NFL Quick Hits: Gronk not guaranteed to play Sunday
Our first Friday fantasy notes package of the season contains the worrisome news that Rob Gronkowski's status isn't guaranteed for Sunday night in Arizona. Gronkowski was limited in practices on both Wednesday and Thursday due to a lingering hamstring issue, and said "No, I'm not" when asked on Thursday if he's 100 percent. The Boston Herald reports that Gronk should play, "barring an unexpected setback," but ProFootballTalk suggests that his status could "go down to the wire" on Sunday night.
Gronk's fantasy owners shouldn't necessarily panic, but might want to find room on their rosters for a late-switch backup plan at tight end. Options that could be inserted Sunday evening or later are Martellus Bennett (owned in 45 percent of FOXSports.com leagues), Vance McDonald (7.5 percent owned), Jesse James (6.6 percent owned) and Lance Kendricks (2 percent owned).
In other news ...
Seahawks RB Thomas Rawls didn't practice Thursday, but it was apparently due to an illness and not his surgically-repaired ankle. Pete Carroll hinted earlier this week that Rawls might be in line for a limited workload against the Dolphins, and that makes Christine Michael (42.7 percent owned) playable for fantasy purposes. Starting Rawls seems like too risky a proposition for his owners.
The Seahawks' website also reports that TE Jimmy Graham (knee) has been practicing fully this week, and will be in line for a limited workload if he plays.
Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles (knee) has been limited in practice this week, and with Andy Reid saying Monday that Charles would be a "stretch" to play against the Chargers, you should plan to be without him. This Kansas City Star article praises Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West as a thunder-and-lightning combo, but preseason reports suggest that Ware (53.4 percent owned) should get the lion's share of the touches. I've got Ware at RB13 in the rankings, with West at RB42.
The thunder-and-thunder pairing of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry is ready to roll for the Titans. Here's what head coach Mike Mularkey said on Wednesday: "When DeMarco needs a blow, then it will be Derrick ... If I feel like we need a change of pace, I'll put in a change of pace. But right now, there's no set (rotation) ... They're going to both get opportunities, that's for sure." Confused? Me too, but it sounds like a heavy lean toward Murray.
The biggest fantasy takeaway from Thursday's Panthers-Broncos game is that Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin (6-91-1) is back. Benjamin played 54 snaps to Devin Funchess' 39, and was targeted 12 times to Funchess' four.
The Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel's Dolphins-Seahawks preview mentions the "likely absence" of Dolphins WR DeVante Parker (hamstring), who hasn't practiced this week.
It sounds like Redskins RB Matt Jones, who hurt his shoulder in the second preseason game, will be ready to roll on Monday night. Jones won't have an easy time, as the Steelers' run defense was pretty good last season, allowing 3.8 yards per carry and 91.2 per game.
According to the Baltimore Sun, the Ravens are expected to get all members of their backfield trio (Justin Forsett, Terrance West, Buck Allen) involved in the gameplan. Forsett said he'll start, but if I had to pick one this week, it would be West, who looked very good during the preseason.
The usually porous Saints' cornerback corps will feature Delvin Breaux and three players making their NFL debuts. Fantasy owners of Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree should be happy.
The Vikings haven't announced their starting QB yet, but it sounds like Sam Bradford is pounding through 50 Red Bulls per day to get ready. Or maybe he's just naturally peppy.
Here's your reminder of Rams head coach Jeff Fisher saying during the offseason that Tavon Austin could "double" his 52-catch total from 2015. That sounds crazy, but it makes me want to watch Austin on Monday.
Bears WR Kevin White has been limited in practice this week due to a hamstring injury. Since John Fox was his usual, effusive self when discussing White's injury, we might not know more until Sunday.
Want some possible sleepers at every position this week? I'll go with Carson Wentz, C.J. Spiller, Phillip Dorsett, Clive Walford and the Giants' defense. All are available in at least 85 percent of FOXSports.com leagues. You'll only need them if your draft went badly, though.
And for the lightning round ...
Steelers WR Markus Wheaton (shoulder) says he'll play despite missing Thursday's practice ... Texans WR Will Fuller (hamstring) has been limited in practice, but "should be fine" according to head coach Bill O'Brien ... Been wondering about Lions TE Eric Ebron (ankle)? He's expected to play ... The Colts will play four cornerbacks, none of whom were on the team a month ago. Have fun, Matthew Stafford, Golden Tate and Marvin Jones! ... Jaguars RB Chris Ivory has been listed as limited on the injury report this week due to a calf injury. Keep an eye on Ivory's status if you own him ... Saints WR Michael Thomas was listed as limited in Thursday's practice due to an ankle injury. You weren't starting him anyway, right?
Good luck in Week 1!