Can you feel it in the air? There is a different energy this week due to the RETURN OF THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE! With the wonderful return of professional football also comes the unfortunate return of injuries. Being able to successfully navigate injuries throughout a Fantasy Football season can be daunting, challenging, and confusing. Have no fear; I am here to guide you through your player’s injury issues all year. Welcome to the Week 1 Fantasy Football Injury Report. It feels good to be home again.
Note: This injury report will be updated until the conclusion of Week 1. For the most current injury news and analysis, follow me on Twitter @SGPNFootballDoc!
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Week 1 Fantasy Football Injury Report
Chris Godwin (WR) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
ACL Tear/ MCL Sprain, Injury Date: 12/19/2021
Chris Godwin went down with a season-ending knee injury. Godwin injured his ACL and MCL, stabilizing ligaments in the knee. These ligaments allow players to cut on the field, maintain their balance, and withstand hits to their lower body. Due to this additional knee damage, Godwin’s injury recovery is expected to take longer than a typical ACL tear recovery.
With only around 8.5 months of recovery before Week 1, Godwin’s recovery is moving ahead of schedule, it seems. He was listed as a full participant in practice on Wednesday and is trending in the right direction. However, even if he does play this week, I am not expecting him to be very productive. I think him being on the field will only make Mike Evans life easier to have a great WR1 day. Godwin is more likely to increase his production around Week 5 or 6.
Although he is trending in the right direction for Week 1, he is a risky play early on this year. – SIT
Zach Ertz (TE) Arizona Cardinals
Calf Injury, Initial Injury: 8/4/2022
The veteran TE made an immediate positive impact for Arizona last season following his trade from the Eagles. Looking to be a large part of the Cardinals’ offense this season, Ertz is having a concerning offseason. He suffered a calf injury on August 4th and missed the entire preseason. Luckily for Cardinals fans, Ertz did return to practice today, however, in a limited role.
He is likely dealing with a calf strain which refers to damage to his lower leg muscle. These strains can be nagging injuries that affect a player’s ability to push off with power out of their stance. With his acceleration and power hampered, Ertz will have to be careful in his rehab as there is also a moderate reinjury risk with these injuries. He is being called “day to day” but missing all this time does not give me hope that he will produce Week 1. Even if he is on the field, he will clearly not be 100% by Sunday.
Ertz has missed the entire preseason with a calf injury that will likely limit him in Week 1. – SIT
Allen Lazard (WR) Green Bay Packers
Ankle Injury, Initial Injury: 9/1/2022
The Packer’s leading returning WR is now a question mark for Week 1. WR Allen Lazard was slotted to likely be Green Bay’s WR1, but he injured his ankle last week. Not much information is available regarding the injury, but head coach Matt LaFleur said Lazard “got stepped on last week.” At this point, all we know is the Packer’s WR is dealing with an ankle injury and is not practicing this week. His practice status for the rest of the week is vital to his Week 1 availability.
Too many questions surrounding the injury at this point. – MONITOR
Diontae Johnson (WR) Pittsburgh Steelers
Shoulder Injury, Initial Injury: 8/28/2022
Pittsburgh’s top WR coming into the season looks to be banged up going into the season opener. WR Diontae Johnson injured his shoulder while making a diving catch in the team’s last preseason game. Head coach Mike Tomlin originally downplayed the injury, but it appears to be more nagging. Johnson was limited in practice on Wednesday and even noted himself that the injury was painful.
It does appear that Johnson is doing everything he can to be ready for Week 1. His practice status will need to be monitored but this is sounding like an AC joint injury. This shoulder and collarbone joint injury is painful, but most players are able to play through it. The Steelers’ lead WR also reportedly did not appear to be injured on the field as he was still making catches in different positions.
The #Steelers list Diontae Johnson as a limited participant today. I watched him go thru individual drills & show no real limitations with the shoulder he injured vs the Lions. He caught balls with full extension and off the back shoulder. No contact, obviously, but a good sign.
