Fantasy Injury Updates: Julio Jones, Michael Thomas injuries impacting Week 5 start ’em, sit ’em decisions at WR

Julio Jones and Michael Thomas were two of the first receivers selected in fantasy football drafts this year, but they haven’t lived up to their billing quite yet. Jones (hamstring) and Thomas (ankle) have both dealt with nagging injuries that have left them either ineffective or out for most games so far this season. Their fantasy owners will be hoping their fortunes change in Week 5, while others may hope that DeSean Jackson (hamstring) and Alshon Jeffery (foot) can return to their lineups and provide a boost to the Eagles’ passing game. The health of these wideouts will do a lot to determine key start ’em, sit ’em decisions for fantasy owners and could help to strengthen (or conversely, thin) our Week 5 fantasy WR rankings.

For more injury updates on these players and other players across the NFL, check back here and on Twitter @SN_Fantasy.

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Is Julio Jones playing Week 5?

Jones (hamstring) has been in and out of the Falcons’ lineup in recent weeks due to a balky hamstring. He missed Week 3 with the injury and returned in Week 4, but he lasted just one two quarters before aggravating the soft-tissue malady. Now, his status ahead of Week 5 is very much in doubt.

According to ESPN’s Vaughn McClure, Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said it’s “too early to tell” if Jones will play in Week 5. That was on Wednesday after Jones missed Falcons practice. Given that the Falcons were already on a short week after playing Monday night, it seems unlikely that Jones will be able to suit up this week. And even if he does, it will be hard for fantasy owners to trust him since hamstring problems tend to persist.

With Jones out, Calvin Ridley will get a boost in targets as the team’s No. 1 receiver against the Panthers. Meanwhile, Russell Gage and Olamide Zaccheaus will have a chance to stand out and fill WR3/flex roles for fantasy owners. Zaccheaus is the most readily available of the three players, so feel free to add him off waivers if you’re desperate for some help at the receiver position.

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Is Michael Thomas playing on Monday night?

Ahead of Week 5, there has yet to be an update on Thomas’ status. He was making progress in his return from an ankle injury last week but was ultimately held out by the team against the Lions.

Because the Saints play on Monday night this week, they won’t release their first practice report until Thursday afternoon. That will give Thomas’ fantasy owners an idea of what he might be capable of doing this week. If he’s limited, he’ll have a chance to play. If he’s a full participant, that should be a good sign that he’s on track to play. If he’s out, that would shift the attention to Friday’s practice to see if his status can improve.

Of course, it’s also worth noting that the Saints are on bye in Week 6, so if there’s any hint of doubt about Thomas being healthy, the team could choose to hold him out and give him two more full weeks of rest. That would ensure that he is 100 percent when he returns to the field, but it would also ensure that his fantasy owners would be without him for another two weeks.

As long as Thomas is out, Tre’Quan Smith will have more opportunities to catch passes across from Emmanuel Sanders. They would be the only two New Orleans WRs worth starting against the Chargers while Jared Cook would garner consideration as a starting tight end if he’s healthy.

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DeSean Jackson injury update

After missing the Eagles’ win over the 49ers while dealing with a hamstring injury, DeSean Jackson returned to practice for the Eagles in a limited capacity, according to Zach Berman of The Athletic. As Berman noted, Jackson hasn’t practiced on Wednesdays in recent weeks, so this is a good sign for his potential Sunday availability.

The Eagles could really use Jackson, as Greg Ward was their top receiver against the 49ers while Travis Fulgham led the team in receiving yards (57). He would instantly garner WR3 status because of his potential high-volume target share even against a strong Steelers defense.

If Jackson aggravates his hamstring injury, Ward and TE Zach Ertz will continue to be the only fantasy-relevant pass-catching weapons in the Eagles’ offense, barring the return of another one of their many injured receivers.

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Alshon Jeffery injury update

Jeffery (foot) was limited in Eagles practice on Wednesday. He has been easing his way back into practice the past couple of weeks and it would appear that he may have a chance to play this week. However, in order to guarantee that, he’ll have to practice fully at some point during the week in all likelihood.

If Jeffery returns, he will see a lot of targets from Carson Wentz given the lack of healthy receivers the Eagles currently have on their roster. That said, it will be hard to trust him too much until we see exactly what he can do on the field, so he’d be a speculative flex play at best against the Steelers.