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There are a ton of injuries to keep up with for Week 5

CBS Sports logo CBS Sports 10/8/2021 Chris Towers

On paper, Week 5's Thursday night game between the Rams and Seahawks looked like it might be the best one of the season. And, in fairness, it was a pretty entertaining game throughout, albeit not necessarily a well-played one. But it was marred by Russell Wilson suffering a finger injury that looks like it might end his consecutive games played streak at 148. 

I've got my full recap of that game and the fallout from Wilson's injury for you in today's newsletter, along with one last look at the top storylines and all the injuries you need to know about for Week 5 before Sunday when we have to lock our lineups in fully. And, unfortunately, we're probably going to head into Sunday morning with a lot of lingering questions out there, an issue that will only be compounded by the fact that we have our first London game of the season, with the Falcons and Jets set to kick off bright and early on our shores, at 9:30 a.m. ET. 

There isn't going to be any way to answer all of your lineup questions today, so make sure you send your Start/Sit questions my way at Chris.Towers@CBSi.com with the subject line "#AskFFT" and they'll get included in my Sunday morning mailbag. Plus, make sure you subscribe to the Fantasy Football Today YouTube channel so you can tune in to Adam Aizer and I at 11:30 Sunday morning as we'll be answering as many of your questions as we can right up through kick off. 

Get ready for Week 5 with the whole FFT crew's content from this week:  

And here's what the rest of today's newsletter has in store to help you get ready for Week 5:

  • 🏈TNF Fantasy Recap: Rams 26, Seahaws 17 
  • 🔍Week 5 Preview: 10 biggest questions and injury updates
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🏈TNF Recap: Rams 26, Seahawks 17

This game was a bit of a miss, and it would have been easier to enjoy that if not for an injury to Wilson:

  • The big takeaway: Russell Wilson suffered a finger injury that may end up being pretty serious. We don't know for sure yet, but at least based on post-game comments and reports, Wilson may be looking at missing his first start ever. Whether the injury will ultimately require surgery remains to be seen, but it does seem like the Seahawks may be stuck with Geno Smith at QB for Week 6 against the Steelers. That's not a particularly soft landing, and I think you would probably have to downgrade both Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf -- though the latter did score a touchdown from Smith. Metcalf would still rank higher for me, but I'm not sure either would be a top-15 WR with Wilson out for an extended period of time. 
  • One more thing I noticed: I've been curious if the Rams would look to limit Darrell Henderson's exposure at any point, and they did Thursday, as Sony Michel played 23 snaps and even got in the end zone while Henderson played 44 snaps. However, that might be a bit misleading, as Henderson did leave the game in the first half for a time with an injury scare. On the other hand, that's exactly why I thought the Rams might look to mix Michel in more often; Henderson just has not been able to stay healthy in his NFL career. They're asking him to carry an awfully heavy load, and I wonder if he's up for it. 
  • Winner: Robert Woods. Sean McVay heaped an awful lot of praise on Woods this week, and it wasn't just talk because the Rams made sure to get him involved early and often in this one. Woods, who had just 172 yards on 15 catches in four games coming into Thursday's, led the team with 12 catches on 14 targets for 150 yards. It was exactly the kind of performance we needed to see from Woods, who was rapidly starting to lose the Fantasy community's faith. He's been too good for too long to think he just suddenly lost it, so it was nice to see he still does, in fact, have it. He'll likely be back in my top-24 rankings at WR next week. 
  • Loser: Alex Collins. We get excited, naturally, when backup running backs get an opportunity to start, because so much of Fantasy success at running back comes down to opportunity. However, sometimes we're also reminded of why that player was a backup in the first place. Collins had a tough draw with the Rams as his opponent for the start, and he actually didn't look bad, especially making a few nifty plays in the passing game. But he just didn't have many opportunities, especially in situations of real value. We don't know how long Chris Carson's neck injury is going to keep him out, but if Wilson's injury also sidelines him, this may not be an ideal situation for Collins to be much more than a low-end start even if he does get another chance.  
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🔍Week 5 Previews

So, full disclosure here, everyone: The normal game previews aren't here this week. Why, you ask? Well, because I made the foolish decision to write them in our in-house publisher, which, for all its many lovely features, doesn't have the most reliable auto-save features. So, when my computer crashed last night -- it kind of looked like Samara from The Ringwas going to crawl out of my monitor -- I lost between one-quarter and one-third of my work. 