— Mike Giardi (@MikeGiardi) September 7, 2022
Monitor his status, but if Johnson plays Week 1, he should be in your lineup. – START
George Kittle (TE) San Francisco 49ers
Groin Injury, Initial Injury: 9/5/2022
San Francisco’s star TE George Kittle is starting off the game week in the worst way. He injured his groin at practice Monday and was unable to practice on Wednesday. Both the nature of the injury and his practice status is very concerning for his Week 1 availability. Groin injuries refer to an injury to the muscles connected to a player’s pelvis (inner hip or core). These injuries carry high reinjury risks and are difficult to rehab. It severely hampers a player’s ability to run routes and shrinks their catch radius.
Kittle’s practice status will have to be monitored closely, but this is not good news for San Francisco. This can easily turn into a multi-week absence.
Kittle suffered a groin injury to start the week and is unlikely to be productive in Week 1. – SIT
James Washington (WR) Dallas Cowboys
Jones Fracture, Initial Injury: 8/1/2022
The Dallas Cowboys are heading into the 2022 season on the wrong side of the injury report. After losing WR1 Amari Cooper in the offseason, there were some question marks amongst the WR group. Former Steelers WR James Washington was brought in to compete for the starting WR3 role and answer some questions. However, Washington suffered a Jones fracture early in August and will now miss the early part of the season.
A Jones fracture refers to a broken bone at the base of his pinky toe. This is a fairly common injury among athletes but one that comes with a frustrating recovery window. Typically it takes between six and ten weeks for a full recovery, but that is all dependent on how quickly the bone heals. Intense rehab cannot start until that bone is fully healed. Washington has been moved to the short-term IR, meaning he will miss at least four games. This injury, combined with fellow Dallas WR Michael Gallup’s injury, means Dallas will be searching for a WR2 to start the year. Insert rookie WR Jalen Tolbert or veteran WR Noah Brown.
Washington is on the IR and will miss the first four games. – SIT
Van Jefferson (WR) Los Angeles Rams
Knee Surgery, Initial Injury: 8/1/2022
Rams young WR Van Jefferson was looking to cement his role as WR3 this offseason. Unfortunately, Jefferson has had more surgeries than catches this preseason. The Rams WR had an undisclosed planned surgery done on his knee this offseason and, in early August, required a second unplanned procedure.
Jefferson reportedly tweaked his knee in practice which caused the need for a second surgery. The good news is that both surgeries are described as minor, and there is an expectation that Jefferson will be back in the early part of the season. His Week 1 availability is in question as the Rams are uncertain about his recovery timetable as of now. Jefferson has a chance to play Week 1, but it would likely be in a limited role. Two surgeries to one knee in the same offseason definitely brings a fair amount of caution in drafting the Ram’s WR3. His absence from practice has only given other young WRs a chance to claim their stake as WR3 in this offense. Allen Robinson II Boost
Van Jefferson is OUT for Week 1. – SIT
Drake London (WR) Atlanta Falcons
Knee Injury, Initial Injury: 8/12/2022
Rookie WR Drake London comes into the NFL in a unique situation. He is quite likely the best WR on his team (not including suspended Calvin Ridley and TE Kyle Pitts). Now, this may speak more to the fact that the Falcons WR group is laughable at best. However, this gives the rookie a clear path to a high target volume right out of the gate. This may give him the most upside out of anyone on this injury report.
The only problem with this scenario is that London has to be on the field to make an impact. In his first preseason game, the Atlanta WR suffered a knee injury and has not been seen practicing since. The Falcons are being tight-lipped regarding the nature of the injury, but head coach Arthur Smith seems optimistic. He states, “I feel good about where he’s at” in reference to the rookie WR’s game one status. At this point, I would need to see the rookie get some practices under his belt to feel confident about him in Week 1, but his opportunity to be Atlanta’s WR1 is undeniable.
London was a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice. It is good to see him return to practice, but he will need to log a full practice session to have confidence in his knee. Just as head coach Arthur Smith is stating, we will have to monitor the rookie’s practice status and his knee’s response.
London’s Week 1 status is up in the air and will depend on his practice response. – MONITOR
Michael Thomas (WR) New Orleans Saints
Hamstring Injury, Initial Injury: 8/17/2022
The lock of the past two years has been finding Michael Thomas landing on a fantasy football injury report. This Week 1 injury report is no different! After dealing with ankle issues for two straight seasons, he was finally getting to the point where he could fully participate in practice. Of course, just as soon as he was healthy, Thomas found himself with a new nagging injury. I had my doubts about Thomas coming into the season, and this has only worsened with the recent news of his hamstring injury.
