession. The diagnosis is a sprained shoulder and it wasn’t serious enough to keep Shorts from practicing on a limited basis. Some reports have described it as a pain tolerance situation for Shorts, but the official Questionable designation should be enough to cast doubt on him being able to get on the field. As productive as Shorts has been, Blackmon’s emergence has cut into his value somewhat. Shorts is still a legitimate WR2/WR3, but there’s definitely a risk associated with starting him this week. This game kicks off at 1 p.m. ET so there should be plenty of time to make a final decision on Shorts before then. Just don’t short-change yourself on time or options should you decide to leave this Jaguar in his cage.
Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots at New York Jets
Amendola just can’t catch a break. After missing three games because of a groin injury, he finally returned in Week 5 against Cincinnati. Then last week against New Orleans, Amendola took a big hit, resulting in a concussion. Prior to the hit, he had caught two passes for one yard and got one carry for one yard, much to the chagrin of his owners. He didn’t practice all week and was ruled Out by the team on Friday. His frustrating season continues for him, not to mention those who have him on their roster. Edelman figures to be the primary beneficiary, as he was Tom Brady’s favorite target when Amendola was sidelined earlier, but he is dealing with his own thigh injury. Edelman is listed as Questionable, but there has been nothing to come out to suggest he’s in serious danger of missing today’s game against the Jets. You probably just want to make sure he’s in the Patriots’ lineup before the game kicks off at 1 p.m. ET, but otherwise I would use Edelman as you did earlier this season. Other than the thigh injury limiting him, something else that could impact Edelman’s usage this afternoon is the apparent return of tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Donnie Avery, WR, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Houston Texans
Avery’s shoulder isn’t back to 100 percent, as he is listed on the injury report, but he is considered Probable and should be out there against the Texans. The timing of this matchup isn’t ideal, however, as Avery caught just two passes for a paltry six yards last week and Houston’s defense has given up the fewest yards to opposing wide receivers.Alex Smith has shown a preference to throwing to Avery over Dwayne Bowe early on, but given Smith’s conservative decision-making in the pocket and the matchup with the Texans, both appear to be risky plays this week.