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For important game-time decisions, here are exclusive reports on all things fantasy football. Make informed choices about all your last-minute start and sit lineup options. Make sure to check on the status of all players before locking your final roster.
Carson Palmer said Thursday that the nerve issue in his shoulder may not end his season. Doctors told him the nerve should “wake up” at some point, but no one knows when. Drew Stanton will make his third straight start, as the Cardinals and Broncos each come off their bye to play in Denver on Sunday. During his two weeks of action this year, the backup quarterback has completed 51.6 percent of his passes for an average of 205.5 yards and one touchdown. Stanton has yet to turn the ball over this season.
Julio Jones and Roddy White are both healthy and active for Sunday’s game against the Giants. New York has the 22nd-ranked pass defense this season, yielding 254.5 yards per game through the air. White missed week three because of an injured hamstring. During the other three games, the four-time Pro Bowler has averaged 4.7 catches for 62.3 yards and 0.7 scores. Jones, meanwhile, has suited up for each game despite battling ankle problems since the season debut. Over the first four games, the former Alabama wideout has made 7.3 receptions for 118.8 yards and 1.0 touchdowns per game. Jones is currently on pace for 116 grabs for 1,788 yards and 12 trips to pay dirt. White had a clear vision of the upcoming game when he told reporters, “I will score this weekend.”
Owen Daniels and Steve Smith Sr. travel to Indianapolis this weekend to face the Colts’ 21st-ranked pass defense (251.3 passing yards per game). Indianapolis has allowed 12.5 points per game to opposing tight ends, the fourth most in the league. In the first game without Dennis Pitta last week, Daniels caught four of six targets for 43 yards. Only Smith caught more balls, reeling in seven passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns. The 35-year-old veteran had something to prove last week, facing his former team of 13 years. After four weeks, Smith is the oldest player in NFL history to earn more than 400 yards receiving. He is on pace for 100 catches, 1,716 yards and 12 scores.
Buffalo head coach Doug Marrone announced Monday that Kyle Orton will be the Bills starter moving forward. After four games, second-year quarterback EJ Manuel had passed for 209.5 yards, 1.3 touchdowns and 0.8 interceptions per game. Orton has a diverse resume, which is one way of saying he’s a journeyman who has wound up playing for a wide variety of teams. Some of his experience bears particular relevance today. Chicago boasted 1,200 yard rushers in both of Orton’s complete seasons as the Bears’ starter. Thomas Jones ran for 1,335 yards in 2005, and Matt Forte had 1,238 yards in 2008. During those seasons, Orton completed 55 percent of his passes for 161.4 yards, 0.9 scores, and 0.8 interceptions per game. For his career, the ten-year veteran has a 58.5 completion percentage, while throwing for 200.3 yards, 1.1 touchdowns, and 0.8 interceptions. The stock for Sammy Watkins may be on the rise with an experienced passer throwing to him.
Well, it’s a sad week for the “DeAngelo and J-Stew” show. Panthers running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are oft injured, but rarely at the same time. Since Stewart joined the team in 2008, the two have played 66 of 102 possible games together. Only twice since then have the Panthers taken the field without either back. In week 10 of 2010, Mike Goodson led Carolina with 23 carries for 100 yards. And Goodson followed that up a week later by running 22 times for 120 yards, but failed to score in either match. Darrin Reaves, the undrafted free agent from UAB is the starter this week. After Williams left with a sprained ankle in week four, Reaves got 15 touches for 37 yards in his first NFL action. The team will operate the hot-hand approach, with Fozzy Whittaker and Chris Ogbonnaya also expected to be active in Chicago. The Bears have the 20th best run defense, but allow only the 18th-most fantasy points to opposing rushers (15.5 points per game).
Brandon Marshall (ankle) and Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) are both going to play Sunday. Neither have missed a game this season, but each has played limited at various points. Jeffery was held to just three catches for 47 yards in week two, while Marshall managed only one 6-yard catch in week three. Jeffery is no longer listed on the injury report, and Marshall said Friday, “I feel really good. I think I can do almost everything.” That’s great news for the Bears, who rank 13th in passing, and were held to just 256 yards through the air in Green Bay a week ago.
