Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Trust or Fade: Thursday Injury Expecations

Steve Buzzard and I will be collaborating every Saturday on a feature spotlighting the week’s injury concerns. By Friday, we’ll have a full week of practice participation reports and media interviews to more accurately drill down on whether a player is likely to play, and play effectively, on Sunday.

But that doesn’t help you exploit injury edges in your Thursday-Sunday lineups.

So, I’ll be giving a quick “trust or fade” recommendation on the blog each week after the Wednesday practice participation report is released. It’ll be based on incomplete information, but I’m hoping to keep you from starting a player who is likely to be ineffective or take a smart risk on a player who others may be avoiding unnecessarily.

You’ll also want to check out our full midweek injury feature from Craig Zumsteg when it goes live late Wednesday night on our season-long article page.

Thursday Night Football Expectation

Andrew Luck 8900  >>>>  (Shoulder | Questionable)
Cash: FADE

As of Thursday morning, I think it's 60-40 Luck is inactive. But it's a tough situation to read. We don't know whether Luck threw in practice on Wednesday morning. We don't know if the Josh Johnson re-signing was for practice reps with Matt Hasselbeck injured or a sign Luck is not yet ready. We don't know whether major media reports saying Luck is likely to play are more trustworthy than last week. Vegas isn't convinced -- some books have taken the game off the board as of Wednesday night.

If we get early word on Thursday that Luck is healthy enough to play, you might consider him a large GPP contrarian play. But it's best to fade the situation altogether.

400 ET: Luck will go through pregame warmups but isn't expected to play tonight.

Arian Foster 8200  >>>>  (Groin | Probable)

I think it's reasonable to expect 15+ combined touches and targets for Foster this week. Though he wasn't effective last week, I think Foster looked comfortable enough moving laterally. Jerrell Freeman will miss this game and Henry Anderson could be limited in an already average Indianapolis run front. Foster isn't entirely without risk but I think he's healthy enough to be productive in this spot.

***Both Frank Gore (foot) and Dwayne Allen (ankle) are listed on Indianapolis's injury report. I think both are healthy enough to see close to their usual workload tonight. I'm not recommending them as strong plays, but if you like their situation their injury concerns are minimal.

Trust or Fade?

As of Wednesday night, I'd strongly recommend fading Andre Ellington, Marshawn Lynch, Jordan Reed, and Davante Adams. There's too much uncertainty about availability and workload for each. I think you can safely consider Drew Brees, Jeremy Hill, Latavius Murray, Demaryius Thomas, and Julio Jones in Thursday slate lineups.

Randall Cobb 8200  >>>>  (Shoulder | Limited)

Cobb continues to play through a painful shoulder sprain. Last week's aggravation seemed more limiting than in earlier weeks. I expect Cobb continue to play through the injury, however, and his role in the offense is such that he'll see enough high leverage targets to have value even if he misses a few plays during the game.

Alshon Jeffery 7600  >>>>  (Hamstring | Limited)
Cash: FADE

Jeffery has had two weeks of limited practice and re-conditioning. He should be close to returning and I think he'll be safe to trust as a GPP contrarian play when he returns to the active gameday roster. But until we get confirmation he'll return, he should not be used in an early slate lineup.

Karlos Williams 6900  >>>>  (Concussion | DNP)
Cash: FADE

You cannot risk a player in the concussion protocol in a Thursday slate lineup. Williams may flip to a trust recommendation on Sunday morning, but you have to extremely risk tolerant to consider him tonight.

Check back on Saturday for our Injury Spotlight and Lineup Recommendation feature. Until then, follow me on Twitter @JeneBramel for breaking analysis on practice participation and media interviews. Finally, on Sunday morning, I’ll be adapting my Injury Expectations column for this blog to help navigate any tricky game time decisions.

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