NFL Week 1 Med Check (cont.)
UPGRADE: Adrian Peterson
DOWNGRADE: Justin Blackmon
Maybe I'm being blinded by my long-held belief that Peterson would be ready for Week 1, but every bit of information I have says Peterson is ready to play. The only drag on his touches is fear. Leslie Frazier seems filled with it for his star RB. Whether necessary or not, the Vikings will reduce Peterson's workload -- or at least try. Eric Mack and I discussed this on the SI Inside Fantasy podcast this week and we ended up setting the Over/Under on carries at 12.5. I took the over, believing that the Vikings will need to run 30-35 times to win and at least half of those will go to Peterson. They may want to hold his carries down, but if he looks as good in the game as he has taking more contact over the week, he's just too tempting. He's not back to being an automatic must-start stud, but he's not far away.
Blackmon was back at practice by Wednesday, but his sprained ankle is affecting his jumps. His red zone ability is what gives him so much upside, so wait a week on him and watch to see how he and Blaine Gabbert adjust.
DOWNGRADE: Marques Colston
Colston is going to play, but the foot injury that cost him most of a week of practice makes his situation tough to predict. Watch the last OIR to see where he is. Probable means you can safely play him, but Questionable would make me suggest looking to your next WR option and not necessarily one with the Saints. The only safe play here is Jimmy Graham.
Almost all the Redskins' issues are on defense. Brian Orakpo and Brandon Meriweather are slowed a bit, which helps the Saints even if it's just a bit. Watch Robert Griffin closely to see how he adjusts and if he's going to take any hits. Call it the "Michael Vick factor" that limits his fantasy upside until more is known. The RB situation is in its normal flux. I can't predict how it's going to play out, so I'm staying away from all Redskins RBs.
DOWNGRADE: Dustin Keller
Keller's hamstring makes him a true GTD+. While there are signs pointing to him playing, it's much more questionable whether he'll be effective. (Really, wouldn't Tim Tebow be a good H-back?) Joe McKnight is probably not the real RB2 behind Shonn Greene, so his injury isn't that big a deal. Bilal Powell is going to get a lot of third down looks, but again, some are questioning whether some of those downs will factor into Tebow's usage, downgrading Powell's opportunities. The sheer number of injuries, mostly minor, that the Jets are dealing with doesn't bode well, especially on defense. The Bills have some minor concerns with Steve Johnson's groin, but he's expected to play normally. The strain costs him some explosiveness, but he seems able to adjust.
The Pats continue to have issues on the O-line. Stevan Ridley appears ready to get most of the touches out of the backfield, but it's not enough to offset the line issues and make him an upgrade. There's too much of a chance they'll shift to a Danny Woodhead out of the backfield mode. The Titans don't have any significant injuries.
UPGRADE: Marshawn Lynch
DOWNGRADE: Golden Tate, Beanie Wells
Anyone want to run the ball? Both teams won't have a healthy RB1 in Week 1. Lynch's physical style won't help him play through some severe back spasms, though he is expected to play. He'll have to adjust and hope that the painkillers last enough to get him through. Wells has yet another leg problem, this time a hamstring strain that came mid-week. Ryan Williams is coming back from injury himself, so I'm not comfortable upgrading him even if he gets the start. Tate is out, meaning Braylon Edwards will take the WR2 role.
UPGRADE: Cedric Benson, Kendall Hunter
DOWNGRADE: Ted Ginn
If you were counting on Ginn, well, you have bigger issues on your team than I can help with. He's GTD-, but unlikely to play. With Brandon Jacobs banged up, the split will stay between Frank Gore and Hunter. Hunter will have more to gain. The Packers have most of their issues on defense, with BJ Raji the biggest ... well, anything, but in this case the biggest name to watch, as a GTD+. James Starks is out, which leaves the bulk of the carries to Benson, who could establish himself quickly.
UPGRADE: Steve Smith
DOWNGRADE: Jonathan Stewart
The Panthers have a game plan prepped if Stewart can't go, which is never a good sign. He'll lose touches to DeAngelo Williams to be sure, but it's not enough to upgrade Williams beyond where he was. The Panthers are more sure about Smith, who came off crutches just a week ago. He's practiced fully and the foot infection seems to be no further issue.
UPGRADE: Ben Roethlisberger
DOWNGRADE: Isaac Redman
The Steelers head to Denver minus Ryan Clark and trying to figure out who will tote the ball for them. Without a good answer, I think Roethlisberger will try to scramble and find open WRs. Isaac Redman's leg issues make him far too risky to start in Week 1, even if he plays or starts.
Interior line injuries mean a downgrade for BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Andy Dalton ... Jermaine Gresham will start and get normal playing time for the Bengals ... Malcom Floyd holds steady in value despite his WR1 role. The extra catches look like they'll go to Antonio Gates ... Ronnie Brown will get the bulk of carries, even if Ryan Mathews is unexpectedly active. Mathews was not cleared for contact and is listed as out ... Denarius Moore looks to be close to ready for Monday, but he's still a risky play.