So ... yeah, we're going to have a pared-down version of the previews today. I'm still going to hit as many of the big storylines as I can, while also providing updates on every injury you need to know about, and I promise we'll be back to the full Friday game previews next week. You know, assuming The Ring really was fictional. We'll see. 

Oh, and one more thing: Remember, there's a game in London this week, so the Jets and Falcons will be kicking off at 9:30 a.m. If you aren't an early riser on the weekends, make sure you check the news Saturday night and set your lineup ahead of time. 

10 biggest questions for Week 5

  1. Can you trust Trey Lance and the 49ers offense? -- In my eyes, these are two separate questions. I think there's a pretty good chance Lance is going to be a useful Fantasy option because of his rushing ability, which I expect Kyle Shanahan to take full advantage of if he starts in Jimmy Garoppolo's place this week. However, I'm not as convinced Lance is going to be great news for the 49ers offense as a whole. Lance has a world of talent, including a very strong arm, but he showed a slow wind-up in Week 4 that led to a handful of batted passes and situations where he just couldn't get the ball to receivers on time and accurately. That'll improve as he gains experience, and getting a full week of practice with the first-team offense should help, but he's certainly less of a sure thing than Garoppolo, which makes Deebo Samuel and George Kittle less reliable options, too. 
  2. Will the Bears start to trust Justin Fields? -- I think that's the assumption you have to make after Matt Nagy finally named him the team's starter for the rest of the season, but I just don't have a ton of faith in Nagy at this point. Fields has just six rush attempts in his two starts, which is defensible even before you realize two of them were kneel-downs to end Week 4's win and two were scrambles. That's right: Nagy has one of the most athletic quarterbacks we've ever seen and he's had two designed runs for him in two games. You have to think they'll take advantage of his athleticism more moving forward, but enough to let Fields live up to his considerable potential? I'm not convinced. Either way, I do think we're going to see better things ahead for the Bears passing game, with Allen Robinson hopefully getting more involved moving forward. 
  3. Will the Cowboys remain so run-heavy? -- The Cowboys have seen their share of run plays increase more than all but three times since 2020, and unlike the three ahead of them, there wasn't really anything predictable about this trend. The Bears, Saints, and Texans all have new quarterbacks who run more, so of course they are running more. The Cowboys actually got their MVP candidate quarterback back after he missed much of last season, and he's averaging a career-low in carries per game. The key to date seems to be the fact that Dallas' defense actually seems to be pretty decent, keeping the Cowboys in fewer situations where they have to throw it. However ... that defense also feels like a mirage. The Cowboys are allowing the third-highest yards per play in the league but rank 17th in the league in scoring defense largely because of a 23.3% turnover rate, the highest for a team since 2005. I still think the Cowboys are going to throw the ball a ton this season, so if you have a chance to buy low on CeeDee Lamb or Amari Cooper, I suggest you take it. 
  4. Is Alvin Kamara still an elite Fantasy RB? -- This feels like a dumb question, but right now, Kamara doesn't look like one. To be clear, it's nothing he's doing wrong and everything to do with the offense he finds himself in. Kamara is averaging seven more carries per game than he did in 2020, however he's also catching three fewer passes, and that's not a tradeoff you want to make in PPR. Especially not on a middling offense with competition for goal-line touches from a gimmick backup quarterback. Kamara is still the team's top receiving target, as expected, but they've attempted just 90 passes in four games, and as long as they're playing like this, Kamara is more like a low-end No. 1 RB. So ... let's hope they stop playing like this!
