Loading scores...
Football Daily Dose

TNF Preview Plus Injury Notes

by Chris Allen
Updated On: October 16, 2021, 10:46 am ET

The App is Back! Don’t forget to download the NBC Sports EDGE app to receive real-time player news, mobile alerts and track your favorite players. Plus, now you can check out articles and player cards. Get it here!

We made it to Week 6 and the bye weeks are here. And, of course, losing players to their scheduled downtimes comes right when we’re hit with a storm of injuries. Skill players at every position have a “Q” tag next to them on our rosters making practice reports vital to our decisions on Sunday. But we’ve still got a game tonight. Let me preview the start of Week 6 first and then I’ll dig into all of the injury news (and there’s a lot) coming out of Wednesday’s practices.

TNF Preview: Dreams and Nightmares

It’s been a few years but I’m sure the broadcast might mention Tom Brady’s most memorable game against the Eagles in recent history.

The coldest open to a Super Bowl that I can remember. Still a few players around from that game, but Brady’s commanding a fully operational battle station these days. The Eagles will have their work cut out for them to try and stop an offense that looks nearly unstoppable.

It’s not just that the Buccaneers have a quarterback who’s still accurate (12th in completion percentage over expectation), with a strong arm, and who can process a defense in real-time. They’ve also got the personnel to overload a defense. Brady already has three wide receivers over 300 yards, Tampa is fifth in offensive yards per drive, and he’s clearly gunning for an even larger share of history as they’re second in red-zone passing rate above expectation. After tough matchups against the Rams and Patriots, it’s hard to see what Philadelphia can do to slow them down.

Last week, the Eagles were able to generate pressure on 57.1% of Sam Darnold’s dropbacks but Carolina’s offensive line is bottom-10 in adjusted sack rate and pass blocking. Tampa’s offensive line is top-10 in both. Plus, Philadelphia’s secondary, while third in adjusted fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, has given up multi-touchdown games to the two above-average quarterbacks they’ve faced so far this season.

They’ve been smoked by receivers with speed after watching Tyreek Hill (Week 4, 12-186-3) and Deebo Samuel (Week 2, 8-93-0) run by them for deep strikes. And, to avoid Darius Slay, offenses have looked to the interior as CeeDee Lamb (Week 3, 3-66-0) also got loose. The matchup sets up well for all of Tampa’s skill players, and our only question will be who winds up getting into the paint for a touchdown. Hopefully, the Eagles can keep it competitive but Brady was still throwing touchdown passes while up two scores just four days ago.

It’s been a rollercoaster with Jalen Hurts. Bouts of inaccuracy mixed with either an inefficient drive or yet another touchdown called back by penalty. But there’s no denying his ability to will the Eagles back into games.

The highlights have been fun to watch, but the Eagles are still sitting at 2-3. They’re 22nd in EPA per play and 23rd in offensive yards per drive. The lag in production to start games has caused Hurts to produce over a third of his total yards while trailing by two or more scores. Some of it can surely be laid at his feet. But part of it should also go to his surroundings.

You’d think with a mobile quarterback there’d be an emphasis on his rushing ability. Especially with a virtually new receiving corps. But Hurts was only given designed runs on 38.5% of his plays the first three weeks of the season. RPOs were used on just 9.3% of their plays. Nick Sirriani’s flexibility, or lack thereof, from a play-calling standpoint, has been apparent. But, against Tampa, they’ll need to dive deep into their bag of tricks.

Lavonte David (ILB) and Antoine Winfield (S) have already been ruled out with Jason Pierre-Paul (OLB) labeled questionable. Hopefully, it’ll slow down their pass rush (3rd in pass rush win rate) giving Hurts time to pick on their weak secondary. Especially the interior part. The Rams cooked them from the slot with both DeSean Jackson (5-120-1) and Cooper Kupp (10-79-2) finding paydirt. Amari Cooper (Week 1, 10-110-1) did the same to start the season.

Quez Watkins has spent the most time in the slot (52.9% slot rate). However, both DeVonta Smith and Jalen Reagor had rotated there as well along with Zach Ertz. A quick-passing offense, how the Patriots attacked them in Week 4, may be just enough to extend drives, keep Brady off the field, and keep the Eagles in the game.

Points of Interest in TNF

For Tampa, I’m primarily interested in the backfield. Specifically, Leonard Fournette’s role in it. We’ve generally joked about Fournette (Uncle Lenny aka Playoff Lenny aka Lombardi Lenny) and his inefficiency throughout most of last season made the criticism seem justified. But it hasn’t been the case this season.

