The divisional round has a much more streamlined injury landscape that last week’s wild-card ledger, with the bulk of concerns centered on the running backs. The biggest headlines of the week involve the expected return to the field of a pair of prominent receivers, while the remaining positions of fantasy relevance are remarkably healthy. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the latest injury news heading into Saturday morning:
- The Vikings activated Sam Bradford from injured reserve on Saturday morning, giving him a chance to suit up for the first time since Week 5 of the regular season. The veteran succumbed to a knee injury at that point, finishing the campaign having completed 32 of 43 passes for 382 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. It’s unclear whether Minnesota will opt to name Bradford as the official backup to Case Keenum for Sunday’s NFC divisional-round matchup against the Saints, a move that would presumably lead to the deactivation of Teddy Bridgewater, who successfully returned from his own devastating knee injury late in the regular season.
- The Saints’ Taysom Hill (illness) is the only quarterback in the divisional round that has any type of injury designation. However, as New Orleans’ No. 3 quarterback behind Drew Brees and Chase Daniel, his potential absence wouldn’t have a fantasy-related impact.
- The Titans‘ DeMarco Murray (knee-MCL) has been ruled out for his third consecutive game Saturday night, leaving Derrick Henry to once again serve as Tennessee’s No. 1 running back for the AFC divisional-round tilt against the Patriots. Fresh off a 28-carry workload against the Jaguars in Week 17, Henry ripped off a career-high 156 rushing yards on 23 totes against the Chiefs in last Saturday’s wild-card upset. The second-year back is reportedly set for another robust workload against New England, which could help keep Tom Brady and the rest of the Patriots offense on the sideline for extended stretches.
- Meanwhile, the Patriots have a trio of injured tailbacks themselves, as Rex Burkhead (knee), Mike Gillislee (knee) and James White (ankle) are all officially questionable. All three finished the week with limited practices, but Gillislee was the only one of the three who missed a session altogether – two, in fact – this past week. As per early Saturday morning reports, neither Gillislee nor Burkhead are expected to play, with the latter seen favoring his left knee fairly heavily in practice this week according to beat writer reports. Their absences figure to afford Dion Lewis even more work than usual, while the overwhelming bulk of the pass-catching duties out of the backfield will fall in White’s lap, with Brandon Bolden potentially lending a hand on occasion as well.
- The fact that the Steelers‘ Antonio Brown carries a questionable designation heading into Sunday’s AFC divisional-round tilt against the Jaguars isn’t surprising, but it’s not just the partially torn calf muscle he suffered against the Patriots in Week 15 that has him on the injury report. Brown is also dealing with an illness that prevented him from practicing Friday after he’d encouragingly logged full sessions Wednesday and Thursday. The All-Pro wideout reportedly looked good in terms of his movement in that pair of practices and is fully expected to take the field Sunday. However, he’ll be greeted with the toughest fantasy matchup in the league for wide receivers, as the Jaguars only surrendered 12.82 fantasy points per game to the position in standard scoring formats during the regular season. It’s worth noting, however, that Brown found rare success against them in a Week 5 matchup, hauling in 10 of a whopping 19 targets for 157 yards on an afternoon when Ben Roethlisberger was intercepted five times.
- The Patriots’ Chris Hogan no longer carries any injury designation heading into Saturday night’s AFC divisional-round battle versus the Titans. Hogan dealt with a lingering shoulder issue throughout the entirety of the regular season’s second half, and he suited up just once from Week 9 onward. The general consensus appears to be that the team was exercising an abundance of caution with the fifth-year wideout, and given that he saw between five and 11 targets in all but one of the nine contests he played in, he figures to get a fair share of Tom Brady’s attention in a matchup against a Titans secondary that allowed 20.12 fantasy points per game to receivers in standard scoring formats during the regular season.
- The Saints’ Brandon Coleman (neck) has already been ruled out for Sunday’s NFC divisional-round matchup against the Vikings. The third-year receiver saw decent red-zone usage for the second straight season in 2017 (eight targets inside the 20) and notched four receptions for 44 yards in last Sunday’s wild-card win over the Panthers. His absence should open up additional snaps for the underused Willie Snead, whose shockingly unproductive regular season consisted of eight receptions (on 16 targets) for 92 yards, all easily career lows.
- The Jaguars’ Jaydon Mickens (hamstring) is questionable for Sunday’s AFC divisional-round battle against the Steelers after a trio of limited practices this week. However, with the quartet of Allen Hurns, Marqise Lee, Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole all healthy and playing ahead of him, his fantasy value remains severely limited.
Key defensive players
- The Jaguars’ Blair Brown (ankle) is questionable for Sunday’s AFC divisional-round battle against the Steelers after suffering the injury in Wednesday’s practice, missing Thursday’s session and returning to limited participation Friday. Position mates Telvin Smith (ankle) and Paul Posluzny (abdomen), who both opened the week with missed practices, are both free of injury designations.
- The Patriots’ Marquis Flowers (illness) is questionable for Saturday night’s AFC divisional-round tilt against the Titans after missing Wednesday’s practice and finishing with a limited session Thursday. Teammate Eric Lee (ankle) is questionable after a trio of limited practices this week.
- The Vikings’ Terence Newman (foot) is questionable for Sunday’s NFC divisional-round showdown against the Saints after turning in no better than a limited practice this week, which he managed on two occasions. Mackensie Alexander would likely slide into Newman’s nickel corner role if he’s unable to suit up, which would brighten the fantasy prospects of the likes of Ted Ginn, Jr. and Snead.