News, Analysis & UpdatesSeptember 6, 2012

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Week 1 Injuries, Updates and Sleepers

By Bradley Cooper

Injury news can change and depth charts can be repositioned at any moment. Jason Witten reminded fans Wednesday night how excited they should be for the fantasy football season. A game-time decision, Witten was active, and even though he only saw limited action, it just shows that on “any given Sunday” something special can happen. Witten was listed as doubtful and he showed the game is about heart and dedication. With the news, fantasy owners in deeper leagues immediately ran back to change their lineups, and it shows us to not be set on a lineup until the last minute. Everything is a strategic move to keep the other team guessing.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are proving that this week with Rashad Mendenhall returning to full practice. After tearing his ACL late last year, it would be very tough to see Mendenhall come out and make an impact against the Broncos Sunday night. Either way, the Broncos have to prepare for the possibility of Mendenhall getting touches and it is added work for the defense. Don’t expect Mendenhall to make an impact until Week 5 after the Steelers’ Week 4 bye. Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer will share touches until Mendenhall is able to make a larger impact. Dwyer has been great all preseason and could see the majority of touches.

Stevie Johnson is struggling with a groin injury again and was limited in practice Wednesday. He’s facing the New York Jets this week, but he’s been successful against them with 159 yards and one touchdown in two games last year. He’s not a player to shy away from just because Darrelle Revis is covering him, but the injury questions the impact he’ll have on the game. Fantasy owners should be looking for other options in case the injury doesn’t improve.

The Carolina Panthers held Jonathan Stewart out of practice Wednesday because of an ankle injury suffered in the last preseason game. Just like the Steelers, the Panthers may be trying to keep their division rival guessing. While the Buccaneers prepare for a lineup with Stewart, fantasy owners should start to look elsewhere. He was not a strong flex option to begin with, and the injury make him a bench player. DeAngelo Williams will see the additional touches if Stewart is limited, making him a nice sleeper in Week 1.

Bernard Scott has been ruled out for Week 1, allowing BenJarvus Green-Ellis to handle the majority of touches. Fantasy owners have to be happy to hear this news and hope the Law Firm can be an impact in the passing game. He’ll make for just a flex option going against the Baltimore Ravens, but at least he is better than a bench option.

Peyton Hillis has been a hot topic in fantasy due to his potential to get a lot of touches in Kansas City. It seems like a lot of fantasy owners have forgotten that when Jamaal Charles was performing well, Thomas Jones was the Chiefs main power back. Hillis should take on this role, and like I’ve said before, he’ll be a player that far exceeds his draft value. The Chiefs will just try to run teams into the ground and haven’t shied away from their plans to have the backs split carries early on.

Trent Richardson is optimistic to play this week and should see carries when it counts. The Cleveland Browns will certainly limit his workload, but expect him to be in during the red zone. The Browns will want fans to immediately jump on the T-Rich bandwagon with an early score this season. He’ll be a standout RB come October, so bear with limited touches in September. Monitor his touches this week because the Browns may feed him the ball if he proves healthy.

More updated news and sleepers will be released daily up until the Sunday games. Anything can happen each week so keep your options opened and handcuff your running backs. The worst thing that can happen is your starting back is out and you have no options on your bench, especially if it is a Sunday night or Monday night game.

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