He’s third in success rate with a 61.5% touch share through Week 5. You can point to his workload increasing with Giovanni Bernard missing time, but Fournette’s been a legitimate part of the passing game too.

He’s been used on multiple screens and even drew a DPI on a fade route in Week 4. Over the last three games, Fournette’s accrued the most touches in two-minute situations (7) and from inside the 10-yard line (4). Ronald Jones and Bernard may get sprinkled into the mix, but Fournette appears to have command over the backfield.

With Philadelphia, I’m interested to see how much Nick Sirrianni leans on the passing game. Through five weeks, the offense is 27th in EPA per dropback and it’s been worse over the last three (29th). But, if any of Tampa’s previous matchups have taught us anything, if you’re facing Brady you better be ready to fire right back at him.

Buc's opponents PROE


Slightly off-topic, but Mac Jones’ performance looks slightly more impressive in the context of the chart. Sure the passes were short (5.5 aDOT) but New England had the right gameplan to hang with Tampa Bay. All of their opponents have. And, unsurprisingly, none of them have reached similar pass rate over expectation (PROE) values since facing Tampa. But, with the Buccaneers being first in PROE and also sixth in neutral pace, teams aren’t left with many other options. However, the Eagles don’t find themselves with many options to support their passing game.

Just a third of the Eagles’ first-quarter drives have resulted in points over the last three weeks. Their slow starts have put them into negative scripts early forcing them into pass-heavy scripts. It’s great for fantasy, but if the player with the second-most targets on the team (Reagor) is outside the Top 75 in almost every efficiency metric there’s an issue. Projected volume may cover up the mistakes, but we’ll need to see more out of the passing game for the Eagles to keep up.

Injury Slants

Let’s start off with some good news before diving into the injury-riddled practice reports to start the week. Well, at least a mix of both good news and bad news as Miami has players on both sides of the health spectrum.

Tua was back out on the practice field for the first time in nearly a month. The Dolphins had designated him as a player to return from IR on Tuesday and he’s on track to make his third start this season on Sunday. He hasn’t been officially activated, but his participation (without any noted setbacks) bodes well for his status. Meanwhile, their top receiver sat out during Wednesday’s workout.

DeVante Parker opened Week 6 with a DNP after being limited all the previous week. The hope is he’ll be able to get in at least a limited practice prior to the team’s departure to London. Otherwise, Preston Williams and Myles Gaskin are in line for more work with Will Fuller still on injured reserve. But it does look like Tennessee will be getting one of their top receivers back this week.

The start of the season hasn’t been too kind to Julio Jones. Nor to fantasy managers that drafted him. After running just 17 routes in Week 3, Jones hasn’t seen the field with two consecutive missed games. Jones didn’t even log a limited practice in Week 5, so this is a definite step forward as the Titans prepare to face the Bills fresh off of their big win in Kansas City. But while Tennessee could surely use one of their best players back in the lineup, the Vikings could actually let one of their stars get some more rest.

Editor’s Note: Drafting is only half the battle! Get an edge on your competition with our NFL Season Tools - available in our EDGE+ Roto tier for $3.99/mo. (annually) or $9.99/mo. (monthly) - that are packed with rankings, projections, a trade evaluator, start/sit tools and much more. And don't forget to use promo code SAVE10 to get 10% off. Click here to learn more!

I’ll get to wide receivers in a bit as I wanted to focus on Dalvin Cook. The star running back got in a limited practice while commenting to beat reports that he felt good and was going to “keep attacking my rehab”. He literally said the same thing two weeks ago, started the game, and then left midway after aggravating his ankle injury. Alexander Mattison has shown his ability to match Cook in terms of utility to the offense, and the Vikings have a bye in Week 7. With almost three months left on the schedule, any additional rest would do Cook some good assuming they stay in playoff contention.

Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen were at practice and seen jogging through warmups. Their absence, while a surprise, appear to be nothing but precautionary. Neither played less than 90% of the team’s offensive snaps against Detroit last week nor left the game with a reported injury. We should expect to see them get back to practice tomorrow and be ready for Week 6. The same should be the case for the Browns’ running backs.