  5. Does Cordarrelle Patterson see his role expand? -- The way Patterson is going to overcome regression is to take on a bigger role in the Falcons offense, and Week 5 sure seems set up for just that to happen with Calvin Ridley not traveling with the team for personal reasons. Patterson already played almost half his snaps in Week 4 as a wide receiver, and if he could get his usual 6-7 carries while also being one of the Falcons top wide receivers, he could have a very good game. He's a must-start player at either RB or WR, and you may want to wait until after this week to make those sell-high offers. 
  6. Was James Robinson's Week 4 usage for real? -- Week 4 really should have been the confirmation of Robinson's return to the realm of the must-start running backs, and if he played for a coach I actually have faith in, it would almost certainly be. However, Urban Meyer has given Carlos Hyde between 25-34% of the snaps in each game this season, so was Robinson's massive Week 4 just a result of Hyde's absence? I'm starting Robinson and ranking him as a top-12 RB, I just wish I didn't have to worry about Meyer doing something silly. 
  7. Was Week 4 just a speed bump for Mike Williams? -- When a player has a long track record of success, it's pretty easy to look at one bad game -- or even a few! -- and assume they'll be fine. Williams doesn't have that track record, so it's only natural to wonder if his one-catch performance on Monday Night Football might be the start of him turning back into a pumpkin. I'm not so worried about it. Sure, he only had four targets in the game, but if you go back and watch them, you can see how close Williams came to another big game. Herbert overthrew him for what would have been at least a 60-yard catch, and potentially an 85-yard touchdown in the second quarter, and he could have a long connection in the fourth if not for Herbert getting hit low as he threw it. Williams is still playing really well, so I'll still bet on him. 
  8. Can the Cardinals get DeAndre Hopkins more involved? -- Hopkins has just a 20% target share for the season, which is a problem for his Fantasy value. The bigger problem, however, might be that it really hasn't been a problem for the Cardinals offense. They love to get as many pass-catchers on the field as possible and spread it around, and they seem to have the talent to do that this season. That means they don't have to lean on Hopkins as much as they did a year ago, and you can see it in where Hopkins is getting his targets this season. Just two of his 25 targets (8%) have come from behind the line of scrimmage, and nine of 25 (36%) have been within 5 years of the LOS; last season, 45% of his targets were within 5 yards, and 16.3% came behind the line. Those aren't the most valuable targets, but they matter, and they explain a lot of the difference between Hopkins' value compared to last season. 
  9. How will the Jags wide receivers play? -- There is, understandably, a lot of excitement around Laviska Shenault after his six-for-99 game in Week 4 following D.J. Chark's exit with a season-ending ankle injury. The key for Shenault comes down to whether Chark's absence will change how the Jaguars use him, and a season-high 13.6 average depth of target seems to suggest that may be the case, however I'll caution that outside of his one long catch, Shenault's ADoT was pretty much in line with where it's been, so I'm not sure they're going to start airing it out to him all of a sudden. However, there certainly seems to be more room for him to play a more valuable role, and both he and Marvin Jones -- who I suspect will be the No. 1 target for Trevor Lawrence the rest of the way -- are in that WR3/4 discussion. But I'm not sure I trust this offense just yet, even against a really good matchup with the Titans. 
  10. Can you really trust Dalton Schultz and Dawson Knox? -- I mean, we know the answer to this question to at least a certain extent, because if they didn't play tight end, neither would be relevant for Fantasy at all. So, of course you can't trust them. But if we've got to play tight ends, those two are going to be active in nearly all leagues. We saw some promising trends for Knox in Week 4 as he had a season-high eight targets, and he'll need more games like that to avoid being just a touchdown-or-bust option, but I'm not confident you can rely on that. Schultz has six targets in three of four games, so I do feel a bit better about believing in him as someone you can use moving forward. But neither is likely to do much for you if they don't find the end zone. 

