NFL Week 2 Med Check: Be wary of Mathews, Gore and Eagles WRs
Due to injuries, Ryan Mathews, Frank Gore and Eagle WRs are risky this week
C.J. Spiller, Jonathan Stewart and Doug Martin could see more carries in Week 2
Adrian Peterson and Trent Richardson proved that they belong in your lineup
"Upgrade" is pretty self-explanatory term, but it seems a couple of you are confused about what it means here in the Med Check. An upgrade here means that a health situation for a player or a complementary player will result in more fantasy value than expected absent that situation. You'll see below that Kevin Kolb is an upgrade and it's easy to understand why: he's getting the start. That doesn't mean that I think Kolb is a good fantasy play. He's a questionable backup at this stage with a very tough matchup. Some upgrades come because a key matchup is tilted by injury. Not having Darrelle Revis on the field opens things up for Ben Roethlisberger. Downgrades work the same. Denarius Moore is downgraded because he's unlikely to see his full complement of targets as he comes off injuries. It's worth noting for those that are excited about the return of the Raiders WR. Use these as guidelines based on your current projections. They're best suited for double-checking against injuries and for making those "on the fence" decisions when all else is equal. I hope that helps. Of course, you can always ask your questions during the Sunday chat. It's going to be later (11:30 a.m. ET) and longer (going right up to game time) this week. Hope to see you there. Be sure to check here for all the updates as well.
NYJ: There were some rumblings going around that Darrelle Revis wasn't as "out" as the Jets had said Friday as late as this morning. They turn out to be just rumbles -- Revis is out.
IND: Austin Collie is out for this week's game.
SD: Adam Schefter is reporting that Ryan Mathews won't play. It's a late game, so it depends on how much you trust Schefter (and who your other RB option is.) If Mathews doesn't play, Curtis Brinkley and Ronnie Brown will split carries.
CAR: All signs point to Steve Smith not only starting, but getting his normal WR1 targets. Smith's only downside this week is the Panthers' focus on running, with Cam Newton and a healthier Jonathan Stewart.
NYG: The Giants have had a lot of time off since their kickoff game. That bought Prince Amukamara the time he needed. He'll play in Week 2.
PHI: The Eagles think they'll have both Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson starting today. Maclin is the riskier play, with his hip limiting his explosiveness and separation. With Michael Vick well aware of the talk about his interceptions last week, he's less likely to throw into tight spaces.
SEA: The Seahawks get Golden Tate back this week, pushing Braylon Edwards to the bench more. Edwards will still play, though Tate is expected to get the WR2 targets.
DAL: Both DeMarco Murray (wrist) and Felix Jones (ribs) are a bit banged up, but will play against the Seahawks physical defense. Philip Tanner is a name to keep in mind, especially if you see him used today in goal line situations.
WAS: Sources tell Jason La Canfora that Pierre Garcon won't play. He's still a GTD, but I was able to confirm that Garcon's foot is still a big problem. "He made no progress this week. It's not that bad, but it didn't get better." This will come down to pain tolerance.
PHI: It looks like DeSean Jackson will play today, but it's less likely (but possible) that Jeremy Maclin will be there as well. Damaris Johnson could be the fill-in if one or both can't go.
CIN: Bernard Scott is looking like a go. The Bengals staff will take a look at him in warm ups, but if he plays, he'll get a split with BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
UPGRADE: C.J. Spiller
With Fred Jackson out for a month, the Bills are going to have to hope C.J. Spiller can build on what he did last week. He'll get the touches, but there's some question as to whether he'll wear down. He didn't in college, so I have hopes that he can do it, especially this early in the season. The Chiefs could get Brandon Flowers back, which won't help Ryan Fitzpatrick.
UPGRADE: Jonathan Stewart
DOWNGRADE: Devery Henderson
Jonathan Stewart was back at practice Thursday, but there's some question about whether he'll play and how much. If he's available, he'll get the normal split and try to help Cam Newton by having some sort of running game. On top of the normal football injuries, the Panthers have an illness moving through the locker room. That could affect depth, availability and stamina. Keep an eye out for last-minute changes for the Panthers. The Saints won't have Devery Henderson on Sunday, but Drew Brees has plenty of other targets. Jabari Greer should be back, which will help confuse comparisons between Newton and Robert Griffin.
UPGRADE: Trent Richardson
The Browns gave Richardson 19 carries, even as they tried to ease him in. Granted, some of that was desperation as Brandon Weeden melted down in front of him. Richardson came out of it okay and while he's not full-speed yet, he came out of Week 1 as well as can be expected. Until he gets some help, he's not the best fantasy play, but he's getting better. The Bengals defense could get Carlos Dunlap back, which would help their pass rush, not that Brandon Weeden needs any more complications.
UPGRADE: Adrian Peterson
DOWNGRADE: Austin Collie
After last week, do I really need to explain why playing Adrian Peterson against a poor run defense is the smart play? I hope not. The Vikings have no other significant injuries. Troubling news on Austin Collie, who is now very unlikely to play. He is still having concussion symptoms after activity and is not cleared to play.
UPGRADE: Maurice Jones-Drew.
With Rashad Jennings out, Maurice Jones-Drew will get the bulk of carries. Jennings' window to establish himself is firmly closed and Jones-Drew gets back to elite status quickly, assuming he's ready for that kind of workload. The Jags will be missing Eben Britton, so Jones-Drew is going to have to do more himself. The Texans have no significant injuries.
