Sunday’s Week 8 action gets off to an early start in London where Detroit is expected to be without one of its top running backs. That’s just one of the key RB or QB injuries associated with today’s games.
Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens
Probable – Ribs
Bernard is dealing with some sore ribs, which limited his practice participation Wednesday and Thursday. He was a full go on Friday, is listed as Probable and fully expected to play in today’s key AFC North clash with Baltimore. Bernard is not only the Bengals’ leading rusher, he also figures to be one of Andy Dalton’s prime targets with A.J. Green listed as Doubtful. Bernard is one of the most dynamic backs in the NFL and he must be in your starting lineup.
Reggie Bush, RB, Detroit Lions vs. Atlanta Falcons (London)
Out – Ankle
Bush played last week, but re-aggravated his ankle injury and had to leave early. After arriving in London for today’s game, Bush’s ankle didn’t respond to any treatment during the week. He was limited in practice on Wednesday, but didn’t participate at all on Thursday or Friday. He was listed as Doubtfulon Friday, but was officially ruled Out earlier this morning. The extra early kickoff (9:30 a.m. ET) and the fact the Lions are on bye next week, probably contributed to the team's decision. With Bush sidelined, Joique Bell should see plenty of carries against a Falcons defense that’s giving up the most fantasy points to RBs. I could make an argument that Bell’s a borderline RB1 this week, and Theo Riddick (Probable, Hamstring) could end up with enough touches to merit flex consideration. Remember, this is a Lions offense that besides Bush is without Calvin Johnson and several TEs.
Benny Cunningham, RB, St. Louis Rams at Kansas City Chiefs
Probable – Knee
Cunningham was added to the injury report on Thursday after a knee injury limited him in practice. Whatever it is, he was a full go on Friday and appears to be a pretty safe bet to play based on his Probable designation. There’s been a lot of turnover in the Rams’ backfield in recent weeks, as rookie Tre Mason has emerged while former starter Zac Stacy has seen his playing time practically disappear. Cunningham’s status as the backup has been pretty constant, but it’s hard to trust Cunningham fantasy-wise because of the uncertainty regarding his workload. Mason is the Ram back to own moving forward and Stacy can probably be dropped in shallow redraft leagues at this point.
Shonn Greene, RB, Tennessee Titans vs. Houston Texans
Probable – Hamstring
Greene got in limited practice sessions on Wednesday and Thursday, but was able to go full speed on Friday. He’s listed as Probable and expected to return after missing the past two games. Greene was arrested Friday night on multiple charges after trying to avoid getting a ticket for parking in a handicapped spot, but reports say the incident doesn’t impact his playing status today. On the field, the interesting thing to watch will be how the carries are distributed between Greene and rookie Bishop Sankey. The Titans are starting rookie Zach Mettenberger at quarterback in place of Jake Locker (see below), so if the youth movement is in full force that would favor Sankey. However, Greene was the starter until he got hurt, so head coach Ken Whisenhunt may decide to go back to the way it was. If I had to handicap this race, I still think Sankey boasts more upside and is the Titan back to own, but it may not play out that way for a game or two. The only Titans I would trust fantasy-wise this week are TE Delaine Walker, WR Kendall Wright and maybe, if you’re feeling lucky, WR Justin Hunter as a potential flex option.
Toby Gerhart, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Miami Dolphins
Probable – Foot
After missing the past two games because of a foot injury, Gerhart is expected to return today. He was able to practice fully both Thursday and Friday and is listed as Probable to face the Dolphins. Gerhart has struggled to gain much ground (123 yds., 2.6 ypc), so at best he will share carries with Denard Robinson, who broke out in a big way (127 yds., TD) last week. Rookie Storm Johnson also could factor in. Right now, I see no reason to rush Gerhart back into the starting lineup unless you have no other options.
Josh McCown, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Minnesota Vikings
Questionable – Thumb
Coming off of the bye, McCown is making progress in his recovery from an injury to the thumb on his throwing hand. He finally returned to practice and even got in a full session on Friday. He’s listed as Questionable, but even if McCown plays it will be to back up Mike Glennon. Glennon has been solid in relief of McCown and is in the QB2 discussion based on today’s matchup against the Vikings.
Jake Locker, QB, Tennessee Titans vs. Houston Texans
Probable – Hand
Locker practiced in a limited capacity on Wednesday and Thursday and was a full go on Friday. He’s listed as Probable, but the only way he will play today is if Zach Mettenberger gets hurt or head coach Ken Whisenhunt decides to pull him. Whisenhunt named Mettenberger, the Titans’ sixth-round pick, as his starting quarterback earlier this week, pretty much destroying any remaining fantasy value Locker had. As far as Mettenberger goes, if you want to rely on a guy making his first career start against a defense led by J.J. Watt you go right ahead.