Marvin Jones (ankle) is doubtful to play this week, and Mohamed Sanu will likely start in his stead once again. A.J. Green should get most of the attention, both from Andy Dalton and the New England secondary, which now features Darrelle Revis. Though Green and Revis have faced off in the preseason, this will be their first official meeting on the field. Before making a catch week two, Green left week two with a toe injury. In his other two games this year, the three-time Pro Bowler has caught 12 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown.
Ben Tate is active for the first time since week one. The Browns website lists Terrance West atop the depth chart, backed up by Isaiah Crowell. Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer is making a case for Tate to start, with Crowell coming in off the bench. It will be an interesting situation to monitor this week and moving forward. Keep your eyes peeled, as the third wheel may be worth dropping very soon in all leagues.
The Broncos cut ties with kicker Matt Prater on Friday, declaring Brandon McManus the starter moving forward. In three career games, the rookie has connected on every extra point, while making all three field goals.
Joique Bell (concussion) and Theo Riddick (hamstring) have each been ruled out for this week’s game against Buffalo. That means a heavy workload for Reggie Bush, who is averaging 14.3 touches for 65 yards and 0.3 touchdowns. Calvin Johnson will play Sunday against Buffalo’s 25th-ranked pass defense. Last week, Johnson was used as a decoy, catching just two passes for 12 yards. Since a big week one performance, Johnson has been held out of the end zone, while averaging just 4.3 catches for 59 yards. Wide receiver Golden Tate was able to capitalize in week four, making eight receptions for 116 yards.
Arian Foster is active again for the Texans. The starter rushed eight times for six yards last week, while Alfred Blue produced nine yards on nine carries. Houston will need some offensive production to compete with Dallas’ top-ranked run game. During the first two games, Foster averaged 29.5 touches for 135 yards.
Cecil Shorts was declared out, along with rookie Marqise Lee. Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson will dominate targets from rookie quarterback Blake Bortles. Jacksonville has the 20th-ranked pass offense, and 29th best run game. Bortles had completed 70.5 percent of his passes for 477 yards, three touchdowns, and four interceptions. The Jaguars will host Pittsburgh’s 17th-ranked pass defense, who have allowed 239.5 yards per game. After four weeks, Toby Gerhart has rushed 44 times for 114 yards (2.6 yards per carry), and one touchdown. Last week, Gerhart touched the ball 11 times for 40 total yards, while backup Denard Robinson received 12 touches for 32 total yards. When asked if Gerhart had been demoted, head coach Gus Bradley insisted, “No, no, no, no. Just trying and utilizing everybody’s strengths.”
Donnie Avery will need to undergo sports hernia surgery, and may miss several weeks. Travis Kelce is the Chiefs leading receiver, and expect that gap to grow ever larger in absence of the team’s number two target. After four games, the tight end has 24 targets for 18 receptions, 259 yards, and two touchdowns. Kelce ranks fifth among all tight ends in receiving yards. Jamaal Charles returned to action last week, scoring three times against the reeling Patriots. Knile Davis has all but lost fantasy relevance outside of further handcuff opportunity.
Odell Beckham (hamstring) is officially questionable, but hopes to be active Sunday for the first game of his career.
Eric Decker (hamstring) is questionable for this week’s game, and will likely miss his first game of the year. In week four’s loss to Detroit, Greg Salas was the Jets’ leading receiver with two grabs for 60 yards. New York ranks 21st in passing, with 215 yards per game.
The Eagles offensive line is in shambles, as has been the topic of the week in many football circles. LeSean McCoy will continue to struggle until this problem can be fixed. Starting right tackle Allen Barbre (ankle) is out for the season, while center Jason Kelce (groin) and left guard Evan Mathis (knee) are tentatively expected to return around week 10. Lane Johnson will start at right tackle this week, in his first eligible week after serving a four-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs. A run game depends on interior blocking, so the onus is on Chip Kelly to use his creativity to save his offense. Philadelphia currently ranks 25th in rushing, with 87 yards per game.
Stats and data courtesy of pro-football-reference.com and espn.com.