The injury caused him to miss two weeks of practice with some questions about his return date. He was able to finally return to the practice field this week in a limited fashion. The expectation amongst the Saints is that he will play Week 1. However, I want no part in having Thomas in my fantasy lineup. For a guy who didn’t play a single snap all last season, he is not someone who can afford to be missing snaps. Hamstring injuries are brutal injuries that can easily linger into the season and limit a player’s explosiveness.
Thomas is still limited by the hamstring injury, which will hurt his production. – SIT
Darren Waller (TE) Las Vegas Raiders
Hamstring Injury, Initial Injury: 7/28/2022
The Las Vegas Raiders have brought in some new faces on the offense to try and keep pace with the high-powered AFC West. This team’s success also relies on their current star players to produce as well. Waller has missed the majority of the Raider’s training camp and all of their preseason games. At first, it was assumed this was due to contract negotiation issues, but it later surfaced it was due to a hamstring injury.
This should be somewhat alarming to Raider fans and fantasy owners alike. Hamstring injuries are one of the most burdensome injuries in the league that result in missed playing time. A big reason for this is due to their high reinjury rates, as it is difficult to gauge how healthy the muscle is in rehab. It appears Waller suffered from one of these setbacks as he returned for one practice a few weeks ago and immediately missed the next four practices.
The Raiders TE was able to finally return to practice last week and, in a bit of a surprise, is not even listed on the team’s Week 1 injury report. Being able to string together some full participation practices was key for Waller’s rehab. He is still not out of the woods yet with the injury, but with him carrying no injury designation into Week 1, you have to start him if you have him.
Waller’s long absence with a hamstring strain is concerning, but he is a start when available. – START
JK Dobbins (RB) Baltimore Ravens
ACL Tear, Initial Injury: 8/28/2021
JK Dobbins has received A LOT of hype this offseason, particularly from the fantasy football community. I am not among those simply expecting Dobbins to come back and have an amazing year. I actually think the Ravens backfield will be a headache for fantasy owners this season with a good Oline and stable of capable RBs. Dobbins suffered not only an ACL tear but also damage to his LCL ligament. Both ligaments serve to stabilize the knee in different planes of motion, and multi-ligament injuries tend to complicate recovery. More damage to the knee comes with more concern for the player to return to their pre-injury playing level quickly.
There has been no timetable set for Dobbins’s return to this point, and he has not seen any live action yet. With no preseason or 11-on-11 reps, I find it hard to believe he will be ready for a big workload early in the season. Another indication for Dobbins seeing a lighter workload is the late signing of RB Kenyan Drake. Just as we witnessed with Saquon Barkley last year, we can not just assume these guys will come back and perform at high levels. Dobbins logged a limited practice this week, but with no full participation, it is unlikely he plays Week 1.
With no live reps under his belt, it is unlikely Dobbins plays much Week 1 if at all. – SIT
N’Keal Harry (WR) Chicago Bears
High Ankle Sprain, Initial Injury: 8/6/2022
New Chicago WR N’Keal Harry was turning some heads in the offseason with his new team. After trading away their WR1 in Allen Robinson, the Bears were looking for someone new to step up in the offense. There was optimism that Harry could do just that, but this has since changed as he injured his ankle a few weeks ago. The injury was a high ankle sprain that caused enough damage that tightrope surgery was used to fix the ligaments.
A high ankle sprain refers to damage to the ligaments that hold together your two lower leg bones. The injury occurs above the ankle, and it requires much more recovery time than a typical low ankle sprain. Harry is looking at around an eight-week recovery with this injury if there are no setbacks. Harry has officially been placed on the injured reserve and will miss at least the first four games of the season. This leaves the Bears THIN at the skill position; look for Darnell Mooney and Cole Kemet to see a fantasy boost here.
Harry is on IR and OUT in the first four games. – SIT
Michael Gallup (WR) Dallas Cowboys
ACL tear, Initial Injury: 1/2/2022
The Dallas Cowboys have been hit with some unexpected bad news on the injury front this off-season. After taking some hits to their WR group and Oline, the Cowboys figured they would have to deal with their WR2 being out to start the season. However, Dallas WR Michael Gallup may not be sidelined as long as originally expected. Suffering an ACL tear near the end of a season almost guarantees you will miss some games the following year. While I still think he will miss some time, the signs out of Cowboys camp point to this being less than originally expected.
