The kickoff of the NFL Playoffs is just over 24 hours away and the majority of the teams set for action in this wild card weekend are dealing with crucial injury issues to some of their top stars. Obviously, each of these situations could greatly impact the outcome of the weekend’s four games and will create difficult decisions for fantasy players in playoff leagues or DFS action.
Wild Card Injury Report
The Buffalo Bills, making their first playoff appearance in 17 years, are in danger of having to play without their top offensive player, RB LeSean McCoy, who was carted off in Week 17 with an ankle injury. McCoy was spotted at practice on Thursday and there was some hope he could practice. Instead, once the stretching period concluded, McCoy left the field. Later, McCoy would say that he hoped to get to the point where he could make cuts pain-free in order to suit up against the Jaguars on Sunday. Bills HC Sean McDermott did suggest McCoy was “headed in the right direction.”
The Bills are also dealing with a limited WR Kelvin Benjamin, who is dealing with a knee injury. Benjamin has been playing through a torn meniscus and hasn’t eclipsed 100 receiving yards in over two months. Benjamin already had the toughest of matchups against the Jaguars' shut down defense.
Jaguars WR Marqise Lee has been out of action after suffering an ankle injury in Week 14. Although the Jacksonville offense hasn’t missed a beat as rookie WR Keelan Cole has enjoyed a late-season breakout, the team would obviously love to have their season long reception leader back on the field as they host the Bills. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Lee could sit the entire week of practice, but there is a “sense he will play.”
The Titans secured a playoff berth with a Week 17 win playing without starting RB DeMarco Murray and they’ve already ruled out Murray for their Wild Card matchup against the Chiefs. Murray’s replacement RB Derrick Henry totaled 117 yards in last week’s win, but managed just 51 rushing yards on a career-high 28 carries. With early speculation the Titans could cut Murray this offseason, this weekend’s game could be a sneak preview of Henry as the team’s 2018 starter.
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The Chiefs are one of the healthier teams entering the weekend. WR Albert Wilson was the Week 17 star as many of the team’s starters rested, but he’s been dealing with a hamstring injury. Wilson will be available to play against the Titans on Saturday.
The Panthers played without starting RB Jonathan Stewart last week, but Stewart was able to return to a full practice on Thursday and is expected to play against division rival New Orleans on Sunday.
WR Devin Funchess did not practice, but his absence is reportedly only precautionary and he is expected to play in the playoff game, as well.
The Saints have few health concerns as the playoffs are set to open, but WR Michael Thomas (hamstring) was able to get in a full practice and will play, as expected. Thomas has been dealing with the injury for the past couple of weeks, but has still totaled 10 receptions for 160 yards over the past two games.
Some of the Falcons' top players have been dealing with nagging injuries, but it seems to be all systems go for the defending NFC champions. WR Julio Jones (ankle/rib), RB Devonta Freeman (knee) and WR Taylor Gabriel (hamstring) each avoided the team’s injury report and will suit up against the Rams.
The Rams chose to sit nearly all of their offensive starters in Week 17 and it paid off as they enter the matchup with the Falcons fully healthy. SiriusXM did report that the Rams could lose quarterbacks coach Greg Olsen, who is rumored to be a candidate for the Raiders offensive coordinator position once Jon Gruden officially takes over.
Former Dolphins HC Joe Philbin is reportedly a candidate for the open Packers offensive coordinator position, while the Detroit Lions interviewed Green Bay’s linebacker coach Winston Moss for their head coaching vacancy. The packers also interviewed Eliot Wolf to be their new general manager.
The Ravens announced they would retain OC Marty Mornhinweg despite the continued woes of the Baltimore passing game. Ravens HC John Harbaugh also admitted the team would consider drafting a quarterback in the spring NFL Draft.
Vikings OC Pat Shurmur had a busy Thursday, interviewing for head coach openings in both Arizona and Detroit. With the success of QB Case Keenum and the Vikings Offense this season, Shurmur seems to be a lock to earn a head coaching spot.
The Broncos made the decision earlier in the week to keep HC Vance Joseph for a second season and now the team is busy retooling the coaching staff. Denver made a pair of hires Thursday, bringing in former Giants OC Mike Sullivan to serve as quarterbacks coach and ex-Bears assistant Curtis Modkins to coach the running backs.
Oklahoma junior TE Mark Andrews, considered by many as the top tight end in the 2018 class, made things official Thursday, declaring for the NFL Draft. Andrews won the Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end…Notre Dame WR Equanimeous St. Brown also announced he would leave school a year early. St. Brown had a disappointing 2017 season as the team moved to a run-heavy offense, but flourished during his sophomore season…Stanford DL Harrison Phillips, Arizona State G Sam Jones, Kansas DL Dorance Armstrong, Jr., Florida State DL Josh Sweat, LSU DL Arden Key, Virginia Tech DL Tim Settle, Auburn LB Jeffery Holland, UCLA WR Jordan Lasley and Louisville G Geron Christian were also among the college underclassmen declaring for the 2018 NFL Draft.