DOWNGRADE: Denarius Moore
The Raiders get Denarius Moore back, but the hamstring isn't fully healed. He is very likely to play, but will get a limited number of snaps and even less in the way of targets. Even his routes will be a bit limited so that he's not forced to really extend his hamstring. When the team is game planning to keep you from breaking a long run, you're probably not a good fantasy play. With Daniel Thomas out, Reggie Bush will have no competition for touches or targets, though it could expose him a bit.
UPGRADE: Kevin Kolb
John Skelton hasn't been officially ruled out, but it's going to be Kevin Kolb under center on Sunday. We'll see how he does in a tough matchup and see whether this positive news on Skelton translates into a Week 3 return. Don't worry about Patrick Peterson being questionable, unless you get points for him in the return game. The Pats have no significant injuries.
UPGRADE: Doug Martin
DOWNGRADE: Hakeem Nicks
LaGarrette Blount was back at practice, but the touches are clearly tilting toward Doug Martin. The Bucs are also watching RT Jeremy Trueblood closely. His absence won't help Josh Freeman any with the Giants' rush. The Giants think they'll have Prince Amukamara back, but watch out for Hakeem Nicks. The Giants did a good job of using routes to keep him from overtaxing his foot, but it did limit him in ways. I'd imagine it to be much the same this week.
DOWNGRADE: Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson
It's worrisome for any team to have their WR1 and WR2 hurt at the same time. It's worse for the Eagles. Michael Vick doesn't need temptation to run and having his secondary WRs locked up in coverage might just lead to that. Andy Reid is prepping Nick Foles just in case, which is smart. Maclin's hip flexor will affect his technical style more, while DeSean Jackson can shift it down a gear and still get things done. Both are game-time decisions, with Jackson more likely to contribute. On the other side, Ed Reed will be limited a bit by a hamstring strain, but is likely to play.
UPGRADE: Miles Austin, Jason Witten
The flipside of the Thursday schedule is the rest. That really helped the Cowboys. Miles Austin is healthier. Dez Bryant is healthier. Jason Witten was given ten days to heal up, key time for an internal injury. It's almost all good news for the Cowboys (they will miss Jay Ratliff and Phil Costa, but they've had time to adjust) and bad news for the Seahawks defense. The Seahawks will have Marshawn Lynch again. His back didn't seem to trouble him much in Week 1, so the painkillers and therapy are likely to hold up again.
DOWNGRADE: Pierre Garcon
Pierre Garcon's foot had a mild setback on Friday, making him a GTD+, but he's still likely to play. He's a bit more of a risky play, with a bruised foot on turf for a second week complicating matters. Worse, it's a late game, so at best, Garcon should be a flex play. The Rams might get Rodger Saffold back this week, surprising after he was carted off in Week 1. He practiced on Friday and is a GTD-.
UPGRADE: Ben Roethlisberger
DOWNGRADE: Rashard Mendenhall, Darrelle Revis, Troy Polamalu
It's not a real surprise that Darelle Revis is out. Revis was cleared to practice this week, but didn't. He was not cleared to play and won't be tested again before Sunday. This benefits the whole Steelers passing game, but I can't make an accurate prediction on who will get the best of it. Depth is such an issue that Joe McKnight took some snaps at CB. The Steelers probably won't have Rashard Mendenhall again this week. He's closer, but it looks like the Steelers are confident that Jonathan Dwyer can do enough to get by, letting Mendenhall continue to heal. Word from Pittsburgh on Saturday is that Troy Polamalu will not play, but be sure to confirm that on Sunday morning.
UPGRADE: Jake Locker
DOWNGRADE: Antonio Gates, Ryan Mathews, Kenny Britt
Ryan Mathews is one of the toughest fantasy decisions this week. He's a top pick playing in a late game as a GTD. His return to practice on Thursday gave a lot of hope, but while he's more likely to play this week, it's not clear if he'll be a good fantasy options. He took very limited contact, so there was no real test of his clavicle. As I said before, I think it's better to sit back and watch for a week if there's any sort of option. Antonio Gates is likely to play in his normal role. The Chargers will be missing Jared Gaither, but they've adjusted here. The Titans will have Jake Locker, who'll be able to play despite last week's off-shoulder injury. There's more questions about Kenny Britt, coming off suspension and knee surgery. He's a watch-and-wait this week, especially with Nate Washington available.
UPGRADE: Randy Moss
DOWNGRADE: Frank Gore
With Louis Delmas and Chris Houston out again, the Lions secondary can be exploited a bit. This could be where Randy Moss is most likely to succeed, as a tall "post up" WR in the red zone. Watch to see if Frank Gore has a few less touches. He took a big hit on his highlight TD that had to be checked. He practiced well, but be aware that even with Brandon Jacobs out, Gore could share more with Kendall Hunter this week.
The Broncos new defensive backfield looks solid, but they'll have no bigger challenge than the Falcons. That is, unless Roddy White is limited. A groin strain has the Falcons worried right now ... Demaryius Thomas was back at practice on Friday, but a shoulder injury might make it tougher on him in the red zone. If he comes up just short on a reaching catch, you'll know why (and so will Peyton Manning.) ... Watch to see if Tyson Clabo is able to go at RT. If not, the Falcons are down to their RT3 and Von Miller could shift to exploit that weakness
Errata: I had a note on Russell Okung in Thursday's column that was an error. I accidentally paged down, seeing his previous injury note, and did not realize I was writing up something that had happened last December. It is entirely my fault and I apologize.