After an injury filled Week 8 that featured multiple key players getting injured, I’m hoping fantasy owners’ have enough available players to start in Week 9 that offers six teams on a bye (Detroit, Kansas City, Arizona, Seattle, Baltimore, and Houston).
As mentioned, there are numerous angles to cover with the slew of injuries that littered the fantasy landscape in the past week’s action – so let’s recap Wednesday’s news.
In an update for Thursday Night Football, Johnny Manziel will start on the road against the Bengals. Josh McCown (ribs) has already been ruled out. It’s not a great start spot for Manziel on paper. The Browns are on a short week, on the road, and as Rotoworld’s own Ray Summerlin noted: Manziel has taken seven sacks, fumbled four times, and throw an interception in his 63 drop backs this season.
Antonio Gates (knee) practiced on Wednesday after missing all of last week's practice. Gates was active in Week 8, but only saw 50.7% of snaps. Now with an extra day to get healthy, Gates should be back in the 60-75% snap range for Week 9 on Monday Night Football against the Bears. Gates’ presence would be huge for Philip Rivers and the Chargers’ offense as a whole after losing Keenan Allen (kidney) for the season. Just as a note: Ladarius Green (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday.
Per Indy Sports Central’s Mike Chappell, T.Y. Hilton underwent an MRI on his foot earlier in the week. Hilton missed practice on Wednesday with what the Colts’ are calling a foot sprain. He’s currently “day-to-day.” Even if Hilton plays in Week 9, he’s in a horrible spot against a Broncos secondary that is piping hot to-date, ranking first in Football Outsiders’ Pass Defense DVOA metric.
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49ers head coach Jim Tomsula confirmed at Wednesday’s press conference that Blaine Gabbert is the new starting quarterback in San Francisco. Tomsula added, "I want Colin (Kaepernick) to step back and breathe." Gabbert has been laughably bad in his professional career. With the Jaguars from 2011-2013, he completed fewer than 55% of his passes in 14-of-28 starts. The Falcons defense is inherently a top-3 play in Week 9.
After it looked like Ryan Fitzpatrick may miss time with torn ligaments in his left (non-throwing) thumb, Jets’ head coach Todd Bowles announced Fitzpatrick has been cleared and will start in Week 9 against the Jaguars. It’s a great sign for the Jets’ offense as a whole, especially for Chris Ivory, Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, and company. Speaking of Marshall, he did not practice on Wednesday and was listed on the injury report with an ankle injury. Eric Decker also received the day off, likely because of his lingering knee issue.
It seems as if Marcus Mariota (knee) is ready to return in Week 9 against the Saints after missing the last two weeks. We’ll see what Tennessee’s offense looks like after firing Ken Whisenhunt and with Mike Mularkey now calling the shots. Letting a head coach go mid-season would theoretically not bode well for a rookie quarterback’s development, but in this instance Whisenhunt’s absence should help Mariota long-term. The Titans’ were consistently out-coached, out-matched, and out-played in Whisenhunt’s 23-game tenure.
In Buccaneers’ news, Vincent Jackson (knee) did not practice on Wednesday while Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder) was a full participant. Don’t look for Jackson to suit up in Week 9 against the Giants. As for Seferian-Jenkins, he’ll likely return this week to a plum matchup against a Giants’ defense that is hemorrhaging fantasy points to tight ends. Here are some of the stat-lines the Giants have allowed to opposing tight ends this year: Jason Witten (8-60-2, 6-73), Jordan Reed (6-96), Charles Clay (9-111), Jacob Tamme (4-77), Zach Ertz (4-43), and Ben Watson (9-147-1).
Sammy Watkins (ankle) practiced on a “limited” basis on Wednesday; but provided he doesn’t suffer any setbacks this week, Watkins should be able to play in Week 9 against Miami. The Bills will also get Tyrod Taylor (knee) back this week. Watkins has been a major disappointment in his second year, but has dealt with a laundry list of injuries in the last calendar year. He had surgery to fix a slight tear in his labrum (hip) this offseason and has recently dealt with calf and ankle issues this season.
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Steve Smith (Achilles’) was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Wednesday. … Victor Cruz (calf) does not have a timetable for return. … DeSean Jackson (hamstring) was limited in practice on Wednesday but is expected to return in Week 9 against the Patriots. … Kendall Wright (MCL) did not practice on Wednesday. … Leonard Hankerson (hamstring) did not practice on Wednesday. … Prince Amukamara (pectoral) returned to Giants’ practice. … Finally, Orleans Darkwa (back) was limited in practice on Wednesday.