After playing in a game that totaled 89 points and 1,045 yards of offense, I’d expect to see some DNPs to start the week from both the Browns and the Chargers. Nick Chubb’s 161 yards were his third-highest single-game total in his career, Kareem Hunt saw a season-high snap share, and David Njoku hasn’t racked up 149 years since … ever. But, like the Vikings’ players, nobody from Cleveland left their nail-biter against Los Angeles. Kevin Stefanski noted they’re trying to be smart about their star’s ailments. Expectations are they’ll be available to suit up in Week 6 to host the Cardinals. But I honestly don’t know what to expect from the Giants.

If you pause the video at 0:11 seconds, you’ll see the face of a man reconsidering all of his decisions. Daniel Jones, still in the concussion protocol, was spotted on the field running around and taking snaps on the side. He officially didn’t practice, but he appears on track to be back under center against the Rams. Looks like he’ll have some help, too.

Kenny Golladay wasn’t practicing after hyperextending his knee in Week 5, but Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard made it to practice to start the week. Neither has practiced since Week 3 so their return, along with the emergence of Kadarius Toney, would be a much-needed boost for the Giants’ offense. Indianapolis could also be getting some help on offense.

For those new to fantasy football, go to Pro Football Reference, pull up T.Y. Hilton’s career game log, and look at his games against the Texans. It’s almost become a celebrated holiday within fantasy circles as he’s typically dominated Houston with either 100 yards or a touchdown (sometimes both) in over half of their last eight meetings. Regardless, Carson Wentz could use some speed to complement Michael Pittman as Parris Campbell and Zach Pascal don’t have the juice. Regardless, it’s good to see Hilton able to work his way back after having neck surgery in September. With the way things are trending in Seattle, Chris Carson might have a similar future to Hilton.

You never want to hear the words “chronic” and “long-term” when folks are describing an injury about any player. But last Wednesday reports surfaced regarding Chris Carson’s condition which caused him to miss Week 5. Pete Carroll tried to smooth things over by saying it’s something Carson has “dealt with” in the past but his absence doesn’t allay our concern. Alex Collins did look spry against Los Angeles but Russell Wilson’s IR stint may result in another lost season for Seattle. We hope the same isn’t the case for Kansas City.

Andy Reid told reporters that Tyreek Hill injured his quad during the Sunday night game against the Bills. Hill still ran a route on 85.7% of Patrick Mahomes’ dropbacks, but Reid noted there was some swelling after the game. There’s no indication Hill will miss Week 6, but his practice participation to close out the week will give us a better idea of what to expect come Sunday against Washington. Although, Washington has their own injury woes to work through prior to hosting the Chiefs.

Curtis Samuel is dealing with the same groin injury he’s been trying to work through since OTAs. He’s been on the field for just 20% of the team’s offensive snaps since returning for Week 4. Washington has a clear need for his versatility as both a receiver and rusher since the other ancillary players (Dynamic Brown, Adam Humphries, etc.) have been either hurt or unproductive. Samuel’s Week 6 status is likely in doubt and his season may be in question after trying to play through the injury. Hopefully, T.J. Hockenson isn’t trying to do the same thing.

There are two points in favor of Hockenson playing in Week 6. First, he started off Week 5 with a DNP, was limited the rest of the week, and started against the Vikings. Second, he ran the most routes of any skill player on the Lions’ offense against the Vikings without any reported setback during the game. It didn’t translate to any fantasy production, but at least the extra cardio didn’t hurt him. With yet another receiver sent to the IR, he’ll see more targets but the main concern is ensuring he doesn’t make the injury worse.

There’s a lot more going on with the Raiders and Darren Waller’s absence likely reflects what the team is going through in the wake of Jon Gruden’s dismissal. Waller spoke out on the matter late Wednesday so his missed practice doesn’t appear to be injury-related. The entire team appears to be soul searching in the wake of the investigation that’s put the spotlight on the franchise and the league. We’ll see how the team responds ahead of Week 6.

In Week 4, Melvin Gordon was limited with a ribs/lower leg designation. The designation changed to just the lower leg in Week 5. Now, it’s a hip designation keeping him from practice. He did start off last week with a DNP and he had his highest snap share in Week 5 so there’s no indication he’ll miss Week 6. Folks rostering Javonte Williams have been waiting for the rookie to be handed the keys to the backfield since the season started. However, as of Wednesday, it looks as if they’ll have to wait another week.

Chris Allen

Chris Allen is a mechanical engineer by trade that leverages his analytical background to study the various components of fantasy football. From how weather impacts results to draft strategy, Chris uses a 'process over results' approach to deliver actionable analysis for any fantasy football format. You can find him on Twitter @ChrisAllenFFWX.