Michael Crabtree, Oakland Raiders, ankle, (Q): Crabtree remains on the injury report for the second week in a row because of his ankle. He played last week after being limited in practice daily and was on the field for 88 percent of the team’s offensive snaps, leading the team in receptions while posting over 100 yards. It’s pretty safe to say he isn’t being held back because of the ankle. After another week of daily limited practices, Crabtree is expected to play against the Bills. It is a late game however (4:05 p.m. ET) so fantasy owners should verify his status before kickoff.
T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts, back, (Q): Hilton returned to practice Wednesday after sitting out the Colts’ early practice this week with a back injury. On Thursday, the day of the team’s first formal injury report, Hilton was listed as limited, but he upgraded to full on Friday and Saturday. Despite the questionable tag, he is expected to play Monday night against the Jets.
Maybe it’s success in the passing game, maybe it’s lack of consistency in the run game, but either way, after last week I can’t imagine trusting Rawls as anything more than a flex play this week against the Panthers. Carolina has allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs since Week 2, is fifth against the run the past four weeks and has given up 100 total yards to opposing running backs just once since a Week 7 bye.
Until last week’s goose egg, Brandin Cooks hadn’t received fewer than five targets in a game since his rookie season. Expect him to rebound this week.
Brandin Cooks and Michael Thomas, Saints: Thomas is easy. He’s as hot a wideout as there is in the NFL in a good matchup, but Cooks is a gut call. After last week’s zero-reception debacle for Cooks, I expect Drew Brees to force-feed him the ball (and the Lions not to make the same mistake the Rams did, bringing double-coverage to Cooks every play and leaving many other players exposed).
There’s a zillion great stats that show how awesome Brees is at home fantasy-wise, so here’s just one: He’s averaging 27.6 percent more yards per pass attempt at home this year than on the road. In the four home games since their Week 5 bye, Cooks and Thomas as a tandem have gained 604 yards and scored six touchdowns (that’s 75.5 yards and 0.8 touchdowns per player per game). To put that in perspective, if you extrapolate it over a 16-game season, each player would have 1,208 yards and 12 touchdowns. Yeah, you’re starting both guys.