Injury Report

Quarterbacks

  • Ben Roethlisberger (hip) -- Full participation. Roethlisberger is going to play through this injury just like he did the pectoral injury, it seems. By which I mean, he's going to play poorly, most likely. 
  • Teddy Bridgewater (concussion) -- Limited participation. Bridgewater is progressing well and looks to have a chance to play against the Steelers. That would be an upgrade for the Broncos offense relative to Drew Lock, but we'll still need to see him clear the concussion protocol, something we should know by Saturday at the latest. 
  • Jimmy Garoppolo (calf) -- Did not practice. Shanahan left the door open for Garoppolo to be able to play despite not practicing Wednesday or Thursday, but at this point, I am assuming Lance is going to be the guy for the 49ers. 

Running backs

  • Christian McCaffrey (hamstring) -- Limited participation. McCaffrey told reporters he "definitely" has a chance to return after missing just one game. He's been limited each day so far in practice, and if he can get through Friday's session without issue, he should be good to go against the Eagles, though we may not get official confirmation until Sunday morning, so keep an eye out.  
  • Dalvin Cook (ankle) -- Did not practice. Cook is saying he'll play through the injury, so I guess we have to take him at his word for it. Given how often he's dealt with injuries and the fact that he already suffered a setback with this one despite missing a game, I would think the Vikings would want to limit him, but maybe that's what these missed practices are for. I'm assuming he plays, but you should make sure you have an alternate ready to go. 
  • Austin Ekeler (ankle) -- Full participation. This seems like a non-issue despite Ekeler popping up on the practice report Wednesday. He should be good to go. 
  • Aaron Jones (ankle) -- Limited participation. I haven't seen much reason to think Jones is at risk of missing Sunday's game, but this may explain why A.J. Dillon had a season-high 15 carries in Week 4. If the Packers go up in this one, don't be surprised if he sees a similar role against the Bengals, though Jones remains a must-start option if he's healthy. 
  • Joe Mixon (ankle) -- Did not practice. I'm assuming Samaje Perine is going to start for the Bengals against the Packers despite Zac Taylor pushing back on reports earlier in the week calling Mixon "week to week." Perine should be the lead back, but I'm interested in seeing what Chris Evans can do in a larger role, too. 
  • Ezekiel Elliott (knee) -- Limited participation. It sounds like Elliott is going to play through this issue despite missing practice Wednesday. He's a must-start option against the Giants, though it wouldn't be a surprise if he saw his workload lightened just a bit to keep him fresh. 
  • Chase Edmonds (shoulder) -- Did not practice. I haven't really seen any details on this injury or what it means for Edmonds' chances in Week 5, but I'm definitely concerned. Hopefully Edmonds can get back to practice Friday, but if he doesn't play, James Conner becomes a top-20 RB for Fantasy against the 49ers. 
  • Melvin Gordon (lower leg) -- Limited participation. Gordon has been playing through this injury and I'm assuming he will continue to do so in Week 5. 
  • Nyheim Hines (shoulder) -- Did not practice. This one was a surprise, and it's a concern if only because the Colts don't play until Monday night, so we may not know his status until after the rest of the games lock. Keep an eye on his status heading into Sunday, though it's worth noting that the Colts did have Hines available to speak to the media Thursday, which isn't something you usually see with injured players who are going to sit out. 
  • Eli Mitchell (shoulder) -- Limited participation. Mitchell is trending toward a game-time decision, it seems. If he is healthy enough to play, I assume he'll be the lead back ahead of Trey Sermon, but I think I'd want to avoid any possible committee here. 
  • Jamaal Williams (hip) -- Limited participation. Williams seems like he'll be able to play in Week 5. 
  • Peyton Barber (toe) -- Did not practice. Barber is trending toward missing Week 5, and that should be good news for Josh Jacobs
  • Justin Jackson (groin) -- Did not practice. Jackson went from limited to not practicing, which is never a good sign. He played a decent role in Week 4 and looks like the obvious Ekeler replacement if anything were to happen to keep the starter out. Larry Rountree could see an increased role if Jackson is out, but he wouldn't be Fantasy relevant, I think. 
  • Giovani Bernard (knee) -- Limited participation. Bernard looks like he might be able to return for Sunday's game against the Dolphins, which is a little bit concerning for Leonard Fournette, Jamey Eisenberg's Start of the Week. I would still view Fournette like a No. 2 RB even if Bernard plays, but it's an added variable to consider in a backfield where seemingly small variables can make a big impact. 

