Arguably the three best players at their respective positions won’t be on the field in Week 4 of the 2016 NFL season. As quarterback Tom Brady serves the final game of his suspension, running back Adrian Peterson and defensive end J.J. Watt are nursing injuries that could keep them out for the year.
The absence of Peterson didn’t seem to affect the Vikings last week when they defeated the Carolina Panthers, but his injury forced plenty of fantasy football owners to scramble for a new starting running back. Jerick McKinnon got the bulk of the carries for Minnesota in Week 3, but he only rushed for 45 yards and didn’t find his way into the end zone.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' backup running back was the much more productive fantasy option last week as he started in place of the injured Doug Martin. After rushing for 55 yards and a score and adding six receptions for 69 yards, Charles Sims will get the start in Week 4 against the Denver Broncos. As good as Denver’s defense has been, they allowed two rushing touchdowns in Week 3.
While Peterson and Martin are definitely out, the biggest question surrounds the health of Jamaal Charles. The Kansas City Chiefs’ running back hasn’t played this season, and he’s been limited in practice as he tries to make his debut against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night. Spencer Ware has 202 rushing yards as Charles’ replacement in 2016.
Despite being listed as questionable (knee), Chiefs' RB Jamaal Charles will make 2016 season debut Sunday night in Pitt, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 30, 2016
Charles might be ready to make his debut, and the Chiefs know they’ll be seeing the season debut of Pittsburgh’s No.1 running back. Le’Veon Bell is eligible to play after serving a three-game suspension, and Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has indicated that he’ll be getting plenty of touches.
At the wide receiver position, both Sammy Watkins and Eric Decker have been ruled out. Watkins has just six catches on the season, and it looks like his foot injury could linger for the rest of the year. Decker is out for at least one game with a partial tear in his rotator cuff, and he has 194 yards and two touchdowns in 2016.
Dez Bryant is the best wide receiver with injury concerns, and he's been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers is also unknown. He’s battling a hairline fracture in his knee.
Every quarterback that started in Week 3 is expected to be ready for Week 4, even Russell Wilson, who’s dealing with a sprained MCL. It’s unknown if Jacoby Brissett or Jimmy Garoppolo will start for the New England Patriots against the Buffalo Bills, and it appears the team won’t have to worry about starting wide receiver Julian Edelman under center.