An ACL tear typically takes NFL players around 11.5 months to fully recover and return to playing. Gallup will only be 8.5 months in his recovery once Week 1 hits. Earlier in the offseason, I was expecting him to miss at least the first four to six games. It seems Dallas has other ideas, as Gallup has surprisingly been moved off the PUP to start the season after passing his physical. He is still limited in practice but seems to be closer to a return than originally thought. With Amari Cooper moving on in the offseason, this leaves a lot of targets left on an offense with very little proven WR talent outside of CeeDee Lamb.
Gallup’s Week 1 availability is unlikely, and I do not recommend the risk this week. – SIT
Robert Tonyan (TE) Green Bay Packers
ACL Tear, Initial Injury: 10/28/2021
Finally, some positive analysis for this Week 1 injury update. Green Bay TE is a player I am actually surprisingly high on despite coming off an ACL tear last season. Tonyan will have 10.5 months of recovery time by the start of the season, which is slightly less than average but still well within the appropriate recovery window. He also has not suffered any setbacks in his rehab and is progressing well. Getting his first 11-on-11 reps with the starters in practice this week is a big step, and he is trending in the right direction for Week 1.
Tonyan has begun the week with limited participation in Wednesday’s practice. The Green Bay TE has steadily been progressing in his rehab, but his Week 1 availability is unclear at this point. He would need to log at least one full session in practice to feel good about him starting Week 1. Coming off the ACL tear, I expect a slower start for Tonyan and for him to pick it up by Week 4 or 5.
Tonyan may be available to play this week, but I am expecting a slow start for him. – SIT
Zach Wilson (QB) New York Jets
Bone Bruise, Injury Date: 8/12/2022
The young New York Jets QB gave every fan and fantasy owner a scare this preseason. After going down awkwardly after making a cut while scrambling, the internet took over and assumed the worst. Fortunately for Wilson, he only suffered a bone bruise and meniscus tear in his knee and not an ACL tear. He had surgery to remove the injured part of his meniscus and has to give his bone time to heal from the bruise.
The recovery window provided by the team was four to six weeks. After some initial optimism on the chances Wilson starts Week 1, it appears that the ship has sailed. Head coach Robert Saleh has officially ruled out QB Zach Wilson for this week, and Week 4 looks like the new target date. This leaves backup QB Joe Flacco in line for the start against his old teams.
Wilson is OUT Week 1; insert Flacco’s revenge game. – SIT
Robert Woods (WR) Tennessee Titans
ACL Tear, Initial Injury: 11/3/2021
To wrap up this Week 1 injury report, former Los Angeles Rams WR Robert Woods injured his knee in practice in the middle of last season. The injury was quickly confirmed to be an ACL tear and ultimately ended his Rams career. Woods is now a member of the Tennessee Titans and is looking for a fresh start. The opportunity for the new Titans WR will undoubtedly be there as Tennessee parted ways with both Julio Jones and AJ Brown this offseason.
Robert Woods presents an interesting case that will affect your fantasy football risk tolerance. On the plus side, the target volume should be there as a healthy Woods is a clear WR1 in Tennessee. However, since the injury occurred in November, Woods will likely not be 100% to start the season. I originally was much more skeptical about Woods coming into the year, but his practice participation has changed this some.
Woods has been an active participant in fall camp and even had some limited practices in May OTAs. This gradual ramp-up in activities with no setbacks was solidified by his participation in the team’s last preseason game. Now he did not get a ton of playing time, but the fact the team felt good enough for him to be out there says a lot about his health status. I actually think Woods may be one of the few players coming off a major injury to take a chance on this fantasy football season.
Woods is not on the injury report this week and is expected to be a full go. – START
A quick reminder of the impact of Fantasy Football players who will be suspended during the 2022 NFL season.
Deandre Hopkins (WR) Arizona Cardinals – 6 games
Calvin Ridley (WR) Atlanta Falcons – 17 games
Deshaun Watson (QB) Cleveland Browns – 11 games