Wide receivers

  • A.J. Brown (hamstring) -- Full participation. Brown looks like he's going to be cleared to play in Week 5 against the Jaguars, which is great news, given the matchup. He carries a lot of risk moving forward given this injury and his history of knee issues, but if Brown is healthy enough to play, you've got to start him in your Fantasy lineup. 
  • Julio Jones (hip) -- Did not practice. I'll just note my annoyance at the fact that the Titans ruled Brown out with a hamstring injury in Week 3 but then Mike Vrabel played coy with Jones' status after he barely played in the fourth quarter. Now, it looks like Jones is going to be out longer than Brown. 
  • Calvin Ridley (personal) -- Ridley didn't travel to London with the team and won't play Sunday morning. Hopefully everything's OK with him and this is just a temporary absence. 
  • Amari Cooper (hamstring) -- Limited participation. Cooper looks like he is trending toward playing through this issue in Week 5, and he's still in the WR2 discussion for me against the Giants, though he doesn't come without risk, obviously. 
  • Tee Higgins (shoulder) -- Limited participation. It's still not clear if Higgins is going to be able to play in Week 5, but he's trending in the right direction. He'll be in the WR2 mix for the matchup against the Bengals, though he'll be a bit risky in his first game back. 
  • Sterling Shepard (hamstring) -- Did not practice. Shepard looks like he's going to miss his second game in a row, and the same is true of Darius Slayton, also dealing with a hamstring injury. Kenny Golladay looks like a solid starter with upside against the Cowboys, while Kadarius Toney is an interesting PPR flex option. 
  • Chase Claypool (hamstring) -- Limited participation. Claypool looks like he's making progress and could be back for Sunday against the Broncos. He would be outside of the WR3 tier for me if he does play given how this offense has struggled this season. 
  • Curtis Samuel (groin) -- Did not practice. It's still not clear if Samuel suffered a setback in Week 4 or if the team is just being extra cautious with him, but you can't rely on him for this week. I'm excited to see him healthy if it ever happens. 
  • Elijah Moore (concussion) -- Full participation. Moore is making good progress and looks like he'll be active for Sunday against the Falcons. I'm interested to see how the Jets receiving hierarchy sets up with Moore, Jamison Crowder, and Corey Davis active for the first time. Moore has a bunch of upside but is still more of a long-term play. 

Tight ends

  • George Kittle (calf) -- Did not practice. This is mirroring last week, when Kittle sat out the first two days of practice before being cleared following a limited session Friday. I'm expecting more of the same here while also making contingency plans just in case. Tyler Conklin is probably my top option to stash. 
  • T.J. Hockenson (knee) -- Limited participation. Hockenson looks likely to play in Week 5, but this injury is one to monitor. Hopefully it doesn't limit him too much, because Hockenson can't really afford to miss many plays or see a smaller target share. 
  • Rob Gronkowski (ribs) -- Did not practice. I'm not expecting Gronkowski to play in Week 5 as he recovers from cracked and broken ribs and a punctured lung. Whether he returns in Week 6 is the real question, because the Buccaneers will have a short week before their Thursday matchup against the Eagles. 
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